Beat the Heat

Take simple actions to save energy during the summer heat

As summer temperatures rise again, Consumers Power Inc. offers 10 simple tips to help members stay cool and save energy.

1. Circulate. If you don’t have air conditioning, use portable or ceiling fans to move air throughout your home. Even a mild breeze can make you feel 3 to 4 degrees cooler.

2. Ventilate. In the morning or evening, open a window high on the cool side of your house and another one low on the other side to promote natural cross-ventilation.

3. Dial in your thermostat. If you have air conditioning, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher. For every degree above 75, you can save about 2 percent on your bill. A programmable thermostat allows you to keep your house warmer when you are away and avoid unnecessary cooling costs.

4. Clean. A new or clean air filter can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent, and help it operate more safely and efficiently.

5. Clear. Make sure your air vents are not blocked by furniture or other items.

6. Block the sun. Use shades, curtains, drapes and other window coverings to block the sun and create an extra layer of insulation. According to the Department of Energy, medium-colored draperies can reduce heat gain by 33 percent. when closed, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by about 45 percent.

7. Power down. Turn off all heat-generating devices when not in use, including televisions, computers, stereos and lamps. Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes.

8. Fire up the grill. Avoid using your oven on hot days. Grill outside, cook on the stove-top or use your microwave oven instead.

9. Swap your bulbs. Change your bulbs to reduce lightingrelated heat. A standard 100-watt light bulb produces 10 percent light and 90 percent heat. Compact fluorescents or LEDs are much cooler and cheaper to operate.

10. Look for the Energy Star. If you plan to buy a portable air conditioner, ceiling fan or appliance, choose an Energy Star certified model that uses less energy and is cheaper to operate.

Unclaimed Capital Credits

Consumers Power is attempting to locate former members of the cooperative whose capital credit checks issued in 2011 remain unclaimed. These checks are for members who received electric service from CPI in 1985 and 1986.

The capital credit checks of these former members have been returned by the U.S. Post Office as “undeliverable” or have otherwise been unclaimed.

The last possible date to claim these funds is Thursday, November 3, 2016, at 5 p.m. If these checks are not claimed by this date, the funds will be forfeited and can no longer be issued.

You can search the list of accounts either by name or by address at these links.

To claim a refund or submit questions about this notice or the lists, please contact Susan Faust at (541) 929-3124, or send an email to capitalcredits@cpi.coop.

The Efficiency of Space Heaters

Some basic facts about space heaters will help you get at the truth of the matter. Space heaters work best as a supplement to a furnace or heat pump—they rarely are used as the primary heating source. Three main types of space heaters are available: radiant heaters, convection heaters, and combination heaters. These usually can be purchased for $30 to $100.

 Radiant Heaters

 A radiant heater heats objects and people—not the air—in a room. Their best use is in rooms where those who want to be warmed are in the direct line of sight of the heater. Radiant heaters can be a good choice if you are in a room for a short period of time and want instant heat. They can pose a burn or fire risk, however, and should not be placed near furniture, drapery, pets, or small children.

Convection Heaters

 Convection heaters are designed to heat the air—not people or objects—in a room. Hot air from the convection heater rises to the ceiling and forces cooler air to the floor. The cooler air is warmed by the heater and rises to the ceiling, creating a cycle that continues as long as the heater is on. These typically are either baseboard or oil- or water-filled heaters. The oil- or water-filled heaters are the most efficient types and often look like a small radiator. These units generally become warm to the touch and, compared to a radiant heater, have a decreased fire and burn risk.

Combination Heaters

As the name implies, combination heaters try to merge the best features of radiant and convection heaters. They often have an internal fan that aids in distributing heat throughout the room. These heaters are versatile, but they typically do not perform as well as radiant or convection heaters.

Before purchasing a space heater, you should determine how and where it will be used, and whether a radiant, convection, or combination heater will do the job best. Combination units are versatile, but you likely will get better performance from a radiant or convection heater. Use a radiant heater if you want heat instantly and will stay in one spot. If you need to warm an entire room, a convection heater should do the trick.

So can using a space heater cut your home heating bill? Maybe. Most space heaters use between 600 and 1,500 watts of electricity. A homeowner using a space heater 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for a month, would spend approximately $19.44 for this additional electricity. However, space heaters can heat only a small space. You can save significantly if you use the space heater in this way: turn the thermostat of your central heating system down considerably (as low as 50 degrees in some cases). Place the space heater in a room occupied by people and close that room off from the rest of the home. This method of “zone heating” will save money.

Space heaters do have their place in warming a house, but they simply cannot replace energy- efficient central heating or weatherization improvements to the home. For example, all electric space heaters produce 1 unit of heat for every 1 unit of electricity consumed; in other words, they are 100% energy efficient. Those that use natural gas are 80% efficient. In comparison, geothermal heat pumps can produce more than 3 units of heat for every unit of electricity consumed, making them 300% efficient.

As with any technology, before purchasing a space heater you should understand how the device is used, as well as the energy claims of the manufacturer. While it may be technically possible to cut your heating bill by 50% using a space heater, it is impractical for most people.

Before You Buy

Before buying a space heater, it will be beneficial to take some easy and inexpensive energy-saving measures in your home. Any of these could solve your heating problems without any additional heating equipment:

  • Add caulk and weather stripping around doors and windows
  • Add insulation to attics and exposed walls
  • Clean or replace furnace filters
  • Move furniture or obstacles away from heat registers
  • Insulate duct work
  • Close blinds or curtains at night

Safety Matters

Although seemingly innocent enough, putting signs or other items on utility poles creates serious safety hazards. Staples, nails, and tacks used to hang signs as well as the signs themselves, pose dangers to line workers who must climb poles when either restoring power following storms or while performing routine maintenance to ensure system reliability.

The nails and tacks left behind from signs can snag utility workers gloves and sleeves that they wear to work on high voltage lines and puncture the safety clothing making line workers vulnerable to electrocution.

Posters or other objects (birdhouses, balloons, flags, and even basketball nets) can also create dangerous obstacles as they themselves or the objects left behind from hanging them can cause problems for line workers.

CPI offers an electricity safety course to help teach children and adults of all ages to be safe around electricity and learn what it is. To learn more and schedule a demonstration please visit our safety page.

Thank you for following these safety tips and helping to keep our CPI linemen safe!
Photo May 21, 8 49 34 AM

CPI Joins with Northwest RiverPartners for Hydropower Education Effort

In recognition of the tremendous value of the Columbia and Snake River System, CPI is continuing to partner with a regional effort to educate people about the multiple benefits the rivers provide to the region’s economy.  An informational “CleanHydro” campaign features a website, fact-based materials, television and print ads. CPI is joining other utilities and users of the region’s rivers on the campaign, which is being coordinated by Northwest RiverPartners, an organization of river users with members in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

To view a video on the benefits of the hydro system that benefits our region click on the video below.

Public opinion research shows a lack of understanding of the river system’s value to the Northwest’s economy. Many Northwest residents believe wind and solar technologies produce a much higher percentage of power than what is accurate. Younger generations know very little about the Columbia and Snake River System’s positive contributions. For example, hydro-power produces 60 percent of the region’s electricity, while solar and wind produce 4 percent. And in the Northwest, hydro-power provides 90 percent of the region’s renewable energy.

“We are launching this effort to educate people that a great deal of important commerce flows from our Northwest rivers,” said Scott Corwin, Executive Director of the Public Power Council and also a co-chair of the CleanHydro campaign. “The fact that hydropower is the region’s premier renewable energy source is a compelling story to share,” Corwin added.

Examples of facts and benefits from the campaign:

  • Agriculture: Northwest rivers irrigate 7.8 million acres of farmland each year. Annual net earned income from Northwest agriculture production exceeds $8 billion.
  • Commerce: Over 50 million tons of commercial cargo, valued at over $20 billion, is moved down the Columbia and Snake Rivers annually. The Northwest is the nation’s number one exporter of wheat, barley and paper products. The Northwest river system provides over 100,000 jobs to the region.
  • Clean air: Barges on Northwest rivers keep 700,000 trucks off the highways each year. Because hydropower produces no carbon emissions, the Northwest’s carbon footprint is half that of other parts of the country.
  • Renewable: Hydropower provides nearly 90 percent of the Northwest’s renewable energy.
  • Energy: Northwest dams provide nearly 60 percent of the region’s electricity. It would take two nuclear, three coal-fired, or six gas-fired power plants to replace the average annual power produced by the four lower Snake River dams.
  • Flexible and reliable: Because the rivers are always flowing in the Northwest, hydropower is also used as a tool to back up intermittent generators such as wind or solar. Hydro generation can be quickly adjusted to follow changes in wind production and keep the transmission system reliable.
  • Flood control: Prior to the federal dams on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, Portland and other cities were subject to severe flooding. Controlling flood waters became a high priority in 1948 when Vanport, Oregon, was destroyed in a late spring deluge. A 1964 treaty with Canada led to the development of millions of acre-feet of water storage for flood control and power generation. Estimates show that flood control operations in February 1996 saved $3.2 billion to the Portland metropolitan area in what otherwise would have been devastating flood damage.
  • Recreation: The reservoirs formed by dams provide Northwest residents with abundant waterways for boating, fishing, water-related sports and cruises. Tourism from river cruise ships alone brings $15 to $20 million annually to local Northwest economies.

About Northwest RiverPartners: Northwest RiverPartners is an alliance of over 120 farmers, utilities, ports and small and large businesses that relies on and promotes the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and fish and wildlife policies and programs based on sound science. RiverPartners’ member organizations represent more than four million electric utility customers, 40,000 farmers and thousands of port employees that provide hundreds of thousands of Northwest jobs.

For information on the CleanHydro campaign, visit www.nwriverpartners.org.