Saturday, April 4, 2020
April 4, 2020

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Energy Adviser: Incentives, loans help conserve energy

The Columbian
Published:

Choosing to do the right thing can be complicated when it costs more. But energy efficiency rebates and incentives can make it an easy choice.

For 35 years, Clark Public Utilities has helped Clark County customers do the right thing by offering energy conservation rebates, loans and incentive programs. These programs translate to more dollars staying in customers’ pockets. Overall, conservation efforts expand the amount of power available to meet customer demand and reduce the need to build new power plants or purchase more energy.

However, many incentives offered don’t hang around forever. They change and fluctuate with the times. Some incentives are reduced. Others go away. And new ones are added as technologies change and improve. Energy savings is a moving target of continuous innovation. Conservation incentives are often linked to the shifting goals in the energy business. The programs help motivate customers to take energy saving devices mainstream.

This year, there are some changes. To pass on the benefit of refinanced debt, the utility has lowered its loan rate from 5.25 percent to 3.5 percent on financing for heat pumps, air- and duct-sealing, increasing insulation levels, replacing windows and solar installations. There’s also another advantage when taking out loans offered by the utility. “With our loans, there’s no prepayment penalty,” said Debbie DePetris, residential programs manager. “Even at this low rate, homeowners can pay off loans as quickly as they want.”

A second change this year is on qualifying Energy Star washing machines. With more energy efficient clothes washing machines now meeting the baseline standard, you’ll need to buy one with a bit higher efficiency than last year to receive the rebate. The MEF (modified energy factor) rose from 2.2 to 2.4 MEF. However, you can still get back $50 from participating Clark County retailers. A list of knowledgeable and qualified retailers is on the utility’s website.

The $400 rebate for duct sealing on manufactured homes and $500 on single-family residences is one that’s changed for 2015. The incentive amount is now $250 for both. “We are finding that contractors can complete duct sealing for manufactured homes, using the new rebate amount, without a charge to the homeowner,” DePetris said.

Some incentives haven’t changed. Homeowners with cable ceiling heat, baseboards or wall heaters, or electric furnaces are eligible for up to $750 back on ductless heat pump installations. Those with any type of electric heat can get $500 back once a Performance Tested Comfort Systems-certified contractor that participates in the utility’s Contractor Network installs an energy efficient ducted heat pump system.

DePetris encourages using utility-approved contractors for heating upgrades, as well as weatherization. Homeowners are assured of a job well done, because an independent third party randomly inspects each contractor’s work, she said.

Participating Clark County retailers will give you an immediate $25 back at the register when you buy qualified refrigerators and freezers of 7.75 cubic feet or more. The utility can recycle the old appliance and you’ll receive $30 off your utility bill.

If you use natural gas heating, you also are eligible for energy efficiency rebates and incentives. NW Natural Gas offers rebates through the Energy Trust. There are rebates for air- and duct-leakage testing, windows and doors, sealing ductwork, energy efficient gas furnaces and others. To find a full list go to bit.ly/energy_incentives.

The EnergyStar website, www.energystar.gov, is the go-to place when looking for the most current federal incentives. Even as federal tax credits are fading away, you still might find one there. Just click on the “search” button and make the selections that fit your situation. This will return a listing of current incentives.

You can find all current Clark Public Utilities rebates by visiting the utility’s website, bit.ly/CPU_rebates, or by downloading the latest conservation incentives fact sheet. You can always call the energy counselor of the day at 360-992-3355 Monday through Friday during work hours with any rebate question.


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.

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