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‘E’ is for emergencies

Posted in Energy conservation, Heating and cooling on December 2nd, 2015 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintChanging to ‘e heat’ on your heat pump thermostat will reduce energy savings

Every winter we talk to customers with heat pumps who switch their settings to “e heat,” “EM heat” or “auxiliary heat” at the first sign of frost. If you want to take advantage of the energy-efficiency of a heat pump, making that switch may be a bad idea.

A heat pump draws heat from outside air. When temperatures drop, a heat pump draws less heat inside. Eventually it can’t provide all the heat needed and supplemental heat from your furnace kicks in.

Caucasian lady pressing modern thermostatThat furnace heat — called electric resistance — is 100 percent efficient. But heat pump heat is 200 to 300 percent efficient. If you switch your thermostat to the e-heat setting you’re shutting off the heat pump and relying entirely on the furnace. Which means you’re surrendering potential energy savings.

As energy expert Dr. Allison Bailes states, if you want to save on your electric bill, keep the thermostat at the “Heat” setting. Save the emergency setting for a real emergency, such as when your faithful old heat pump quits working.

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 Energy Vanguard article: ‘How NOT to use your heat pump thermostat’

 All about air source heat pumps

Thanks for saving energy

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on January 28th, 2015 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintPopular programs help PUD exceed conservation goal by 40 percent

Here’s a hearty pat on the back to our customers: Chelan County residents taking advantage of energy-efficiency programs saved 13,052,400 kilowatt hours of energy last year – enough to power about 504 local homes.

The savings helped Chelan County PUD surpass its mandated 2014 conservation target by 40 percent and meet a “stretch” goal of 1.49 average megawatts of savings.

Photo of clothes washers

Rebates on energy-efficient clothes washers continue through 2015.

Some 1,490 residents took advantage of programs to save energy and money including rebates on appliances, windows, insulation, ductless heat pumps and air source heat pumps; duct sealing for manufactured homes; and refrigerator/freezer recycling. Thirty-one businesses installed energy-efficiency improvements with help from the PUD.

Rebates and services continue through 2015; check out the many options.

Saving energy is a winning proposition for everyone. Customers save money with lower electric bills, reduce energy waste and in many cases, improve the comfort of their homes. When customers save energy, more power is available to sell at wholesale rates on the open market; those revenues help keep local retail rates low. Customers also help the PUD meet state-mandated targets under the Energy Independence Act.

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.