A good time to invest in energy efficiency

May 2010

We are dedicating a large portion of this Nodak Neighbor issue to energy efficiency. The timely motivator for the subject is the recent unveiling of the State Energy Program. This program will use available stimulus money to provide rebate incentives for North Dakota residents and businesses to reduce energy requirements. The primary focus of the rebates will be efficient heating systems, insulation, and renewable energy.

There are basically two distinct approaches you can use to reduce your current electric energy requirements. They are energy conservation and energy efficiency. Energy conservation generally requires you to make some type of behavioral change. Examples are turning down your heating thermostat, turning up your cooling thermostat, and being more careful to turn off lights that aren’t necessary. The tradeoff is that you may be inconvenienced and in return will save money on your power bill. I would guess most of us would admit, even with higher energy costs today, we are not nearly as conservative with the use of electricity as were our parents or grandparents. We can do better if we really want to.

The second approach and the focus of this rebate program are to implement efficiency into our lifestyle. Contrary to conservation, no behavioral change is necessary, but rather an upfront investment is needed. The tradeoff here is an investment in upfront cash for future savings on your electric bill. Through the State Energy Program, the government is essentially “sweetening the pot” by funding a portion of your upfront investment with a rebate check.

Efficiency rebates often tip the scale to provide a good opportunity to make a good investment which will pay dividends. A word of caution is that you still need to do the math for your situation. The length of payback varies depending upon what you are replacing and the cost of money for your investment.

As you read through this material, you will note that while the rebate checks come from a state fund, it is necessary for you to make your application through your electric utility. We will provide the application forms and necessary information. Since there are limited funds available, we will provide a link to our statewide website giving the most current information regarding the balance of funds available. We will also have detailed information available, along with application forms, on our website www.nodakelectric.com.