Avista’s Online Energy Audit Shows Customers How to Save Energy and Receive Valuable Rebates
The start of the home heating or cooling season is an ideal time for consumers to evaluate their home’s energy use, and importantly, learn how they can get the most value from it.
Many electric utilities offer free online energy audits to help their customers do both. And once consumers know where they need to make improvements, their electric utility can often help them take advantage of financial incentives that may be available for energy-saving improvements.
Avista, based in Spokane, Washington, is one utility that is helping their customers to save energy with online audits. Avista provides electric service to 353,000 homes and businesses and natural gas to 313,000 homes and businesses in three Western states, serving more than 492,000 customers.
By visiting Avista’s Web site and performing the online home energy audit, Avista’s customers can find out:
• How their home uses energy
• How their home compares to others of similar size for energy use
• What low-cost and no-cost steps can be taken to reduce their home’s energy use
• The expected annual dollar savings of various efficiency improvements
• The top ways to save energy, customized to each customer’s home
With information from the home energy audit, customers can also learn about Avista’s rebates and incentives that can make it easy to implement the suggested energy-saving improvements, which may also qualify for federal tax credits. The rebates are awarded for energy efficient improvements such as adding ENERGY STAR® appliances, insulation, high efficiency water and home heating systems and more.
Avista Ranked Top Utility Web Site in North America
Avista Utilities’ web site is the top-ranked electric and natural gas web site in North America for 2009, according to E Source, a national benchmarking service for utility and large energy users.
Avista, based in Spokane, Washington, provides electric service to 353,000 homes and businesses and natural gas to 313,000 homes and businesses in three Western states, serving more than 492,000 customers. After asking its customers what they thought would be helpful, Avista designed its Web site to create a wide variety of user-friendly and self-service options, such as bill payment and open/close/transfer service.
Of particular value to its customers is the energy saving information on the web site. Avista customers can learn how to use energy more efficiently at home and at work, and can find out about energy saving incentives and rebates. An interactive feature on Avista’s web site, “Wattson and Edison,” helps kids learn more about wise ways to save energy.
E Source considered the Web sites of the largest electric and gas companies in the United States and Canada, as well as a representative set of smaller and mid-sized utilities, to make its determination as to who has the best Web site. Then, between December 2008 and May 2009, E Source had a team of residential customers review and rank all the Web sites. According to E Source, its survey is the largest, most detailed benchmark of electric and gas Web sites.
Avista Launches Video Contest to Show How Every Little Bit Adds Up
Avista is calling on local high school students to put their storytelling and video skills to use to highlight ways we can all limit our energy use in the company’s new Every Little Bit Video Contest. Avista hopes that by engaging future generations to tell energy efficiency stories, it will not only harness their creativity for an important purpose, but will help the next generation value saving more energy.
Students attending a high school served by Avista are eligible to create and submit a 30-second to two-minute video about energy efficiency. The Grand Prize winner of the Every Little Bit Video Contest will have the opportunity to professionally edit their video into a 30-second commercial.
Avista’s ‘Efficiency Avenue’ Makes Saving Energy Easy for Commercial Customers
As a complement to its outstanding residential efficiency programs, Avista’s commercial customers have a new tool to help them better manage their energy use—Efficiency Avenue. There, all types of commercial customers, including businesses, schools, churches and public facilities, can learn about Avista’s energy efficiency rebate and incentive programs applicable to their industry, including available engineering support and analysis for custom energy efficiency projects.
By visiting Efficiency Avenue at http://www.everylittlebit.com/, Avista’s commercial customers large and small can access information on Avista’s numerous energy saving measures and incentives including:
• Replacing older, inefficient lighting with more energy efficient equipment
• Installing vending machine controller devices
• Installing high efficiency food service equipment
• Purchasing premium efficiency motors over standard electric motors
• Customizing energy efficiency improvement at a commercial location
In 2008, Avista’s residential, commercial, and industrial customers reduced their energy use by nearly 75 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and over 2.2 million therms of natural gas. Avista provided more than 15,000 rebates and incentives totaling nearly $15 million to residential and commercial customers.
Avista Rewards the Kroc Center for Energy Efficiency
The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Center in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, recently earned $260,619 from Avista for its energy efficient building practices. The 123,000 square-foot Kroc Center, which features a competition-size pool, theater, chapel and indoor track, is the largest community center in the region. The Kroc Center offers programs promoting education, sports, faith, and the arts for citizens in the Inland Northwest.
With the incentives from Avista, the Kroc Center was able to incorporate energy efficient systems that are expected to save 412,143 kilowatt-hours and 58,351 therms of natural gas each year, equating to an annual energy savings of $86,314. The energy savings are enough to power about 34 homes for a year and provide natural gas to about 75 homes for a year.
Qualifying efficiency measures incorporated into the new facility include:
• Installation of high efficiency windows
• Variable frequency drives on fans
• R40 roof insulation which exceeds code requirements
• Installation of a heat recovery system
• Installation of a centralized heating system
There are many other steps commercial customers can take to qualify for energy efficiency incentives from Avista, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, commercial lighting, food service equipment, premium efficiency motors, commercial HVAC variable frequency drives and site specific or customer programs for commercial and industrial customers.
Avista Greens Fleet with Biodiesel
Avista, in partnership with Inland Empire Oilseeds and Whitley Fuel, has begun testing the use of biodiesel on four service trucks in an ongoing effort to “green its fleet” by being more energy and fuel efficient. A new partnership has made the fuel available locally, and results so far show the clean-burning alternative fuel may be a successful long-term solution for Avista and others.
Avista began testing the use of the B20 blend of biodiesel in two flatbeds, a line truck, and a bucket truck in August. Biodiesel does not require conversion of vehicles to use, and it typically costs a few cents more per gallon than regular diesel fuel. Produced with renewable resources, it is biodegradable and significantly reduces air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
Inland Empire Oilseeds in Odessa, Wash. produces the biodiesel with oil crushed from Washington-grown canola seeds. Founded in 2006 as a joint effort by Avista, Odessa Union Warehouse, Reardan Grain Growers, and Reardan Seed Company, IEO began refining biodiesel last November. With the installation of its crushing line this summer, it became the first biodiesel company in Washington to fully integrate all production steps into one.
Until recently, the biodiesel has not been easy for local businesses to get on a large scale; recently Whitley Fuel partnered with IEO and Avista to store the biodiesel at its station on Third Avenue and Division Street in Spokane. The downtown location will provide convenient access to Avista and others as biodiesel becomes more widely used by local businesses and government agencies.
Earlier this year, Avista added two 2009 Toyota Priuses to its fleet, which were converted into Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) with extra battery capacity, allowing them to achieve up to 80 mpg. Avista has been offsetting the electricity the cars use with renewable power generated through solar panels installed on the top of the company’s headquarters building in Spokane.
For more information about Avista, please visit http://www.avistautilities.com/.