The transition from fall to winter can take homeowners by surprise when temperatures suddenly drop and their energy bill steadily rises.
Heating one’s home can be costly, but DuWayne Dunham, the energy services supervisor for Clark Public Utilities, said there are ways to save money through the district’s Energy Counselor of the Day service.
“The Energy Counselor of the Day is a service we have provided for about 30 years,” Dunham said. “A lot of times customers will call us and say, ‘hey, how can I save energy?’ and so we’ll look at their consumption history and look on GIS to see what kind of home we’re dealing with, what year it (was) built and how it’s heated and how big it is.”
The counselor talks with the customer to figure out the occupancy and how many people live in the home, and then provides ideas on how the person can save energy to lower their costs. They will also share information about different programs CPU provides, which includes replacing windows to a more energy efficient option, upgrading insulation, replacing water heaters or adding or releasing heat pumps.
“We have lots of programs available that will help customers save energy, and we provide a rebate, and there’s a loan program available through the utility as well,” Dunham said.
The loan program assists with services like replacing windows and installing heat pumps, which often cost thousands of dollars. The loan program is used for any measure that qualifies for a rebate, although he said customers can qualify for rebates whether they get a loan or not. The loan has an interest rate of 4.99%. Depending on the size of the loan, the person gets five to seven years to pay it back, Dunham said.
“It just assists customers in being able to do this type of project because these things can run into the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars when you’re replacing all the windows of your home or replacing a heat pump,” he said.
Dunham said the energy counselor can also offer low-cost or no-cost measures, which include changing the heat settings on thermostats or making sure electronics and lights are turned off when they’re not being used. Other options include the installation of LED light bulbs, weather stripping exterior doors, and washing clothes in cold water.
“It’s a phenomenal service that I don’t think all utilities offer to customers, but I’ve been very proud of the utility and over 30 years we’ve had this service where customers can call and talk directly live with an energy counselor, someone who’s trained and knowledgeable about this stuff,” Dunham said.
Clark Public Utilities media specialist Dameon Pesanti shared other perks the energy counselor service has to offer.
“Part of the reason why the energy counselor of the day is such a great resource is because people can get answers to their questions in minutes, sometimes questions they didn’t even realize they have,” Pesanti said. “These days, inflation is everywhere, as costs are increasing all over, but we have not raised rates, our energy rates, in more than a decade. If customers think that their energy bill is going up, that means that their consumption is going up, and by talking with the energy counselor, they can better understand how they’re using their energy, find points that those low-cost, no-cost ways to reduce their consumption right away, and find out other potential larger investments they can make in their house to make their whole home use less energy all year long.”
Energy counselors are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To reach one, call Clark Public Utilities at 360-992-3355.