For decades OUC – The Reliable One has helped customers save money through conservation programs that make homes and businesses more efficient. OUC is a leader among utilities in Florida in offering ratepayers services that yield lower monthly bills.
From single-family, owner-occupied homes to multifamily rental properties to commercial buildings, OUC offers rebate and incentive programs tailored to help customers reduce their energy and/or water consumption. OUC spends more than $2 million a year on programs that save customers more than $6 million annually.
Pine Hills homeowner Eric White (left) took advantage of one service, OUC’s Efficiency Delivered® program for residential customers, in 2018. To identify how he could reduce energy loss in his 50-year-old home, an OUC Conservation Specialist conducted a free audit and recommended adding attic insulation, sealing ductwork, caulking around windows and installing weather stripping in door frames, simple improvements that could bring savings to most homeowners with older houses. With White’s approval, a preferred contractor made the improvements.
The upgrades came to $1,508, with OUC paying 85% and White 15%, or only $226.20. He spread the payments over 12 months interest free.
Efficiency Delivered® is an income-based program, covering from 50% to 85% of energy and water efficiency upgrades costing up to $2,500. Homeowners with annual household incomes of $40,001-$60,000 could receive the lower contribution from OUC while homeowners with less than $40,000 in annual income could receive the maximum amount. Meanwhile, rebates for myriad efficiency improvements are available to all customers who own a home in OUC’s service territory.
A retiree, White qualified for the program’s highest benefit.
After efficiency improvements were made, White saw his average monthly energy consumption drop from 1,450 kilowatt hours in 2018 to 1,294 in 2019, an 11% decrease year over year. For some months in 2019, he saw his OUC bills fall by more than 50% compared with the same months the previous year.
“I got the results I was looking for with this program,” White said in May 2020. “I’m happy to see the savings.”
David Mayer, OUC’s Sustainability Supervisor, says several factors could influence the efficacy of energy and water efficiency upgrades. Everything from age of home to types of efficiency improvements to personal consumption habits could determine a homeowner’s savings, says Mayer.
OUC Power Pass is another program that helps customers use less energy by becoming aware of their energy patterns. Users can access an online portal and receive daily alerts to help them control their electric usage. As a result, they tend to use 8% less energy than customers in similar residences, who are not on the program. Participants on this program do not pay deposits or late/disconnection fees.
Recognizing that a large percentage of our customers live in rental apartments, OUC offers a similar program to multifamily property owners. The Multifamily Efficiency Program (MFEP) is specifically designed to assist with energy and water conservation improvements while leveraging our rebates. Since 2014, more than 3,500 rental units have benefited from this program.
Here’s how MFEP works: An OUC-provided property assessment yields a full energy and water evaluation, recommends conservation upgrades and offers payback periods for each improvement. Once approved to proceed with efficiency upgrades, OUC oversees the project from start to finish, using either our Preferred Contractor Network or the customer’s contractors.
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The owner of 30-year-old Sawgrass Apartments upgraded Sawgrass’ exterior and interior lighting with LED light bulbs, installed Energy Star®-rated windows and clothes washers, and added ceiling insulation, air-duct improvements and low-flow showerheads in all 208 apartments. Old HVAC units are also being replaced with more efficient systems on an as-needed basis.
“These conservation upgrades benefit our tenants,” said Heather Alzate, Sawgrass Apartments Senior Property Manager. “Their units are much quieter because of the new windows, and they see substantially lower electric bills due to other efficiency upgrades we made. We point out such benefits when we show units to prospective renters.”
Promoting energy and water efficiency also led OUC to partner on two affordable housing projects in low-income neighborhoods. In 2018, OUC and the City of Orlando improved the quality of life for residents of the New Horizons Apartment Complex in Washington Shores. The joint project renovated 58 rental units. A year later, OUC joined forces with the Central Florida Housing Trust on an initiative to revitalize 83 rent-controlled properties in Parramore.