Smart Energy Program Modifications Effective July 1, 2020
Effective incentive programs for new technologies must be dynamic. On May 12, City Council approved the following changes to the Smart Energy programs that were recommended by the Electric Utility Operations Review and Advisory Board.
Free Virtual Home Energy Audit
In order to adapt our normal services to current social distancing recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now offering free Virtual Energy Audits. Click here to sign up for a professional energy audit courtesy of Ames Electric Services.
Many of us are spending more time at home than normal, working remotely or just avoiding groups of 10 or more. So why not spend some of that time making your home more efficient and sustainable, while lowering your utility bills?
Smart Energy is Ames Municipal Electric System's (AMES') suite of energy efficiency rebate programs and educational information aimed at:
- improving comfort,
- reducing electric bills now and keeping rates low into the future,
- improving the efficiency of our customers' energy use,
- encouraging efficient utilization of a reliable electric system,
- and reducing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from electric consumption.
If you want to jump straight to rebate terms and application forms, follow the program links here:
If you're not ready to take advantage of energy efficiency rebates, or don't know how to, let's take a step back. AMES is dedicated to supporting our customers from the very beginning, no matter your proficiency level in energy efficiency!
Step 1: Complete an Energy Audit
Understanding your home's energy consumption is the first step to reducing it. Listed here are 3 ways you can gain this understanding: an online self home energy audit, a downloadable/printable version, and a professional energy audit by The Energy Group, provided to you free by Ames Electric Services.
- Click here to start the online self home energy audit.
(Note that lighting technology has been the most rapidly-developing energy efficiency technology recently, and many online audits will not include recommendations of LED light bulbs, even though replacing your light bulbs with LEDs will probably provide more energy and bill savings than any other home-improvement project. Click here to calculate the potential savings from lighting updates.)
- Click here to request a free home energy audit, completed by a professional, courtesy of Ames Electric Services.
Step 2: Make your Energy Efficiency Improvements
Don't lose momentum now! After completing an energy audit (either online, in the .pdf provided above, or an audit completed by professional), review the suggested improvements and make a list of your highest priority improvements. You may want to start with the low or no-cost projects. There may be many opportunities to increase energy efficiency in your home just by changing your habits or settings on your thermostat.
When you're ready to invest in some of the upgrades be sure that you take advantage of any perks for which your energy-efficient project is eligible! There are a lot of incentives for energy efficient improvements available, and they are highly underutilized.
AMES Smart Energy Rebates - See the links at the top of this page to access Smart Energy rebates for washers, dryers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, air source or geothermal heat pumps, and more!
Rebates from other Providers - If Alliant Energy is your gas provider you may be eligible for rebates on a high efficiency furnace. Click here for more details.
Federal Tax Incentives - Federal tax incentives are available for energy efficient upgrades and renewable energy generation like insulation, windows, doors, geothermal HVAC, solar PV systems, solar water heating, and more. Click here to find the latest forms and instructions.
State Tax Incentives- As of April 2020, there is a state tax credit available for solar energy systems. Click here to find out more information.
Alternate Energy Revolving Loan Program- Finally, the Iowa Economic Development Authority offers a low-interest loan for larger improvement projects to implement technologies like solar, wind, biomass, and combined heat and power. Click here for more information.
Step 3: Save!
Keep track of your utility bills over time to ensure that your efforts are paying off in reduced consumption of water and electricity. The majority of our energy consumption is used to maintain our indoor climate, so it's helpful to compare usage to the previous years' usage in the same season or month. But not all winters are alike, as we know all too well. You can use degree days to account for varying temperatures when you compare your energy consumption before and after your audit. Click here to learn how to use degree days.
Step 4: 'Green' your Consumption
Now that you've reduced your energy consumption, it should be a more manageable amount to source more sustainably (with fewer greenhouse gas emissions). You can purchase Power Packs in SunSmart Community Solar Project to source some or all of your electricity from solar (click here for more information and for purchase forms). You can install your own solar panels (click here for a list of the permits and submissions you'll need). You can also participate in the Green Choices program to make a donation on your utility bill to build new renewable energy generation capacity in Ames. Call 515.239.5177 to sign up for Green Choices.
It might be tempting to begin with this step. Renewable energy generation is flashy! It's visible! And it causes much less pollution than fossil fuels! But it still has environmental impacts. The materials for solar panels need to be mined, transported, and processed. Wind turbines are HUGE machines that are energy-expensive to make, and the market still hasn't widely adopted any method to salvage the resources after the turbine is decommissioned. These are not by any means reasons to not opt for renewable energy. But we should pay attention to energy efficiency first, so that we can more affordably meet more of our energy needs with renewable generation and limit the environmental impacts of our renewable energy generation.