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North West REC Has Long History of Offering Energy Efficiency Programs

Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives have a long history of supporting energy efficiency; in fact, we’ve been offering cost-effective energy efficiency programs since the late 1980s. These programs include rebates and incentives for various energy-efficient products, such as variable speed motors & geo thermal heat pumps. North West REC (NWREC) also offers programs designed to reduce electric demand, such as Beat the Peak and Switch Makes Cents. Additionally, your electric cooperative continues to upgrade facilities to maximize efficiency, including more efficient transformers and upgrades to substations. Generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity more efficiently helps NWREC manage costs more effectively, ultimately resulting in lower utility bills for our members.

Iowa’s electric cooperatives support energy efficiency as part of our continuing commitment to the cooperative principles. First, every electric cooperative is democratically controlled by its members, who elect local representatives from amongst themselves to serve on the cooperative board. These board members, in turn, actively participate in governance and long-term decision-making, including investments in energy efficiency programs. By maintaining local control over energy efficiency, these programs can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the members and communities we serve.

Second, electric cooperatives understand the value of education and training. As co-op employees and board members continually receive training to become better equipped to manage day-to-day operations, co-ops also work hard to provide information and education to our members on energy-efficient products and services and how to effectively manage your energy use.

Third, electric cooperatives work hard to maintain and enhance the communities we serve. Energy efficiency programs can help reduce additional electricity purchases or the need to build additional electric generation which works to minimize energy costs for our members.

Finally, electric cooperatives work in cooperation with other cooperatives to more effectively deliver energy efficiency programs to members. By partnering with other cooperatives, energy efficiency programs can be developed and delivered more effectively and at a lower cost than NWREC could do alone.

Working together with other community-focused cooperatives, NWREC assesses the costs and benefits of each program to determine what to offer to our members. Standardly, we perform four benefit-cost tests to determine the cost-effectiveness of the program. First, the participant cost test determines whether the program is cost-effective from the perspective of the participant in the program. Second, the utility cost test determines whether the program is cost-effective from the perspective of NWREC. Third, the rate payer impact cost test, also referred to as the RIM test, determines whether the program is cost-effective from the perspective of co-op members who do not participate in the program. Finally, the societal test determines whether the program is cost-effective from the perspective of society in general.

Ultimately, NWREC invests in energy efficiency programs to benefit the communities we serve. If you have questions, concerns, or would like to learn more about energy efficiency, please contact us at (800) 766-2099 and ask to speak with a member service representative.

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Tips for Homeowners


1. Turn off everything not in use: lights, TV's, computers, etc.

2. Check the furnace or air conditioner (AC) filter each month, and clean or replace it as needed. Dirty filters block air flow through your heating and cooling systems, increasing you energy bill and shortening the equipments life.

3. During hot months, keep window coverings closed on the south, east and west windows. In winter, let the sun in.

4. Glass fireplace doors help stop heat from being lost up in the chimney. Also,close the fireplace damper when not in use.

5. Activate "sleep" features on computers and office equipment that power down when not in use for a while. Turn off equipment during long periods of non-use to cut energy costs and improve longevity.

6. When cooking, keep the lids on pots. Better yet, use a microwave oven instead.

7. Dress appropriately for the weather, and set your thermostat to the lowest possible constant setting for your comfort.

8. In summer, use fans whenever possible instead of AC, and ventilate at night this way when practical. Using fans to supplement AC allows you to raise the thermostat temperature, using less energy. Fans cost less to use than an AC.

9. About 15 percent of an average home energy bill goes to heating water. To save hot water, take five-minute showers instead of baths. Do only full loads when using the clothes washer or dishwasher.

10. Switch to cold water washing of laundry in top loading energy inefficient washing machines to save energy and up to $63 a year-detergents formulated for cold water get clothes just as clean.

11. If the water temperature in your water heater is very hot, consider lowering it to a lesser temperature, which saves you money. The industry standard is 125 degrees. Use a thermometer to test your temperature.


1. Install low-flow shower heads and sink aerators to reduce hot water use.

2. Seal and weatherstrip your windows and doors to ensure that you're not wasting energy on heat or air conditioning that escapes through leaks to the outdoors.

3. If you don't have a Marathon water heater a water tank insulation wrap costs about $20 and helps hold the heat inside. Add a pre-cut pipe insulation to exposed pipes going into your water heater- it is cheap and easy to install. If you're starting with a tank that is not insulated, the energy savings should pay for improvements in just a few months.

4. Duct tape works well on lots of things, but if often fails when used on duct work! Use mastic (a gooey substance applied with a paintbrush) to seal all exposed duct work joints in areas such as the attic, crawlspace, or basement. Insulate ducts to improve your heating system's efficiency an your own comfort.

5. Storm windows can reduce heat lost by single-paned windows by 25-50 percent during the winter. As an alternative, you can improve your windows temporarily with plastic sheeting installed on the inside.

6. When buying new products, look for the ENERGY STAR label, found on more than 40 different products such as TV's, furnaces, cell phones, refrigerators, air conditioners and more.

7. Incandescent light bulbs are outdated; 95 percent of the energy used goes to heating the bulb, adding unwanted heat to your home in the summer. Replace your most used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent bulbs to save $60 each year in energy costs. These light bulbs use 70 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Use dimmers, timers, and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor incandescent lighting.

8. Consider safer, more efficient ENERGY STAR torchiere lamps rather than halogen torchieres, which can cause fires. Halogen bulbs are expensive to use.


Save up to 20 percent of your healing and cooling costs.

1. Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter wastes money. A handy homeowner can seal up holes to the outside by weatherstripping doors and sealing windows and other gaps along the home's foundation. A combination of air sealing and adding insulation to attics, basements, and crawlspaces provides tremendous energy savings and increased comfort.

2. The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in the attic. If you have less than 6 or 7 inches, you can probably benefit by adding more. Most U.S. homes should have between R-38 and R-49 attic insulation. In order to achieve this, many homeowners should add between R-19 to R-30 insulation (about 6 to 10 inches).

3. Other effective places to add insulation include unfinished basements walls and crawlspaces. Insulating walls can can be more complex, but it can be worthwhile to do if you have little or no insulation now. Check with a contractor for advice.

4. Consider the ENERGY STAR Home Sealing Program- the government's information for sealing your home: ENERGY STAR HOME SEALING


Appliances account for about 20 percent of household energy use.

Appliances and electronics really add up on your energy bill. When it is time to replace, remember these items have two price tags: purchase price and lifetime energy cost. When shopping for new appliances ( refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.) and electronics ( TV, computer, etc.) demand the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR is the government's rating program that shows you which items are more efficient than typical models. ENERGY STAR items will save you money over the product's useful life.


Efficient windows cut heating/cooling costs by as much as 30%.

If your home has only single pane windows, consider replacing them with low-e coated or ENERGY STAR windows. Alternatively, storm windows can reduce your winter heat loss by 25-50 percent.


Up to half of your energy bill goes just for heating and cooling.

1. When it's time to replace your hot water tank, buy the most efficient one possible. A Marathon unit, sold by NWREC, is the highest efficient storage model on the market today.

2. A geothermal heat pump is the highest efficient heating system on the market. An air-to-air heat pump is second. Be sure to select a high rated unit when purchasing. Be sure to ask us about rebates and reduced operating rates.

3. An ENERGY STAR qualified gas furnace, when properly sized and installed, along with sealed ducts can save the user on heating bills.

4. When buying a new AC unit or heat pump, look for SEER ( Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 13 or higher on central systems and the ENERGY STAR label on room units. A heat pump may be the right unit in your situation. They heat can cool the home.

5. Adding area heaters to warm just the occupied rooms in your home will enable you to keep the rest of your home at cooler, more economical temperatures.


Landscaping can save many dollars of your energy bill if placed in the right position and if you plant the right things.

Trees that lose their leaves in the fall give protection from the summer sun and permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your home. Plant trees on the south, east, and/or west sides of your home. Be sure to shade the AC unit. Create a windbreak with evergreen trees and shrubs to stop chilling winds.