WHAT IS ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
Energy Efficiency is the practice of using less energy to perform a task. An energy efficient product or action reduces the amount of energy wasted during the process.
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
- Reduces demand for energy.
- Slows down the need to build more infrastructure to supply energy to a growing population and economy.
- Saves consumers and businesses money.
- Lessens the impact on the environment with the reduced need for power plants, transmission infrastructure and development of energy resources.
HOW CAN SOMEONE OR A BUSINESS PRACTICE ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
- Install devices that are more energy efficient. (See resource section for lists of types of energy efficient devices)
- Review company or individual practices that could encourage a reduction in energy use. For example:
- Turn down or reschedule thermostats when a space is not in use or windows are left open.
- Regularly clean and check company or home equipment/ systems for leaks, damage or other issues that would cause the device to slow down or need more power to run properly.
- Shut down and/or unplug devices that are not in regular use, are seasonally used or will not be used for several hours.
The links to energy efficiency lists that are displayed below provide information on the type of specifications for devices that would currently make that item more energy efficient. Technology is constantly changing; it is recommended that any consumer or business review their options for possible technology updates and talk to their local utility for possible incentives to install energy efficient systems.
- Idaho Energy Code Website, provides minimum efficiency requirements for Idaho’s residential and commercial buildings, and in-depth information on energy efficiency in Idaho.
- ENERGY STAR Product List, gives links to product specifications that are certified as ENERGY STAR and buying guidance.
- DOE Energy Efficient Product List, gives more in-depth information on specific types of energy efficient products, both commercial and residential.
- NREL National Residential Efficiency Measures Database, provides a comparison of installing or replacing specific types of energy efficient technology.
The Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources (OEMR) promotes cost-effective energy conservation programs and services for Idaho’s agricultural community. Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Idaho and a major portion of the state’s economy. OEMR assists in locating industrial energy efficient resources available to agricultural groups. Low interest energy loans from OEMR are also available for qualifying projects.
- Idaho Natural Resource Conservation Service, has programs that provide financial and technical assistance to those in the agricultural industry; several of these resources provide information on conservation, including the Energy Tools program.
- University of Idaho Agricultural Extension Service, provides research-based information about efficient farm and ranch management.
- Center for Advanced Studies Bioenergy Group conducts research on maintaining a sustainable and efficient feedstock.
- USDA Rural Development – REAP Program provides information on renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loans and grants.
- Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy provides information on sustainability and social responsibility in support of farmers, cooperatives, companies, retailers and other organizations.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grants and Loans provides information on grant and loan services provided by the USDA.
The Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources (OEMR) works with regional and national programs to provide information about energy conservation and efficiency for new construction, as well as retrofit and remodel of existing buildings. OEMR promotes energy efficiency in commercial buildings through private-public partnerships created at the community level. Some programs OEMR administers in support of commercial building energy efficiency include:
- The Idaho Awards for Leadership in Energy Efficiency program annually recognizes commercial companies, universities and local government agencies that are exceptional leaders in implementing energy efficiency at their Idaho sites.
- The Government Leading by Example program assists rural cities and counties in identifying energy savings opportunities for their local government-owned buildings.
- Low interest energy loans are also available for qualifying energy efficient upgrades.
Communities that are renovating and revitalizing their schools, commercial buildings, colleges, universities and municipal buildings find that energy efficiency enhances economic development, promotes community livability and protects the environment. Some organizations, like universities, have targeted the most inefficient systems first, and then used the savings to fund additional capital improvements. Many community and commercial entities are not only renovating existing buildings, but many are addressing new construction as well.
RESOURCESThe following resources provide useful information to improve the efficiency of community and commercial buildings:
- Better Bricks, an initiative of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, that helps organizations benefit from smart energy management
- Energy Star Buildings and Plants, which contains information about improving the efficiency of the places we work, play and learn
- The Integrated Design Laboratory of the University of Idaho, which focuses on designing high performance buildings in Idaho and Eastern Oregon
- Energy Smart Schools is a web-based training on developing and implementing an energy management plan for your school
- Better Building COVID-19 Resource Center, COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for state and local governments, building owners, plant managers, and employees. To help address this challenge, the Better Buildings Initiative has compiled resources from Better Buildings partners, affiliates, and other organizations that may prove useful in managing building operations and energy use during this time.
STATE, REGIONAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY GROUPS
- Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
- U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
- New Buildings Institute (NBI)
- Building Technologies Office
- City Energy
- Alliance to Save Energy
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
- Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA)
- Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE)
“Commissioning” refers to a project-specific, holistic, systematic process of constructing or retrofitting buildings to assure they perform in accordance with the design intent and owner’s operational needs. Today’s complex buildings comprise a variety of systems and must function in an integrated manner to meet owner and occupant needs. Commissioning offers a comprehensive approach to building construction or retrofit and is rapidly becoming the norm in the U.S.
Commissioning benefits include higher employee productivity and lower rates for: absenteeism, tenant vacancy, construction delay and overall operating cost. Proper training, which is part of the Commissioning plan from the outset, ensures that the staff understand and properly use operational features and settings.
Commissioning existing buildings can be as productive as commissioning news ones. Referred to as retrocommissioning, this process can address existing problems in control, ventilation or heating and cooling that can cause major indoor air quality problems. A retrocommissioning differs from an energy audit because it focuses on identifying low-cost changes, rather than technology-intensive capital improvement to enhance efficiency. If major energy-using systems need replacement, energy performance contracting may be a better choice.
The Building Commissioning Association, which supports diverse and creative approaches to achieving high professional standards, provides additional information about building commissioning.
UTILITY COMMERCIAL PROGRAMS
The Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources (OEMR) supports improvements in industrial energy efficiency to help Idaho industries gain a competitive advantage. OEMR promotes energy efficiency in industrial buildings through private-public partnerships created at the community level. Some programs OEMR administers in support of industrial energy efficiency include:
- The Idaho Awards for Leadership in Energy Efficiency program, annually recognizes the industrial companies that are exceptional leaders in implementing energy efficiency at their Idaho facilities.
- Low interest energy loans are available for qualifying energy efficient upgrades on facilities located in Idaho.
- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) lists several resources specifically for manufacturers.
- The Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), is a program sponsored by DOE’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, that provides eligible small- and medium-sized manufacturers with energy assessments at no direct cost to the client.
- TechHelp helps Idaho manufacturers improve profitability by producing more efficiently with less energy and environmental impact.
STATE, REGIONAL, AND NATIONAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY GROUPS
The OEMR cooperates with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Northwest CHP Technical Assistance Partnership to provide informational resources about Combined Heat and Power, District Energy and Waste Heat Recovery to Idaho customers. Combined heat and power (CHP) is the technological opportunity in which a single fuel source is used to simultaneously produce useful heat and electricity. The fuel sources vary by site, and may include natural gas, biomass, biogas, coal, waste heat, or oil. CHP provides a much greater overall efficiency than if heat and power were produced separately, with fuel efficiency rates typically between 65-75%, as opposed to approximately 50% efficiency average when heat and electricity is produced separately. District energy is a form of CHP where central heating, and/or central cooling is applied to an entire system or district like a university, office park, medical campus, mixed use sustainable development, or city’s downtown area. District energy uses economies of scale to consolidate space and expenses by avoiding individual insulation and maintenance of single building systems. Many district energy systems use thermally generated heat. Waste Heat recovery is capturing waste heat that an industrial site or combustion process is already emitting and using it to provide useful thermal energy elsewhere in the facility or turning it into clean electricity or mechanical power. Waste heat recovery for power generation is also known as bottoming cycle CHP or waste-heat-to power.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Combined Heat and Power Partnership
- U.S. DOE Better Buildings Combined Heat and Power Programs
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
- International District Energy Association
The Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources (OEMR) works with regional and national programs to provide information about energy conservation and efficiency for Idaho residences. OEMR also provides Low-Interest Energy Loans for residential energy efficiency improvements.
- The Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick assess the energy efficiency of your home to help you see how it measures up.
- Energy Star provides energy efficiency resources to improve your home.
- The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) identifies incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States.
STATE, REGIONAL, AND NATIONAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY GROUPS
UTILITY RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS
- Avista Utilities
- Dominion Energy
- Idaho Power Company
- Rocky Mountain Power
- Intermountain Gas
- Clearwater Power Company
- Fall River Electric
- Idaho County Power and Light
- Idaho Falls Power
- Inland Power and Light
- Kootenai Electric Cooperative
- Lower Valley Energy
- Northern Lights, Inc
- Raft River Electric
- United Electric Co-op