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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

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On the other two courts, the original lighting system with 44 outdated, eight-lamp T12 fluorescent fixtures has also been replaced with 32 six-lamp T5 fixtures, emitting far greater light levels.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

No room for vroom with electric motorcycle

Posted in Electric vehicles on September 12th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Lightly logoThe Zero scores well with electrical engineer

Matt MacKenzie’s shiny new motorcycle receives admiring glances from motorists waiting next to him at Wenatchee stoplights.

But they do a double-take when the light turns green and MacKenzie zooms off — in complete silence.

Photo of Matt MacKenzie

Matt MacKenzie uses his electric motorcycle mostly to get to and from work, but the bike can be driven off-road as well.

MacKenzie, an electrical engineer for Chelan County PUD, drives an all-electric Zero DS. The motorcycle has an in-city range of 120 miles before it needs a charge; the highway range is 76. MacKenzie drives mostly to his job at Rock Island Dam but he’s taken it on the highway where it’s rated for a maximum speed of 95 mph.

Not that he’d ever go that fast, of course.

MacKenzie said the $15,000 motorbike has plenty of power and can be driven off-road as well as on city streets. It’s said to be comparable to a 500 CC gas-powered bike.

He said Zero’s 2014 model, which he purchased in Lynnwood in May, sports several improvements over the 2010 model he owns  including regenerative braking/motor deceleration, improved motor, Bluetooth capability and higher battery capacity.

It takes up to seven hours to recharge a drained battery using a 110-volt connection, but generally the battery never gets that low, he said.

Photo of Zero DSBecause it’s an all-electric vehicle, MacKenzie is eligible for a federal tax credit.

Zero oil – good. Zero gas – great. But zero noise? Friends have wondered if no noise could be a safety hazard, but MacKenzie said he has learned to ride the motorcycle more defensively.

Motorists: Please watch out for Matt on his cool, quiet motorbike.

Between a rock and a yard place

Posted in Water conservation on September 11th, 2014 by Susan – 1 Comment

Lightly logoMysterious rock art adds to interest in the Riverfront Park Xeriscape Garden

It’s not completely out of the question to find a rabbit in the Riverfront Park Xeriscape Garden. But an elephant? And a jellyfish?

Photo of rock painting - elephant

The elephant

Master Gardener Terry Anderson has spied all three — painted on rocks. An anonymous artist placed the paintings in the garden, he said, to the delight of volunteer gardeners and people passing by.

A discovery
Anderson, who oversees the garden, discovered the rabbit about three weeks ago. “About a week later I was down doing something in the garden, it was a Sunday morning bright and early, and three women rolled up on skates. They were taking photos of the rabbit, and I said, ‘You found the rabbit!,” Anderson recalled. Turns out, he said, that they knew the artist, and they pointed to

Photo of rock art - jellyfish

The jellyfish

the location of two more brightly painted rocks that Anderson hadn’t noticed.

The artist is the daughter of one of the women, who said the secretive placement is related to a community suicide prevention project. And that’s all she wanted to reveal. “She said, ‘Is that OK?’ and I said, ‘Yes, of course, and let your daughter know they’re much appreciated,’ ” Anderson said.

The garden has been vandalized in the past, with people pulling up, tromping on or stealing plant-marker stakes. But so far vandals have left the rocks alone.

Photo of rock art - rabbit

…And the rabbit, hiding under a Pink Cloud

Autumn joy
The garden itself is a work of art this time of year. “The cooler weather has brought on a new flourish, with lots of things in bloom,” including a beautiful coppery rose plant called Autumn Joy, Anderson said. “It’s the most gratifying place I’ve ever volunteered to do something. My co-workers, the Master Gardeners, are just blown away by how many people stop by” to thank them and to share that they’ve incorporated Xeriscape into their own landscapes.

The garden is located along the Apple Capital Loop Trail, near the Nile Saunders Steam Train (map). It’s maintained by WSU Extension Chelan-Douglas County Master Gardeners as a showcase for low-water-use plants and grasses. Chelan County PUD promotes Xeriscape as a water conservation tool and is a garden co-sponsor.

View the garden’s many varieties and learn more about Xeriscape on the PUD website.