Right Materials, Technology Saves Energy, Money

SPOKANE VALLEY — Earlier this year, Avista proposed a rate hike that would increase utility prices anywhere from 9 to 16 percent, depending on where you live. That hike is still being considered in both Idaho and Washington.

But no matter what happens with those proposed hikes, one family has created a shelter from the increasing electricity costs.

There are simple things you can do to reduce your electricity bill, like buying a new refrigerator. A pre-1995 refrigerator uses three times more energy than more current ones.

But Brent Peterson has gone above and beyond.

“This was our empty-nester home,” he says of his house.

Brent and Bonnie Peterson live in the hills south of Greenacres. Their 4,700 square-foot home is a refuge not only from the busy world, but a safe haven from electricity bills.

“Probably $125-$130 a month to heat,” Brent says. “Summertime, around $50 or $60.”

The reason for the low bills lies in the floor, the ceiling, the windows and in the walls.

“It really is so much more efficient,” says Peterson.

Underneath the floors, a network of pipes with water running through them are entirely responsible for the heat. That water is first heated underground by the Earth, and then by a water heater. The heat from that water radiates up through the floor.

“It heats the furniture, the carpet, everything a steady heat,” Peterson says.

In the kitchen is a refrigerator with extra insulation. In the ceiling are lights that we all can buy, and they use 70 percent less electricty. The windows contain a material that makes it hard for wind to pass through.

Avista spokeswoman Debbie Simock says more people are going to have to take note of efforts like this one.

“We are moving into a time of rising energy prices,” she says. “No one knows where it might end up, so the best defense for a customer is to use less energy around the home.”

Peterson says he’s not stopping at $130 electric bills.

“If we can get better, let’s get better,” he says. “Why stop at $100 if we can get the bill down to zero?”