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Space heater pros and cons

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling on December 2nd, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintChoose heaters to suit your needs

Are space heaters efficient and if so, are some better than others? Mark Wiser, the PUD’s senior residential energy adviser, offers this advice:

Photo of space heaterElectric space heaters are all the same efficiency. Electric resistance heat is 100 percent efficient, whether it is a $30 portable heater or a $500 electric fireplace or wall heater. There may be slight variations in energy use from fans versus convective heaters. But if you purchase two products that use the same watts, your electric use will be the same.

Many portable heaters have two settings, one with a higher wattage, say 1,000 watts, and one lower, typically half the watts. The larger will use more energy, but will be better for a larger room. The question is which heater style or design do you want in the room. Some of these heaters are very attractive, but often cost in the hundreds of dollars. If the concern is simply supplying heat, pick the least expensive, UL-approved product of the size needed.

Space heaters always raise a concern about safety. All portable space heaters now have a safety switch on the bottom so if they fall over, the heaters turn off. However, the electric elements are still red hot, so portable heaters should not be placed near flammable objects such as curtains or loose newspapers.  Also, some heaters use “black” heat. These don’t get red hot, but still are hot enough to heat the air. They are hard to find, but may be a safer alternative if young children are in the home.

Related
Space heater safety tips  (Electrical Safety Foundation International)
HVAC vs. space heaters: Which is more efficient? (Department of Energy)

Hot water, hot savings

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation on November 14th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintManufacturer markdowns and PUD rebates make it easy on the budget

Manufacturers of  energy-saving heat pump water heaters continue to offer markdowns to make these affordable in the Northwest. Coupled with Chelan PUD rebates of $300 or $500, the cost of heat pump water heaters can be comparable to standard electric storage heaters.

HPWH_VoltexHere are the current discounts:

  • Through Dec. 3, 2014: Save $400 on the GE GeoSpring 50-gallon heat pump water heater. Available locally at Lowes.
  • Through Dec. 15, 2014: Save $300 on A.O. Smith Reliance 50-, 60-, and 80-gallon units. Available to plumbers and contractors purchasing through Ferguson in Wenatchee.
  • From Nov. 28 – Dec. 31, 2014: Save $300 on the 50-gallon Rheem EcoSense (HB50ES) at Home Depot.

After installation, the savings continue: Save up to 50 percent on your water heating costs. Learn about heat pump water heaters and whether they’re right for you at smartwaterheat.org.

Seek out and slay your energy vampires

Posted in Appliances, Electronics, Energy conservation on October 28th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintNot to creep you out, but there are vampires in your house. These are the cell phone chargers, cable boxes and other electronic devices that use energy in standby mode. While there’s some debate about the impact of vampire power on your energy bill — some say it accounts for up to 10 percent while others say it’s less than 1 percent — it’s still  a good idea to drive a stake into the heart of energy waste anywhere you can.

Vampier bar illustrationHere are some ideas for slaying your energy vampires:

  • Unplug devices you don’t use often such as extra TVs or old desktop computers.
  • Use power strips, which allow you to toggle the power on and off. You can control the power use of a cluster of devices so they’re not consuming electricity when you don’t need them.
  • Cut down the idle time on computers and video consoles.
  • When buying new electronics, choose ENERGY STAR products which have been tested and rated for energy efficiency.

Household gadgets, by the way, are using less power. But there are so darn many electronic devices in use now that keeping an eye on their energy consumption is becoming more important.

At work and play, lighting leads the way

Posted in Energy conservation, Lighting on October 24th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Print

Photo of metal halide lighting at WRAC

Before: Metal halide lamps in two Wenatchee Racquet and Athletic Club tennis courts used 19,980 watts per court.

Photo of new fluorescent lighting at WRAC

After: New T5 fluorescent lighting uses just 8,420 watts per court.

WRAC tennis courts ace an upgrade

Muffed serves or missed shots on the indoor tennis courts at the Wenatchee Racquet and Athletic Club (WRAC) can’t be blamed on poor lighting anymore. The 37 noisy, dim metal halide light fixtures previously used on two of the indoor tennis courts have been replaced with quiet, bright, instant-on T5 fluorescent light fixtures.

Manager Evy Gillin said the old lamps required long warm-up times and had to be left on constantly when the club was open. The new fluorescents provide bright light instantly and are on switches that can be operated at the club’s front desk.

On the other two courts, the original lighting system with 44 outdated, eight-lamp T12 fluorescent fixtures has also been replaced with 32 six-lamp T5 fixtures, emitting far greater light levels.

Energy savings from installing fluorescents and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) at the tennis and racquetball courts, at the club’s outdoor pool and in the club building are estimated at 362,618 kilowatt hours per year, enough to power 16 Chelan County homes. The WRAC received $43,602 from Chelan PUD’s Resource$mart program to help offset its total cost of $64,293.

WRAC member Brian Wengreen, a retired PUD engineer, volunteered to coordinate this project with help from more than 40 member volunteers. Their volunteer labor made the project affordable for the club, Gillin said. Key to those efforts were Brian Gundersen, Dick Lester, Randy Smith, Ted Brisbine of Brisbine Electric and retired electrician Heinz Schlipf.

One more project is planned to complete relighting the entire club.

***

Stemilt upgrade is a fruitful endeavor

Photo of apple storage at Stemilt

Stemilt managers say they expect to quickly recoup their investment in new energy-efficient lighting through lower electric bills at their processing/packing/shipping plant on Euclid Avenue in Wenatchee.

“I can see clearly now” is the song employees are singing at the Stemilt processing plant on Euclid Avenue in Wenatchee after lighting was upgraded in over 300,000 square feet of space.

OK, they’re not really singing, and you couldn’t hear it over the hum of forklifts and conveyor belts if they were. But Steve Frodsham, the fruit processor’s electrical administrator, says employees love the new lighting at the sprawling plant where apples, pears and cherries are received, processed, stored and shipped.

Energy-efficient LEDs on motion sensors now illuminate many of the cold storage rooms, providing immediate light when someone enters. Frodsham said he knew it was time to replace the plant’s numerous metal halide lights, so he tested fluorescents before moving to LEDs. But even the most modern fluorescent tube lamps failed to come on quickly enough to light rooms for forklift drivers as they moved in and out. Cold was a factor, he said, since most of the 100-plus storage units are kept at a chilly 32 degrees. (LED lights love the cold. They last longer and are brighter.)

Fluorescent lights are being used above packing lines, in hallways and elsewhere, though, and they’re a big improvement, Frodsham said.

Beckstead Electric of Wenatchee installed the lighting. Jim White, Chelan PUD engineer, arranged funding from the PUD and documented energy savings.

Photo of Steve Frodsham

Steve Frodsham

White said 1,400 light fixtures were retrofitted or replaced at a cost of $605,704. Chelan PUD’s Resource$mart program provided $435,048 of the cost. Projected annual savings is 2,900,000 kilowatt hours — enough to power 145 homes.

“This is an old facility,” Frodsham said. “A general lighting concept was never part of its evolution. When Jim and Beckstead (Electric) came in we were able to engineer it to suit our needs. A lot of areas that didn’t have sufficient light are now well-lit.

“Lighting makes a big difference in how people feel and how they perform,” he added. “We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

Photo of Stemilt packing line

A packing line at Stemilt’s Euclid Avenue plant is illuminated by new fluorescent lighting. Chelan PUD’s Resource$mart program helps pay for energy-efficient upgrades at local businesses.

 

Old technology can be draining

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation on October 7th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Photo of heat pump water heater garage installationDiscounts make new heat pump water heater technology affordable

If you’re feeling a little drained by an old inefficient water heater, check out the new technology of a heat pump water heater. By upgrading to a super-efficient heat pump water heater, you can reduce your electric water heating costs by up to 50 percent and save every month.

Upgrade by December 3, 2014, for $400 instant savings on a GE GeoSpring 50-gallon heat pump water heater, then save again with a Chelan PUD $300 rebate.

Lightly logoThe $400 markdown at the store combined with the PUD’s $300 rebate drops the price by $700, making the final cost around $500.  Participating stores are Lowes, Sears, Ferguson and some independent retailers.

Handy homeowners can install these units themselves; use this tip sheet for help with installation. Or you can find a contractor here.

Heat pump water heaters can be placed in a variety of heated and unheated locations such as a garage, basement or utility room. But before you buy, review these facts:

  • Space – Most units require at least 800 cubic feet of air-flow around them; this is the equivalent of 10′x10′x8′ of space.
  • Sound – Heat pump water heaters generate sounds similar to a freezer.
  • Cold air – While in operation, heat pump water heaters release cool, dry air.
  • Size/height – Heat pump water heaters are slightly taller than standard electric water heaters.

Get help evaluating whether a heat pump water heater is right for you at smartwaterheat.org. Find GeoSpring product details on the GE website.