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Monday, December 3, 2012
Living Better Electrically AND Efficiently – Elevations Credit Union and the Denver Energy Challenge Team Up
It's almost unimaginable that consumers would have to be encouraged to use electricity to make their lives easier - but that's where we started. To explain, we can look to the visionary known as the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison. It was Edison's vision to create a system to deliver electric light into private homes in the late 1800's and ultimately, his vision revolutionized our way of life.
During the postwar era of the 1950s and 1960s, the power industry's growth transformed America and the American way of life. The opportunities provided by electricity seemed endless. Remarkably, in 1956, to keep demand high and increase public awareness, General Electric launched its "Live Better Electrically" campaign. The campain, supported by 300 power utilities and 180 electrical manufacturers across the nation, was designed to extol the benefits of "better living by living electrically!" The result was a revolution in the quality and ease of domestic life. Consumers now had electric-powered vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, toasters, refrigerators, televisions, raido and even air conditioned movie theaters.
have passed since the “Live Better Electrically” campaign and with it
remarkable changes to our energy landscape. First and foremost however, today,
a campaign to encourage use is unnecessary. Indeed, our energy use has grown
electricity is both pervasive and essential. We love it and our appetite for it
keeps growing. The average household today owns 26 electronic gadgets.
Electricity consumption doubled since 1980 and is expected to grow by another
25 percent by 2030. We take for granted that when we flip a switch a light will
come on and when we plug in those gadgets they will recharge.One way to keep up with demand, however, is
to reduce our energy use and luckily, we can save money and live more comfortably
at the same time.That’s the beauty of
energy efficiency upgrades.After all,
the cheapest energy is the energy that we don’t use.
are the days of Jimmy Carter and his red cardigan.Welcome to a new world of efficient buildings
that manage energy use and integrate new technologies to achieve huge energy
savings and vastly improved comfort.An
added bonus, potentially huge money savings to the bottom line for homeowners
and business owners alike.
no secret that I’ve taken steps to reduce energy use in my home.I talk about it on ICOSA Driving Force radio
and on this blog.For example, I have
all of our electronics on power strips so that they can be turned off at the
strip to prevent “phantom power” or the power drawn by gadgets and electronic
devices when they’re switched off or not in use.I installed a clothesline and hang our
clothes to dry outside in the sun (thereby also earning the nickname of Laura
Ingalls Wilder from my husband.)I’ve
installed skylight blinds for the summer months and honeycomb blinds to help
insulate the windows.As my old “Edison”
light bulbs burned out I replaced them with energy efficient ones – which as I
explain below should have been expedited.But what else can you do and what if there are upfront costs?
challenges: the upfront cost associated with energy efficiency retrofits and identification
of the changes that will make the biggest impact, are two key hurdles for
consumers.Luckily, the Denver EnergyChallenge provides education, free support services through an energy advisor, along with financial assistance
to residents and businesses in the City and County of Denver.
Denver Energy Challenge was created to expand energy efficiency services to
residents and businesses in the City and County of Denver and its funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Program (under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). The fact is, decisions on energy efficiency
and investment can be time consuming and can be confusing.To address this, Elevations Credit Union
has teamed up with the Denver Energy Challenge and Energy Smart in Boulder County to bring Elevations Energy Loans to eligible homes and
businesses in Denver City and County and Boulder County. This team of experts
provides access to energy advisors to help assess the business needs and make
retrofit recommendations, connect them with qualified contractors to make the improvements and
loan specialists to provide low interest loans (2.75% for homes and 3.75% for
this program, Elevations Credit Union is committing $35M in financing for
energy efficient and renewable energy upgrades for eligible homes and
businesses in Denver and Boulder Counties.
with the “Live Better Electrically” campaign, we each have some control over
our energy use even without implementation of smart grid programs or smart
appliances.I enlisted the help of the
Denver Energy Challenge and Elevations Credit Union to find out how.What I learned was that I can make small
changes to my energy use and make a big impact.Some of these fixes require minimal up-front costs like the following three
temperature of your water heater.Why?It reduces standby energy
loss.The report recommended setting the
water heater to deliver at 120F or the lowest practical setting for your
preferences.“A good measure is if you
can take a shower using only hot water (not adding cold water).”Estimated savings in my home: $60/year.
with CFLs or LEDs.Why?They use less energy and heat output is much
less which equates to less cooling required for hot summer months.According to the report, “Compact Fluorescent
Light bulbs (CFLs) use ¼ of the energy of regular incandescent light bulbs and
last 8 to 15 times as long.Replacing
them with CFLs will save significant energy and replacement costs over time.”Installed cost is estimated for my home at
about $60 and the savings estimated at $124 per year.I made these changes in the basement and my
kids say it now looks like a stadium!Brighter
light and less energy use. Can’t beat that.
3.Sealing air leaks
can make a big difference and it’s an inexpensive fix.Caulk between the object and the drywall on
all of the penetrations of walls and ceilings where you can see gaps.In my home we found gaps in the outlets and
switch plates on exterior walls, bath fans, duct boots in the ceiling and the
exhaust vent over the microwave. According to the report,” air sealing is
typically the most cost effective improvement you can make to your home. To
properly seal out air leaks, a contractor will use a large fan called a blower
door to depressurize your house. When this happens, the contractor can easily
find the air leaks and take corrective measures. A good air sealing job will dramatically
increase the comfort of your home and help you save significant energy.”
Overall, it was estimated that
with simple fixes alone I could save about $220 per year.That’s $220 of warmer living with brighter
more natural light in the winter and cooler in the summer.That doesn’t even include my other Laura
Ingalls Wilder type habits!
Thank you to Elevations Credit
Union, the Denver Energy Challenge, and Logan Faser (aka, “Saving Slick” from
the Comfort Cowboy video series) for
the thorough education, money saving tips and the increased comfort!
New technology, diverse energy resources and grid solutions can help redefine our energy landscape. Kelly de la Torre’s practice focuses on getting client's results by: finding solutions to market and regulatory barriers to energy development and for emerging technologies, by working with her client's to identify market opportunities and bring together the right parties and legal support to take advantage of those market opportunities.
By understanding the energy landscape and understanding the client's objectives, Kelly can help companies design strategies to achieve their objectives within the existing statutory and regulatory framework and advocate for changes if necessary.
Kelly has a B.S. in biochemistry and an M.S. in chemistry both from the University of New Mexico and a J.D. from the Rutgers-Camden School of Law in New Jersey. She is licensed to practice in New Mexico and Colorado and is a member of the U.S. Patent Bar.
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