- SMART THERMOSTAT
What is a smart thermostat?
A smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device you control with a smartphone, tablet or smart speaker. It allows you to automatically adjust heating and cooling temperature settings to help you save energy and money. Smart thermostats with the ENERGY STAR® label have been independently certified to deliver energy savings.
What is the difference between a smart thermostat and a programmable thermostat?
Programmable thermostats require you to manually adjust the device when you want to change the temperature. In contrast, smart thermostats are designed to learn and automatically adjust to your preferences.
For example, if you always turn down the thermostat when you leave the house or go to bed, the system will begin making these adjustments automatically. A smart thermostat can also adjust settings based on whether you are home or not, and the current indoor and outdoor temperature. In general, this ability to adjust helps people save more energy and money because you do not have to remember to set or change the thermostat manually.
Is a smart thermostat worth the money?
Yes. A smart thermostat can pay for itself in as little as one heating and cooling season, depending on the climate and your energy usage habits. Most smart thermostat manufacturers claim a return on investment of about two years.
What is “geofencing?” And what does it have to do with smart thermostats?
Geofencing uses GPS (Global Positioning System) or RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology to create a virtual geographic boundary. This allows software on your mobile device to perform an action when you leave or enter the boundary. For example, when you leave the house with your smart phone, geofencing signals to your smart thermostat that you are out of the house and temperature settings should change accordingly. Then, when you return home with your phone, your smart thermostat receives the message to turn the heat up again.
Do all smart thermostats use geo-fencing?
No. Check with the device manufacturer to see if this option is available. However, to qualify for a Tacoma Power rebate all smart thermostats must have an occupancy detection feature.
Are smart thermostats compatible with all residential forced air heating systems?
No. Many newer heat pump systems will not work properly with a smart thermostat. Check with the manufacturer or a heating contractor to be sure. However, all standard electric, natural gas, propane and oil furnaces should work fine with a smart thermostat.
Can I install the thermostat?
Yes, most manufacturers have easy to follow instructions and tutorials on their websites along with additional customer support. You may qualify for the rebate whether you install the smart thermostat or hire a contractor to do it.
How do I dispose of my old thermostat?
Since old thermostats contain mercury, which is toxic, it is important to properly recycle them. Check with the Washington State Department of Ecology for recycling information and drop off locations.
What rebates are available for smart thermostats?
We offer property owners a $50 rebate towards the purchase and installation of any qualifying smart thermostat. This savings is available whether you install it yourself or hire a contractor to do the work. To qualify for the rebate, the smart thermostat must be listed on the BPA Qualified Products List. This ensures that savings claims are based on real world data and user interaction with the product.
- CENTRAL HEAT PUMP
What is a central heat pump?
A central heat pump works differently than other heating systems in that it uses electricity to move heat from one space to another. Because they transfer heat rather than generate it, central heat pumps are much more efficient. They provide similar results as conventional heating equipment, but at about half of the operating cost.
This is how central heat pumps work. During the colder months, heat pumps absorb heat from the outdoor air, send it through your furnace and then blow the warm air through the ductwork and into the rooms in your house. During the warmer months, the system operates in reverse, removing heat from your house and forcing it outdoors, which cools the interior.
Unlike typical heating systems that turn on and off to provide heat in brief bursts, heat pumps run continuously. This keeps the temperature in your house more even, consistent and comfortable all year long.
Is a central heat pump a good choice for our climate?
Absolutely. Heat pumps are ideally suited for our Northwest climate, and are three times more efficient than a standard electric forced air furnace or baseboard heating. Heat pumps work well until the outside temperature drops below 30 degrees. At that low temperature your backup heat source, usually an electric or gas furnace, takes over for the heat pump.
What rebates are available for central heat pump systems?
We offer homeowners and rental property owners (up to 4 units per building) a $1,000 rebate towards the purchase and installation of a qualifying high-efficiency central heat pump when replacing an existing electric forced air furnace. This also requires the purchase and installation of a new forced air furnace. In addition, many manufacturers may also offer additional rebates for high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. Check with your contractor for more details.
- DUCTLESS HEAT PUMP
What is a ductless heat pump?
Ductless systems, also known as ductless heat pumps or ductless mini-splits, are primary heating and cooling systems for homes with electric heat. Ductless systems have many benefits: they are highly efficient, easy to install, safe, durable and quiet. They provide even heat at a fraction of the cost of baseboard, electric furnaces and recessed wall fan heaters.
Ductless systems use heat pump technology to distribute warm or cool air more quietly and efficiently than traditional electric heaters. Instead of generating short bursts of heat, they operate continuously, which keeps the temperature in your house more consistent and comfortable.
The system includes three main components — an outdoor unit, indoor wall-mounted unit and a remote control — and can be installed by a professional in less than a day. A ductless system can reduce your electric heating costs by 25-50% while keeping you comfortable all year long.
Is a ductless system a good choice for our climate?
Yes. Ductless systems are efficient, versatile and a good choice for our Northwest climate. They work well with baseboard, wall and ceiling heat, wood stoves, electric furnaces and other electric plug-in space heaters. A cost-effective solution for a small, electrically heated home is to use a ductless system for the main area of the house, and existing electric baseboards in bedrooms and bathrooms.
Do I still need my old heater if I get a ductless system?
Yes. While a ductless system can be used as a primary heat source, you are encouraged to keep your existing electric heating unit in case of extreme weather conditions or for use in hard-to-reach areas of your home.
How much does a ductless system cost?
An installed ductless system with a single indoor heating/cooling head is between $3,500 and $5,000. Additional heads and greater heating capacities will increase the cost of the system. Other factors that will affect the cost include the type of manufacturer and model you choose, the length of the refrigerant line and installer rates.
How long will a ductless system last?
With proper maintenance and care, a ductless system could perform for up to 20 years. To get the greatest efficiency and life out of your ductless heat pump, be sure to keep the air filter clean. For other maintenance tips and guidelines, check your ductless heat pump owner’s manual.
What rebates are available for ductless systems?
We offer eligible property owners a $500 rebate towards the purchase and installation of a qualifying ductless heat pump for homes with a forced air electric furnace or electric baseboard or wall heaters. Manufacturer rebates may also be available, so talk to your contractor for more information.
- DUCT SEALING
How do I know if my air or heating ducts need to be sealed?
It is probably time to seal or repair your ducts if:
- Your winter utility bills are high (and summer utility bills if you have air conditioning)
- You have rooms that are difficult to heat and cool
- You have rooms that are rarely warm or cool enough to be comfortable
- Your ducts are in an attic, crawlspace or garage
- Your flexible ducts are tangled or kinked
Why should I have a contractor seal my ducts?
A trained contractor is experienced in finding and sealing hidden leaks, which makes your system more efficient and effective. Participating duct sealing contractors have certified Performance Tested Comfort System (PTCS) technicians specially trained for the job.
Do air ducts really make a big difference in my home’s energy use?
Yes. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by about 20% on average.
What rebates are available for duct sealing?
We offer a $450 duct sealing rebate for stick built homes and a $250 rebate for manufactured homes.
What is R-value?
R-value measures the insulating efficiency of a material or product. The higher the R-value a product has, the better it insulates and resists the flow of heat.
Can I add new insulation on top of old insulation?
Yes, but only if it is dry. If your old insulation is wet, you should not put new insulation on top of it because wet insulation can lead to mold or mildew. If your existing insulation feels or looks wet, or looks like it has previously been wet, you should remove it, look for the cause of the moisture and make the necessary repairs to prevent further moisture from reaching your insulation.
Why do I need to seal my attic if I’m adding insulation?
Whether made of fiberglass or cellulose, insulation is not an air barrier, so it allows air to move through it. This results in increased energy use and higher utility bills. Sealing your attic helps prevent air from escaping through the attic of your home.
Where are the big leaks in my attic?
Typically, the biggest attic leaks are found where the walls meet the attic floor, above drop ceilings and overhangs and behind attic walls. Look for dirty or discolored insulation to find the leaks. This indicates that air is moving through the insulation materials. There are many other “holes” in the attic ceiling that should also be sealed, such as recessed “can” lights, plumbing stacks, electrical wires, attic hatches or doors, around chimneys or flues and duct chases.
What rebates are available for insulation?
We offer property owners rebates to insulate ceilings, floors and walls. Rebate amounts vary based on property type.
- WINDOW REPLACEMENT
What is insulated glass?
Insulated glass features two or more panes of glass separated by an insulated seal at the edges and air or argon gas between the panes. Insulated glass provides greater efficiency and less heat loss.
What is argon gas?
Argon is a non-toxic, odorless gas used to fill the air space between panes of glass in energy efficient windows. Since argon is heavier than air it performs better at slowing down heat loss in the winter or heat gain in the summer.
What is low-E glass?
Low-E, or low emissivity, glass is coated with microscopic metal particles that reduce the transfer of heat from the sun to the inside. This improves the insulating efficiency of the window, reduces glare and prevents the damage that ultraviolet rays can cause to interior furnishings and painted walls.
What is U-value?
U-value, or U-factor, measures the rate of heat transfer and reveals how well a window insulates. The lower the U-factor, the better the window insulates or slows down heat loss.
What rebates are available for window replacement?
Rebates vary depending on the age of your home and type of windows you are purchasing. See our windows page for complete rebate details.
- LED LIGHTING
What is LED lighting?
LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is a much more efficient way to produce light compared with traditional incandescent lights. LED lights also have a much longer lifespan. Their small size and relatively cooler operating temperature means they can be used in fixtures and locations where traditional bulbs were used.
Are LED lights brighter?
Yes, but like any light source, the output depends on the wattage and how many lumens it produces (lumens are a measurement of light’s brightness). Because LEDs produce many more lumens per watt than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, wattage alone does not tell the whole story. While most people reference wattage for incandescent bulbs, the wattage and the amount of light produced by LEDs is drastically different. So for practical purposes, it is best to look at lumens. On average, 1,600 lumens equals about the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.
Do LEDs emit blue light?
Yes, they can. While early versions of the technology may have given the light a blue tint, current LEDs are designed to meet our expectations for the lighting most people want in their homes.
Since a range of color temperatures are available for different applications and tasks, use the following guide when shopping for LEDs: 2,700 Kelvin is a warm light similar to a standard household bulb; 3,500 Kelvin is a whiter tone; and 4,000-5,000 Kelvin options give you even whiter or daylight blue light.
How long do LEDs last?
LEDs last much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and fixtures. Most last for 20,000 hours of use minimum, or 15-20 years depending on hours of use.
Should I recycle my old compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)?
Yes. CFLs contain mercury, a known toxin, so should not be disposed of in your regular trash. Washington state residents can recycle CFLs at no charge by dropping them off at authorized collection sites throughout the state. Learn more at LightRecycle Washington.
What rebates are available for LED bulbs or fixtures?
You will receive an instant rebate at checkout when you buy any LED bulb or fixture with a Tacoma Power sticker at participating stores. There are no forms to fill out or mail in.