Gateway businesspeople get energy-saving spark during ‘power lunch’

Discover how small changes made at work – or at home – can add up to big savings every month on your electric bill. We’ve got the hook-up right here …

Lee Powell, Gateway’s Farmer’s Insurance agent, offers “50/50” tickets for a drawing that supports the Gateway Area Business Association – and provides the winner some nice take-home winnings.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
More than 30 members of the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) learned about their organization’s struggles to restart its renowned springtime Fun-O-Rama celebration – and got tips on saving money, too – at their regular monthly meeting,a couple of weeks ago.

Although organizers had hoped to revive the Fun-O-Rama on the vacant land where the Gateway JJ North’s Buffet once stood, at 10520 NE Halsey Street, they’ve given up on that location.

“The cost of obtaining all of the necessary permits was prohibitively high,” said GABA’s president, Ajnesh “AJ” Prasad, who is with the Columbia State Bank. “We’re looking at other sites; and we do intend to hold a Fun-O-Rama event this year.”

Deborah Higa and Cindy Pollard, of Mt. Hood Community College, dish up a delicious Italian luncheon, prepared and provided by GABA’s host, Parkview Christian Retirement Homes.

GABA President AJ Prasad welcomes members and guests to their monthly meeting.

PGE expert shares money-saving tips
Prasad welcomed Portland General Electric Customer Energy Advocate, Verlea Briggs.

Whether responding as a business manager or a homeowner, Briggs asked to see a show of hands of how many actually see their PGE bill every month.

“Have you wondered how you can save on electricity costs every month?” Briggs began. “If you do, have you noticed that 3% is collected every month and given to the Energy Trust of Oregon, for their energy-efficiency programs?”

Verlea Briggs, Customer Energy Advocate at Portland General Electric speaks to the Gateway Area Business Association about saving money on one’s electric bill.

How many of you have home businesses?  How many are an actual facilities or buildings?  How many of you have looked at your Portland General Electric bill and wondered ‘how can I save on the cost of electricity?’”

Briggs then told the group that there are several Energy Trust programs available for multifamily structures, existing buildings, new buildings, production efficiency, and providing renewable energy. “If you’re not taking advantage of these programs, you may be wasting money.”

Connects group to energy tips
“The first way to save money and your energy bill,” Briggs said, “is to consider is adjusting your thermostat. There’s a general consensus is that office heating energy use is reduced by about 3% if the heat setpoint is dropped by 1° F.  Conversely, engineering estimates suggest that 1% of the cooling energy is saved if the cooling setpoint is raised by 1° F.”

If the office is too cool for a worker – or for a home work space – instead of using an inefficient space heater, Briggs suggested using a small radiant panel.  “While this is not eligible for incentives, radiant panels are inexpensive, easy to use, and can provide good energy savings.”

Another energy-saving tip is to make sure that your hot water system does not leak. “And, we suggest you set hot water heaters at 120° F unless they serve older dishwashers and that need 140° F water,” noted Briggs. “Turn water heaters even lower, or off, at the electrical breaker panel, when the space is vacant for a week or longer.”

A very small reduction in heating or air conditioning use can really add up, PGE’s Briggs says.

Other simple energy-saving tips Briggs gave included these, for appliances and office equipment:

  • Turn on printers and computer peripherals only when they are needed, and turn them off when finished.
  • Unplug electronic device transformers and battery chargers when not in use.
  • Use the “sleep” or hibernate settings to automatically turn off monitors and computers when not in use.
  • Turn off computers at night.  An “Energy Star” calculator estimates turning off computers saves 200 kWh per year.
  • Turn off monitors, rather than using a screen saver, during lunch or meetings.

Talking about “carbon footprints”, Briggs explained, “This is the measurement of interactive activities upon the environment; it relates to the amount of CO2 gases produced by our daily lives. The formula is: 1 kWh equals approximately 1 pound of carbon. Every kilowatt hour saved keeps about one pound of carbon out of the environment.”

Discovering ‘green’ power options
“Green Power Oregon” provides a way to learn about “renewable energy options”, Briggs went on – and offers a Green Power Calculator online at their website. CLICK HERE to open that page.

Or, to get a free consultation from a Portland General Electric energy specialist, Briggs offered this e-mail address: “Our website has a lot of great information about how businesses can save energy, also,” she added. To bring up their site, CLICK HERE.

-6 Yes, your editor was presented with the GABA Rubber Chicken award at the meeting. It proudly sits in our office, ready to go to another honored member, during their May 13 meeting. Lee Powell Photo

Yes! A FREE lunch!
On May 13, you’re invited to meet the members of the Gateway Area Business Association. Networking and lunch service starts at 11:30 AM. Meeting starts at 11:45 and ends about at 1:00 p.m.

This month, the featured topic will be a presentation by Portland Bureau of Transportation’s SMART TRIPS by Steve Hoyt-McBeth.

Lunch will be provided, FREE for both members and guests, by Parkview Christian Retirement Community. GABA meetings have are now at Parkview Christian Retirement Homes (formerly Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes), 1825 NE 108th Avenue (just north of NE Weidler Street, in their Community Room just west from where NE Schuler St Avenue dead-ends into 108th Avenue. For more information, visit their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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