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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 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.

Have you hugged your heat pump today?

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling on August 27th, 2014 by Susan – 4 Comments

Lightly logoEnergy-efficient ductless heat pumps are winning the hearts and minds of customers

If they didn’t sit so high up on the wall you might try to hug them. People just love-love-love their ductless heat pumps.

These little workhorses — popular in Japan and Europe for years — are gaining ground in the Northwest, offering quiet, efficient cooling and heating. What’s not to love?

Photo of Glen Ferrier with ductless heat pump

Glen Ferrier says his family’s comfort “has gone way up” since installing an energy-efficient ductless heat pump in their Leavenworth home.

Since Chelan County PUD began its ductless heat pump program in 2012, about 35 customers have installed units in their homes and taken advantage of rebates of $750 per household. Among them are Glen and Jacqueline Ferrier of Leavenworth, who wanted to supplement the baseboard heat in their 35-year-old home and add air conditioning.

“Our comfort level has gone way up,” said Glen, a retired Forest Service silviculturist. “I just love this thing.  I can’t say enough about it. I come home when it’s hot, turn it on and it’s cool before you know it.”

The Ferriers had no air conditioning before installing their ductless heat pump. Their electric bills are slightly higher in the summer now, Glen said, “but who’s to complain? Our electricity here is ridiculously cheap.” Winter bills have gone down. And because the Ferriers don’t need to use their wood stove as a backup nearly as often now, they’re saving money on firewood, Glen said.

The home is 1,600 square feet on two levels. The ductless heat pump provides heating and cooling for the kitchen, living room and down a hallway to three bedrooms. Fans installed prior to the heat pump help circulate the heated and cooled air.

PUD rebates are open to customers with electric furnaces, baseboard, wall or radiant heat living in site-built, single-family homes up to a four-plex. Manufactured homes with furnaces are eligible, but manufactured homes using baseboard or wall heat are excluded. Customers are eligible for one rebate per household.

Details are on the PUD website or by visiting

Evaluating the benefits of smart-grid technology for business

Posted in Energy conservation on August 20th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Smart metering network graphic

A study in 2015 will help determine whether smart-grid technology would benefit Chelan County PUD business customers by providing tools to manage and monitor power use and conserve.

Lightly logoThe analysis will focus on the PUD’s “Top 500” industrial and commercial customers, many of whom have asked for these advanced services.

John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, said the PUD has built a solid foundation of software, systems and automated equipment over two decades to support a smart grid and the benefits that the technology can offer.

“Our plan is to take prudent, pragmatic steps toward smart grid technology and to adding programs that make the most of its benefits,” Stoll said. “We want to help customers with technology to use energy efficiently as well as help the District control costs.”

The plan is to use technology such as the District’s fiber network as a base for adding other systems to provide more information for decisions about reliability, power quality and customer services. The analysis planned for 2015 would include a look at updates for the District’s customer billing software and at how best to manage the increased data generated by advanced meters.

A consultant will be hired this fall to help determine requirements.

If the analysis shows customers would benefit, two-way meters would be installed in 2016 for the PUD’s “Top 500” business customers, which represent about 40 percent of the electric load.

About one third of the PUD’s residential customers have automated meters, including 2,000 just installed in Cashmere during upgrades made after the District purchased the city electric system. PUD water customers have had automated meters since 2006.

Chelan PUD could make its grid smarter (Wenatchee World)