Group helps residents save energy, money

  • Tue Sep 28th, 2010 9:15pm

By Lauren Salcedo Enterprise reporter

EDMONDS — Edmonds is saving energy and saving money.

Members of Save Energy Now are spearheading efforts to offer city residents energy audits to help them control energy costs.

“The goal of Save Energy Now is inspiring people to reduce their carbon footprint by reducing their energy usage,” said Todd Cloutier, volunteer organizer for the group.

Cloutier said the group came up with the idea of offering energy audits to households. Homeowners can pinpoint energy leaks without digging far into their pockets.

“There’s so much information out there on what to do to save energy,” he said. “Sometimes the suggestions on the web are not the most cost-efficient for people.”

Save Energy Now began in January as a sub-group of Sustainable Edmonds, a local community-based and volunteer-run citizens’ organization, formed in 2008.

After the group asked the Edmonds City Council to help subsidize the audits, the council, in December, approved a $5,000 grant. Save Energy Now members were able to drive the cost down to less than $100 per audit.

The funding supports audits for 10 homes and 10 businesses. All 10 home slots have been filled, but there are still five spots open for businesses.

Lisa Hunnewell, one of the home-owners who participated, works for Snohomish County PUD and has an interest in energy conservation.

“I was especially interested in the discounted energy audit; it ended up costing me only $50,” Hunnewell said.

The auditing company EcoFab came into the Hunnewell home and completed the four-hour audit.

During the audit, workers remove the front door and replace it with a blower-door, a vinyl door with a fan in it. The fan blows air out, turning the house into a kind of vacuum. Next, they walk through the house with a thermal imaging camera to find wall and door leaks which might need repairs.

“We learned that the insulation in our crawlspace was under performing, and that we needed to reseal all the ducting,” Hunnewell said.

Cloutier said since June, Save Energy Now has helped more than $2,500 thanks to changing habits, mild weather and updating insulation and appliances.

“The goal is to have the home-owners see a 10 percent reduction in utility usage overall,” he said.

Changing habits for the Hunnewells meant investing in a new Energy Star clothes washer, which uses 90 percent less water and has an extended spin cycle to dry loads faster.

As an incentive, the state provides rebates for old appliances, as does the PUD. The Hunnewells received a total of $200 in rebates for their refrigerator.

Save Energy Now was contacted by Sustainable Works, a group that provides funding for energy retrofits through federal stimulus funds. Sustainable Works will be coming to Edmonds and Lynnwood to sign up homes for audits from October through January. Their goal is to sign up “hundreds” of homes. An energy audit through Sustainable Works will cost $90.

“I would encourage others in Edmonds to do what we’ve done and sign up for audits through Sustainable Works. It’s not difficult and every little bit helps,” Hunnewell said.