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Rising Energy Costs

If this doesn’t build a case for Passive House, I don’t know what does.

Did you all catch the recent news that Puget Sound Energy (PSE) asked the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) for approval of an 8.1% electric power rate increase, and a 3% increase in natural gas prices. Did you also know that that in April 2010 the commission approved a 2.8% rate increase for electric power and a 0.8% increase for gas for PSE customers.

The consideration process at WUTC is expected to take 11 months; if approved, the higher rates would start in 2012.

For ease of math, if you use about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, then your electric bill will go up more than $8 per month. Using natural gas, the increase is $2.84 per month for those using 68 therms each month.

Look at your energy bills, it’s not hard to imagine that many of you use more 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. The image below is a commonly sized older Olympia home, which is modestly heated during our cold months. See, for the billing cycle of April through May, the usage was close to 1500 kilowatt-hours. That looks a lot more like a $12-$13 increase per month for electricity cost on this typical home. Now, look at the graph, what would the increase be in February?

These kinds of increases are so unsettling because it’s simply indicative of more to come and many of us wonder how to get out from under this escalating burden.

One possible solution if you are considering building a new home, design and build to the Passive House standard. With up to a 90% decrease in heating costs, and a 75% decrease in overall electric costs, I can’t imagine why a person would build anything less. The other critical piece about a Passive House is that it’s the most cost effective and sensible way to achieve net-zero in our region. Net-zero means you can produce enough solar electricity to meet all your household electric needs. A Passive House is is so efficient, you won’t need a football field sized solar electric array to provide you with all the power you need! Imagine not even getting an electricity bill each month…