SRP should raise efficiency standards - East Valley Tribune: News

SRP should raise efficiency standards

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Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2009 2:51 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Diane E. Brown: The Tribune’s recent editorial “SRP proposes alarming rate hike” was right on the mark, and your statement “most of these higher costs are tied to construction of power plants and transmission lines — projects that take years to plan and to complete,” hit the bull’s-eye.

The Tribune’s recent editorial “SRP proposes alarming rate hike” was right on the mark, and your statement “most of these higher costs are tied to construction of power plants and transmission lines — projects that take years to plan and to complete,” hit the bull’s-eye.

The goal of electricity regulation should be to provide adequate, reliable service to businesses and consumers at the lowest cost — including external costs such as public health, economic and social impacts. Energy efficiency measures cost less than other resources and can help alleviate some transmission and distribution needs. Energy efficiency is not only a proven way to save businesses and consumers money; energy efficiency offers immediate results.

Like many other Salt River Project customers, while I don’t enjoy paying my monthly utility bill, it is easier to write a check if I know my money is being spent wisely. I would be willing to pay more on my monthly bill for energy efficiency, an investment that would save me money over time. However, I do not want to pay more to contribute to increased air pollution or asthma and other adverse impacts to public health.

The Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund encourages SRP to adopt an energy efficiency standard of at least 20 percent by 2020. An energy efficiency standard could ensure that energy efficiency programs are ramped up on a yearly basis and are primarily focused on the effects of energy and utility policies and not primarily on the funding or spending levels.

While ultimately implementation by SRP of a strong energy efficiency standard will benefit Arizonans throughout the state, in the meantime, each of us can keep reduced energy consumption in mind and employ tips, such as the following, to save money and save energy:

• Stay cool — Install a programmable thermostat to meet your comfort needs efficiently during different times of the day or week. A programmable thermostat can save $100 a year when programmed and used properly.

Set the thermostat as high as possible while staying comfortable. For every degree you raise the thermostat setting on your air conditioner, your energy use will be reduced by 3 to 5 percent. Also, a clogged air conditioner filter will use up to 5 percent more energy than a clean one and can lead to early equipment failure.

• Seal unwanted air leaks in your home — Make sure all ducts are properly sealed, particularly in areas where the ducts pass through unconditioned spaces. Sealing your ducts can save up to $140 annually on energy bills and help keep you from adjusting the thermostat because of one room.

Caulk and weather-strip around doors, baseboards and windows and look for other openings that let in unwanted hot air, such as gaps around chimneys, recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.

• Be efficient in the kitchen — If cold air can’t circulate and adequately reach food, you refrigerator or freezer will operate inefficiently. That runs up your electric bill to keep food cool.

Toasters, microwave ovens, and counter-top grills use less energy and create less heat than a full-sized oven. Use these appliances when you need to prepare small portions of food. You can reduce your oven’s baking temperature by 25 degrees — if you use glass cookware — putting less stress on your air conditioner to get your kitchen cool again.

• Kill “phantom loads” — Even when turned off, your electronic appliances are actually running up your energy bill — creating a phantom load of energy use. For appliances that are inconvenient to switch off frequently, use power strips and flip the switch on the power strip to “off” to prevent devices from receiving power. Unplug CD/DVD players, televisions, computers, and similar devices and remove unneeded night lights.

• Make smart purchases that save money — Energy Star refrigerators can reduce electricity costs by up to $100 per year. An Energy Star clothes washer can cut electricity and water use by as much as 50 percent.

While we can each do our part, it is important for our utility to lead the way. Please visit arizonapirg.org for information about SRP’s public hearings and to encourage SRP to increase energy efficiency.

Diane E. Brown is a Gilbert resident and the executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on public interest issues.

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