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Oregon Cities Prove Savings Potential
 
Fifty Oregon households that served as the laboratory for a national study will each save, on average, more than 18,000 gallons of water and 840 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year with efficient appliances and fixtures. That’s a 25 percent reduction in indoor water use. And the energy savings are almost enough to pay for one month’s electricity for the typical household.
 
When you include expected increases in utility rates this fall, the savings are worth $150 to $200 a year for residents of Lafayette and Wilsonville, where the study was conducted. These communities are making major investments in water and sewer infrastructure to keep pace with rapid growth, and higher water and sewer rates help cover the costs.
 
The dollar savings are more than double what most Oregon residents would see with their local rates. Still, investing in new toilets, clothes washers and dishwashers can pay back quickly.
 
The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) announced the results of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory study in July 2001. The research supports the Save Water and Energy Education Program, a pilot project targeting water and energy savings in Bend, Redmond, Salem, Lafayette and Wilsonville. The Oregon Department of Energy runs the program in partnership with the cities, providing information, technical help and incentives. Portland General Electric provides loan services for water- and energy-saving technologies and a traveling educational exhibit.
 
The USDOE study looked at 50 homes in Lafayette and Wilsonville built before 1992, when some fixtures were required to meet new federal efficiency standards. All homes in the study were monitored extensively before and after installation of efficient new toilets, clothes washers, clothes dryers and dishwashers.
 
As expected, the two-button Caroma toilets accounted for the biggest water savings. They use less than a gallon per flush (gpf) for liquids, 1.5 gpf for solids (close to today’s 1.6 gpf national standard). The Caroma models replaced toilets that used about 4 gpf on average, saving the typical household an estimated 11,565 gallons per year — a 67 percent reduction in water use. Unfortunately, two-button toilets are costly and not widely available in the U.S. But other studies have shown that if toilets were installed before 1992, replacing them with any new models will save about 10,000 gallons of water a year.
 
On the energy side, the clothes washer saved the most. The front-loading Frigidaire model used 68 percent less energy (to run the machine and heat the water) than the standard models it replaced. It also saved an estimated 6,390 gallons of water a year — a 38 percent reduction. Because of its high-speed spin, less moisture remains in the clothes. That accounts for much of the 25 percent savings for the new dryer.
 
Estimated annual savings for the resource-efficient Frigidaire dishwasher was 690 gallons compared to the standard models it replaced. That’s a 39 percent reduction. It also used 39 percent less energy.
 
In terms of dollars, the efficient new toilets accounted for the biggest savings for the Lafayette and Wilsonville households in the study. But add the clothes washer savings to the dryer savings (due to the washer’s spin speed), and it’s probably a draw.
 
In most Oregon communities — with lower water and sewer rates — the clothes washer would save more money. A state income tax credit of up to $230 makes investing in a resource-efficient clothes washer even more attractive. There’s also a tax credit up to $70 for qualifying dishwashers that save energy and water. Landlords and other businesses can get a 35 percent tax credit for qualifying appliances and other conservation investments.
 
The study was a partnership of the cities of Lafayette and Wilsonville, USDOE, Electrolux Home Products, Caroma USA, Portland General Electric, the Oregon Department of Energy, Energy Technology Laboratories, CTSI Corporation, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the League of Oregon Cities and the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments.
Visit www.pnl.gov/buildings/download_reports.html to download the full report. For more information on tax credits for efficient new appliances, visit www.Oegon.gov/ENERGY/CONS/RES/RETC.shtm or call the Oregon Department of Energy at 1-800-221-8035.