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The Cowlitz Public Utility District No. 1 of Cowlitz County, WA felt it was time to communicate with the public regarding energy use in the home, how energy is being used and the amount of energy (and therefore money) customers might be wasting by not using energy more efficiently. To promote their free home energy audit program, Cowlitz sought the assistance of Goldstreet Designs to produce an educational booklet.

“We want to get people excited about energy efficiency in the home,” said Michelle Ehrlich, Energy Efficiency Community Relations. “Many community members are unaware that we will send an energy efficiency expert into the home to conduct an inspection, explain where energy is being wasted and point out small changes they can make that could significantly reduce their energy bills.” Goals for the booklet:

Show the average electricity usage (example: 40% space heating, 20% water heating, etc.).

List practical energy-saving tips for all areas of the home.

Explain how to cool the home without creating a big electricity bill.

Provide ideas for saving hot water.

Compare the differences in light bulbs.

Detail ways to use appliances and electronics more efficiently.

The Cowlitz team wanted the booklet to combine professional, friendly and upbeat language with strong imagery (appealing colors, pie charts, photographs, and “call-outs” to highlight important points). So, they utilized a few fun phrases such as “clean your clothes without losing your shirt.” The final page of the booklet pulls it all together with a checklist readers can use to assure their home is at maximum energy efficiency.

The booklet, “Connect to Energy Efficiency: Simple things you can do to cut energy waste and save on your electric bill,” is distributed with other materials during every home energy audit. Additionally, Cowlitz staff use it to educate walk-in customers and hand them out at community events. “People love them,” exclaimed Ms. Ehrlich. “They enjoy looking through it. They are delighted to find simple, low-to-no-cost ways to help them save energy and they love the checklist. Many customers tell us it’s exactly what they need.”

To bolster their educational efforts, Cowlitz has also introduced its Opower program. Every other month, customers receive a statement showing their actual energy usage compared to other households of similar size and offers energy-saving tips specific to their home. Concluding, Ms. Ehrlich said, “Our biggest goals right now are education and building two-way communication with our customers.”

By: Denise Rucci