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Provo • With a grant from the federal government, the city is going to help residents make a New Year's resolution: Use less energy.
Kevin Garlick, the city's energy director, said Provo will launch the next phase of its energy-efficiency program in January, offering residents discount energy audits on their homes, rebates for installing insulation and buying energy-efficient products and free disposal of old energy hogs. The rebates will come in the form of credit on utility bills.
The program is being funded through a $1.14 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant the city received in 2009. The grant program is meant to encourage cities to reduce energy use, improve efficiency and reduce emissions.
"This [program] would be tough for us if we did not have the federal money," Garlick said.
Garlick unveiled the plan at a recent meeting of the Utah Valley Earth Forum, a local environmental group. Jim Westwater, the group's chairman, gave the program high marks.
"The fact that Provo is doing it in our valley is encouraging," Westwater said.
People using less energy means less coal and natural gas will be used to generate electricity, and that will help clean the area's air, he said. He said using less energy will also reduce the need to build more generating plants.
Garlick said encouraging efficiency not only lowers customers' bills, but it saves the city money as electricity demand is reduced.
The city recently imposed its first electric rate increase in a generation because of rising electricity costs passed down from the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, which supplies part of Provo's electricity.
So far, the city has used $483,000 of the grant to perform energy audits on city buildings and make improvements, develop bike lanes and explore using LED lamps in street lights and traffic signals.
The remainder will be spent on the next phase, which will focus on homeowners and renters.
The city will launch an educational program to make people aware of the programs and share energy-saving tips. The $90,000 campaign includes a website, http://www.switchitprovo.com, and a mascot, Switch It Man, created by Stephen Hales Creative.
"Not only do we want to educate the public about energy conservation and using Energy Star appliances, but also we want to influence the behavior," Garlick said. "It's that child being encouraged to turn off the light switch when they leave the room."
David and Donna Dalton, who attended the meeting, said that is an important message to get out.
"It's about educating people, that switching off lights can save money," David Dalton said.
Nearly half the remaining grant money will go toward the energy audits and weatherization rebates.
Under the energy audit programs, residents will get discounts on audits performed by Proenergy Consultants. For $15, residents can get a walk-through assessment, in which a consultant will inspect attic insulation, appliances and faucets and make recommendations. For $30, the company will perform a more extensive audit, including hooking a device to the front door to pump in air and find how much leaks out of the house, as well as perform an infrared scan of the house to look for heat leaks.
The weatherization rebates offer residents up to $150 for improvements, such as from putting in better insulation or switching to a central air-conditioning unit.
Garlick said the city will use $157,500 of the grant for appliance rebates, encouraging residents to replace old refrigerators, water heaters and lights with more efficient models. And the city is offering free removal of old refrigerators and freezers through 1-800 Got Junk, the trash haulers made famous by the A&E reality program "Hoarders."
On the Web
Provo's energy efficiency program's website, which will formally launch in January: http://www.switchitprovo.com.