Energy Adviser: Incentives, rebates can help stretch budgets

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If you've not noticed the face-lift on Clark Public Utilities website, it's time to check it out. The look is new but all the information is in the same place, so if you're looking to make changes at home this year, it's easy for you to find out more about 2014 incentives.

While most incentives will remain at the same levels for 2014, there are a couple small changes. There is a new heat pump water heater incentive for 2014, and a new standard that tightens energy efficiencies on appliances.

"Energy-saving incentives offered by utilities, state and federal government are intended to open new markets and encourage people to adopt energy efficient technologies," said Matthew Babbitts, residential program manager for Clark Public Utilities. "When our customers see an incentive decrease, that's a signal the technology is moving into the mainstream."

The ductless heat pump is an example of technology acceptance. Last year, consumers in the region had more than 20,000 of them installed in the Northwest, up from 9,000 in 2009. Owners dependent on cable-ceiling heat, baseboards or wall heaters currently get $1,000 back for installing ductless heat pumps. Beginning March 3, the rebate will drop by $250.

If you want to gain the $1,000 rebate, move quickly before it's just $750. You can find all current rebates offered by visiting www.clarkpublicutilities.com/index.cfm/your-home/conservation/rebates or by downloading the latest conservation incentives fact sheet from the website. You can always call the energy counselor of the day at 360-992-3355 with any rebate question.

"Because most appliance manufacturers are now meeting Energy Star standards, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency has created three new efficiency tiers," said Babbitts. Energy Star is basically tier I. Tier II and III have more stringent energy savings specifications." For information on the new standard, go to the CEE website at www.cee1.org/content/cee-tiers-and-energy-star to see how Energy Star and CEE work in tandem.

The tier levels may sound confusing, but Babbitts said that participating Clark County appliance retailers understand the utility's requirements for rebates and can help shoppers. They know customers can receive an immediate $25 back at the register when buying a qualifying refrigerator or freezer. If you recycle your old fridge or freezer after purchasing a new one, you can get another $30 off your utility bill when you arrange for Clark Public Utilities to haul it away for recycling.

Buy a qualifying Energy Star clothes washer rated at an MEF (modified energy factor) 2.2 or better and get $50 back from participating Clark County retailers. A list of knowledgeable and qualified retailers is on the utility's website.

Homeowners with electric heat can receive $500 back after an approved contractor installs an energy-efficient heat pump or solar water heater. The site also lists utility-approved contractors for heat pump installation and weatherization. Homeowners get assurance of a job well done, because an independent third party randomly inspects each contractor's work.

Incentives are available for weatherization too. For floor, attic and wall insulation, you can receive 50 percent of the total cost, up to $400 for each space. Sealing heating ducts gets you a $500 rebate. Air sealing the envelope of your house can earn you a rebate as much as $100. New windows garner a rebate up to $500.


Energy adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.