Did you know that heating, cooling, cooking, and powering homes accounts for 24% of Spokane's greenhouse gas emissions? With aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets ahead, Washington State is phasing out fossil fuels, including Eastern Washington's abundant natural gas, and moving towards an all-electric and decarbonized society powered by renewable energy.
What does this mean for Spokane residents?
Currently, using electricity to heat their homes costs Spokane residents nearly three times as much as natural gas. The price of producing and delivering electricity to the house is the main reason for this stark difference, as most solar and wind electricity is purchased from out of state.
Expect significant rate increases in the coming years as utility providers make critical updates and expansions to the grid's infrastructure, ensuring reliable and resilient power as we transition away from coal (2025 No Coal Standard) and natural gas power plants (2045 100% Clean Standard).
Not only will large-scale utilities be affected by the clean energy transition but also consumers. In 2021, the California State Legislature passed a bill to ban the sale of new small gas motors, such as lawnmowers, chainsaws, and leaf blowers, to be replaced with electric and battery-operated models. In Washington State, the wheel is in motion to prevent the sale and installation of gas appliances, beginning with new residential and commercial construction projects.
What can you do?
CO2 and cost reduction starts with home energy efficiency.
Home energy efficiency improvements are essential considerations in this season as energy prices in the Spokane region are expected to rise by 11% over the next two years with more increases ahead following necessary infrastructure improvements. By 2031, Washington State Legislature has required all new residential and nonresidential buildings to achieve a 70% reduction in annual net energy consumption in comparison to 2006 energy code, with more energy efficiency legislature anticipated in the upcoming months and years.
My home is over 100 years old and, like many homes of that age, will need to undergo some major renovations to make it more energy efficient. If your customers live in one of the Spokane area’s 156,000 homes built prior to 1990, their home will likely need similar upgrades.
Understanding where the home is losing energy is crucial when prioritizing projects and knowing where to spend your time. Below is some information and tips on making an older Spokane home more energy efficient.
Top 10 locations for home energy loss
● Heat ducts
● Recessed can lighting
While some home improvement projects (such as adding new solar panels on your roof) add value and curb appeal to the home, when it comes to energy efficiency, the biggest bang for their buck and place to start may very well be better attic insulation and some inexpensive tubes of caulk. See below for the top DIY projects to reduce energy costs and put money back in your pocket as well as when to hire a pro.
Top 10 DIY Projects for Home Energy Efficiency
● Apply window films
● Caulk the cracks
● Check doors & windows for drafts
● Install smart switches & devices
● Insulate ductwork
● Insulate pipes
● Reduce water heater temperature
● Upgrade appliances
● Upgrade thermostat
● Utilize zone heating
When to Hire a Pro
● Wall insulation
Visit the Spokane Home Builder Association's Find a Pro tool for a list of local contractors.
Rebates through Avista Utilities, Inland Power and other area utility providers are available to help your customers lessen the cost of energy efficiency updates to their homes. Here is the list of current rebates available in Washington State as of 2022.
2022 ENERGY REBATES IN WASHINGTON STATE
● Space heating- up to $800
● Water heating- up to $500
● Smart thermostat- up to $150
● Insulation- up to $0.75 per sq. ft.
● Windows- up to $4.00 per sq. ft.
● Energy Star Certified appliances and doors- up to $100
● Conversions from electric baseboard to air source or ductless heat pump systems as the primary source of heat- up to $1,000
Want more info?
Which home improvement projects give me the best return on investment? Which appliances qualify for energy rebates? Should I purchase solar panels or a heat pump today? When would a new solar panel pay off? When is my natural gas going away? Are they coming for my lawnmower next? Follow us online, watch for RCE at upcoming events, or reach out and request a speaker.