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Washington Energy Services has provided home comfort solutions to Puget Sound homeowners since 1957.

Top 10 Back to School Energy Savings

Summer is a time of blowing fans, air conditioning, and the continuous opening of the fridge—especially when the kids are home. The back to school season is a great time to get your energy efficiency back on track. The following tips will help you take advantage of the emptier (and we’re guessing, quieter) house once the kids are back in school.

Be in hot water

Is your water heater up to the challenge of multiple, concurrent showers? Getting ready for school and work can put a strain on an old or undersized water heater—making showers chilly. If your water heater is nearing ten years old, it may be time for an energy-efficient upgrade from Washington Energy. Check out our standard and tankless water heaters and ensure your fall mornings aren’t starting colder than they need to.

Stay warm at the right time

You hate wasting energy, but you also don’t want to return to a cold home. The answer is simple: set it and forget it. Honeywell’s thermostats are sleek, smart, and can provide major savings on your energy bills—up to 15%. Set the thermostat to drop the temperature during the day, raise it right before you or the kids get home, and reap the rewards all season long.

Inspect your heating

Speaking of heat, it’s a good idea to get your furnace inspected by a professional before you start using it in full force. A Precision Tune-Up will make sure it stays running smoothly during the back to school season and beyond.


Don’t let the cold out

The back to school season means the return of early morning lunch prep. When you’re making lunches, grab everything you need out of the refrigerator at one time and be sure to shut the door. Leaving the door open, even for short periods of time, can waste a surprising amount of energy.

Remember to unplug

It sounds spooky, but “vampire power” is very real. It’s the energy loss that comes from devices you’re not using, but still have plugged in. Think hair dryers, fans, and video game consoles. Get your family in the habit of unplugging devices before school and work to combat this creepy (and costly) phenomenon.

Close the blinds

If you find your home is too hot or too cold – a culprit might be your windows. Closing your blinds or curtains can mitigate cold air or block hot rays of sunshine.

Don’t let a drip drain your wallet

Be sure to fix faucet leaks, drips and running toilets as soon as possible. If you’re unsure of the overall state of your plumbing, consider a Plumbing Inspection, which will identify these costly problems.

Time your lighting

Always forgetting to turn off the porch light? How about the living room lamp before bed? As the days get shorter, it’s a great time to program your lights to a timer. You can set them to illuminate at homework time and turn off for bedtime.

Have a backup (generator) plan

Do you have a plan for power loss during an ice or windstorm? A Generac backup generator from WES ensures life goes on without skipping a beat. Homework is done, meals can be cooked, and the family stays warm.


Know where you stand

The first day of school is a great time to maximize your home’s energy efficiency before fall and winter set in. A Home Energy Audit gives you the knowledge and information you need for improvement, including:

  • Customized color report detailing audit results
  • Prioritized list of opportunities to improve home’s performance
  • Tips to improve indoor air quality
  • Utility savings modeling on home
  • Detailed breakdown of available incentives and rebates

While saying goodbye to summer can be tough, the back to school season is a fresh start and an exciting time for everyone. With additional energy savings, back to school can be economical as well.

Solar Power Adoption in Seattle

According to the group Solar Power Rocks which documents adoption of solar across the country, Washington State falls in the middle of the pack with a C grade. We’re only 26th in the nation in solar capacity. With our love of green living, and with local solar system producers right in our backyard, we could be at the forefront. What’s holding us back?

Solar Panels on House

Is it the weather? Nope, Seattle gets as much, if not more sun than Germany, the world leader in solar implementation. Even with our grey days, we get enough sun to effectively run solar systems.

Is it the availability of solar systems? We have plenty of imported and local system choices. Washington State is home to 35 manufacturers of solar systems and components. It’s a growing industry employing 2,400 people as of 2014.

Electric Meter

Is it the incentives? Washington State provides ample incentives including:

  • Net metering which allows you to give power back and take it off your bill. There are limits and requirements from each utility, but the idea is that you get credited for the power you produce at retail price, and your electric bill is only the difference (if any) between what you generated and what you used.
  • In-State Production incentives: In addition to net metering, you can earn a bonus payment starting at $0.15kwh up to $0.54/kWh (max $5000 per year), for use of made-in-Washington parts and systems. While China produces a large number of the solar systems available, Washington State wants to encourage us to use our local producers. By using solar modules and inverters that are made in state, you can collect these incentives. The local utilities may call these by different names and implement them on your bill slightly differently. For example, PSE calls the production incentive REAP (renewable energy advantage program). These incentives are set to expire in 2020. Some local community utilities have their own incentives as well.
  • One time benefits: From now until June 2018, when you install a solar electric or hot water system you can get a sales tax credit which varies with the size of the system. Smaller systems may get a 100% rebate on sales tax and larger systems can qualify for 75% tax rebate. Plus the federal energy tax credit gives you a tax credit for 30% of the system cost when you install before the end of 2016.

The number one reason that Seattle-ites haven’t jumped on the solar bandwagon is because the cost of electricity in our state is so low that the payback could take a decade or more.

Power Cost Comparison Chart


According to Seattle City Light, “If we divide the initial cost of a system by the total electricity produced over 30-years, the cost of solar electricity (without incentives) is about 3 times what City Light residential customers now pay for electricity. With net metering and new federal and state incentives the economics of solar become more favorable”.

If you consider the benefits of net metering and plan to stay in your house, this investment may be a good one. As SCL points out, this should be looked at as “a long term investment for you and the environment.”

While many families have been reluctant to make the $15,000 to $25,000 investment in a solar system for their home, there are energy saving benefits from less expensive alternatives that could reduce your energy consumption. The Department of Energy’s recommendation for energy saving in older homes is to start with a home energy audit and ensure you have air sealing and insulating to code. These steps alone can reduce energy costs substantially.

Washington Energy is committed to enhancing the lives of our Puget Sound neighbors through energy saving solutions and helpful information. While we do not provide solar systems, we have many alternatives to make your home comfortable and energy efficient. For home energy audits, insulation, and more, contact us.