Opinion

Time to think fall energy, just as summer arrives

Who would have thought most of summer so far would feel like fall? From gray skies to rain showers, this summer has not lent itself to fun in the sun, at least until now.

As the rest of the country could not seem to drop below 80 degrees, we have had only four days where the thermometer passed that. On these cool gray days, if you’re like me, you probably considered turning your heat on, if only to take the chill out of your house.

Maybe one good thing to come out of this is a reminder that the real cold-weather season is approaching and it’s a good time to prepare your home for the winter ahead. Many Islanders are doing just that. Since its launch in March, RePower Bainbridge has performed over 1,000 free Home Energy Check-Ups on Bainbridge and transitioned homeowners from “wanting to be more efficient” to actually being more efficient and reducing energy costs.

Puget Sound Energy and RePower Bainbridge make the transition easier by offsetting a homeowner’s out-of-pocket costs and providing cash-back incentives for qualifying improvements. RePower Rewards help sweeten the deal, providing a $400 bonus in addition to regular incentives through Dec. 31, 2011.

Add in federal tax credits and special deals from RePower’s trade allies, and in some instances, you may triple the amount of cash back you’ll receive. These great incentives, plus an energy-efficiency loan from Kitsap Credit Union with low interest rates, make it a win-win situation.

Fellow Islander George Jarecke took advantage of the program earlier this year and started seeing the savings immediately.

Jafeke said: “We’ve followed RePower Bainbridge’s suggestions, including the installation of a ductless heat pump, which is more efficient than our old system, more effective, and quieter. The savings were immediate and substantial. In the first billing period, our use was down approximately 25 percent. Lately, the decrease has been more like 50 percent. And Puget Sound Energy sent us $800 for installing the heat pump, bringing down its already low cost. In the end, we’re saving both energy and money  which ought to warm the heart of even the most skeptical observer.”

RePower provides the resources—financial and otherwise—to help families make improvements and achieve long-term efficiency. It’s a motivator for positive change and it affects us on an individual and community level. We’ve reduced energy use and costs, and we’ve helped local contractors with increased business through our referrals.

Even homeowners with more efficient homes are finding value in the program. Brigetta Johnson wrote in saying: “We’re happy to hear from the energy auditor today that we are among the top two or three most energy-efficient homes he has audited to date out of hundreds completed. However, there is still room for improvement and the tips he gave us should increase our energy savings up to 25 percent more. Can’t wait to implement them and see the positive energy rewards. Thanks so much for implementing this great community program.”

Bainbridge Island is becoming a national energy-efficiency success story thanks to you. From creating jobs in Kitsap County and saving money for our homeowners, we’re creating a positive ripple in our local economy as homeowners spend less on energy and as contractors are hired to make upgrades.

Our early success on Bainbridge has us excited as the RePower program extends to Kitsap County with two new ways to achieve long-term energy efficiency and boost the local economy.  RePower Kitsap—managed by Kitsap County and Washington State University Energy Extension Program and funded by two grants from U.S. Department of Energy—launched Aug. 1.

In September, RePower Bremerton – brought to Bremerton through the BetterBuildings award Bainbridge Island received from U.S. Department of Energy – will kick off. RePower Kitsap and RePower Bremerton feature free PSE HomePrint™ Assessments, Home Energy Assessments with EPS, federal tax credits and cash-back incentives from PSE, Cascade Natural Gas and RePower.

Clean energy is one of the best opportunities for Kitsap County to create jobs today and launch the strong industries of tomorrow. It is also critical in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and in creating a more sustainable future.  Through your engagement and commitment, we have begun the transformation to a clean energy economy.

Thank you to our residents who have shown their support in this program, having their homes assessed and making improvements. To our future supporters, RePower looks forward to helping you reduce energy costs and increase the comfort and safety of your homes.

Hilary Franz is a Bainbridge Island City Councilmember.  She helps lead the design and development of the RePower Bainbridge-RePower Bremerton programs.

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