Utah Clean Energy - reducing pollution by saving energy

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 10:20

Building a Zero Energy Ready Home

Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties ZERH Partner logois building two of their newest homes so energy efficient that they achieve the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Zero Energy Ready Home” certification. Utah Clean Energy in partnership with local architects Think Architecture, and energy experts, Nexant are helping them achieve this goal! 

Zero Energy Ready Homes are so energy efficient, on-site rooftop solar can offset all or most of its annual energy needs. This means close to zero energy bills and zero unnecessary pollution!  If you're building a home, go for zero! Get started by downloading these free infographics on the first steps of building a Zero Energy Ready Home, and stay tuned for more!

Click the infographic to download

 Zero Energy Ready All Steps  Habitat Goes Zero Infographic CONCEPT


HFH logoZero Energy Ready logo

This summer, Utah Clean Energy’s Energy Efficiency Program Director, Kevin Emerson and Howard Geller, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project published an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune. Their op-ed sounded an alarm about recent declines in Rocky Mountain Power’s successful energy-saving programs:

“Unfortunately, Rocky Mountain Power scaled back its cost-effective energy efficiency programs starting in 2018. Fewer customers participated and the energy savings achieved as a result of the utility’s programs declined by 24 percent between 2017 and 2018. And energy savings could continue to decline in 2019.”

 Read the whole piece.

What’s the big deal with energy efficiency?

  • Energy efficiency is a vital energy strategy for Utah’s residents and businesses.
  • By reducing demand for polluting electricity, we protect public health and make it easier to transition to clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal, to power our lives.
  • Energy efficiency is also one of the most affordable energy investments we can make! Coal-fired power plants on Rocky Mountain Power’s system can cost up to 5 cents for every kilowatt-hour generated[1], whereas energy efficiency costs half that amount at 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour saved[2]!
  • Cutting energy waste through efficiency reduces energy bills for Utah families and businesses, helping to keep money in the local economy.
  • Energy efficiency doesn’t just cut pollution and save money, it also supports over 30,000 jobs here in Utah!

Who pays for this program?

  • Energy efficiency is the most affordable way to meet energy demand and, therefore, utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs, like Rocky Mountain Power’s Wattsmart program, are funded by utility customers.
  • Every individual, household, and business paying a power bill invests in the Wattsmart energy efficiency program.

What’s currently happening? Two things:

First, in its 2018 Annual Energy Efficiency and Peak Load Reduction Report, Rocky Mountain Power reported that it cut back its successful energy efficiency programs as compared to previous years. Specifically, in 2018:

  • Energy savings dropped by a staggering 24 percent as compared to 2017.
  • The number of businesses participating in the efficiency program dropped by over 3,000 as compared to 2017.

Meanwhile, utilities in Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada are expanding their energy efficiency targets and programs to the benefit of their customers! Utah Clean Energy is concerned about these cuts and filed comments with the Utah Public Service Commission. You can read our comments—submitted jointly with the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project—here.

Second, now through the end of 2020, Rocky Mountain Power is expected to have about $8 million of un-spent efficiency funding that should be invested to achieve additional energy-saving for Utah schools, families, and businesses to help cut energy use and power bills.

On behalf of its customers, Rocky Mountain Power should be expanding their energy efficiency investment, not rolling back savings!

What can we do about it?

Lend your voice to support the Wattsmart energy-saving program. Tell Rocky Mountain Power that you want them to increase energy savings through its successful Wattsmart program, rather than rolling back savings!

  • Tell @RockyMountainPower that you support increasing energy savings through Wattsmart! Use the social media hashtag #WattsmartWorks
  • Write a letter to the editor in response to the June 18 op-ed that was published in The Salt Lake Tribune
  • Consider the facts below as you make your voice heard!

Facts about Rocky Mountain Power’s Successful Energy Efficiency Programs

  • Since 2001, Rocky Mountain Power has collected funding from its customers to implement successful energy efficiency programs.
  • These programs have saved over $1.1 billion in electricity costs for ratepayers and the utility.
  • Every $1 invested in efficiency saves over $1.70 in electricity costs.
  • From the utility’s point of view, helping their customers save energy through Wattsmart incentives cost only 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour saved. This makes efficiency one of the cheapest energy investments!
  • More efficient lighting and daylighting not only saves money but has been shown to improve worker productivity and student academic performance.
  • Energy efficiency also helps people stay more comfortable in their homes, money in the local economy, and supports the estimated 30,000 Utahns employed in the energy efficiency sector.
  • And, unlike other energy investments, efficiency keeps providing savings for decades – as long as the energy efficient product (window, insulation, efficiency cooling system, etc.) lasts!


[1] Energy Strategies, PacifiCorp Coal Unit Valuation Study (2018) page 6

[2] Rocky Mountain Power, Demand-Side Management 2018 Annual Energy Efficiency and Peak Load Reduction Report (2019) Table 5, page 3 of Appendix 2 (page 49 of PDF)

Wednesday, 05 June 2019 10:06

Zero Energy Ready Homes in Summit County

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.

HFH logoZero Energy Ready logo

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.

Monday, 03 June 2019 17:20

Utah Renters Energy Efficiency Guide

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! 

Empiece hoy

Ahorrar energía es algo que todo el mundo puede hacer. ¡Descargue la lista de verificación en 
inglés y español  para comenzar a ahorrar energía en su hogar!Spanish Full Home Energy Checklist

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.

Conoce a los embajadores de energía

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.

  • Comité de rescate internacional: Ayuda a los refugiados sobrevivir, recuperarse y ganar el control de su futuro, el IRC se LED directa-instalaciones completas durante las visitas domiciliarias con familias reasentadas.
  • Condado de Salt Lake servicios de adulto y envejecimiento: comidas en voluntarios de las ruedas de lado del oeste de Salt Lake City le dará mayores enfermos recibir comidas una opción para instalaciones de LED gratis en su casa.
  • División de la juventud y la familia Salt Lake City: Esta organización pone dos eventos cada año centrado en la calidad del aire, salud y medio ambiente. En estos eventos, los asistentes podrán recibir duchas de ahorro de agua que a su vez también reducirá la demanda de energía y los costos de calefacción de agua.

Iluminarlo con LED

bulbs april 7

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:

  • Centro de unidad Sorenson (1383 S 900 W, SLC, 84104): los residentes del área pueden traer hasta 15 focos ineficientes para intercambiar en la recepción durante las horas de libre: el lunes a jueves 9:00 – 9:00; viernes 9:00 – 8:00; sábado 9:00 – 5:00.
  • Utah comunidad acción: residentes que están aplacando por asistencia con la programa de HEAT tendrán la oportunidad de intercambiar hasta 15 focos durante su cita.

Obtenga más información y participe comunicándose con Shelby Stults, Coordinadora del Programa Comunitario de Energía Limpia de Utah.


  Fundado por                                                       Con apoyo adicional de:                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
SLCgreen Simple City Seal Logo Square transparent                                                     

                    Drake Real Estate

               RMP plain.185 Copy            



En Espanol 2016 Button e1456775397319Utah 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!IMG 9654 small

*Interested in rooftop solar? Check out our Empower SLC Solar Discount Program!*

Get Started Today

Saving energy is something everyone can do! Download Empower SLC's handy home energy checklist available
in both English and Spanish as your first step to saving energy at home!mini checklist image

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.

Meet the Energy Ambassadors

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.

  • International Rescue Committee (IRC): Helping refugees survive, recover, and gain control of their future, the IRC will complete LED direct-installations during home visits with resettled families.
  • Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services: Meals on Wheels volunteers routed in Salt Lake City’s West Side will give homebound seniors receiving meals an option for free LED installations in their home.
  • Salt Lake City’s Division of Youth and Family: YouthCity Gov’t puts on two events every year centered on air quality, health, and the environment. At these events, attendees will be able to receive water-saving showerheads that in turn will also reduce energy demand and water-heating costs.

LED Light Up!bulbs april 7 

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:

  • Sorenson Unity Center: residents may bring in up to 15 inefficient light bulbs to exchange at the front desk during open facility hours: Monday – Thursday 9:00 AM- 9:00 PM; Friday 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Saturday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Utah Community Action's HEAT program: residents applying for HEAT assistance will have the opportunity to exchange up to 15 light bulbs during their HEAT appointment.

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.


  Funded by              With additional support from:                                                                                                       
SLCgreen Simple City Seal Logo Square transparent                                                     

                    Drake Real Estate

               RMP plain.185 Copy            



Additional Resources:

Affordable Energy for All: A Plan to Expand Energy Efficiency Benefits for Low-Income Salt Lake City Residents


Monday, 10 September 2018 12:52

Energy Equity Pilot Project Surpasses Goal

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!

households  saved  lights  emissions 

Why Only Two Zip Codes?

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.

What’s Next?

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

Friday, 02 November 2018 10:10

Reducing Energy Waste Should Be Priority #1

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.

The Latest

RMP Historic Electricity Savings with 2019 ReductionsA 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.

Take Action

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.

Monday, 16 July 2018 12:25

Zero Energy Stretch Codes

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.

How Do We Get More Zero Energy Buildings in Utah?

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.[1]

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 website

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/


[1] A voluntary stretch code may also be referred to as “energy reach code.”

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