Four steps to lower your monthly energy bill | Guest Column

Submitted by Ryan T. Palmateer

San Juan Islands Conservation District

Fall is officially here in the San Juans and that means your house might be getting a little chilly. Join us on the free Green Home Tour to learn some easy and innovative ideas to keep your house warm while keeping energy use at a minimum.

The San Juan Island Green Home Tour is Saturday, Oct, 14, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., starting at the San Juan Grange in Friday Harbor. Hear from experts in the field, as well as homeowners, about energy saving features like thermal barriers, heat pumps, and air sealing. Learn about renewable energy options and take a ride in an electric vehicle. To sign-up for the tour, just RSVP to

Energy Saving Tips:

The average American household uses approximately 60 percent of its energy on heating alone, however, there are some easy and relatively inexpensive steps to keep your energy use down, even in the winter.

Step One: Smart Hub

The first step towards lowering your energy use is to see how you are already using it. OPALCO’s Smart Hub is free with your OPALCO Membership and allows members to look at their power use by month, week, day or even hour. Did you just turn on your furnace in the last couple weeks for the first time since last spring? Check to see how much power you used the month before and compare. Check out, log in and check it out for yourself.

Step Two: Snapshot Home Assessment

A Snapshot Home Assessment will help you identify ways to save energy in your home. For only $25, OPALCO will send out certified BPI (Building Performance Institute) contractors to your home to perform an energy audit. They will look your home over and make a report for you showing areas in which you can improve your energy efficiency. This could include recommendations for new appliances, heating/cooling systems, ventilation and air quality, lighting or insulation. They will also install up to 12 Low-watt LED Lightbulbs to replace your older, more energy-hungry lightbulbs, not to mention even offer to replace your showerhead to a low flow head for no extra charge! If you were curious how to best save money on your power bill, the Snapshot Home Assessment is for you! Call OPALCO today to schedule your Home Snapshot Assessment at 360-376-3500 or fill out the request form online at

Step Three: New Energy Solutions

Now that’s you’ve seen how much energy you use and have completed the Snapshot Energy Assessment, it’s time to fix the problem areas as outlined by your Energy Assessment Report. One of our sayings is that the greenest energy is the energy not used. Sealing windows and doors, insulating floors and attics, and upgrading appliances all go a long way to greening your home. If your home has an older refrigerator, the original 1975 baseboard electric heaters in every room, or a hot water heater that’s old enough to have earned a diploma, you might be in the market for some energy-efficient appliances.

Step Four: Incentives/Rebates

Now you may be looking at the price of these new appliances and thinking “that’s a good chunk ofchange.” However, all the aforementioned energy solutions are currently incentivized by OPALCO in the form of Energy Efficiency Rebates. Heat pumps are one of the most efficient ways to heat your home and OPALCO is offering an $800 rebate. To check out the entire list of current rebates OPALCO is offering on new energy efficient appliances go to While there, you can see a complete list of rebates as well as download and print any rebate forms.

Learn more at the Green Home Tour by talking to professionals and discovering new ways to save energy. For more information, visit or contact 360-378-6621 or