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Our Top 5 Energy Efficiency Measures and How We Can Help

  • Posted: 01.10.2020

Why would an electric cooperative offer incentives for members to use LESS of their product?

Because we believe that the greenest kilowatt-hour is the one that you never use.

Our cooperative is a not-for-profit electric cooperative providing safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible power to our members living in western Iowa.

Iowa’s electric cooperatives invested almost $76.7 million over the past five years, contributing to over 3.7 billion killowatt-hours (kWh) of energy savings over the life of the measures installed. This savings represents enough electricity to power more than 347,000 homes for a full year!

We offer a wide variety of ways to save you money on your energy bill, consumer electricity more efficiently, and to realize the value that electricity brings to your family, every day. Below is a list of out Top 5 programs designed to help our members do just that. Intrigued? Read on! Want more information? Call our office or visit our website for more information on all energy savings programs available to you.

5. Insulation

Photo Credit: Touchstone Energy

Properly insulating your home reduces heating and cooling costs, and improves comfort. Insulating areas such as ductwork, exterior walls, beneath living spaces, and even around the exterior edge of slab foundations can improve electric efficiency. There are three types of insulation:

  • Batt
  • Blown-in
  • Foam

Each type scores a different R-value and recommendations on R-Values are subject to regional climate conditions. R-values measure a material's resistance to conductive heat flow. The higher the R-value rating, the greater the effectiveness of the insulation. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy)

If your home or shop's primary heat source is electric, our cooperative offers rebates on the installation of insulation. In most cases, we will reimburse you up to 30% of materials cost, up to $800 per building, per year. Call our office before you install to make sure your project qualifies for our rebate.

4. Geothermal Heat Pump

Photo Credit: Federated Rural Electric Association (MN)

In most areas of the U.S., space heating and cooling account for a large percentage of overall home energy use, so upgrading to a more efficient HVAC system is a great way to reduce your monthly energy bill. A geothermal heat pump, also known as a ground source heat pump, is among the most efficient types of heating and cooling systems you can consider installing in your home. Even when it is extremely hot or cold outside, the temperature a few feet below the surface of the ground remains relatively constant and moderate. A geothermal heat pump system uses this constant ground temperature to help heat and cool your home through a system made up of three main components:

  1. The collector, or loop field, which is in the ground and cycles a liquid, like antifreeze, through dense plastic tubing;
  2. The heat pump that is in your home; and,
  3. The duct system that distributes the heated or cooled air throughout your home.

During the winter, the collector absorbs the heat stored in the ground and the liquid carries that heat to the heat pump, which concentrates it and blows it into the duct work, warming your home. In the summer, the heat pump extracts heat from the home and transfers it to the cooler ground.

Geothermal systems typically cost more than other heating systems, largely because of the collector and the associated digging or drilling, but their high efficiency can help reduce the payback time. Talk with one of our energy advisors who can help you evaluate the different heating and cooling options that would be best for your home and to learn more about our other heating and cooling rebate programs.

3. Water Heaters

Medium-shot of a homeowner inspecting the installation of a water heater
Photo Credit: Touchstone Energy

As you can expect, most homeowners don't think much about water heaters. There are times, however, when your attention turns to that most essential of appliances: when an existing water heater breaks (“Brrr. That water is cold!”) or when building or renovating a home. Your water-heating choice will have implications for energy efficiency, cost of use, the environment, safety and reliability.

There are many benefits to considering an electric water heater:

  1. Electric water heaters are safe. There is no threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, combustion or explosion.
  2. Electric water heaters are environmentally friendly. In addition, they are capable of using electricity generated from solar, wind, hydro and other renewable sources.
  3. Electric water heaters are easy to install. There are no expensive gas lines, exhaust flue or on-site fuel tanks. And, compared to other fuels, the cost of electricity is stable.

Our co-op offers rebates on qualifying electric water heaters, too! For more information on our programs, call our office and visit with one of our energy experts to understand what unit is right for your home or shop.

2. Switch Makes Cents

graphic illustration of the Switch Makes Cents logo

Our cooperative offers you the opportunity to participate in Switch Makes Cents, a program that can save you money on your electric rate and on the purchase of qualifying new equipment. Since the early 1980s, we have provided members this special opportunity to save both energy and money.

An electric utility system works best when electric load remains steady 24 hours a day. But because of our lifestyles and activities, demand for electricity varies from hour to hour. At certain times of day — usually before and after school, when appliances are used the most and demand is high. Electric use drops off dramatically after 11 p.m. This creates peaks and valleys in the electric load pattern. By managing the electric load through programs such as Switch Makes Cents, those electric utilities can level those peak demands and operate the system more efficiently and cost effectively.

Switch Makes Cents participants agree to have digital switches installed on qualifying equipment such as water heaters and heating and air-conditioning units. When electric demand grows to certain levels, the switches cycle the equipment off and on to control electric demand, thus saving electricity and helping decrease electric costs. The equipment automatically returns to normal operation when the cooperative’s electric demand decreases.

We offer rebates to assist you with the purchase of new electric equipment, and you save money because special rates or credits are available on all equipment connected to the Switch Makes Cents system. Contact our office for more information on our Switch Makes Cents Program.

1. Electric Vehicle Chargers

Photo image of an electric vehicle charger plugged into an electric vehicle. Electric vehicles, like the Ford Focus BEV shown here, reduce exhaust emissions. Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company.
Electric vehicles, like the Ford Focus BEV shown here, reduce exhaust emissions. Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company.

One of the newest additions to our rebate program is the addition of rebates available for the installation of Residential and Commercial/Industrial/Agricultural Level 2 electric vehicle chargers.

The 2018 Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) report projects the number of electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. to grow from 272,000 in 2016 to 26,614,986 in 2050. This represents a 14.7% compound annual growth rate.

As members of our co-op consider the purchase of an electric vehicle, we now offer rebates that allow for reimbursement of up to 50% toward the purchase of Level 2 electric vehicle chargers (wall mount or pedestal mount) with a maximum rebate of up to $750 for Residential use (up to two (2) chargers per account) and a maximum rebate amount of up to $1,200 for Commercial/Industrial/Agricultural use (up to five (5) chargers per account). Contact our office for more details on on our program and whether you qualify.