Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties has ambitious plans for the first two homes that they’re building in Silver Creek Village: to design the homes so energy efficient that they achieve the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Zero Energy Ready Home” certification.
“Our ultimate goal is affordable housing, and energy bills play a big role in affordability,” states Shellie Barrus, the Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties. “By making these homes ultra-energy efficient, the energy bills in this home will be next to nothing.”
Construction on the homes in Silver Creek Village will begin this summer, but efforts to make them Zero Energy Ready kicked off last year through a collaboration with Utah Clean Energy, local architects Think Architecture, and energy experts, Nexant. Together with Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties, the group is leveraging our expertise to make the Silver Creek Village homes the first Habitat for Humanity projects in Utah to meet the Zero Energy Ready Home standards.
“Energy efficiency equals lower energy bills and a more comfortable home,” states Kevin Emerson, Utah Clean Energy’s energy efficiency program director. “This is an exciting opportunity to show that building to Zero Energy Ready standards is doable, and also what a positive impact energy efficient building has on a family’s income when they don’t have to worry about high energy bills.”
To achieve Zero Energy Ready Home certification, the building plans underwent an energy assessment to determine what efficiency strategies would save the most energy. The Habitat homes at Silver Creek Village will utilize state-of-the-art building practices including advanced heating, lighting, insulation, air tightness, and ventilation equipment.
Construction is expected to being this summer! Stay tuned for updates as the homes begin to take shape.
Rocky Mountain Power filed applications to revise two more energy efficiency programs—the Low Income Weatherization program and the Cool Keeper program. See dockets 19-035-T04 and 19-035-T05 respectively. Utah Clean Energy supports both proposals as they will expand incentives and access to energy efficiency. These are the second and third programs that RMP has proposed revising this year. The first was the Non-Residential Energy Efficiency program (to read more on this, see our previous blog post).
Rocky Mountain Power’s Low Income Weatherization program provides incentives to improve the energy efficiency of qualified RMP customers’ homes by improving home insulation and the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment. Qualifying customers must be eligible for assistance from the State of Utah’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). RMP’s proposed changes to its program would expand the number of energy efficiency measures that can be included in homes that receive weatherization assistance through the state WAP. For example, under the proposed revisions qualified low-income customers with inefficient central air conditioners or evaporative coolers will be eligible for incentives to help cover the cost of improved ceiling and wall insulation. Further, low-income customers with inefficient central air conditioners, window air conditioners, or evaporative coolers will be eligible for incentives to replace these inefficient units with more efficient evaporative coolers, which use up to 75% less electricity than central air conditioners! Utah Clean Energy submitted comments to the Public Service Commission in support of these proposed revisions and also noted that, despite these improvements, the level of funding and proposed electricity savings being proposed by RMP is among the lowest in the nation. We also encouraged RMP to continue working with stakeholders to expand its support for energy efficiency incentives for low-income Utahns.
The Cool Keeper program allows RMP to direct participating customers’ air conditioning units to better control electricity demand during peak energy hours in the summer. Managing electricity demand during summer peak hours and other times throughout the year is a critical step to integrating more renewable energy into the electric grid. We are excited about RMP’s proposed changes to this program, which would increase the incentives paid to participating customers, extend the number of months and daily hours in which the program may operate, and enable additional programs capable of helping RMP manage electricity demand in new ways. These proposed changes not only improve the effectiveness of the Cool Keeper program but will likely help RMP transition to a clean energy future faster by allowing additional types of load management programs – such as those incorporating battery storage and electric vehicle charging – to be offered in the future. Utah Clean Energy will be submitting comments in support of these changes.
If you rent your home or apartment, it may seem like you have limited options to be more energy efficient, but there are actually dozens of actions you can take today to make your home more comfortable, while also saving energy and money! Utah Clean Energy with the Office of Energy Development created the Utah’s Renter’s Energy Efficiency Guide for all Utah renters interested in reducing their energy waste and saving on utility bills.
While more significant energy efficiency upgrades – such as replacing a furnace, upgrading windows, or insulating the attic – are actions that require larger investment and approval from a building owner, the Renter’s Energy Efficiency Guide includes 25 different actions that renters can take on their own to save energy at home. This includes tips for reducing air drafts, using efficient lighting and power strips, ways to reduce heating and cooling costs, and energy saving tips when doing laundry. The Guide highlights how easy each energy-saving action is and provides a range of potential energy savings.
To top things off, the guide provides information about financial incentives available to renters, and low- and no-cost resources such as the In-Home Energy Plan offered by Dominion Energy’s ThermWise program and the Wattsmart Starter Kit provided for free through Rocky Mountain Power’s Wattsmart program.
In addition to actions renters can take, the guide provides actions, programs, and best practices for landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their property including things like insulation and window upgrades.
Or online here:
Energía limpia de Utah y el Departamento de sostenibilidad de Salt Lake City están orgullosos de anunciar Empoderar a SLC, un esfuerzo de participación comunitaria para empoderar a los residentes de Salt Lake City con las herramientas para ahorrar energía y dinero para reducir la contaminación de toda la comunidad. Con Empoderar a SLC, estamos trabajando con los propietarios, inquilinos, pequeños negocios, escuelas y programas de la comunidad, traer eficiencia energética a las masas!
Sin embargo, la realidad es que no todo el mundo puede acceder a herramientas simples de eficiencia energética. Cosas como el costo inicial, limitada promoción de incentivos o barreras lingüísticas que sea difícil para algunas familias a implementar mejoras de eficiencia de energía. Empoderar a SLC es destinada a abordar esos problemas concentrándose en llevar herramientas de ahorro de energía, educación, y recursos directamente al los códigos ZIP de 84104 84116. Estos barrios fueron elegidos para impulsar históricamente más bajos de participación en programas de eficiencia energética y las estrategias piloto que podrían ampliarse a otras zonas de la ciudad.
Un beneficio de trabajar dentro de un área específico es que los residentes y organizaciones ya en estas comunidades pueden tomar la iniciativa! Los "Embajadores de la energía" de Empoderar SLC ayudara nuestros esfuerzos comunitarios para ofrecer educación y recursos de ahorro de energía a los residentes de 84116 y 84104.
Si usted vive en el código postal 84116 o 84104 y no ha cambiado sus focos incandescentes por LED de ahorro de energía. Ahora es el momento! Visita cualquiera de los dos lugares siguientes:
Obtenga más información y participe comunicándose con Shelby Stults, Coordinadora del Programa Comunitario de Energía Limpia de Utah.
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Utah Clean Energy and Salt Lake City Sustainability Department are proud to bring you Empower SLC, a community engagement effort to empower Salt Lake City residents with the tools to save energy and money while reducing pollution on a community-wide scale. Through Empower SLC, we are working with homeowners, renters, small businesses, schools, and community programs, to bring energy efficiency to the masses!
However, the reality is that not everyone can access simple energy efficiency tools. Things like the up-front cost, limited incentive promotion or linguistic barriers make it hard for some households to implement energy efficiency upgrades. Empower SLC is aimed at addressing those challenges by focusing on bringing energy-saving tools, education, and resources directly to ZIP codes 84104 and 84116. These neighborhoods were chosen to boost historically lower rates of participation in energy efficiency programs and pilot strategies that could be scaled up to other areas of the city.
A benefit of working within a targeted area is that residents and organizations already in these communities can take the lead! The Empower SLC “Energy Ambassadors” head up our community efforts to bring energy saving education and resources to residents of 84116 and 84104 communities.
If you live in 84116 and 84104 and haven’t switched out your old incandescent lights for energy saving LEDs, now is the time! Head over to any of Empower SLC’s permanent “Light Swaps” at:
Learn more and get involved by contacting Shelby Stults, Utah Clean Energy's Community Program Coordinator
We’re just getting started! Stay tuned for more information about other ways we’re working to promote energy efficiency in Salt Lake City in partnership with community organizations, local schools, utilities, small businesses, and more.
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Utah Clean Energy has wrapped-up our Salt Lake City “Neighborhood Light Swap” pilot program! The idea was to help low-income and underserved communities reduce pollution and save money on their monthly utility bills.
If we’re going to address climate change, we need to ensure everyone has access to energy efficiency tools, and LED light bulbs are a quick and easy way to cut energy waste. But, they do come at a higher price tag. The Neighborhood “Light Swap” offered households in the 84104 and 84116 zip codes to chance to “swap” up to 15 conventional light bulbs for energy-saving LEDs for FREE and learn about other low-cost ways to save energy and reduce pollution. The results are in!
To maximize the impact of resources for the pilot project, we focused on zip codes 84104 & 84116. This area was chosen due to a greater discrepancy in median income between the eastern and western sides of the city- the latter housing a greater number of lower income residents than the eastern portion. Additionally, these zip codes have the lowest participation rates in energy efficiency programs within the city. As a result, this geographic area was selected for the potential of having the most to benefit from free energy upgrades and education on energy conservation.
The impact from the pilot program would not have been possible without the collaboration and support from partner organizations, local community leaders and local community centers. A big thanks to Rocky Mountain Power for donating energy-saving LEDs! This work also would not have been possible without support from our donors.
Taking lessons learned from the pilot, Utah Clean Energy will be continuing and expanding on our energy equity work (read more about this issue here). We are exploring opportunities to expand these efforts, strengthening collaboration with organizations
Utah Clean Energy negotiates and intervenes on a myriad of issues with Rocky Mountain Power. While we often disagree, one topic we have historically been in lock-step was energy efficiency investments. That is, until recently.
You may ask why a utility would want to invest in helping its customers reduce their bills. The answer is simple; energy efficiency saves utilities and utility customers money! It's cheaper to help Utahns save energy than it is to provide new energy. By increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings, it’s easy to get more for less: more productivity, less wastefulness; more comfort, less compromise; more profit, less pollution. Oh, and lots of local jobs!
Over 60% of Rocky Mountain Power's electricity generation comes from burning coal and the first step to transition to a clean energy future is to reduce the amount of energy that is wasted. In fact, according to a recent international report increasing global energy efficiency is a central strategy to combat climate change. Reducing electricity consumption makes it easier - and cheaper - to supply our lower demand for electricity with clean, renewable energy. Energy efficiency is a win-win for everybody. Which is why we’re perplexed by Rocky Mountain Power’s plans to use less and less energy efficiency to meet energy demand.
A report recently filed with the Utah Public Service Commission (Docket No. 18-035-27) shows that Rocky Mountain Power is proposing to reduce the level of energy saved in Utah by 20% in 2019 compared to savings achieved in 2017. Specifically, the utility is planning for just 299 million kWh of annual energy savings through its 2019 Wattsmart efficiency programs. By comparison, in 2017 Rocky Mountain Power helped its customers save 373 million kWh of electricity annually through utility programs that stimulated the adoption of more efficient lights, appliances, air conditioning systems, industrial equipment and the like. These energy efficiency programs are cost effective, cutting $2.23 in utility costs for every $1 invested in energy efficiency incentive programs. The amount of electricity saved in 2017 alone resulted in $140 million net savings for the utility and its customers.
Since 2001 Rocky Mountain Power’s successful energy efficiency programs have helped Utahns save over 3.4 billion kWh of electricity per year, which is enough electricity to power nearly 373,000 average Utah homes.This proposal will translate to cuts to energy-saving incentive programs for residents and businesses that rely on robust efficiency incentives to help implement energy efficiency improvements.
What’s more troubling is that this appears to be a trend that Rocky Mountain Power is forecasting, despite Utah’s projected population doubling over the next couple of decades. In its most recent 20-year plan the utility projects that in the year 2034 it will save less electricity than it saved in 2008.
Utah Clean Energy and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project encourage interested residents and businesses to submit comments to the Utah Public Service Commision () supporting higher levels of electricity savings through Docket No. 18-035-27 and to tell Rocky Mountain Power directly that they support more electricity savings, not less. Contact Kevin Emerson to learn more.
Depending on the community, buildings can account for between 40% and 75% of community-level greenhouse gas emissions in Utah. But, zero energy or zero energy-ready buildings are designed, built, and operated to use dramatically less energy, resulting in dramatically less emissions!
Given that reducing energy consumption is typically the cheapest way to cut emissions, making our buildings highly energy efficient is the first step toward a low-carbon society.
Zero energy or zero energy-ready buildings are designed, built, and operated to use dramatically less energy. These buildings utilize readily available tools like improved building envelopes, daylighting and efficient lighting systems, air sealing, efficient heating and cooling systems, and more. From there, the small amount of energy still needed can be supplied by renewable energy.
It all comes down to energy codes. The State Energy Code sets the minimum standard for energy performance in new buildings and major remodels. Local governments in Utah are preempted by state law from adopting more ambitious codes than the state energy code. However, a voluntary zero energy “stretch code” is a tool local governments can use to encourage new construction and major retrofits to be ultra-efficient, zero energy or zero energy ready buildings.
Utah Clean Energy is working with local governments to promote voluntary zero energy stretch codes.
There is a plethora of info on stretch codes for those interested in learning more!
ZERO ENERGY READY HOME PROGRAM Sponsored by U.S. Department of Energy: https://www.energy.gov/eere/buildings/zero-energy-ready-home
ZERO ENERGY CERTIFICATION Sponsored by International Living Future Institute: https://living-future.org/net-zero/
ZERO CARBON CERTIFICATION Sponsored by International Living Future Institute: https://living-future.org/zero-carbon-certification/
 A voluntary stretch code may also be referred to as “energy reach code.”
Utah Clean Energy is excited to announce the launch of a new initiative to help underserved and low-income communities transition to a low carbon future. Through our new energy equity initiative, which includes the Salt Lake City “Neighborhood Light Swap” pilot program, we are bringing energy savings directly to community members, empowering them to reduce pollution and improve local air quality and public health, all while saving money on their monthly utility bills.
In order to increase participation in energy efficiency programs, Utah Clean Energy is working with local partners, including city councils, libraries, schools, Salt Lake City, and Rocky Mountain Power to help community members access energy-saving programs.
In addition to coordinating and seeking input from community leaders, advocates, non-governmental organizations, local government and utility companies, Utah Clean Energy is also hosting a series of Neighborhood “Light Swaps”. These “Light Swap” events will allow households located in the 84104 and 84116 zip codes to “swap” 5 conventional light bulbs for 5 energy-saving LEDs for FREE and learn about other free and low-cost ways to save energy and money.
Thank you to Rocky Mountain Power’s wattSmart program for donating over 1,000 energy-saving LED light bulbs for this project! We are also thankful for Salt Lake County Health Department for helping us responsibly dispose of our CFL bulbs. You can learn more about hazardous waste disposal on their website.
Come to a “Light Swap” listed below to get started!
Historically, residents in 84104 and 84116 have had some of the lowest rates of participation in energy efficiency programs in Salt Lake City. And while underserved residents stand to benefit most from energy savings, they are least likely to utilize these resources due to prohibitive up-front costs, limited program promotion, and linguistic barriers.
Underserved and low-income communities are disproportionately burdened by energy costs, making energy and cost savings especially impactful for these communities. On average, low-income households pay 3 times more on energy bills than the average-income households as a percentage of their household income. In addition to the financial stress that a high energy burden poses, it can also lead to a host of public health concerns, as many families respond by foregoing essentials like groceries and reducing necessary energy usage, which can cause discomfort, inadequate lighting, and unsafe housing conditions.
In addition to improving household comfort and reducing monthly utility costs, energy efficiency leads to numerous “co-benefits” that improve public health and local air quality. Here are a few examples of how reducing energy waste can help improve community health and improve the environment:
In addition to improving public health, energy efficiency can help families save money. Just by participating in the Light Swap program and swapping 5 old incandescent or CFL bulbs for 5 energy-saving LEDs, we estimate that participants can save up to $80 per year! And although getting started can be daunting, there are tons of easy, low- or no-cost things that residents can do today to start saving money and energy.
 A. Drehobl and L. Ross, “Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities: How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low Income and Underserved Communities,” (Washington, DC: ACEEE and Energy Efficiency for All, 2016). http://aceee.org/research-report/u1602.
 D. Hernández and S. Bird, “Energy Burden and the Need for Integrated Low-Income Housing and Energy Policy,” (Poverty & Public Policy 2: 5–25, 2010).
 American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and Physicians for Social Responsibility factsheet. http://aceee.org/sites/default/files/ee-health-1008.pdf.
 J. Wilson et. al., “Home Rx: The Health Benefits of Home Performance,” (Washington, DC: US Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, December 2016). https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/asset/document/Home%20Rx%20The%20Health%20Benefits%20of%20Home%20Performance%20-%20A%20Review%20of%20the%20Current%20Evidence_FINAL.pdf
 Replacing five traditional 60 watt bulbs with 9 watt LEDs will save $79 per year (assuming the bulb being replaced is a 60 watt bulb being used 8 hours/day, at an average cost of $0.11/kWh) http://www.seagulllighting.com/ENERGY-STAR-Savings.htm. Lifespan of LED bulbs is 50,000 hours, or roughly 17 years if averaging 8 hours/day. https://www.bulbs.com/learning/ledfaq.aspx.
On February 8, 2019, Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) filed an application with the Utah Public Service Commission proposing changes to its commercial energy efficiency programs. See docket 19-035-T01.
Generally, the proposal would change the way incentives are given for commercial lighting measures from a kilowatt-hour saved basis to a per-watt reduced basis. RMP also proposed categorizing commercial customers into small, medium, and large groups based on the customers’ total energy usage, then implementing incentives based on each category.
RMP stated that these changes were designed to more effectively encourage participation among commercial customers with lower hours of operation, which could increase the total number of program participants. Further, RMP stated that these changes would provide the same level of cost effectiveness as the current incentive structure. The application also includes an expansion of incentives to add advanced control systems to rooftop HVAC units on commercial buildings, which has proven to be an important opportunity for electricity savings in recent years.
However, after receiving comments from interested parties and reviewing RMP’s proposal, the Commission issued an order suspending its decision, saying that it needs additional information about the changes to the lighting incentives before making its final decision. As a result, the Commission has declined to approve or deny the proposal and ordered a technical conference on this issue, as well as two new rounds of comments from parties.
The technical conference will take place on March 26, and comments and reply comments will be due on April 9 and April 16 respectively. Utah Clean Energy will remain engaged in this process to make sure commercial customers in Utah get the best energy efficiency incentives possible.