For each degree lowered on a thermostat in the winter, energy consumers can see a monthly savings rate of 2 to 3 percent. A simple installation of an AM Conservation Group shower head can save 1.5 gallons of water per minute.
Through Energizing Indiana, Indiana Michigan Power's statewide initiative to reduce energy costs, auditors visit the homes of qualified customers of Indiana Michigan Power, NIPSCO and Vectren. Free of charge, auditors install energy-saving tools, including up to nine LUMAcoil CFL bulbs and three low-flow faucet aerators, as well as offer energy-saving suggestions.
Mike Bass, energy inspector for Energizing Indiana, said a typical assessment takes one to two hours. He oversees about 30 technicians who, in total, complete approximately 300 assessments each day.
While inspecting the energy-efficiency of window panes at the 1200 block of Illsley Drive, Bass said, “We look for low to no-cost options that offer quick payback…the thermostat is the easiest item that shows the biggest saving.”
During the assessment of the 100-year-old, 3,100-square-foot home, Bass noted a wooden front door that let a lot of air in and out, whereas a fiberglass door would have better protection. Most consumers, however, won't risk “changing the character of their homes,” said Bass. With two occupants, Bass said the basement's 80-gallon water heating tank could go as low as a 30-gallon tank, saving several dollars a month in heating costs.
Smaller steps that Bass recommends are adding drapes or blinds to help with “sun exposure” or cold air coming through windows, covering exposed pipes with foam insulation, and lowering hot water temperatures to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “For every 10 degrees hot water is lowered, most will see a 3 to 5 percent monthly saving,” said Bass.
More complicated, yet cost-effective, measures involve updating appliances. Older space heaters, for example, normally use 1500 watts, totaling 10 cents an hour. “These may be minimal savings, but every little area helps,” said Lynn Adamson, DSM/EE coordinator for I&M. “Then we can move to bigger ones.”
“We have demands to lower energy use,” added Sarah Bodner, director of communications and community relations for I&M. A portion of their customers' monthly bills support Energizing Indiana, which completed over 4,000 assessments in 2012. Their 2013 goal is 6,000 assessments.
The largest hindrance in energy-saving goals, said Bodner, is consumer attitudes resulting from inexpensive energy. The average cost of energy per day last August was $3 and Bodner's goal “is to make customers start thinking of electricity as a product…one they pay for every time they flip on a switch.”
Residential Peak Reduction is another optional energy-saving program, in which technicians install a radio-controlled switch in homes. During periods of especially high energy demand, the device adjusts the air conditioner's compressor to run at 50 percent cycling.
Participating customers receive $8 monthly bill credits from May through September. According to an I&M case study, Glenbrook Mall received a $28,200 rebate through energy-saving programs in 2012.