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Win a free energy audit of your home

Posted in Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on March 5th, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintEnter a drawing to win a free, expert evaluation of potential energy savings in your home at the KPQ Home and Garden Show March 14-16 at Town Toyota Center.

Chelan PUD is hosting a booth at the show to spread the word about how to save on electric bills. The PUD is introducing new incentives for homeowners including rebates on air-source heat pumps, electronics’ surge suppressors, super-efficient windows, exterior doors and energy-efficient manufactured homes. For businesses, new programs include rebates on heat pump water heaters, commercial clothes washers, commecial dishwashers and ductless heat pumps.

Photo of older home

An energy audit identifies trouble spots where a home may be wasting energy.

One lucky winner will receive a free energy audit from Greg Jourdan of Jourdan HVAC/R Consulting, Wenatchee. Jourdan will check insulation, inspect the furnace and ductwork, and use diagnostic equipment and a thermal imaging camera to pinpoint trouble spots. Following the evaluation, Jourdan will suggest measures the homeowner can take to upgrade energy-efficiency, saving money on electric bills and improving home comfort.

The energy audit is valued at $300. You must be a Chelan County resident to enter the drawing.

Chelan PUD is among more than 150 exhibitors who will set up displays inside and outside the center. Learn the latest in home construction, landscaping, decor and green living.

Show hours are Friday, March 14, noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 15, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Warm up to savings at Builders Show

Posted in Appliances, Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on February 1st, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintCome in from the cold and learn how to keep your home warm and efficient at Building NCW’s  Home Show Feb. 7-9 at Town Toyota Center.

Photo of snowy house

Don’t be left out in the cold — warm up to energy savings at the Chelan PUD booth at the Building NCW Home Show Feb. 7-9.

Whether you’re building, remodeling or buying a new home, Chelan PUD staff can help you choose quality products for long-term savings on electric bills. Stop by our booth and enter our drawing to win a Nest thermostat with installation by Alpine Aire of Wenatchee — a $480 value. See a ductless heat pump on display and learn about our $750 rebate on this super-efficient technology. Pick up a flier listing our rebates on appliances, windows and insulation.  Ask our energy experts your vexing questions about energy use in your home. We’re here – and there at the home show — to help.

This is the 11th year for the builders’ home show, which brings dozens of businesses under one roof offering  remodeling,  construction, design, decorating, landscaping, financing and real estate services.

View the flier, and we’ll see you at the show!

Still time to get your ducts in a row

Posted in Energy conservation, Heating and cooling on January 21st, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintOwners and tenants of manufactured homes using electric forced-air furnaces or heat pumps can have their ductwork inspected for free through Chelan County PUD.

Photo of duct inspectors

Inspection and sealing of ductwork in a mobile home crawlspace can save energy.

This popular program began last year and will continue through 2014. The goal is to save energy and improve the comfort of homes by reducing air leaks.

A typical manufactured home leaks up to 30 percent of its heated (or cooled) air into the crawl space.

Contractor e-Star Northwest is now taking appointments. You can schedule an appointment by calling (509) 860-5045.

Services include:

• Testing your ductwork using the latest pressure diagnostic equipment and technology.

• Sealing air leaks in your ductwork.

• Inspecting and sealing crossover duct and connections, and replacing if necessary. There is no fee to replace leaky or damaged crossovers.

• Certifying your duct system. Even if no problems are found, which is rare, you can be assured your system meets the highest standards.

Note: Technicians will need access to your furnace and all heat registers. Allow approximately three hours for work to be completed. Also, customers using combustion appliances (wood stoves, fireplaces, gas range, etc.) will be required to install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in order to qualify for the service. Fires must be out two hours prior to appointment.

Questions? Read our flier or call the PUD at (509) 661-8008.

Buyer, please beware

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling on January 2nd, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintSome energy-saving claims are too good to be true

From time to time, various companies visit our area selling products with claims of extraordinary energy savings. Customers are sometimes lured into paying for products that don’t work in our climate, or that they could buy at lower cost through local contractors and retailers.

Photo of pushy salesmanA Chelan PUD customer who paid $3,500 for an energy-saving product last year visited our office in December. This customer wondered why home electric bills hadn’t dropped significantly. In January, another customer who paid $6,000 for a product that supposedly would provide significant savings came to us; this customer’s bill had actually gone up. In both cases, the device and materials purchased to slow heat loss were ineffective in our climate (see “attic shield” below). Both customers had purchased the product following a sales pitch at a hosted dinner.

If you have a question about the value or benefit of energy products, please call us at (509) 661-8008. Conservation staff can help you evaluate the cost effectiveness of energy-efficiency products and decide whether they’re appropriate for your home and our local climate. It’s also a good idea to contact local retailers for price comparisons. Many window installers from out of the area charge significantly more than local companies for the same or similar materials and work.

Tip: Read the fine print. Often, savings are calculated for average retail rates of 10-12 cents per kilowatt hour or more. Chelan PUD customers pay about 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

Some products that have been sold in the area but generally don’t work well here:

  • Attic shield. This looks like bubble wrap with a foil face, or a thin foam sandwiched between two reflective, aluminum-foil type surfaces. This is usually a radiant barrier with a small amount of polyethylene closed cell foam. This product will reflect some radiant heat. It has less than a quarter-inch of insulation. In our area, most heat loss is through convection and conduction, not radiation. This product will save an almost immeasurable amount of energy in cold temperatures.
  • Roof reflector. This is a white heat-reflective elastomeric coating. This is often used on mobile homes and flat roofs as a reflective barrier. Works best during times when air conditioning is needed; air conditioning is not a major cost for homes in our area. We are a heating climate primarily.
  • Souped-up surge protectors. Some companies sell these surge protectors with the promise of saving wasted electricity due to poor “Power Quality or Factor.” Although some commercial and industrial customers with large motor loads may see some benefit with improved power quality, they’re pretty useless in homes. Tests done on these types of products have shown no discernible energy savings in a residential application.
  • Space heaters. Out-of-area companies selling space heaters sometimes rent conference rooms at local hotels to promote their products. Before purchasing an expensive space heater, compare it to similar products available at local stores that may be hundreds of dollars less money and equal in efficiency.
  • Insulated paint. Companies may sell insulated latex paint with promises of huge energy savings. Sometimes this paint will contain small ceramic balls or microspheres, which are touted to be the miracle additive to make the paint energy efficient. Repeated tests by colleges and recognized testing labs show that these paints are no more efficient than off the shelf latex paint. They just cost a lot more. (See ‘Insulating’ paint merchants dupe gullible homeowners on GreenBuildingAdvisor.com)

    Find products that DO work in this guide.

We’re one step closer to smart windows

Posted in Energy conservation, Environment on August 15th, 2013 by Susan – Comments Off

Photo of Open window with blue skyResearchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have designed a new material to make smart windows even smarter. The material is a thin coating of nanocrystals embedded in glass that can dynamically modify sunlight as it passes through a window.

Berkeley Lab researchers said in a news release that unlike existing technologies, the coating provides selective control over visible light and heat-producing near-infrared (NIR) light, so windows can maximize both energy savings and occupant comfort in a wide range of climates.

“In the US, we spend about a quarter of our total energy on lighting, heating and cooling our buildings,” says Delia Milliron, a chemist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry who led this research. “When used as a window coating, our new material can have a major impact on building energy efficiency.”

It’s not ready for prime time yet, but project scientist Anna Llordés notes, “We’re very excited about the combination of unique optical function with the low-cost and environmentally friendly processing technique. That’s what turns this ‘universal smart window’ concept into a promising competitive technology.”

The breakthrough is highlighted in Business Insider and outlined in detail by Milliron and colleagues in an article in the August issue of Nature. Watch the video here.

While smart windows aren’t on the market yet, you can improve the energy efficiency of your home by replacing single-pane or double-pane metal-framed windows with new energy-efficient windows. Chelan PUD offers a rebate of $6 per square foot, which usually covers 10 to 15 percent of the cost. Visit the PUD website or call (509) 661-8008 for details.