This article was originally published in the November/December 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.



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Home Energy Magazine Online November/December 1994

DinoShowers Sweep Oregon

In just four months last year, Pacific Power, with the help of Energy Technology Laboratories (ETL)--not to be confused with ETL Testing Laboratories--placed energy-efficient showerheads in more than 100,000 Oregon homes. In a lickety-split manner, the utility reached 42% of eligible households with its showerhead program. Pacific Power estimates that it will save 46 million kilowatt-hours annually, at a cost of less than one cent per kilowatt-hour. That's enough electricity to serve 3,538 new Northwest homes. In addition, each participating customer will save about $50 on their combined water and energy bills each year.

In August 1993, Pacific Power offered free water- and energy-saving kits to 240,000 customers who lived in single-family homes and had electric water heating. The direct-mail piece contained a postage-paid order card and a letter from Pacific's president explaining why it is in the customer's and the utility's interest to install more-efficient showerheads. Six weeks into the campaign, Pacific followed up with a bill-insert reminder to the same homes.

Pacific's DinoShower theme for its advertising campaign proved to be original and attention-getting, pulling in a large number of program participants. In fact, the exceptional response rate prompted the company to extend its deadline one extra month, pushing participation above 100,000.

To inform customers of this extension, Pacific placed a slightly altered DinoShower ad in areas where it expected a high response. This ad reminded customers to mail in their request cards, but it also suggested simply calling a toll-free phone number for quicker delivery.

Returned postcards were sent in batches to ETL, which filled the orders for showerhead kits within ten days. ETL said the volume of its mailings during the campaign made it the West's largest single user of U.S. Priority Mail.

The Water Smart kit contained a 2-gallon-per-minute showerhead, a kitchen sink aerator and general purpose aerator, both rated at two gpm (all made by ETL), toilet tank leak-detection tablets, a reusable water-temperature card, and installation instructions.

Each kit also contained a postage-free, return-addressed envelope for participants to mail back their old showerheads. More than 32,000 customers did so. Receipt of the old showerheads helped Pacific verify that the customers had actually installed the new ones. It also enabled ETL to test the old showerhead for flow rate, providing a benchmark to calculate water savings. Water-use metering showed that the old showerheads, on average, used slightly less water than had been projected.

Energy Savings

Pacific estimated average showerhead savings of 421 kWh per year per household. Beginning at 600 kWh per year, the estimate was then adjusted for partial installation (showerhead installed, but not faucet aerators) and for partial acceptance (customers asked for the kit, but didn't install the showerhead). These adjustments were made based on the findings from two previous programs.

A follow-up survey for the showerhead component of the Hassle-Free program showed a 73% acceptance (52% with multiple showers, 22% in secondary showers). Hassle-Free is a water-heater guarantee program: Customers pay a monthly premium and receive an energy-efficient water heater (.93 EF) when their old one fails. During 1992, the company offered 60,000 participants a free energy-efficient showerhead, and 20,000 accepted the offer.

As part of another program, Home Comfort, Pacific metered water use in Walla Walla, Washington. A comprehensive home energy-efficiency program in Washington and California, this program routinely installs showerheads and faucet aerators. Metering showed that, when multiple showers are present in a home, the primary shower gets 67% of the use. Together, these data imply a 58% effective savings for the primary shower, after partial acceptance.

For the second shower, Pacific expected the installation rate to be less than 100%, but the second kit would increase the likelihood of getting the primary showerhead installed. Assuming the showers are split 70%/30% between primary and secondary showers, with an overall 80% installation rate, the effective savings for the second showerhead was calculated to be 34%.

Pacific assumed annual savings of 130 kWh for the two bathroom and one kitchen aerators and then applied a real-world adjustment, resulting in estimated savings of 100 kWh per year for a kit (one bathroom and one kitchen aerator), with a 73% installation rate. Thus the final savings estimates for all measures, derated for partial installation, were:

  • Showerhead 600 * .58 = 348 kWh per year
  • Aerators 100 * .73 = 73 kWh per year
  • Kit 421 kWh per year
  • Second shower kit 600 * .34 = 204 kWh per year
Pacific is in the process of evaluating the real world savings of this showerhead program. By early next year, the company expects to complete studies of installation rates, persistence (did people leave the new showerheads in place?) and water use. The studies will be used to help calculate actual savings. To verify the accuracy of these studies, Pacific will follow up with on-site verification of survey data.

Pacific believes the quick success of its showerhead program was because of its extensive outreach to customers. Despite previous programs that delivered showerheads to customers and a state building code that sets stringent efficiency standards for showerheads, the program still enticed 42% of the utility's eligible customers in Oregon to ask for a DinoShower.

-- Mike O'Bryant

Mike O'Bryant is a public information representative with Pacific Power in Portland, Oregon.


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