Mar 06 , 2012
Avista makes little changes that add up to energy savings – you can too
 
Who says you can’t reduce your energy usage without suffering the consequences of an inconvenient temperature setting? Well … Avista does.

Programmable thermostat
To help reduce energy use, Avista
 optimized its programmable ther-
mostats in the building, like the
one shown above. Installing and
programming a programmable the-
rmostat is one of the many low-cost
ways to save on energy. You can
learn more about finding the right
thermostat for you by visiting
http://www.energystar.gov.
And we don’t just say it, we did it. In fact, Avista did it by making small heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) improvements throughout our 14,024 square-foot service center located in Spokane Valley, Wash. Avista optimized programmable thermostats in the building, improved the air distribution system and installed stand-alone heat pumps in unoccupied spaces. Since those changes in 2009, Avista has saved 48,000 kilowatt hours, reducing its electric use by about nine percent. Those small changes also moved Avista into the top quarter of similarly compared energy efficient buildings, earning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star certification.

Striving for the Energy Star a three-fold benefit
By becoming Energy Star certified, Avista serves its customers better by reducing its costs and becoming more efficient with the energy we all use and depend on.

Reducing energy use also helps protect the environment, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Avista employees gave the changes a thumbs-up as well. The team who worked on the improvements made sure to provide the right level of comfort and convenience for those that work there.

Energy Star Certficate
Small changes do make a difference. Making
small heating, venting and air conditioning
(HVAC) improvements throughout Avista’s
14,024 square-foot service center located in
Spokane Valley, Wash., has garnered the
official Energy Star certification. Only the top
quarter buildings in the nation are awarded the
certification.
Over time, little changes can add up. Here a few things you can do in your home to help make a difference.

• Setting your thermostat three degrees lower in cold weather can reduce your heating bill approximately 10 percent. A good cold weather setting is 68 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re home and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night or while you’re away. This does not apply to an air source heat pump, which may rely on emergency heat to bring the temperature back. Using a programmable thermostat will automatically make the adjustments for you – set it, and forget it.

• Replace your furnace filter once a month. Dirty filters block airflow and make your system work harder.

• Homes breathe and move, so caulking that is several years old may have pulled away from surfaces because of wind, rain and temperature changes. Look for old caulk that needs replacing, then re-caulk around windows, doors and other places where two dissimilar materials meet up. An easy way to check for leaks around doors is to have someone run a flashlight around the exterior door jam at night while you stand inside in the dark. If you see light, fix or add weather-stripping in that location. Also, think about anything added to your home during the year that may have penetrated walls, and fill in those penetrations.

• Water heating is the second largest consumer of energy in the home. A good setting for the water heater temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a dishwasher, check the manufacturer’s instructions for the suggested temperature.

Customers can take advantage of many energy efficiency equipment rebates and weatherization programs offered by Avista. Learn more about energy efficiency at http://www.everylittlebit.com.
Published: 3/6/2012  9:23 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 05 , 2012
A first-hand account of my experience with Avista's home energy audit program
 
 
Blower door test
The blower door test detects excess air escaping and entering
your home.
For about the same price as you’d pay for a nice dinner out or a ski lift ticket on Mount Spokane, you can purchase an in-home energy audit if you live within Spokane County. Sure, dinner or skiing sounds like much more fun, but a home energy audit provides a lot of advantages, some obvious and some not so obvious. Here are five reasons why you should consider signing up for an audit with Avista Utilities. I just had my audit done last weekend, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. 
 

1. A home energy audit can save your life. If your home uses natural gas or propane, the certified home energy contractor may find safety hazards, such as an appliance or furnace that produces unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. Peace of mind is priceless and it’s always nice to know if your home passes the test or not.

2. For as low as $49, you get a tremendous amount of value out of a home energy audit. Not only does a professional certified contractor inspect your home, but after the audit you get a box full of energy efficiency goodies from Avista. (see photo) Our home energy auditors were BPI Certified, which is the standard for all Avista in-home energy audit contractors.
 

3. What you find out may surprise you. Home energy pros can find problems and opportunities that you might miss – even if you are a devoted energy saver, the pros have equipment that finds problems that might otherwise have gone unnoticed such as pesky leaks in your home’s ductwork.  
 
4. The blower door test is as cool as it sounds. Oh my goodness, you will be shocked by how many air leaks this technology detects in your home. The blower door is a tool that depressurizes your home and stimulates a 20 mph wind blowing on all surfaces of your home simultaneously. This causes outside air to rush through holes in your home’s exterior envelope. The largest air leak in my home was coming from the flue vent in our unfinished basement. We can easily remedy that by capping the vent. Something we never would have thought of before this audit. Outlets and light switches are also a common culprit.  Avista provides outlet and light switch insulators in the  goody box provided to you at the end of your audit.
 

Energy efficiency kit
With every home energy audit, you get a
box full of items that will help you
improve your homes energy efficiency.
5. Knowledge is the key to savings. Ever wonder how your energy use compares to others? After your in-home audit, you get a detailed report in the mail about your homes energy use as well as helpful recommendations on what you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home. In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable pieces of information a homeowner can have. The recommendations will help me prioritize my home improvement projects for years to come.
Are you ready to maximize your energy efficiency? Good! Find out if your home qualifies for the in-home energy audit here.
 
You can also find more information about Avista’s energy efficiency programs at everylittlebit.com. Once you have registered for the In-Home Energy Audit, completed the Online Home Energy Analyzer, and your payment has been received by Avista, a representative from one of Avista’s certified home energy auditing contractors will call you within 10 business days of the receipt of your payment to schedule your in-home energy audit.

The popular program is ending in September so make sure to sign up for an audit by August 15.
Published: 3/5/2012  4:27 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 02 , 2012
video

Crews reflect on work while installing finishing touches on four-year, $45 million project

Post by Anna Scarlett, Video by Dan Kolbet
 
Autographing turbine
An Avista employee signs Unit 4’s new turbine with
a paint pen prior to its insertion at Noxon Rapids
Dam. They don’t usually autograph their work in this
way, but the project has lasted four years and this
was the last new turbine installed at Noxon, so the
crew wanted to mark the occasion.
It’s a complicated job to turn water, wind, natural gas, coal, or even sunshine into reliable energy. It takes a lot of people and equipment and it doesn’t come free. In fact, about 60 cents of every dollar you pay each month in your electric bill is simply the cost of power, whether it’s power Avista generates at our plants or power we buy on the market.

Avista continues to generate or purchase about half of our energy with hydroelectric power, one of the cleanest, most dependable and most cost-effective energy resources. Investing in our hydroelectric dams makes good sense – some of them are more than 100 years old – and it’s a continual process.

In the case of Noxon Rapids, Avista’s largest hydroelectric dam, in 2012 we’ll be wrapping up our four-year, $45 million project to upgrade all four original generating units, which were installed in the late 1950s, with new turbines. The result? We can make more energy using the same amount of water – enough energy, in fact, to power more than 4,800 homes, or a town nearly the same size as Rathdrum, Idaho. Another benefit: this additional energy qualifies under Washington State’s Energy Independence Act (RCW 19.285) to meet Avista’s Washington state-mandated renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements.

The new turbines boast features such as smooth edges and corners and a stainless steel body that weighs just 65 tons (as opposed to the old turbines, massive beasts that weighed around 120 tons.) Removing the old turbines and installing the new ones took thousands of hours of skilled labor and craftsmanship, and many of the crew members have been involved throughout the entire project. Watch the final turbine being installed at Noxon Rapids, and hear from some of the folks that helped make it happen. These are your energy dollars at work.
 
Watch an interview with project engineer P.J. Henscheid as the old Unit 4 turbine is removed back in fall 2011.
Published: 3/2/2012  9:00 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 01 , 2012
Post by Brandi Smith

Avista Gas crews working along Highway 95
If you are an Avista customer in Washington or Idaho, you will see a decrease in your natural gas rates starting today, March 1. The wholesale cost of natural gas is a major driver in the price you pay per month for gas. The cost of natural gas makes up about 65 percent of your bill. This cost is passed through directly to you without mark up.
 
With the new lower rates now in effect, a residential customer in Washington using an average of 67 therms per month will see a decrease of $3.90, or 6.0 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $60.73. An Idaho residential customer using an average of 62 therms per month will see a $3.46, or 5.7 percent, decrease for a revised monthly bill of $57.50. Avista has approximately 149,000 natural gas customers in Washington and 76,000 in Idaho.
 
The utility commissions in both states quickly approved Avista’s Feb. 13 requests to lower natural gas rates because of declining wholesale prices. This request is called a Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA). The PGA approval is good news for you, so we wanted to pass these price decreases on to you as quickly as we could. 
 
PGA filings are typically made once a year in the fall to balance the cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista to serve you. Given the decline in wholesale natural gas prices, Avista proposed to decrease the natural gas rates our customers pay to better reflect current market prices for natural gas.
Published: 3/1/2012  11:10 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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