The Snohomish County Public Utility District is using federal economic stimulus money to spread conservation to people who havent had the inclination or ability to make changes.
The PUD hopes to reach 3,000 homes, plus 100 businesses, in the Everett area by the end of 2011 with energy-efficient windows, new fixtures and bulbs, reduced-flow shower heads and faucets, programmable thermostats and more.
The utility has hired contractors to put in new lights and fixtures and recently began replacing windows at the Greensview Apartments on W. Casino Road, next to the Walter Hall Golf Course.
I can certainly feel the difference with the windows, said A.J. Arslancan, a Boeing 787 manufacturing engineer who lives in the complex. It seems to keep it warmer, more airtight.
The PUD received about $2.2 million in stimulus money under the umbrella of energy efficiency programs, spokesman Neil Neroutsos said. The PUD matched that amount. In addition, Snohomish County received $220,000 and the city of Everett received $200,000, which they plan to pitch in, bringing the total available to about $4.9 million, Neroutsos said.
The PUD plans to modify 750 dwellings and 50 businesses in the Casino Road area by early 2011. Many of the agreements with building owners are already in place at five apartment complexes and about 25 businesses. Work has begun on three of the apartment complexes.
The utility is soliciting the same number of projects farther south, in the vicinity of Mariner High School. It hopes to work there by the end of next year.
The PUD also is reaching out to community groups who wish to coordinate small volunteer projects to install energy-efficient lighting and faucets, whether in apartments or single-family homes.
The utility is targeting 1,500 of these projects along with 1,500 direct install projects at apartment buildings and 100 businesses. Depending on how the money holds out, the PUD might be able to exceed that number, Neroutsos said.
The city and county have helped the PUD find good candidates for the work, he said. The program isnt specifically for low-income people but will reach some who would qualify, and non-English speaking people as well, PUD officials said.
The utility previously had focused its conservation efforts at toward single-family homes for a couple of reasons, said Mary Smith, senior manager for energy efficiency for the PUD. These homes lose more heat because a higher percentage of building surface is exposed to the outdoors, and owners are more likely to invest in changes because they reap both the energy savings and the improvement to their property.
Still, there are many apartments in the area. With the stimulus money, the PUD saw a chance to get more tenants involved in conservation and featured them in its application for funds, Smith said.
At the Greensview Apartments, work on the windows began around the beginning of the month and is a little more than half complete. All 144 units are scheduled to be upgraded. The building owners, the SUHRCO Corporation of Bellevue, agreed to the project.
The company didnt need permission of the tenants to do the work but invited them to a pizza party beforehand to introduce them to the program and its potential benefits, building manager Donna Burton said. About 25 attended.
She wasnt sure how tenants would react, but all the feedback has been positive, she said.
They say, Im so much more comfortable, I dont have to turn the living room heat on now, or I cant hear the swearing on the golf course anymore, Burton said.
Because tenants pay their own electric bills, they reap most of the benefits. The program also applies to the buildings common areas, such as clubhouses, cabanas, offices, fitness rooms and outdoor security lighting. Plus, it makes the dwelling units more marketable, Burton said.
Work also has been done at the Amber Glen and Parkview Apartments.
Arslancan said he appreciates the upgrade.
Im really pleased the management went to the trouble of making it more efficient for their tenants, keeping their customers in mind, he said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; email@example.com.
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