Kirkland and Eastside residents save $4.2 million in energy costs through innovative home energy program

 

Social media may be the next step

 

Residents of seven Eastside cities who received quarterly reports of their home energy usage reaped total financial savings of approximately $4.2 million.  The Home Energy Reports program, based on social science findings about the role of friendly competition in encouraging positive behavior change, compared a recipient’s household energy usage anonymously with similar households in his or her neighborhood.  Additionally, the reports provided homeowners with personalized conservation tips on how to save money and energy.

The 14-month program was funded through an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  It was implemented by the C-7 New Energy Partnership, an alliance of seven cities working together to build thriving, sustainable communities. C-7 consists of the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond, Renton and Sammamish.  Puget Sound Energy and Opower, an energy management software company, worked closely with the C-7 group to produce the reports and implement the program.  Program results show most residents read the reports, many of which responded by changing their habits to conserve energy resulting in lower utility energy bills.

  • The 90,000 participating households in the seven-city program together saved 9.3 Gigawatt-hours of electricity, 1.3 million therms of natural gas, and prevented the emission of 15 million pounds of CO2.  That is the equivalent of taking 1,360 cars off the road for a year or feeding 592 families of four for a year.
  • The 11,655 participating households in the City of Kirkland saved over 1,311 Megawatt-hours of electricity, over 178,000 therms of natural gas, and $620,000 in real financial savings.  This represents an 8-to-1 return on the City’s investment.

“Kirkland residents care about the environment and this program shows how better information can lead to great decisions” said City Manager Kurt Triplett.  “We appreciate the chance to work with PSE and the C-7 partnership to save money and improve our environment at the same time.”

As the program comes to an end, the C-7 cities and PSE are exploring ways to build on its success.  One option under consideration is the use of social media to enable easy tracking and sharing of energy usage online. This functionality would enable residents, businesses, schools and even cities to build “teams” online and enter into friendly conservation competitions.  For more information, contact Van Sheth, Management Analyst, at (425) 587-3907 or vsheth@kirklandwa.gov.