Energy adviser: Little changes can mean big energy savings

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Average residential power rates per kilowatt hour

New York — 17.45 cents

California — 14.83 cents

Texas — 10.94 cents

Virginia — 9.85 cents

Washington — 8.04 cents

U.S. — 11.2 cents

Clark County — 7.98 cents

SOURCE: U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2011.

Turning off lights when you leave a room or switching off the computer when you go on vacation may seem trivial in the great scheme of energy savings, but these simple steps make a difference in how much you pay for electrical power, now and in the future.

Clark Public Utilities is working hard to help consumers and businesses within its service area conserve power.

“Energy conservation is extremely important to us,” says Rick Dyer, utility treasurer and director of finance. “These efforts help keep our costs down by postponing the need for investment in building new generation facilities or purchasing additional energy on the market.”

Clark Public Utilities spends 73 percent of its operating budget on the power it buys or produces, and delivers that power to its 183,000 customers at no mark-up.

Residential customers in Clark County currently pay 7.98 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity. That is well below the U.S. average of 11.2 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and is due in large part to our access to the federal hydropower system.

Residential customers in California are paying 14.8 cents per kilowatt hour.

The Washington average rate for residential customers is 8.04 cents.

Cutting energy waste takes on new meaning in the face of continuing increases in wholesale power costs to Clark Public Utilities, Dyer said.

Conservation steps

A customized Home Energy Calculator at http://www.clarkpublicutilities.com/yourhome/calculators2011 can help you get a handle on power costs. Here’s a list of energy-saving measures recommended by Clark Public Utilities energy counselors:

• Use CFL bulbs in the most-used light fixtures.

• Turn off televisions and computers when not in use and unplug them if away for extended periods of time.

• Don’t leave battery chargers for laptops and cell phones plugged in.

• Lower the thermostat on your heating system a degree or two. Clark Public Utilities suggests 68 degrees.

• Set your water heater thermostat at 120 to 130 degrees.

• Keep warm air outlets, furnace filters and heaters clean. Arrange furniture and window coverings so they don’t block the airflow from registers or heaters.

• When buying a new clothes washer, consider one that meets Energy Star standards. Energy Star washers can use up to 50 percent less water and up to 40 percent less energy.

• Wash clothes in cold water using a cold-water-formulated detergent.

• Insulate pipes in unheated areas. Foam pipe wraps work best. Don’t forget to wrap the hot water pipe leaving the water heater.

• Install efficient shower heads that use 2 gallons of water per minute or less.

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities officials and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors, who provide conservation and energy use information to utility customers. Send questions to energyadviser@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, in care of Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA, 98668. Past topics are available at http://www.clarkpublicutilities.com