The fall and winter months are a time when many of us begin thinking about energy costs. As the outside temperatures fall, heaters come on. As the days get shorter, lights stay on longer. Understanding personal energy use and becoming familiar with programs and offers through the Grays Harbor Public Utility District can help Grays Harbor residents to gain some control over monthly energy bills.

Grays Harbor PUD
PUD Residential Energy Adviser Dan Kinnaman explains the workings of a heat pump water heater at the 2016 Home & Garden Show. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor PUD

If you’re curious about ways to be proactive about reducing energy consumption, and possibly saving money, the energy consultants at the Grays Harbor PUD can help. Every PUD customer is welcome to contact the PUD to request a free energy audit. During the audit, an Energy Advisor will help to identify any issues, such as water or duct leaks, and give advice on ways to save money and be more energy efficient. An Energy Advisor can also help customers discover if they qualify for rebates or low-income programs.

For one Grays Harbor PUD Energy Advisor, the resources for low-income households hold personal significance.

“I remember growing up on the Oregon coast, and my mom qualifying for low-income help. I remember having insulation installed in our attic,” says Jacob Henry, Grays Harbor PUD Power Supply and Energy Services Analyst. “So working here and helping other low-income families feels like coming full circle.”

Grays Harbor PUD
Broken duct work can be a major cause of home energy waste. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor PUD.

Cities and local businesses have benefited from the different energy rebate programs offered. One example is how the City of Aberdeen was able to upgrade their street lighting to LEDs saving energy costs along with labor costs to replace traditional, less efficient street lamps.

The Grays Harbor PUD can also help people looking to do home improvements save money through a variety of energy rebates. Weatherization projects and upgrades to heating systems are the major categories for PUD rebates. By improving your home’s efficiency by upgrading insulation, patching leaky ductwork or replacing older, inefficient windows, customers can keep the heat and energy inside their homes where they want it, saving energy in the process.

For electrically heated homes, rebates include significant savings for conversion to a heat pump system as well as upgrading an aging heat pump. Ductless heat pump installations, duct sealing, insulation and window upgrades all qualify for rebates. A free energy audit is your first step for any of these project rebates. Ensure you apply for rebates before you begin the work and PUD always advises getting multiple bids to ensure the work is done well, and at the best cost to you.

Grays Harbor PUD
PUD Residential Energy Adviser Dan Kinnaman performs a home audit beneath a Grays Harbor home. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor PUD

Customers must contact the PUD before beginning a home improvement project if you are interested in qualifying for an energy rebate. Their energy advisors will be able to work with you, and may even know of grants and other incentives available to help promote energy efficiency through home improvement.

Currently, the best way to learn about incentive programs is to contact the PUD. But an upgrade to their website will launch later this fall enabling users to complete an online energy survey which will evaluate the programs you may be eligible for. You can also be more aware of your energy usage through the PUD’s new app, SmartHub. SmartHub helps you track and understand your monthly power usage in depth for your own home, your business or a rental property you own. Keeping track can alert you if there is an issue with the home’s systems and help create awareness around usage patterns.

The benefits of working closely with the PUD and taking advantage of rebate and assistance programs are many. “Customers save money, people are able to invest in their homes and make improvements they may not have been able to afford, contractors and electricians get work. The benefits go beyond just the customer,” Jacob Henry says of the rebate programs.

Grays Harbor PUD
Your Grays Harbor PUD offers rebates on the installation of ductless heat pumps and other energy efficient appliances. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor PUD

The PUD reminds customers to prepare for the increase in energy usage that tends to happen in the winter months. Budget for the higher costs if your energy bill rises in the fall and winter and contact the PUD for questions about their programs or if you are interested in a free energy audit.

Being engaged, aware, and knowledgeable about your energy consumption is the best way to take control of the mystery (and anxiety) that monthly energy bills can sometimes bring.

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