By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
EVERETT — Customers of the Snohomish County Public Utility District saved more energy in 2011 through conservation measures than ever before, according to the PUD’s calculations.
Customers saved an average of nearly 9.3 megawatts of electricity over the course of the year in 2011, enough to power about 7,000 homes at any one time. The previous record was set the year before, in 2010, when customers saved just under 9.2 megawatts, spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.
Collectively, private customers and businesses reduced their energy bills by more than $6 million.
Conservation measures included increased use of compact fluorescent light bulbs; getting rid of old refrigerators in favor of new, more energy-efficient models; and weatherization projects such as added insulation, new heat pumps and energy-efficient windows.
The PUD calculates the savings using a formula developed by a committee of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, a regional trade group.
With an old refrigerator, for example, “you know if you take that out of circulation you’re saving x-kilowatt hours a year,” Neroutsos said.
The PUD picks up old, working refrigerators at customers’ homes and gives them $30 toward the purchase of a new model. Old fridges and freezers can use up to three times the energy of newer models, according to the PUD.
More than 5,000 homes and 170 local businesses have participated in the PUD’s Community Power! program in the past two years, in which the utility worked with customers on energy-saving measures such as lighting upgrades, efficient windows and low-flow showerheads.
In a separate program, the PUD worked with business and government customers on 750 energy-saving projects last year. These included efficiency measures at Brightwater and other sewage plants, the new tower at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and at several local school districts.
The PUD promotes conservation through its “Be a Conservation Sensation” campaign, which helps customers find ways to save energy. The PUD also offers an Energy Challenge, in which customers can pledge to reduce their energy use by 10 percent. To date, 4,600 customers have participated.
For more information about PUD conservation programs, call the PUD Energy Hotline at 425-783-1700 or go to www.snopud.com.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.