Efficiency & Sustainability
Holiday Sustainability and Efficiency
While this is the season where we give thanks for our families, our communities, and the holidays, West Valley City wants you no not just be thankful, but to be mindful as well. Please take these tips on how to also be mindful of sustainability this holiday season, and make having a healthier and cleaner green footprint another thing to be thankful for
Were you aware that during the Holiday season we in general:
- Throw away 25 percent more Trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve than at any other point of the year? Consider what materials you use to decorate, wrap presents with, or use at holiday parties. If every American family was to wrap just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
- Consider an artificial Christmas tree. If you really need that smell of fresh pine, do a little research to make sure the tree you buy is sustainably sourced and locally grown. More information can be found at https://forestry.usu.edu/forest-products/utah-grown-trees.[JR1]
- LED Christmas lights are much more energy efficient than traditional ones, and you don’t have to worry about a busted bulb shorting the circuit! Consider installing your lights on a timer as well to save even more on electricity.
- Be mindful in gift giving. Over 35% of households have an unused Christmas present sitting in a closet. When shopping try to chain trips or carpool with a friend, and shop locally when possible to reduce your carbon footprint and help support artisans and merchants from your community.
- Try and get as many local or sustainably sourced foods as possible for your holiday meals and buy in bulk to avoid extra packaging. Consider not using plastic utensils as well, and instead find a washable alternative for your larger family meals that you can use year after year. Not only will that plastic not sit in a landfill for the next 10,000 Christmases, but you’ll be prepared for every holiday season to come with just one purchase.
As a first phase of a larger Strategic Energy Management Plan, West Valley City contracted with Lewis Young Birmingham and Robinson to act as the cities “Sustainable Energy Consultant” and provide a thorough analysis of City Owned buildings for potential energy efficiency upgrades. After analyzing the Maverik Center, Family Fitness Center, Utah Cultural Celebration Center, and City Hall Building, it was determined the Maverik Center was the best candidate for a first stage of this plan for the following reasons:
- Critical infrastructure and equipment for making ice and cooling or heating the facility was already past its “expected useful life”, and in need of replacement to prevent catastrophic failures in the future that could significantly impact facility operations.
- Estimates for replacing equipment to maintain the status quo was 1.3 million dollars, whereas replacing equipment and outdated heating and cooling equipment would cost 2 million dollars.
- Replacing and upgrading existing systems for this “net spend” of an additional $700,000 would generate $150,000 in savings from both a rate change on electrical billing and reduced electrical consumption. This amounted to just under a five year “Return on Investment” for the improved systems versus only $30,000 a year savings maintaining current systems as is.
- These system upgrades would provide reliable savings for 20-25 years, and the yearly savings created a “cost neutral” situation over the expected life span and maintenance requirements of the system
Beyond economics, this project was also the most significant in terms of reducing the facilities carbon foot print. These upgrades will lead to an expected 950,000 kWh of usage a year and a reduction of 672 metric tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the electrical use of 117 homes a year (you can equate this to almost 2.5 subdivisions in a neighborhood). West Valley City will continue to seek out sustainability projects on a basis of not only affordability, but on the significant impact they can have on reducing our municipal use of fossil fuels.
LED Light Conversion
Interested in what you can do to become more Energy Efficient in your home without breaking the bank? One of the simplest and cheapest changes you can make in your home is switching out your old and inefficient incandescent bulbs for new and highly efficient LED bulb technology. LED lights have many advantages over both traditional and CFL light bulbs, and have become the most widely adopted technological shifts in Human history.
Most 60-Watt LED Bulbs cost less than 3 dollars, and many brands have instant incentives that don’t require you to do any kind of extra paper work or applications, they simply are applied at the point of purchase of most major hardware stores. Here are some quick facts on the savings and environmental impact you can have making the switch to LEDS for your household:
- A 60 W LED Bulb has an Average Energy Cost of $1.00 per year, compared to $4.80 for an Incandescent bulb. With the average home having 50 sockets that is $190 a year in savings.
- LED Bulbs last on average 25,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for a Traditional bulb. You would need to replace an Incandescent light bulb 25 times before your single LED Bulb burnt out.
- LED Bulbs use 75-80 percent less energy than Incandescent bulbs and contain no toxic chemicals such as mercury. With lighting on average being 10 percent of a households monthly electrical use, you can help reduce your power consumption dramatically!
Wets Valley City would encourage you to make the swap to LEDs in your own household, as it has done in many of its facilities. Not only will it save you time and money, but you can help make a noticeable impact on your own and City-wide power consumption by making this simple change.
Trying to insulate yourself against high energy costs associated with heating and cooling your home? Start with insulation! The average home in West Valley City was built in 1980, meaning that your home could quite possibly benefit greatly from looking at your insulation. These are the materials packed into your attic, basement, floors, and walls that keep your home from losing it’s cool in the summer and keep it warm in the winter. Recent studies show that that average homeowner can save a minimum of 15% of heating and cooling costs by adding or upgrading insulation in walls, attics, floors, and basements. Not only do these upgrades lessen your monthly bills, but they can also account for significant increases in home value!
Take the following facts into consideration when considering your own home:
- You may be eligible for tax credits of $500, or up to 10% off qualified materials when upgrading or adding insulation to your home.
- Many home insulation projects can be “DIYed” simply and safely, with plenty of tutorials and guides available for free online. If you are not comfortable with doing it yourself, many local contractors would be happy to give you an estimate
- You can go to https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/methodology to estimate your potential savings, and see what materials work best for Utah’s climate
- Not only can you save money and add value to your home, but this is one way you can make a difference in reducing electrical consumption and fossil fuels that benefits all Utahans!