Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 30th is Weatherization Day!

October is Energy Awareness month and the federal, state, and local governments have been working to highlight the actions that are making our country more energy efficient. To this end, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoir has named October 30th 2010 as “Weatherization Day” to celebrate and highlight the many successful energy efficiency programs in our state.

Washington’s Weatherization Assistance Program for low-income residents, in place since 1987, has long been considered an important part of our state’s efforts to address poverty issues. Since its inception, over 125,000 homes have received services, reducing energy bills and increasing comfort and safety in those households that are most in need.

Thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), many government agencies and non-profit organizations have received grants to help make these services affordable to an even larger percentage of the population and to raise awareness about the benefits of energy efficiency for homes and businesses. The Community Energy Challenge is proud to be a part of the effort to make Whatcom County a leader in energy efficiency!

Read the Proclamation here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October Energy Saving Tip #6: Banish Drafts

Sealing unwanted air leaks and drafts in your house can be the most important first step toward energy efficiency. If you’re cold you would try zipping up your coat before putting on another coat, wouldn’t you? Air sealing can provide significant savings and increased comfort in your home. While a home energy assessment and professional whole-house air sealing done by a contractor are the best way to realize these savings, there are some simple, low-cost actions you can take to greatly reduce drafts in your home.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October Energy Saving Tip #5: Heat Wisely

The number one energy user in most households is the heating system. Although we live in a rather temperate climate, heating our living and work spaces is necessary for much of the year. By following a few simple guidelines you can stay comfortable while reducing your energy use and saving money on your bills.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October Energy Saving Tip #4: Switch to CFLs

Photo by AZAdam
 Switching from incandescent lighting to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to save energy in your home. The easiest way to make the change is to start by replacing incandescent bulbs in just the 5 most used fixtures in your home. This will save you $60 on your energy bills each year! As other bulbs burn out, replace them with CFLs as well for even more savings.

Not every CFL is perfect for every fixture, but by putting just a little bit of thought into how you use them and what type you purchase you can avoid the common complaints about CFLs and enjoy high quality lighting at a low cost.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Energy Saving Tip #3: Hot Water (Part 2)

Because saving hot water is one of the easiest ways to save energy in your home, here are a few more tips for cutting back!

Wash Your Clothes in Cold

Most modern laundry detergents are made to work equally well in warm or cold water, so why not save yourself some money and set your washer to the cold/cold setting? You won’t notice any difference except on your energy bills, which could be as much as $70 lower per year. Save the warm wash for oily or extra stubborn stains and wash the rest in cold.

Take Shorter Showers

Showering can use more hot water than all other residential hot water uses combined and presents a major opportunity for savings. The average 10 minute shower can cost you between $0.60 to $1.50 depending on the heat of your water and the flow rate of your showerhead. That means that by only taking 5 minute showers you can save at least $80 per year.

Look for the ENERGY STAR Label

When you set out to buy a new water heater tank, dishwasher, or washing machine, be sure to pick a unit with the ENERGY STAR label showing that it is an efficient model. ENERGY STAR certified appliances perform just as well as their counterparts, and although they sometimes (though not always) cost a little more up front, over the lifetime of the unit they can save you big time on energy costs. This makes them not only the most sustainable choice, but the most cost effective as well.

City of Bellingham honored by ICLEI with national award for Energy Efficiency Innovation

Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) awarded nine governments around the country with Leadership Awards for taking innovative actions to promote sustainability in their communities. As a lead partner and a key funder of the Community Energy Challenge, the City of Bellingham was recognized in the Energy Efficiency Implementation Innovation category, along with the cities of Aspen and Austin.

“This award recognizes Whatcom County’s commitment to reducing green house gas emissions by reducing the amount of energy we use,”  Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike said. “Bellingham is pleased to share this leadership award with Sustainable Connections, the Opportunity Council, Whatcom County, all six cities that also are committed to this effort, and a host of other local organizations.” 

The Community Energy Challenge is commended for implementing its unique Loan Loss Reserve program through Banner Bank and for providing financial incentives and technical guidance to make energy efficiency improvements feasible for a large portion of the residential and local business community in Whatcom County. The ambitious goal of weatherizing 900 homes and 150 businesses through the program is recognized for having a significant positive impact in the community. These projects have the potential to eliminate 7,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, the same reduction that would be seen by removing 1,400 cars from the road annually.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Energy Saving Tip #2: Hot Water (Part 1)

Photo by stevendepolo
Although water can seem like something we have a lot of in the Pacific Northwest, there are many good reasons to conserve it, not the least of which is the fact that hot water is the second highest energy cost for most households. This can easily add up to $200 to $500 per year for the average household! The good news is that there are many ways to use less hot water in your home without sacrificing convenience or comfort.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October Energy Saving Tip #1: Phantom Draw

Photo by grendelkhan
Did you know that many appliances still draw energy when they are turned off? This has several spooky names, including vampire draw or phantom load, and can account for up to 5-10% of your residential energy use.

Not all electronics fall into this category, but anything with an internal clock, timer, standby mode, memory, or a little light can be sucking power even when you aren't using it. In order to avoid this unwanted draw, you can unplug appliances when they aren't needed or put them on a power strip and turn off the red switch. Flipping the switch on a power strip breaks the circuit so no more energy is being drawn while simply turning the item off often still allows it to use power.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October is Energy Awareness Month!

Every month is energy awareness month at the Community Energy Challenge, but since 1991 the federal government has recognized October as Energy Awareness Month. It's an effort to raise awareness about the ways in which clean and efficient energy systems are central to a thriving economy, clean environment, and healthy citizens.
Photo by zheem

Whatcom County is doing its part as local homes and businesses are receiving energy assessments through the CEC, and together we have already saved more than $269,249 in energy costs since 2009. That's 1,058 tons of greenhouse gasses that were never released into our atmosphere and a whole lot of saved money that was reinvested in the local economy.

All over the country businesses, non-profits, citizens, and government organizations are stepping up energy awareness. To learn more about Energy Awareness Month 2010, check out these links: