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Energy savings are adding up

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on February 3rd, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintCustomers taking advantage of energy-efficiency programs saved 20,761,200 kilowatt hours of energy last year – enough to power about 1,000 homes in Chelan County. 

The savings helped Chelan County PUD surpass its 2013 conservation goal by about 40 percent.

Photo of Sav-Mart

Appliance rebates continue through 2014. (Thank you, Sav-Mart, for supporting our program.)

Some 1,890 homeowners took advantage of programs to save energy and money including rebates on appliances, windows, insulation and ductless heat pumps; duct sealing for manufactured homes; and refrigerator/freezer recycling. Thirty-five businesses installed energy-efficiency improvements with help from the PUD. And 94 low-income households received weatherization help using PUD funding through the Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council. 

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

Surveys of customers who participated in programs last year showed high satisfaction with their products and PUD customer service. There’s still time to participate this year as all programs are continuing. Check them out here.

Don’t be chicken – watch this video

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on January 31st, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintWe’re kicking off our 2014 energy-efficiency programs with a short video starring… a chicken! We think our ENERGY STAR appliance rebates, window and insulation rebates and free mobile home duct sealing programs are something to crow about.

Find rebate information, conservation tips and more on our website at ConservationMakesCents.org.

 

Take a walk on the WestSide

Posted in Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting, Uncategorized on December 9th, 2013 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintInnovative design shines at renovated school

There’s abundant energy coming into WestSide High School these days, and not just from wiry teen-agers.

Light from the sun, known in the building industry as daylighting, is a key feature among several environmentally friendly attributes built into the new alternative school on Ninth Street in Wenatchee.

Photo of WestSide High cafeteria

Light from the outdoors and from energy-stingy LEDs illuminates the WestSide High School cafeteria.

Windows around the perimeter bring ample light into classrooms. Light streams through six traditional skylights, and eight Solatubes – tubular skylights that use polished metal and Plexiglas to capture and diffuse light – outshine the LED lights next to them.

Unique LED lighting decorates the ceilings, from silver-dollar-sized LEDs in inverted-bowl-shaped fixtures to troffer hallway lights that switch off when no one’s around.

Motion and daylight sensors are a key part of the energy-efficiency equation in WestSide High’s construction.

“The classrooms are on occupancy sensors, and there are no wall switches in the halls,” explains Bryan Visscher, director of Facilities and Risk Management for the Wenatchee School District. As daylight increases, lights dim. As sunlight wanes, lights grow brighter.

The school is cutting-edge for the district and for Visscher, who has championed energy efficiency at all 12 schools and helped the district win six EPA Energy Star awards. This time he’s been able to incorporate efficiency measures from the get-go rather than retrofit old systems with new technology.

 

Photo of WestSide computer center

A WestSide student uses the computer center while others are in class. About 250 students are enrolled in the alternative high school, which offers small class sizes and individualized learning.

Ameresco, the environmental services company under contract to instill and install energy efficiency, will measure and verify expected energy savings.The new WestSide uses a variable refrigerant flow system for heating and cooling that reduces energy waste. Lines run throughout the building, allowing heat from a warmer side, for example, to be transferred by refrigerant to a cooler side. Traditionally the warmer air would have been ejected outdoors. The Mitsubishi system uses variable-speed fans and evaporators and sophisticated native controls to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort.

“An overlay of automated logic” runs the HVAC system, Visscher said, which offers opportunities to schedule actions such as shutting off the half of the building that’s not used for night school. It’s also the first building in the district to have electronic access controls for immediate lockdown in case of emergency.

The 18,000-square-foot building was once Wenatchee’s Eagles Lodge. It was gutted to make way for WestSide. The building had been used by Wenatchee Valley College as a music and arts center, then acquired by the school district in a swap that gave the former WestSide building back to the college. Years ago, that building used to be college dormitories.

Students moved in Sept. 1, leaving cramped, concrete-block classrooms behind. They can eat their lunches, prepared in a full-sized commercial kitchen, in a spacious cafeteria now. They can access computers in an electronic library. They can work on projects together in “teaming rooms.” They can go to class in rooms that are mostly windows, not walls.

P.E. classes are still held at the old campus, but an anonymous donor has offered to help build a gym on the school’s north side. In the meantime, the district will begin converting the old Wenatchee Youth Circus storage building, located just west of WestSide, into a fitness building where students can use exercise equipment and free weights.

Energy rebates continue in 2014

Posted in Appliances, Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting, Recycling on December 9th, 2013 by Susan – 2 Comments

PrintNow here’s something to look forward to in 2014: Our rebate programs on energy-efficient windows, insulation and appliances will continue.

Photo of customer Ora Jansen with refrigerator and freezer to be recycled

All of Chelan PUD’s energy-efficiency programs — including recycling of old refrigerators and freezers — will continue in 2014.

Chelan County PUD’s rebates in 2014 will stay at the same level as 2013 with one exception: The incentive for LED retrofit kits will drop to $10 beginning January 1. (The current rebate is $25 per kit.)

This past year was one of our best ever for conservation, with nearly 400 customers adding energy-efficient windows and/or insulation to save money and improve the comfort of their homes. Check out what three satisfied customers say about their energy-saving improvements in this video.

In the last four years, Chelan PUD has saved 7.3 average megawatts through conservation efforts — enough to power about 2,940 local homes.

Here are the rebate amounts for 2014:

  • Energy-efficient windows: $6 per square foot
  • Insulation: 50 cents per square foot
  • Refrigerators and freezers: $50
  • Clothes washers: $30-$75
  • Water heaters: $25-$100
  • Heat pump water heaters: $300-$500
  • Ductless heat pumps: $750
  • LED retrofit kits: $10

We’ll continue to offer refrigerator and freezer recycling next year, too. Our contractor will haul away and recycle old refrigerators or freezer at no charge, plus provide a $30 rebate.

The PUD also offers free duct testing and sealing for manufactured homes.

The cause of condensation on windows

Posted in Energy conservation, Heating and cooling on October 30th, 2013 by Susan – 1 Comment
Photo of toy house wrapped in striped scarf.

Weatherizing a home can sometimes cause problems with condensation.

A customer recently e-mailed us about condensation on new windows placed in the east side of his home. The window contractor, Tom Heslin of Integrity Glass in Chelan, explained that the condensation is due to humidity and can occur when new windows and/or insulation have been installed.

“The home has been made weather-tight and no longer is drafty or breathes like it used to before it was weatherized properly,” Heslin said.

Heslin referred to a Q and A about condensation on the website of Soft-Lite Gorell, an Energy Star award-winning manufacturer of windows and doors. The information is reprinted below with thanks to Heslin and Soft-Lite Gorell.

What causes exterior condensation?

Exterior condensation occurs when moist air comes into contact with cool surfaces, such as glass. This type of condensation appears when the dew point in the air is higher than the temperature of the glass. This occurs when a cool night follows a warmer day, most typically during the spring and fall seasons.

How does low-emissivity (Low-E) glass affect exterior condensation?

Low-E glass reduces heat conducted through the glass from the warm interior of the home to the outside glass surface. Heat conduction can be reduced by as much as 50 percent with an efficient Low-E coated glass. This reflected heat energy reduces the outside glass temperature and can result in condensation on the glass. Exterior condensation is actually an indication that the insulating glass in the window is performing as it should.

What causes condensation on the inside glass of windows?

Whenever there is excess humidity in a home, it manifests itself in the form of condensation on the coldest area of a wall, which is normally the windows. The warmer the air, the more moisture it will retain, so when air in your home comes in contact with the colder glass surface, it is subsequently cooled and moisture is released in the form of condensation on the glass.

Do windows cause condensation?

No, condensation on windows is not the fault of the window. However, by replacing drafty windows and doors or installing a new roof or siding, you are reducing air flow in your home and making it tighter. Tighter homes actually retain more humidity.

Where on a window does condensation normally form and why?

Condensation often forms at the meeting rail and at the bottom of the lower sash on the interior of the glass. This is because when warm air cools, it falls down across the interior surface of the window at the same time the temperature of the air is falling. The air contacts the horizontal surface of the meeting rail, which acts like a dam, slowing the air’s rate of fall and creating the perfect opportunity for the trapped water vapor to escape and form on the meeting rail’s surface. The air then rolls over the edge of the meeting rail and again gains speed until it encounters the lower handle of the sash. At this point, the water vapor again makes its exit and lies at the bottom of the sash.

Can I reduce the condensation on my windows?

Yes. In order to reduce condensation, humidity must be controlled and air movement must be generated.

What steps can I take to reduce humidity in my home?

The two main things you can do are to control sources of moisture and increase ventilation. To decrease or control excess humidity and condensation:

  • Use exhaust fans in your kitchen, laundry and bathrooms.
  • Vent gas burners, clothes dryers, etc. to the outdoors.
  • Shut off furnace humidifiers and other humidifying devices in your home.
  • Be sure that the ventilating louvers in your attic, basement or crawl spaces are open and amply sized.
  • Open fireplace dampers to allow an escape route for moisture-laden air.
  • Air out your house a few minutes each day.

***

A comment from Mark Wiser, senior residential energy adviser:

Good discussion on condensation, which with the change in seasons, is becoming pretty prevalent in Chelan County. There are a couple points I’d like to comment on for our customers’ consideration. First of all we don’t recommend opening fireplace dampers to help remove excess moisture in the air. Opening a fireplace damper creates uncontrolled heat loss from the home, which may increase as outside temperatures decrease. A better strategy is to install a whole house exhaust fan on a timer (many newer homes already have them). These are often placed in utilitiy rooms. With this system, a homeowner can adjust the time the fans are on in order to exhaust only enough inside air to eliminate moisture buidup. The homeowner can increase or decrease as needed, thus reducing heat loss while controlling moisture. A whole house fan should be operated a couple hours a day under normal conditions as well, simply to exhaust stale inside air and replace with fresh.

Often condensation on inside windows and walls occurs first in a bedroom on the north side of a home. This is typically the coldest room in the home. The condensation occurs behind a closed curtain or behind furniture or the bed on the north wall. Sometimes this can be eliminated simply by opening the curtain or moving the furniture away from the wall. This allows air to move before condensation appears. Please feel free to contact me at 509.661.4382 or at mark.wiser@chelanpud.org – Mark Wiser