Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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Energy efficiency

  • Living Room

     

    Ceiling Fan

    A ceiling fan is a magical appliance. During the summer, it creates a wind chill effect and can keep a hot room cool. In the winter, it redistributes warm air that has risen up back down to where the room’s occupants are. Ideally, ceiling fans work best with their blades 7–9 feet above the floor and 10–12 inches below the ceiling. Larger blades will move air better, too. And always look for the Energy Star seal on the appliance—it will definitely save you money over time.

    Energystar TV

    It is important to be a mindful energy consumer with your television. As with all appliances, look for the Energy Star label. These models are, on average, over 40 percent more energy efficient than standard models, and they include everything from standard to the largest flatscreen LCD and plasma models.

    Believe you me, the energy savings make a difference, especially when 39 million televisions shipped to the United States in 2011, and 19 million of these were 40 inches or larger.

    Wood stove

    Burning wood involves some compromises. Modern woodstoves produce much, much less air pollution than older models but they still emit as much as 100 times more pollution than oil or gas furnaces, inside and outside your home. Many people do prefer this type of heat for many reasons including cost and availability of fuel. It does contribute less to global warming than burning fossil fuels. The SW Clean Air Agency has some great information about using your woodstove more efficiently.

    Even better, though, is the pellet stove, which is much cleaner than any woodstove. And because pellets are made from renewable resources (like wood chips and corn husks, and other timber and agricultural waste), they’re usually considered a good environmental choice.

    LED/Halogen Bulbs

    Wherever possible, replace your incandescent lightbulbs with low wattage compact flourescent (CFL) bulbs or, even better, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

    The energy savings are incomparable: A standard 60 watt incandescent bulb provides 13 to 14 lumens per watt, whereas an equivalent CFL provides 55 to 70 lumens per watt and an LED provides 60 to 100 lumens per watt. What’s more is that an LED bulb will last you a long time, some models lasting 25 years. Lighting accounts for 6% of a house’s energy use—CFL and LED bulbs will get you your money’s worth.

    New bulb standards are changing the way you’ll shop for lightbulbs. You used to buy for watts, but now you’ll shop for lumens, which tell us how bright a bulb burns.

    • 100 watt bulbs are about 1600 lumens
    • 75 watt bulbs are about 1100 lumens
    • 60 watt bulbs are about 800 lumens
    • 40 watt bulbs are about 450 lumens

    Thermostat

    Keep your thermostat set to the lowest setting to which you are comfortable. If possible, keep your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the heating season. Space heating accounts for 45% of your home’s energy use, so even minor adjustments can go a long way.

    If you think your heating isn’t doing what it should, look around your home to see what may be causing the situation:

    • Insufficient insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors
    • Uninsulated, loose, or leaking furnace ductwork
    • Dirty furnace filters
    • Open fireplaces (more heat is lost up the chimney than into the room)
    • Air leaks around windows, doors, and walls

    Couch

    The three R’s of sustainable furniture—recondition, reuse, and recycle. Look to redo your furniture, buy secondhand, or get creative before buying new.

    Understandably, decor is a little tough when only working with old materials. Fortunately, there are ways to lower the negative impact of the furniture on the environment and your health. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council’s seal, which certifies timber that is cut in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Greenguard also certifies safe, low-emission products and materials for indoor use, including furniture.

    In general, look for the following sustainable marks of furniture:

    • Paints, stains, and finishes that contain low or no volatile organic compounds
    • Reduced use of glues, sealants, and formaldehyde
    • Natural fabrics, organic cotton, recycled fabric content, and toxin-free upholstery
    • 100% natural latex foam
    • Use of materials that have been and can be recycled
    • Minimal packaging
    • Locally manufactured

    Lightswitch

    Lighting accounts for 6% of a house’s energy use, so it’s simple: turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. You already know that, though. This just Green Neighbors nudging you off that comfy couch to turn off the kitchen light.

    Books

    Like to read? Consider using your local library or used bookstore before purchasing new books. If you haven’t been to the library in awhile, you might be surprised at all the new things they have to offer.

    • Ceiling Fan

      A ceiling fan is a magical appliance. During the summer, it creates a wind chill effect and can keep a hot room cool. In the winter, it redistributes warm air that has risen up back down to where the room’s occupants are. Ideally, ceiling fans work best with their blades 7–9 feet above the floor and 10–12 inches below the ceiling. Larger blades will move air better, too. And always look for the Energy Star seal on the appliance—it will definitely save you money over time.

    • Energystar TV

      It is important to be a mindful energy consumer with your television. As with all appliances, look for the Energy Star label. These models are, on average, over 40 percent more energy efficient than standard models, and they include everything from standard to the largest flatscreen LCD and plasma models.

      Believe you me, the energy savings make a difference, especially when 39 million televisions shipped to the United States in 2011, and 19 million of these were 40 inches or larger.

    • Wood stove

      Burning wood involves some compromises. Modern woodstoves produce much, much less air pollution than older models but they still emit as much as 100 times more pollution than oil or gas furnaces, inside and outside your home. Many people do prefer this type of heat for many reasons including cost and availability of fuel. It does contribute less to global warming than burning fossil fuels. The SW Clean Air Agency has some great information about using your woodstove more efficiently.

      Even better, though, is the pellet stove, which is much cleaner than any woodstove. And because pellets are made from renewable resources (like wood chips and corn husks, and other timber and agricultural waste), they’re usually considered a good environmental choice.

    • LED/Halogen Bulbs

      Wherever possible, replace your incandescent lightbulbs with low wattage compact flourescent (CFL) bulbs or, even better, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

      The energy savings are incomparable: A standard 60 watt incandescent bulb provides 13 to 14 lumens per watt, whereas an equivalent CFL provides 55 to 70 lumens per watt and an LED provides 60 to 100 lumens per watt. What’s more is that an LED bulb will last you a long time, some models lasting 25 years. Lighting accounts for 6% of a house’s energy use—CFL and LED bulbs will get you your money’s worth.

      New bulb standards are changing the way you’ll shop for lightbulbs. You used to buy for watts, but now you’ll shop for lumens, which tell us how bright a bulb burns.

      • 100 watt bulbs are about 1600 lumens
      • 75 watt bulbs are about 1100 lumens
      • 60 watt bulbs are about 800 lumens
      • 40 watt bulbs are about 450 lumens
    • Thermostat

      Keep your thermostat set to the lowest setting to which you are comfortable. If possible, keep your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the heating season. Space heating accounts for 45% of your home’s energy use, so even minor adjustments can go a long way.

      If you think your heating isn’t doing what it should, look around your home to see what may be causing the situation:

      • Insufficient insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors
      • Uninsulated, loose, or leaking furnace ductwork
      • Dirty furnace filters
      • Open fireplaces (more heat is lost up the chimney than into the room)
      • Air leaks around windows, doors, and walls
    • Couch

      The three R’s of sustainable furniture—recondition, reuse, and recycle. Look to redo your furniture, buy secondhand, or get creative before buying new.

      Understandably, decor is a little tough when only working with old materials. Fortunately, there are ways to lower the negative impact of the furniture on the environment and your health. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council’s seal, which certifies timber that is cut in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Greenguard also certifies safe, low-emission products and materials for indoor use, including furniture.

      In general, look for the following sustainable marks of furniture:

      • Paints, stains, and finishes that contain low or no volatile organic compounds
      • Reduced use of glues, sealants, and formaldehyde
      • Natural fabrics, organic cotton, recycled fabric content, and toxin-free upholstery
      • 100% natural latex foam
      • Use of materials that have been and can be recycled
      • Minimal packaging
      • Locally manufactured
    • Lightswitch

      Lighting accounts for 6% of a house’s energy use, so it’s simple: turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. You already know that, though. This just Green Neighbors nudging you off that comfy couch to turn off the kitchen light.

    • Books

      Like to read? Consider using your local library or used bookstore before purchasing new books. If you haven’t been to the library in awhile, you might be surprised at all the new things they have to offer.

    • Bedroom

       

      Insulation and Weatherization

      It’s called weatherization, and it involves insulation and sealing air leaks. Adding insulation is a good place to start, and there are number of green alternatives that can be used, such as cellulose, cotton, foam, and fiberglass. To identify your house’s leaks, contact a professional who will conduct a blower-door test on the home. From there, you can caulk and weatherstrip your way to energy freedom!

      Do your research and check out this article on weatherization from Clark Public Utilities, and contact CPU if you need more help deciding what to do.

      Keep in mind, too, that Clark Public Utilities offers incentives to help you get energy efficient.

      Energy Efficient Window

      Before you go about shopping for more efficient windows, make sure your house is weatherized. As far as efficient windows go, there are some things to look for:

      • Energy Star label. Double-paned windows that are labeled Energy Star will save you between 7 and 15 percent more on bills than non-Energy Star products.
      • 30 U-factor or less. The lower the u-factor, the lower the heat loss
      • What kind of frame you want. Vinyl is the most popular nowadays for its low heat transferability and its adaptability, but there are other options.
      • Whether you want coated or inert gas-filled windows. Both will help to increase energy efficiency and reduce harmful ultraviolet rays in your home.
      • If you have more questions, contact Clark Public Utilities Energy Conservation Counselors at 360-992-3355 or contact them through their website.

      Paint on Wall

      Be sure to choose a paint without volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Among the VOC’s are formaldehyde, benzene, acetone, and ammonia, all of which contribute to indoor air pollution. They don’t just smell funny–VOC’s are detrimental to our health.

      Look for the Green Seal when you’re buying your paints. As an independent non-profit that certifies environmentally-sound, sustainable products. Their list of approved paints can be found here.

      Consider buying used paint from Metro Paint. They take leftover paint and remake it in a variety of colors.

      Dresser

      Clothing—it’s the thing that separates us from the animals (except if you’re wearing zebra print jeggings, then you’re just as ferocious). There are easy ways, though, to reduce your clothing’s negative impact on the environment. Choose:

      • Recycled fabrics
      • Biodegradable dyes
      • Certification for fair labor practices
      • Organic fibers
      • Renewable materials
      • You should avoid clothes that are wrinkle-resistant and that have been treated with chlorine-based bleaches. Of course, there are other (better) options with your clothing than buying new constantly.

      Reduce your wardrobe, first and foremost. Look at your dresser or closet: do you really wear everything you own? If you don’t use it, donate it to a Goodwill or secondhand store. Get to the minimum and stay there. And if you find yourself lacking a needed accessory, go back to those same used clothing stores and look for hidden gems. Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle—it works with clothing, too!

      Pillow Cases and Bedding

      There are some simple choices you can make to be sustainable with your bedding:

      • Find products made without polybrominated diphenyl ethers
      • Find products made locally or within the United States
      • Look for encased products that have reduced chemical exposure
      • Choose natural rather than synthetic fibers
      • Choose natural latex foam
      • You should avoid products that are “wrinkle-resistant” and treated with formaldehyde, which negatively affects human health. Also avoid polyurethane foam and excessive packaging whenever you can.

      Pets

      We all want to take the best possible care of our families and pets. Keep them in mind when purchasing chemicals and using them to clean the house or take care of the yard. Take a little time to seek out good, healthy alternatives for your home.

      • Insulation and Weatherization

        It’s called weatherization, and it involves insulation and sealing air leaks. Adding insulation is a good place to start, and there are number of green alternatives that can be used, such as cellulose, cotton, foam, and fiberglass. To identify your house’s leaks, contact a professional who will conduct a blower-door test on the home. From there, you can caulk and weatherstrip your way to energy freedom!

        Do your research and check out this article on weatherization from Clark Public Utilities, and contact CPU if you need more help deciding what to do.

        Keep in mind, too, that Clark Public Utilities offers incentives to help you get energy efficient.

      • Energy Efficient Window

        Before you go about shopping for more efficient windows, make sure your house is weatherized. As far as efficient windows go, there are some things to look for:

        • Energy Star label. Double-paned windows that are labeled Energy Star will save you between 7 and 15 percent more on bills than non-Energy Star products.
        • 30 U-factor or less. The lower the u-factor, the lower the heat loss
        • What kind of frame you want. Vinyl is the most popular nowadays for its low heat transferability and its adaptability, but there are other options.
        • Whether you want coated or inert gas-filled windows. Both will help to increase energy efficiency and reduce harmful ultraviolet rays in your home.
        • If you have more questions, contact Clark Public Utilities Energy Conservation Counselors at 360-992-3355 or contact them through their website.
      • Paint on Wall

        Be sure to choose a paint without volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Among the VOC’s are formaldehyde, benzene, acetone, and ammonia, all of which contribute to indoor air pollution. They don’t just smell funny–VOC’s are detrimental to our health.

        Look for the Green Seal when you’re buying your paints. As an independent non-profit that certifies environmentally-sound, sustainable products. Their list of approved paints can be found here.

        Consider buying used paint from Metro Paint. They take leftover paint and remake it in a variety of colors.

      • Dresser

        Clothing—it’s the thing that separates us from the animals (except if you’re wearing zebra print jeggings, then you’re just as ferocious). There are easy ways, though, to reduce your clothing’s negative impact on the environment. Choose:

        • Recycled fabrics
        • Biodegradable dyes
        • Certification for fair labor practices
        • Organic fibers
        • Renewable materials
        • You should avoid clothes that are wrinkle-resistant and that have been treated with chlorine-based bleaches. Of course, there are other (better) options with your clothing than buying new constantly.

        Reduce your wardrobe, first and foremost. Look at your dresser or closet: do you really wear everything you own? If you don’t use it, donate it to a Goodwill or secondhand store. Get to the minimum and stay there. And if you find yourself lacking a needed accessory, go back to those same used clothing stores and look for hidden gems. Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle—it works with clothing, too!

      • Pillow Cases and Bedding

        There are some simple choices you can make to be sustainable with your bedding:

        • Find products made without polybrominated diphenyl ethers
        • Find products made locally or within the United States
        • Look for encased products that have reduced chemical exposure
        • Choose natural rather than synthetic fibers
        • Choose natural latex foam
        • You should avoid products that are “wrinkle-resistant” and treated with formaldehyde, which negatively affects human health. Also avoid polyurethane foam and excessive packaging whenever you can.
      • Pets

        We all want to take the best possible care of our families and pets. Keep them in mind when purchasing chemicals and using them to clean the house or take care of the yard. Take a little time to seek out good, healthy alternatives for your home.

      • Attic

         

        Insulation

        Home insulation is one of the best improvements you can make for the least amount of money. Insulation keeps the heat out in the summer and the heat in during the colder months. Check out CPU’s great home energy calculator.

        Attic Fan

        Mechanical attic ventilation, such as an attic fan, is often promoted as a way to cut heat gain in a house. However, the effectiveness of any attic fan will depend on several factors, including the amount of insulation in the attic and natural ventilation.

        “It could be 82 degrees outside and, depending on how well the attic is passively ventilated, at peak heating hours the attic could reach 140 degrees or higher,” said Rick Richart of Richart Builders and Remodelers in Vancouver. “When the fan pulls out hot air, it replaces it with outside air. If the attic is well insulated, the fan will help protect the inside of the home from that hot air.”

        However, if the attic has inadequate insulation, blocked soffit vents or is not well sealed from the rest of the house, the fan could end up pulling cooled air from the living area into the attic. This will increase your energy bills if you have air conditioning—not to mention do nothing to add to the comfort of your home.

        For more information, contact Clark Public Utilities Energy Conservation Counselors at 360-992-3355.

        Roof Vents

        In the attic of a house, ventilation serves a number of purposes. The flow of cold air beneath the roof deck in winter helps remove moisture that works its way up through the ceiling and insulation. During the summer, vents help carry away the hot air that accumulates under the roof deck, lowering cooling costs in the space below.

        Unused Items

        Most of us store unwanted items in the attic where they can easily become out of sight, out of mind. Move those unneeded items along by putting them on 2good2toss.com, giving them to family or friends or take them to a thrift store for resale. Make sure any used baby items are still considered safe for use.

        • Insulation

          Home insulation is one of the best improvements you can make for the least amount of money. Insulation keeps the heat out in the summer and the heat in during the colder months. Check out CPU’s great home energy calculator.

        • Attic Fan

          Mechanical attic ventilation, such as an attic fan, is often promoted as a way to cut heat gain in a house. However, the effectiveness of any attic fan will depend on several factors, including the amount of insulation in the attic and natural ventilation.

          “It could be 82 degrees outside and, depending on how well the attic is passively ventilated, at peak heating hours the attic could reach 140 degrees or higher,” said Rick Richart of Richart Builders and Remodelers in Vancouver. “When the fan pulls out hot air, it replaces it with outside air. If the attic is well insulated, the fan will help protect the inside of the home from that hot air.”

          However, if the attic has inadequate insulation, blocked soffit vents or is not well sealed from the rest of the house, the fan could end up pulling cooled air from the living area into the attic. This will increase your energy bills if you have air conditioning—not to mention do nothing to add to the comfort of your home.

          For more information, contact Clark Public Utilities Energy Conservation Counselors at 360-992-3355.

        • Roof Vents

          In the attic of a house, ventilation serves a number of purposes. The flow of cold air beneath the roof deck in winter helps remove moisture that works its way up through the ceiling and insulation. During the summer, vents help carry away the hot air that accumulates under the roof deck, lowering cooling costs in the space below.

        • Unused Items

          Most of us store unwanted items in the attic where they can easily become out of sight, out of mind. Move those unneeded items along by putting them on 2good2toss.com, giving them to family or friends or take them to a thrift store for resale. Make sure any used baby items are still considered safe for use.

        • Basement

           

          Laundry Soap

          There can be harmful chemicals and phosphates in your laundry soap so be sure to do some research and choose your products wisely. There are a number of safe and healthy products on the market.

          Canned Goods

          Raise your own fruits and veggies or buy local. Either way you’ll have a better idea of where they come from, what has been sprayed on them and they will be so much fresher. Check with the Master Food Preserver Program at WSU Extension, 360-397-6060 if you want to learn more.

          Furnace/Heater

          Many of our homes run on natural gas, electrical, or oil furnaces. If you have an older furnace, just remember to change your filter monthly. And if you’re in the market for a new furnace, look for the Energy Star seal, which signifies a higher AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating. The AFUE rating is represented as a percentage. A 90 to 95 percent rating will be what you’re looking for in this market (of course, the higher the rating, the better). More information about heating and cooling systems is available on the Clark Public Utilities website, as well as a Heating Comparison Calculator.

          Dryer Sheets and Detergent

          Manufacturers are not required by law to disclose the ingredients used in artificial fragrances. The result: your laundry becomes a bed of volatile organic compounds (VOC), including several hazardous air pollutants. Two of the chemicals commonly found in dryer sheets—acetaldehyde and benzene—are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens.

          Be mindful of what you are using to wash and dry your clothes. These products affect not only personal health, but air quality and water quality as well. Use products without any fragrance or scent to avoid these unregulated health hazards.

          If you must have a pleasurable scent, toss a bit of lavender or a few drops of essential oil on a reusable cloth into the dryer before you run it.

          And if you must have soft clothes, add ½ cup of baking soda in with the detergent during the wash cycle. Adding ½ cup of vinegar into the fabric softener container should do the trick, too.

          Washer and Dryer

          According to Energy Star, the average American family washes 300 loads of laundry each year—that adds up to a lot of water and a lot of energy. The average Energy Star washer uses 50% less water and 37% less energy than standard washers. Also consider converting to a front-loading washer, which uses about 70% less water than its older top-loading cousin.

          There are some easy tips for keeping your laundry costs down:
          • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold water detergents whenever possible
          • Wash and dry full loads
          • Don’t over-dry your clothes
          • Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards
          • Even clean beneath and around the lint screen with a vacuum occasionally
          • Use the cool-down cycle and moisture sensors on your dryer to save heat in drying
          • Schedule every now and then an inspection for your dryer vent. Make sure it is not blocked—it will save energy and may prevent a fire.
          • If nothing else, consider air-drying your clothes on a line or drying rack. That way, you’re only using your arms’ energy and the magic of open air.
          • Laundry Soap

            There can be harmful chemicals and phosphates in your laundry soap so be sure to do some research and choose your products wisely. There are a number of safe and healthy products on the market.

          • Canned Goods

            Raise your own fruits and veggies or buy local. Either way you’ll have a better idea of where they come from, what has been sprayed on them and they will be so much fresher. Check with the Master Food Preserver Program at WSU Extension, 360-397-6060 if you want to learn more.

          • Furnace/Heater

            Many of our homes run on natural gas, electrical, or oil furnaces. If you have an older furnace, just remember to change your filter monthly. And if you’re in the market for a new furnace, look for the Energy Star seal, which signifies a higher AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating. The AFUE rating is represented as a percentage. A 90 to 95 percent rating will be what you’re looking for in this market (of course, the higher the rating, the better). More information about heating and cooling systems is available on the Clark Public Utilities website, as well as a Heating Comparison Calculator.

          • Dryer Sheets and Detergent

            Manufacturers are not required by law to disclose the ingredients used in artificial fragrances. The result: your laundry becomes a bed of volatile organic compounds (VOC), including several hazardous air pollutants. Two of the chemicals commonly found in dryer sheets—acetaldehyde and benzene—are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens.

            Be mindful of what you are using to wash and dry your clothes. These products affect not only personal health, but air quality and water quality as well. Use products without any fragrance or scent to avoid these unregulated health hazards.

            If you must have a pleasurable scent, toss a bit of lavender or a few drops of essential oil on a reusable cloth into the dryer before you run it.

            And if you must have soft clothes, add ½ cup of baking soda in with the detergent during the wash cycle. Adding ½ cup of vinegar into the fabric softener container should do the trick, too.

          • Washer and Dryer

            According to Energy Star, the average American family washes 300 loads of laundry each year—that adds up to a lot of water and a lot of energy. The average Energy Star washer uses 50% less water and 37% less energy than standard washers. Also consider converting to a front-loading washer, which uses about 70% less water than its older top-loading cousin.

            There are some easy tips for keeping your laundry costs down:
            • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold water detergents whenever possible
            • Wash and dry full loads
            • Don’t over-dry your clothes
            • Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards
            • Even clean beneath and around the lint screen with a vacuum occasionally
            • Use the cool-down cycle and moisture sensors on your dryer to save heat in drying
            • Schedule every now and then an inspection for your dryer vent. Make sure it is not blocked—it will save energy and may prevent a fire.
            • If nothing else, consider air-drying your clothes on a line or drying rack. That way, you’re only using your arms’ energy and the magic of open air.

          • Garage

             

            Water Heater

            Behind the furnace, the water heater is typically the second largest user of energy in the home. Set your water heater thermostat to no more than 120 degrees.

            Sooner than later, the new norm in home water heating will be the heat pump water heater. They take the heat from the surrounding area and use it to heat the water. They are MUCH more efficient than standard water heaters, since they are up to 2.5 times more efficient, and they can be integrated with existing water heaters. Get more information about heat pumps.

            Bike

            It’s pretty obvious: we drive way too much. Do you live close enough to bike to work, to a friend’s or family member’s house, or even around town? Granted, it takes a little more physical strain than driving, but biking will provide exercise, ease your budget, and allow you some outdoor time (which never hurt anyone, except in the case of Grizzly Man). Even carpooling or bussing is preferable to the lonely car trip.

            • Water Heater

              Behind the furnace, the water heater is typically the second largest user of energy in the home. Set your water heater thermostat to no more than 120 degrees.

              Sooner than later, the new norm in home water heating will be the heat pump water heater. They take the heat from the surrounding area and use it to heat the water. They are MUCH more efficient than standard water heaters, since they are up to 2.5 times more efficient, and they can be integrated with existing water heaters. Get more information about heat pumps.

            • Bike

              It’s pretty obvious: we drive way too much. Do you live close enough to bike to work, to a friend’s or family member’s house, or even around town? Granted, it takes a little more physical strain than driving, but biking will provide exercise, ease your budget, and allow you some outdoor time (which never hurt anyone, except in the case of Grizzly Man). Even carpooling or bussing is preferable to the lonely car trip.

            • Environmental Calculators

              We found some great resources that will help you measure your impact on our environment, and discover energy and cost saving information.

            • Energy Efficiency

              Keeping our homes efficient isn’t just about using resources wisely. It could also mean financial savings. Just changing the bulbs we use could reduce the electricity bill. Adjusting the setting on the hot water heater and affects both our energy usage and our pocket books. Whether you’re looking for long-term energy efficiency projects or quick tips, take a look at all our tips and resources.

              Efficient Home

              Your house is a system. How and where it sits on the property, known as ‘siting’, determines how it will be affected by the seasons and weather. The walls, roof, floor, windows, doors, and insulation make up the envelope of the structure. The heating and cooling, ventilation, and ductwork should work well separately and together for optimal performance. For many tips on these individual systems and household appliances, check out services & resources or home assessments.

               

              Related articles: Home Assessments | Transportation

            • Thoughtful Consumption

              What is Consumption?

              The car in the driveway, table in the dining room, clothes in the closet, TV in the living room, and the food we ate for lunch — all of these are components of consumption. Often times, consumption is merely equated to the products we buy, a.k.a. all the “stuff” we have in our lives. But consumption is about more than just products. Services we pay for, events we attend, food we eat, and trips we take also factor greatly into our consumption patterns.

              What makes consumption thoughtful is considering all of these different aspects when making choices, as well as who and what will be impacted by our decisions. It is also important to strike a balance between what it is we need and what it is we want. Then, once we determine what our needs are, finding out just how much we need to fulfill our everyday functions (ex: does a family really need one car for each family member?). Essentially, thoughtful consumption asks us to be just that: thoughtful.

              Read more

               

              Related articles: Food: Too Good to Waste | Holiday Waste Reduction

              thoughtful gas consumption article

              Over-consumption?

              The United States has 5% of the world population, but uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources to support our lifestyle. Americans are notorious for how much we consume in our everyday lives. The most striking way to look at this would be to consider that if everyone on the planet lived like we did (used as many resources), it would take the equivalent of at least four earths to support our lifestyle. To quantify your own ecological footprint, take the simple online quiz: Footprint Calculator.

              Does five tons sound like a lot? Well, that is about how many pounds worth of belongings the average American family has according to the American Moving and Storage Association. Maybe that is because our homes are getting bigger — 2,657 square feet on average in 2014 compared to 983 square feet in 1950. More room for more stuff!

              One thing those bigger houses do have plenty of room for? More food! Americans are currently eating 25% more calories each day than they did in 1970. Since the 1980s, our plate surface has increased by 44%. Additionally, we waste about 25% of our edible food. Food is generally the largest component of municipal solid waste. For more information about the wasted food issue and some household tips, see our Food: Too Good to Waste webpage.

              Times have undoubtedly changed over the past 50 years, in many ways for the better, but being thoughtful about our consumption choices goes a long way.

              Thoughtful Consumption

              We all have stuff in our lives and that’s ok! Looking to downsize, de-clutter, and make conscious purchases? You are not alone. Many folks are making the change, consuming less, consuming differently, and considering what they want versus need. Whatever happened to sharing, trading, renting, and borrowing? We don’t all need our own lawnmower, do we?

              First, buy smart. Ask questions. Read labels and ingredients. Scrutinize and don’t be taken in by “green washing” if you are looking for an environmentally-friendly product. Where was it made, who benefits from its sale, is it over-packaged? What will I do with it at the end of its life? Consider products that are durable, repairable, and reusable instead of “throw away” and one-time use. Plan for longevity. Will you be able to find parts and repair this item? Take part in the sharing economy!

              These questions and more are all great things to ponder when making a purchase, taking a trip, or even choosing a local business. The decisions we make every day have an impact.

            • Green building

              Green buildings are designed and built in such a way that they have a reduced impact on the environment. See Clark County’s Green Building webpage for information on energy efficiency, resource efficiency, and high indoor air quality.

              green building article
            • Services & resources

              Planet Clark

              Planet Clark is a public-private outreach and education partnership group of Energy Efficiency Services, Building Safety, and Environmental Services from Clark County (which started Planet Clark) and Clark Public Utilities, NW Natural, and Energy Trust of Oregon. Check out Planet Clark for information about weatherization, indoor air quality, and how kids can be energy detectives.

              Clark Public Utilities

              Clark Public Utilities has a wealth of information on conserving energy. Looking for ways to cut your monthly energy costs? Let their online home energy calculator do the math for you! It's fast and it's free. If the daily usage shown on your bill has increased quite a bit over the same time period as last year, start your investigation here. Schedule an energy counselor visit to help assess and analyze your home energy use. Spend time perusing their extensive energy saving tips for heating, water heating, in the kitchen, doing laundry, lighting, and cooling your home.

              Bonneville Power Administration

              For 30 years, the Northwest has been a leader in treating energy efficiency and conservation as a power resource. The Northwest Power Act of 1980 called on the Northwest to give energy conservation top priority in meeting its power needs, and the region quickly learned that a megawatt saved is the equivalent of a megawatt produced. Bonneville provides effective energy saving tips on their website, including lighting, energy star appliances, electronics, heat pump water heaters, showerheads, weatherization, ductless heat pumps, and more!

              Energy Efficient Improvements

              Improving the energy efficiency of your home has the added benefit of saving you money for heating and cooling as well as making your home a healthier place to live.

              Weatherization assistance

              Home weatherization benefits homeowners, landlords and tenants by installing cost effective measures for energy conservation and address health and safety concerns.

              Eligibility for home weatherization assistance is determined by the number of people living in the household and income levels. Eligible low-income households receive the energy audit and energy saving measures installed free of charge.

              Housing Preservation

              The Housing Preservation programs assist low-income households with home maintenance repairs, including weatherization, home energy assistance and modifications for increased energy-efficiency.

              Education

              If you would like a home energy efficiency presentation for your community group or organization, or the Energy Detectives training program at your school, contact Mike Selig at mike.selig@clark.wa.gov or (360) 397-2375 ext. 4540.

            • Rebates & tax credits

              There are many government energy rebates, energy tax credits and financing options, including ENERGY STAR rebates for appliances in Clark County, WA. Taking advantage of this information can help make your home energy efficient without having to pay full price.

              Have a project in mind? Find the right contractor on Clark Public Utilities’ contractor network webpage.

              Read more

              energy efficiency rebates article

              12 Rebates, Tax Credits, and other Incentives to Take Advantage of:

              • Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program with Clark Public Utilities: Rebates from $25 to $1500 for refrigerators/freezers (and recycling), ENERGY STAR clothes washers, light fixtures, solar water heaters, ENERGY STAR heat pumps, windows, insulation and duct/air sealing.
              • Residential Weatherization Incentive Program with Clark Public Utilities: Incentives for weatherization, duct sealing, attic/wall/floor insulation, and windows.
              • Residential Heat Pump Incentive Program with Clark Public Utilities: Rebates for air source heat pumps from $250-750 and Loans for air source heat pump installations ($20,000) at a 3.5 percent interest rate over seven years.
              • Solar Energy Equipment Loan with Clark Public Utilities: Loans for solar pool and water heaters at $10,000 and solar panels at $30,000, at a 5.25 percent rate.
              • Solar Water Heater Rebate with Clark Public Utilities: Rebates for solar water heaters at $500. Must have electric water heater. Loans also available.
              • pdfRenewableEnergyFactSheet.pdf with Washington State Department of Revenue: Solar/wind power and anaerobic digesters at $0.12-$0.54/kWh up to $5,000/year.
              • Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit with the US Government: Federal tax credit of 30 percent of cost for solar panels, wind energy, solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and fuel cells.
              • Energy-Efficient Mortgages with the US Government: Loans from FHA, VA and other lenders for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy upgrades like solar panels and passive solar space heaters.
                USDA - High Energy Cost Grant Program with the US Government: Grants for energy generation, transmission and distribution facilities in rural communities.
              • See also pdfWashington Cash Incentives with NW Natural for insulation, windows, sealing air leaks, gas furnace, and more.

              Rebates and incentives from utilities for efficiency are not taxable, per the IRS: