Celebrate Earth Day Ð lower your power bill | NevadaAppeal.com

Celebrate Earth Day Ð lower your power bill

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City residents have many options this year on how to celebrate Earth Day. They can take advantage of free dump day at the landfill, dispose of e-waste at a local thrift store or make a lifestyle change, such as reducing electricity use.

John Hargrove, Sierra Pacific Power Co. senior program manager of energy efficiency and conservation, said homeowners can reduce energy consumption by insulating their homes and making wise appliance purchases.

“Most homes can use more insulation,” he said. “So, it’s a good thing to check and see how much insulation you have and make sure that it’s installed correctly. That’s the best way to save energy and make your home comfortable.”

Insulation that is falling out should be fixed. Caulking and weather stripping should be used to patch up crevices.

Hargrove also recommends home owners replace single-pane windows with double or triple panes or low-e glass, which keeps heat in during the winter and out in the summer.

“Also, use your appliances as efficiently as possible,” he said. “That makes energy more affordable. Run full loads in your washer, line dry in the summer or use the ‘air only’ option on your dryer.”

Consumers are increasingly looking at energy guides when purchasing a new appliance. These energy guides say how much energy the appliance will consume in a year.

Energy Star is a certification program run by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy which evaluates appliances for efficiency. Hargrove said Energy Star appliances are generally in the top 20 percent for efficiency in their category. Sierra Pacific offers $50 rebates to customers when they buy Energy Star dish washers, laundry machines and super-efficient refrigerators.

Jill Mitchell, owner of Sears on North Carson Street, said Energy Star appliances are popular with Carson City shoppers.

“Throughout the country, the Kenmore AT 32 and 4T are selling so fast they can hardly keep up with production demands,” she said.

Mitchell said a conventional top-loading laundry machine can use 50 to 60 gallons of water for a large load. A front loader, such as the Kenmore product, uses 16.7 gallons of water for a full load, plus it can wash double the amount of laundry.

Northern Nevadans have taken other steps in curbing power use, such as building their own renewable energy source.

Manufactured home owners, small businesses or large warehouses capitalize on this by building a solar power system, home geothermal or hydroelectric, Hargrove said. And once you build the system, you can apply for a rebate from the power company.

Solar Generations is Sierra Pacific’s biggest conservation/renewable energy program. With this program customers can get rebates for the renewable energy projects that they construct. Carson Middle School participated in the program by building solar panels and a wind turbine earlier this year.

The utility company benefits because then it doesn’t have to build another power station, or delays construction of another.

“We want customers to have power bills only as big as they need to have,” Hargrove said. “We’re committed to renewable energy on all fronts because it’s the right thing to do.”

Renewable energy users can also take advantage of net metering. This program measures the difference between the electricity a consumer buys from the utility company and the electricity generated from a home system. The homeowner’s electric meter keeps track of this “net” difference as electricity is generated from the home system and taken from the electric grid.

A net metering arrangement allows the customer to first use any electricity their own generating system produces to offset the amount of electricity you would have to buy from the utility company. Any excess energy is put back into the electric grid.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.