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Posts Tagged: energy saving

5 Great Ways to Celebrate Earth Day in Seattle

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Earth day comes once a year, and while we can do something every day to improve the environment and live sustainable, this day is a great reminder to plan our contributions.

Here are five great ways to celebrate earth day in Seattle.

1. Schools are a great place to celebrate Earth Day.

All around the world schools are planning educational programs in sustainability for that day. In the US, EarthDay.org is sponsoring a green schools campaign improving the facilities, food, even the schoolyards themselves. The Earthday.org website is the official location for all things Earth Day. Educators can log in to get involved. They’ve tracked over a billion “acts of green” and you can get in the action locally.

kids

2. Don’t be idle-ing.

We’re not talking about vegging out on the couch watching TV, we mean idling your car. If you are going to be waiting more than a minute, turn it off. Contrary to the old urban legends, restarting the car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling. In fact idling for 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting the engine! And for every 10 minutes your engine is off, you will prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released. Every year, idling cars and trucks product over 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide. This green action is easy… kick the idling habit.

cars idling

3. Clean the air in your home, starting with the basement.

Even with the windows closed, air does flow through your house, coming from the unconditioned spaces, such as attic or basement, into your conditioned space where you live. This air can bring in contaminants such as molds, bacteria, and allergens, and also chemical compounds (VOC’s) from paint cans, weed killers, and other things stored there. While the true way to improve air quality is to air seal your home, one step in the right direction is getting rid of unused products to reduce those compounds. A nice Earth Day clean-up of the basement could include donating those extra cans of paint and chemicals, or store them in a detached garage, away from the main part of your house. (Always observe temperature storage instructions on products).

basement

4. Watch the water.

Water is a precious resource and while we have had a lot of rain lately, we see how the rest of the Western US is suffering. A plumbing inspection can pinpoint potential water leaks in your home, which avoids problems later, reduces your water bill and saves resources.

water leak

5. Check out local news for a list of Seattle area earth day events to participate in or contact your local park.

Most of the larger parks have activities going on, so don’t be afraid to get out there!

 

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A brighter green for the holidays

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According to the EPA, household waste increases 25 percent each year between Thanksgiving and New Years. That’s huge! We know you are already recycling, and in Seattle, composting your food scraps, right, so what else can you do? Here are 4 great ideas you might not have heard elsewhere.

  1. Have a Green Tree. Whatever holiday you celebrate, decorating a tree is or can be part of it. Buy a live tree with its roots intact, and replant it. If you replant your tree you can create years of carbon removal and habitat for nature’s creatures. A healthy tree can store up to 13 pounds of carbon annually. That’s just a little but it helps. And of course, a live tree will be less likely to catch fire. Don’t want to plant an extra tree in your yard? Check out the Trees for Salmon program at Swansons Nursery. You can buy a tree and bring it back after the holidays. The tree will be planted by volunteers where it will contribute to salmon habitat renewal. That’s super green! Be sure to keep the root ball cool, covered and watered, and get some care recommendations from the tree lot.
  2. Drink Green. We found a wonderful article about creating green cocktails. First consider choosing some organic mixers or depending on where you live, organic distilleries. There are also seasonal craft beers from green breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Full Sail Brewing (Oregon) Roots Organic (Portland) and Fish Brewing Company out ofOlympia,WA. Be sure to recycle all those empties.
  3. Clean green. Remember back when “green” meant “ineffective” at cleaning and you had to take that pink Castille biodegradable soap camping even though it smelled bad and didn’t clean. Things have changed. Grocery store brands now offer greener versions of highly effective products. Many people do heavy cleaning of the house before and after guests. Skip the sprays, try a reusable cloth vs paper towels and give that shelf of green products in the cleaning aisle a second look.
  4. Wrap Green. Many bloggers talk about using the newspaper to wrap gifts. I’m just not a fan. Wrapping paper is recyclable. The only exception: the shiny, metallic kind is not recyclable. Bows and ribbons are also not recyclable; consider saving these and reusing them instead. Try being green by using less wrapping paper. Your pets have no thumbs to upwrap paper – so save it and just give ‘em the bone or catnip. Let’s face it, they think every day they get fed is a holiday! Or, gift with re-usable decorative gift bags. Leave the attached tag blank and it can be re-used by the person you give it to. If you just want your tree to look stuffed with presents, buy pre-printed decorated boxes and reuse them every year instead of wrapping every little thing.

But most of all, enjoy the holidays. Washington Energy Services will be here 24/7, even on Christmas, should you need help during the holidays including heating and plumbing emergency service. Call us at 800-398-4663.

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Energy wasters and savers

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Most homes in the Northwest have computers and TV’s, DVRs, appliances and maybe game consoles, wireless routers, ceiling fans and items that need charging. Have a look around your kitchen – how many things are plugged in? But…I need my refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker, food saver, dishwasher, and range, and I can’t cook without my ipod docking station! While my appliances are EnergyStar efficient, there’s more money spent to maintain all of my many home energy needs.

How can we save energy and stay comfortable?

You can increase your energy efficiency by choosing better appliances or fuel sources, and/or you can practice conservation, by changing your behavior. Either way, you will save. We hate to hear that people turn down the thermostat and suffer wearing coats inside all winter to save money, when there are so many other ways to save, in comfort. Here’s some information about those efficiency and conservation savings options.

Space heating & air conditioning efficiency

There are three drivers of your space heating cost:

  1. Fuel Source – a natural gas or electric fuel source can be much less expensive than oil or propane. In fact, it used to be that the cost to decommission an oil heating system was so high that it was a deterrent to people switching fuel sources. Today, oil costs so much, the payback for making the switch will be fast.
  2. Equipment – today’s heating equipment whether it’s for natural gas or electric heating is much more energy efficient. There are substantial utility rebates for installing efficient equipment.
    Natural gas furnaces can get to 97% efficient vs the old standard of 80%. What does that mean to you? 97% of your fuel is used, so only 3% of your fuel is lost as waste vs 80%/20%.
    An alternative to a high efficiency furnace is a heat pump with a furnace or air handler back up. This option is good for either electric or gas fueled heating systems. The heat pump sources heat from the air – air is free! So you use the furnace just as a backup when it gets below zero outside. Heat pumps also can cool your house when it’s hot by running their process in reverse. This summer that would have been useful! Central air conditioning has also become more efficient, but in the Northwest many people are choosing to use the cooling features of heat pumps and ductless heat pumps to provide both heat & air conditioning. This is a cost and energy efficient way to get AC.
    For electrically heated homes, ductless heat pumps can save up to 40% vs baseboard heating. These super quiet units also provide air conditioning in the summer – a bonus with our warming trends. These are great for single family homes, condos, townhomes and can fit just about anywhere.
    Another super efficient technology is radiant floor heating and related hydronic heating. These take a sooped-up tankless water heater or boiler and heat your whole home.
  3. Maintenance and Duct Sealing – If your system is not cleaned or running properly and your ducts are not sealed, there’s no system that can be efficient. Leaky ducts can lose up to 25% of your heat. Duct sealing should be done by professionals and is not nearly as expensive as the cost of the heat you are losing.

Water heating efficiency

  1. Water heating costs have been driven down by the introduction of tankless water heaters. They do not store hot water all day, providing hot water on demand when you turn on the tap. If you maintained your water use, you could save 15% on the cost to heat water – which is significant. Tankless water heaters provide continuous hot water. No tank to run out and no wait to let it warm up again. Everyone in the family can take really long showers and full baths. So while you may never see your 15% savings, your comfort and lifestyle will be enhanced and who doesn’t want that.
  1. Other cost efficient options for water heating include heat pump water heaters, which work just like heat pumps, drawing heat from the air as a fuel source with a backup, in this case, electric power. These are more expensive than traditional water heaters and require a large indoor space.

Electricity efficiency

  1. When buying appliances, including those for water and space heating, choose an EnergyStar™ rated appliance. For example, Energy Star refrigerators today use half as much energy as the ones made before 1993. EnergyStar also awards companies that provide the Most Efficient products in their categories.
  1. It’s true that the traditional light bulb is on its way out. Should you choose CFL’s?  Yes they are much more efficient, however they contain a toxic level of mercury (dangerous if it breaks or when disposed of) and a new study highlights that CFL’s may not be safe for use in close proximity to us. While there is probably more to learn here, LED’s do not have the risks that CFL’s have.

Conservation with comfort

  1. Electric: Most people will shut off appliances, lights and computers when not in use, but residual power is supplied when they are left plugged in. Pull the plug on anything you are not using. Put lights on a timer when you are away rather than leaving them on the whole time. Stop leaving a house full of lights on for your pets. They can see just fine in dim light.
  2. Water Heating: Using less water conserves both the water and the water heating cost. Low flow toilets, faucets and shower heads have come a long way and are more comfortable to use than ever before. Most can be purchased at hardware stores and installed by homeowners.
  3. Space Heating: Using a thermostat that you can set to reduce temperatures while you are away from home can save 5-10% on heating costs. Today’s technology, for example Redlink by Honeywell, allows you to set your thermostat from your phone or tablet with a convenient app.

Energy powers our lives but doesn’t need to consume our wallets. For more energy saving assistance call Washington Energy Services, 800-398-4663.

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Hot weather energy savers?

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Whether you have a central cooling system such as a heat pump or air conditioning, or just a single fan, there are plenty of ways to save energy, and money, in the summer. Here are some easy ones:

  1. Keep heat out of the house to begin with. The hotter you make the house, the harder your cooling equipment has to work.
    1. Don’t add heat yourself. Skip using the oven; choose the BBQ or even a microwave instead. Avoid using the drying function on your dishwasher.
    2. If you have aluminum windows or single paned windows, consider upgrading to insulated vinyl windows with Low E (energy efficient) glass. This will keep significant heat out of your home.
    3. Improve insulation in your attic. Having adequate attic insulation helps as much in keeping it cool in the summer as keeping heat in during winter.
    4. Pull down shades, close windows and blinds where the warmer afternoon sun comes in. Add shades or blinds to French doors or sliding glass doors. Open windows at night to let the house cool down as much as it can overnight.
  1. Ensure your cooling system is running at maximum efficiency by starting your AC early in the day. Don’t wait for heat to build up in the house. Like city vs highway mileage for your car, the mileage or in this case energy use is worse with stop and go airflow.
  1. Move air inside your house. Add a low cost ceiling or attic fan and make sure it’s installed correctly. See why below.
  1. Everyone can save by reducing use of higher cost electricity during the peak hot times of day. Turn off and/or unplug unused appliances, or use appliances at night when rates are lower.
  1. Service cooling equipment annually. If you have a central heating & cooling system such as a heat pump, central air conditioning, or ductless heat pump, you’ve likely made an energy efficient cooling choice. Maintenance service is important, especially for air conditioning systems that may sit idle for much of the year. You want it to work when it gets hot. Just like maintenance on your car, it will prolong the life of your expensive equipment and ensure you are getting the right “gas mileage”, or energy efficiency out of it.
The ceiling fan difference.
  • You can benefit from adding ceiling fans to your house even if you have a cooling system. Just having air movement can help you feel 5 degrees cooler so you can use your cooling equipment less.
  • Ceiling fans don’t actually lower the temperature in the room, they provide a breeze. To get the best from your ceiling fans make sure they are set up correctly. Make sure the blades are moving in the correct direction, rotating counter clockwise so you get a downdraft of air. They should have plenty of air circulation around them, and be positioned 7-9 feet off the floor.
  • Don’t leave ceiling fans on when you aren’t home. They don’t cool the room, they just cool your skin with a breeze. So if they are running and you’re not there, they are just using electricity.
The attic fan difference.
  • An attic fan can actually pull hot air out of the top of your house and reduce heat in your home by up to 15 degrees. This solution is perfect for Northwest homes that tend to have more than one floor and heat that is trapped on the top floor or attic.
  • A solar attic fan is a great option as it is completely solar powered. Even in the Northwest the solar attic fan can draw enough energy from it’s compact solar panels to enable it to do a great job cooling. Plus, these units are tough and rated to withstand hurricanes as they are popular in the Southern US.
  • Attic fans and solar attic fans are widely available. We advise that you consult a professional about proper installation.

For more information on Air Conditioning, AC service or energy efficient cooling products such as EnergyStar rated heat pumps, or solar attic fans, contact Washington Energy Services at 800 398 – 4663 or click our free estimate form on this email. You’ll be contacted within 24 hrs.

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Summer tips

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Provided by www.PSE.com

Top ways to save energy

We recommend you start with the easiest, lowest-cost, highest-value options at the top of this list. Then, as your budget, schedule, and inclinations allow, you can move down the list to more involved energy-saving options requiring a higher investment.

  1. Keep your home cool without cranking up the A/C by opening windows and doors in the evening and early morning when it’s cooler outside. Opening a window high on the warm side of the house and a lower window on the cool side creates cross ventilation to keep your home cool and breezy. Fans can help move the air throughout the house. An ENERGY STAR® qualified ceiling fan/light combination uses 50 percent less energy in comparison to a conventional model. Fans cool people, not rooms, so remember to turn them off when you leave.
  2. Clothes dryers waste a lot of energy and there are currently no energy-efficient models on the market. A clothes line and the sun’s warming rays will do the job without shrinking or wearing out your clothes. That summer fresh scent on your towels and linens is another added bonus.
  3. Refrigerators are already one of the biggest energy-wasting appliances in a home so standing in front of one to cool yourself, in addition to warming your milk and eggs, isn’t the best idea. Leaving the door open for a long time means additional energy will be required to re-cool your food later.
  4. A hot dishwasher or preheating oven sends heat throughout your home. On hot days stick to outdoor BBQs or nice summer salads and run only full loads of dishes with the “no heat” option selected for your drying cycle.
  5. Incandescent light bulbs get warm and can generate enough heat to raise the temperature of a room. Replace them with ENERGY STAR-qualified compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and fixtures – they use up to 75 percent less energy and can last up to 10 times longer. PSE offers instant discounts at participating retailers and showrooms.
  6. The kind of plants you choose and where you place them in your yard can have a dramatic effect on how cool your home stays in the summer. Plant leafy trees in front of western facing windows and siding to shade your home on hot summer days.
  7. Install a programmable thermostat for home heating. It can save lots of energy while you’re sleeping or away from home – and will re-warm your house shortly before you wake up or return home.
  8. Seal up air leaks around doors and windows with weather-stripping, caulking, and door sweeps to keep cold air in so you can enjoy it longer.
  9. Have your cooling system inspected and tuned every two to three years by a professional and clean or replace the air filters regularly.
  10. If you’re shopping for a new air conditioner, look for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) or the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) on the Energy Guide label and select the highest number rating you can afford (the higher the number, the more efficient the unit). PSE and ENERGY STAR recommend a SEER of 14 or higher. Consult a professional to make sure the equipment is sized correctly for your space.

Article courtesy of Puget Sound Energy – www.PSE.com

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The 5 best ways to save

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The 5 Best Ways to Save 10% on Your Energy Bill

 

  There is no one answer to becoming energy efficient.  You could change dozens of small habits such as lowering the thermostat when you’re out, or sealing wall outlets, or you can let your house do the saving for you with systems that reduce energy costs. We have compiled a list of 5 major energy savers to kick start a more efficient life.  Each one of these projects can result in at least 10% savings on your energy bill.  And with the average heating cost for our area between $1000-$2300 per year, that adds up.

Insulate and seal your home

This is the most cost effective way to save on your monthly energy bill.  According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for about half of the energy use in a typical home. Taking steps to cut energy use, such as insulating and sealing can reduce that cost by 10%-50%. According to TV’s Bob Vila, “Insulation is the most efficient energy-saving expenditure.” Vila says homeowners should check attics to determine the amount of insulation already installed. “Most homes built before 1980 have inadequate insulation,” he said, noting that if insulation between the joists of the attic floor comes only to the top of the joist, it probably makes sense to install more insulation. While traditional rolls of fiberglass are still around, new types of foam insulation offer higher quality and greater flexibility in tight spaces.  And yes it is actually possible to over seal and cut the important airflow channels that keep mold from forming and protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning, so do talk to a professional about local code requirements and recommendations for your area.

Upgrade a low efficiency gas furnace to modern technology.

If you have a 15 year old furnace, you should know that furnace technology has really changed. The advent of the modulating furnace brings super efficiency to the industry. A modulating furnace continuously adjusts, or modulates its fuel use, to keep your temperature steady, vs the old way of furnaces revving up and then shutting off. This is more fuel efficient and comfortable as well.

The industry measurement for furnace efficiency is called AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency).  This refers to the amount of heat you get in relation to the amount of fuel you supply to the furnace.  If you have an 80% AFUE furnace that means that 20%, or 20 cents of every heating dollar, is escaping and not going into your home.  And that’s the best case, if your venting is sealed tight and your furnace is maintained to manufacturer standards.  Upgrading to a 95-98% furnace could lower your heating cost by 15% or more, as it will use 95%+ of its fuel for heating.

You can really increase that savings when you switch your fuel source from oil or propane to natural gas. According to Snohomish County PUD and Seattle City Light, (who post online heating cost comparisons), the annual cost to run a propane or oil furnace can be two or three times the cost of natural gas or using a heat pump. That would be a 300% savings!

Or, if you have electric baseboard heat and no ducts, consider a ductless heat pump. This ultra-quiet electric heating option can give you 25-45% savings vs your current electric heat. This big savings is why PSE and Seattle City Light offer up to $1200 incentives to qualified homes who go ductless.

Replace older windows with new coated double pane windows

If you have older wood or aluminum framed single pane windows, you could be adding as much as $258 dollars per year (20%!) to your energy bills according to EnergyStar™.  New windows don’t just have more panes; Energy Star qualified windows will have treated low-E glass to keep outside temperatures where they belong: outdoors.  Using an insulated window frame increases that benefit. This will leave your windows feeling warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer and will reduce your energy costs. Even if you have great windows, caulking them every year ensures they don’t leak air as the house settles, and it keeps your warranty intact.

Re-side with an insulated siding

There have been several exciting advances in both ease and efficiency in siding technology.  One such advance is thermal or insulated siding; a vinyl siding with rigid foam insulation that is attached to the panel.  A study conducted by Newport Ventures found that that there was less heat loss from insulated siding when compared to fiber cement.  This can lead to estimated savings in the western Washington climate of 15% of total energy used. In fact, some of siding manufacturers will guarantee an energy savings. Vinyl siding doesn’t have to look cheap, new durable high quality brands provide the look of cedar in a composite product with virtually no maintenance, so you will save on painting too.

Routine maintenance improves performance of heating equipment

You may be surprised that this is one way to save 10% on your home heating bills.  Your furnace doesn’t get a ton of credit for how hard it works.  Based on the average winter degree-days in our area, the average furnace is firing approximately 4268 hours each year.  The average car is driven 15,000 miles in that same year, which averages 540 hours of use.  Based on these estimates, your furnace accumulates an average of 118,555 “furnace miles” each year.  This puts into perspective how much energy is being used to heat your home.

At the NC Sustainable Energy Conference they presented a case study on an HVAC system that was not properly maintained.  Dirty filters added 4.1% to energy consumption and a malfunctioning blower fan added 8.4%.  This means that the unit was running 12.5% under its optimal efficiency due to poor maintenance.  You wouldn’t go 100,000 miles without changing the oil in your car so treat your investment right and maintain your furnace.

This list has been compiled by Washington Energy Services, a local family owned company that sells energy efficient home improvement products and services.

Any one of these options could cut 10% off your heating and cooling costs, and in combination the savings can be more.  For more information contact your local utility or Washington Energy Services.

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Weatherize now while the sun is out

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Maximize your energy benefits, with minimum work

Here are three things you can do to weatherize. There are lots more, but these give you huge benefit for the least amount of work, and money.

    1. Insulation. It may not be the most glamorous home project, but one of the best energy savers for the buck is insulation. Did you know that 80% of US homes built before 1980 are lacking in insulation? Upgrading insulation by about 50% can result in a 12-18% reduction in energy use and it will help you stay warm throughout the house. How do you know what kind of insulation you need? Insulation pros will measure your attic, wall, crawl space and floor insulation to determine whether you have the right amount (Yes, you can actually have too much.). The government has created specific code levels and you’ll need to meet those in order to take advantage of utility rebates and tax credits available. Is it a lot of work? It doesn’t take long, but it can require finesse. Thinking of unrolling the fiberglass yourself? Make sure you know how much to buy, what tools you’ll need and how to properly install it without stepping through your ceiling. Incorrect installation or over insulation can actually limit your home’s air flow and cause serious problems. Please review important safety tips like these from the DIY television network http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-install-fiberglass-insulation/index.html. Right now, PSE customers can get up to $1400 in rebates on insulation, making it even less expensive to get it installed the easy way, by a professional.

 

  • Windows, doors and sealing. Okay, you’ve thought about it, but getting on a ladder to seal around the windows and doors is just not high on the priority list. A little caulk and a ladder – or maybe a call to a handyman. According to the DIY or Not website, Seattle homeowners can caulk six normal sized windows for about $60 (caulking gun and cartridges) or pay just $154 to hire a handyman. So much for the ladder! Now, if you have leaky single-paned aluminum frame windows or you have a big drafty gap on that old basement door, caulking is not going to be enough. New windows or doors are more expensive, but provide many benefits including greater comfort, even distribution of heat, higher resale value, plus energy efficiency. Some new window technologies are super green. For example, our newest vinyl window technology (SignatureMax) has the thermal protection of a triple paned low E window at the weight and light transmission of double paned. With its U Value of .21 you’ll be able to save on your heating bills and pick up utility rebates and tax credits.

 

 

  • Prepare your heating equipment for use. Manufacturers recommend annual maintenance and it’s not just for the benefit of the contractor who sold you the furnace or heat pump! Your heating system will run more efficiently and burn less gas or electricity if properly “tuned up”. Change to a clean filter before heating season starts. Everyone is trying to save these days, so why let your expensive furnace degrade when good maintenance can sustain it. With utility costs rising, it might pay to have your furnace evaluated when it gets to the 12-15 year mark. Furnaces typically last up to 15 years. If it is not running efficiently and/or you choose to upgrade to a new energy efficient model, you could save 15% -30% on your heating costs. Excellent incentives are available and a federal tax credit is still available until this December.

 

Washington Energy can help you improve your home energy efficiency, from insulation to windows; doors and furnaces or even furnace maintenance. To find out more, visit www.washingtonenergy.com.

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Summer is finally here!

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Are you weighing the cost of adding a heat pump, windows or making any energy efficient upgrade? If so, the total cost is not what is written on your contractor’s estimate. A more accurate way to compare options is to include the installed price of your upgrade, less the cost of the energy you will save and cash rebates or tax credits you can receive. Those savings can make the more expensive product cheaper in the long run.

For example, consider a new air source heat pump – good for both heating and cooling your house. You can buy an energy efficient heat pump that is rated at 8.5 HSPF (a measure of heating efficiency). Or spend less for one rated at 6.8 HSPF. However, the high efficiency heat pump uses 24% less energy, and over a 15 year average lifespan this is a substantial savings on your utility bills. But it’s not all you can save.

Only the 8.5+ HSPF heat pump qualifies for a rebate from local utilities ($200-$400), plus a $300 tax credit, for up to $700 saved. Don’t forget to add those savings when comparing total cost.

Here’s another example. A standard (80% AFUE) furnace will have a lower installed price than a high efficiency (95% AFUE) furnace. However, the 95% furnace uses about 30% less energy, and over a 15 year average lifespan, creates significant savings. Only the high efficiency 95% furnace qualifies for federal tax credits and utility rebates putting an extra $250 back in your pocket. That savings combined with contractor discounts and the energy cost reduction might make the 95% furnace a good choice.

The government and our utilities offer rebates that can make some of the more expensive, higher efficiency products more cost effective. They do this because it costs them less to pay you an incentive to use less energy than to build new power plants. So take the cash!

Here are some other rebates and tax credits available:

  • Air Source Heat Pump: Utility rebate $200 – $400 plus tax credit of $300.
  • EnergyStar qualified windows: up to $200 tax credit. And some limited utility rebates.
  • Other combinations of tax credits and rebates include: up to $1300 for insulation, $450 for a tankless water heater and $1100 for a ductless heat pump system.
  • Exterior doors – up to $500 tax credit.
  • Air conditioning – $300 tax credit.
  • Natural gas conversion, up to $3950 from PSE.

We’ve listed the top rebates from Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, Tacoma Power and Snohomish PUD on our website (click here). Restrictions apply and they do change frequently. Federal energy tax credits are available if you haven’t already taken one. Be sure to consult your tax advisor to determine your eligibility. Looking for kitchen appliance or CFL rebates, check out your utility’s website directly. Most electric utilities have them and some give away free bulbs.

If you would like to know more about these products or incentives, call us at 800 398 HOME or visit www.washingtonenergy.com

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Time for one resolution you CAN keep!

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We are excited for a great new year and have lots of energy saving tips and information for you in our upcoming newsletters. If you have a suggestion and/or would like to see more on a particular topic, please let us know at info@washingtonenergy.com

Making a New Year’s resolution is a time honored tradition. If you’re like me, the resolutions are always highly admirable but end in defeat. That’s where an Energy Resolution comes in. This is one resolution you can achieve with minimal grief. And by this we don’t mean saving energy by turning down your thermostat and freezing. It’s 2012, we have better ways.

Here are 5 things you can do to successfully reduce your home energy consumption and save money in the process:

  1. Seal the leaks around your windows and exterior doors. This is easy to do, and will help your home keep the heat in. Caulk, spray foam or use weather stripping and it will have an impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. Don’t want to fuss with this – contact a handyman, or a reputable window, insulation or painting company. Many of them provide this service.
  2. Fix your insulation situation. According to the Department of Energy, “heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes.” And according to their EnergyStar website, you could save up to 10% of your total annual energy bill just by sealing and insulating.
  3. Clean and seal heating ducts. About 20% of the air that moves through your duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. Need I say more? Call us or click here.
  4. Rethink electric heat. Electric heat can be double the cost of natural gas heat. There are two great ways to cut that cost. If you want to stay with electric as a heat source, replace those wall/baseboard heaters with new ductless heat pumps, They provide 25-40% energy savings and also turn into air conditioners in the summer. You can learn more about ductless heat pumps at www.goingductlessnorthwest.com. Or, if you live on a street where there are already gas lines, Puget Sound Energy is offering large $ incentive packages to help make it affordable to convert. Restrictions apply so contact a qualified gas furnace contractor, such as Washington Energy Services, and they can walk you through the process.
  5. Improve indoor air quality. Duct cleaning, changing furnace filters and using UV PHI lights in your heating system can make a difference. Duct cleaning reduces particulates that affect allergies. Changing your furnace filter helps it breathe better, be more energy efficient and collect more stuff so you don’t breathe it. A Guardian Air PHI UV light can kill germs, bacteria even flu in your house and reduce pet odor too. These things don’t cost much but whew, you can breathe easier.

Think you’re ready to make a 2012 energy resolution?

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Weatherization tips for saving energy & money on utilities

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Cooling, Insulation 2 Comments on Weatherization tips for saving energy & money on utilities

Windows & doors

Reducing leaks around windows, doors and chimneys in your home will result in considerable annual energy savings.

Insulation

Insulation levels in walls, ceilings and floors of your residence play a major role in determining heating costs and comfort. To get started, here are some basic tips:

• Older structures may be under-insulated since the amount of insulation in ceilings, walls, and floors is often determined by the building or energy code requirements mandated at the time the structure was built.

• Check to see if your attic and basement (or crawl space) have a sufficient level of insulation.

• Consider adding insulation when embarking on a home remodeling project.

• Install pipe insulation on all exposed hot water pipes.

• Install pipe insulation on the first three feet of exposed cold water pipe connected to the water heater.

 

Heating & cooling

Heating and cooling your home is the largest single factor in your energy bill. These heating and cooling tips can help you to increase the efficiency. To get started, here are some basic tips:

• Identify places that heat escapes from your home. Check for gaps and holes that allow heat to escape, raising your heating bills and making your home drafty and less comfortable.

• Check your furnace filter(s) monthly. During the heating season (also during the cooling season if you use air conditioning). The proper time interval for replacing or cleaning filters will vary depending on the rate of accumulation of pet hair, dust, and carpet lint in your home. Check your furnace owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions.

• Lower your thermostat. On average, for each degree you consistently lower your thermostat, your heating energy consumption drops by two percent. Therefore, keep your thermostat at the lowest comfortable setting (68 degrees or lower)

• Seal your home’s unheated spaces. If ductwork goes through an unheated basement, attic or crawl space, check for leaky joints or disconnected sections. Seal leaky joints with latex duct mastic or foil backed butyl tape. Reconnect any loose sections, seal, and support.

• Contact your furnace and/or thermostat manufacturer to assure that your furnace and thermostat are compatible and adjusted appropriately for your home.

• Install weather stripping and door sweeps along with caulking any exposed cracks or missing seals. For a no-cost fix, roll up a bath towel and hold it against the bottom of the door with a weight.

• Replace caulking around your home’s windows to reduce air leaks. Use non-hardening “rope caulk” to temporarily seal gaps on little-used, movable windows and sliding doors.

• If your home’s windows are single-paned, consider installing inexpensive “tape-up” interior storm windows for a low-cost, temporary fix. Caution: Make sure that doors and windows can be opened as emergency exits in case of fire.

 

Maintenance is a time consuming task, but extremely important to protect your investment in a home-comfort system. Put your maintenance on autopilot with our Guardian Maintenance Program.

Information courtesy of Puget Sound Energy.

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