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Energy Demand Steady as Community Grows

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cedar Falls is a growing community. Homes are popping up, businesses are expanding and a new school was recently completed.

Over the last ten years, Cedar Falls has added nearly 2,000 electric customers. You’d expect that growth to lead to a similar increase in energy usage. In fact, electricity use in Cedar Falls has not kept pace with community expansion.

In the graph below, the blue line represents the ten-year growth in residential electric customers. We’ve grown from 15,200 customers in 2008 to 17,000 in 2017. The gray bars represent our community’s annual energy consumption. Demand for electricity today is even with 2008 levels.

Energy Use

Another way to look at electric consumption is on a per customer basis. In the time period from 2008 to 2012, the average residential customer used 10,722 kilowatt hours of energy each year. In the last five years, average customer usage decreased to 10,055 kilowatt hours of electricity. Customers are using less energy today thana decade ago.

And it’s not just electricity. Similar patterns emerge when natural gas and water usage in our community is analyzed. The number of utility customers has grown substantially in the past decade, but usage is stagnant.

While weather has an impact, efficiency efforts that started many years ago are paying off. Because demand has leveled off, the Electric Utility can delay the need to buy expensive new generating capacity. This helps hold rates steady now and into the future. Gas and water customers benefit from holding demand down as well, and pay less when they keep their usage
in check.

So what’s different? One factor is more stringent building codes for new homes. As homes are built to higher efficiency standards, they use less energy. Homes today are built with lots of insulation, high-quality windows and efficient appliances and HVAC equipment.

Cedar Falls residents have made changes to existing homes as well. For decades, CFU has partnered with customers to install energy efficient home appliances, HVAC equipment and insulation upgrades. We provide cost-sharing funds in the form of rebates when customers make efficient home improvements. We have paid out an average of $845,000 over the past three years in customer rebates.

Residents have also made small behavior changes that add up. Programmable thermostats and efficient lighting are important components. LED light bulbs have exploded in popularity and save significant energy. It is no surprise that LEDs have become so popular. A 60-watt equivalent LED light bulb can now be purchased for about $2. LEDs use 85% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, are much more durable and work in a wide-range of indoor and outdoor settings.

Thank you for your efforts to make energy conscious choices. Working together, we will continue to help Cedar Falls conserve resources and make wise energy decisions.

Would you like information about making changes in your home? Call our Energy Services team at 266-1761 or email energyservices@cfu.net.