Friday, October 1, 2010

So what’s my incentive?

The cast of characters here at Energy Matters suffer from a clear obsession for saving energy. We acknowledge, however, that our readers may not be quite as motivated by the stirrings of his or her inner geek. You might not experience the same sense of elation from capturing rays of the sun to power your world. There is, however, a universally motivating factor in the realm of saving energy.


Some of us have lots of it. Some of us wish we had more. All of us appreciate getting something for free. In the case of energy retrofit incentives, you have to spend a little to get a lot, but a variety of agencies are primed and ready to give you money to weatherize your home and invest in alternative energy. Why? Because it saves them money.

The federal government realizes that a reduction of fossil fuel consumption is a sound economic investment. Our power utility, OPALCO, realizes that an investment in weatherization reduces their electricity load, helping to stave off “Tier Two” price increases. And the cherry on top? Your investment will save you money too.

Take a look at a few of our favorite incentives and be inspired!

OPALCO has several great weatherization rebates. Among the sweetest is the prospect of free insulation. OPALCO will rebate up to $.85/sq ft on insulation. With local costs of $.40-.75/sq ft, the rebate may not only pay for your insulation but also help to cover the installation costs. Adding insulation can save you 10-20% on your utility bill and make your home more comfortable year round.

Are your windows feeling drafty or cold? OPALCO offers $6/ sq ft for replacing old aluminum framed or single pane windows. This should pay for about half the cost of the new replacement windows.

The “Home Snapshot Energy Assessment” is a comprehensive look into your home’s unique energy usage. For a nominal $25 fee you get individually-tailored recommendations to reduce your energy usage. And as a bonus you get unlimited high-efficiency light bulbs installed for you. One Snapshot home got 37 light bulbs! The owners stand to save $5 per month on lighting cost with bulbs that last 10 times as long.

OPALCO has several other rebates for duct sealing, heating systems, appliances, water heaters and more ( or 376-3500).

Washington State is offering a production incentive for solar electric and other renewables for the next ten years, and you don’t have to pay sales tax on solar PV.

On the Federal level, you may qualify for a 30% tax credit on weatherization (ends 12/10) and renewables (ends 12/16). The incentives are cumulative: you can use the OPALCO rebate and take tax deductions. Talk to your accountant for details.

When you weatherize your home by adding free insulation, half-price windows and a new furnace that you wrote off, guess what? You get to save money now, and on your energy bills for many years to come.

As a bonus, you get to feel good about doing your part. You will make a difference with your actions, whether it be for the planet, our natural resources or the air our children breathe. We thank you.

(This article was written by Doug Poole and first appeared in the Islands Weekly in September.)

1 comment:

  1. Money talk does seem to make the our society notice itself. Whatever we say is important is what becomes important! The gorgeous part about your post is we DO have a variety of options in how we can use our precious funds to make a tangible difference. And they are locally accessible.

    Island folk live with the reality of finite resources daily. We often recognize our interdependence on each other and on the tools and equipment we share that make our lives work. A series of local successes in reducing our waste and energy demand will naturally lend itself to a global model of innovation. We are surrounded with opportunity to set the pace for other communities to follow.

    Let's keep tipping the scales in favor of conservation and renewable resources! Seeing ourselves as participants in contributing energy makes us partners in the process. This is a welcome shift in perspective. "A penny saved is a penny earned" takes on new meaning when it adds up to billions ($) saved is billions earned!

    As a proactive resident on Orcas Island, also in the field of smart energy education and use, I believe you have made a powerful statement about how our collective intentions add up. The practical resources offered make individual follow-through tangible.

    Energy, whatever the source, is another form of currency. Everything has its "rate of exchange" value. Are we personally aware of whether our "take" is proportionate to what we give? We can figure it out and there is plenty of support to do it. Right here. Right now.

    Thank you for the elegant frugality inherent in your article.