Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Electric Use

March is a time of renewal. We’re shaking off the last chill of winter, leaves are starting to turn green and people are airing out their homes. Like nature, everyone is eager for a fresh start.

There are things every homeowner can do to freshen up around the house and reduce energy use at the same time. Use these four electricity spring cleaning tips to enjoy lower bills all year long.
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Clean the Air Vents and Filters

The simplest way to improve the energy efficiency of an HVAC system and appliances is to clean the vents and clean/change air filters. Doing so will improve air quality and airflow. When air flows more freely equipment doesn’t have to work as hard and less energy is used.

Air vents, also known as return registers, should be cleaned regularly to prevent buildup.This can be easily done with a vacuum or a damp cloth. If a room is rarely used you may want to consider closing its vents after they’re cleaned.

Air filters should be cleaned or changed at least once every two months. The Department of Energy estimates that keeping air filters clean can decrease HVAC energy use by up to 15%.

Clean and Seal the Air Ducts

The air ducts are another spot to add to the spring cleaning list. The jury is still out on whether cleaning has a huge impact on energy efficiency, but it certainly cleans up the air quality. If there’s evidence of mold or pest activity in the ducts a good cleaning is definitely needed.

While you’re cleaning the air ducts go ahead and check for leaks. The jury may be out on cleaning, but sealing up leaks in the air ducts will make a difference in the amount of energy that’s wasted. When the air ducts leak heated and cooled air seeps out into voids and crawl spaces rather than inhabited rooms. Sealing the leaks will keep climatized air in the ducts so it gets where it’s supposed to go.

  • Duct mastic is recommended for sealing around joints and seams.
  • If gaps around joints and seams are larger than a quarter inch use drywall tape first to bridge the gap.
  • Choose heat-approved tapes, butyl tape and foil tape to seal leaks on the duct surface

Extra Energy Saving Step: To maximize the energy savings consider having your HVAC system professionally serviced and cleaned. The NADCA found that cleaning a slightly dirty system reduces energy use by 11%.

Clean Up Cracks Around Window Doors

An item that should be on your spring cleaning list is weatherizing around the doors and windows. You may have heard this tip before, but few people realize how beneficial it is for your comfort, health and wallet.

Weatherizing means using caulk and weatherstripping to seal up gaps around windows, doors and other spots in the home. For less than $20 and a few hours of your time you can get numerous weatherization benefits:

  • Keep out debris, dust and dirt
  • Prevent bugs from getting inside
  • Minimize moisture problems
  • Stop climatized air from getting outside

The last point can have a dramatic effect on energy use. According to a report by Fine Home building as much as a third of the energy used in a home leaks out. Of course the other points can impact energy efficiency as well since pests and filth can clog filters and damage duct work.

If you’re really motivated to clean up the energy waste you can seal up a home well beyond the windows doors.

Clean Out the Hot Water Heater

Inside the bowels of your hot water heater sediment can build up. This build up can prevent the water heater from operating at peak performance. The solution: clean out your hot water heater at least once a year. This is what’s known as flushing a water heater. It can be done with a few simple tools. Just don’t forget to turn off the electricity and gas before you begin.

Extra Energy Saving Step: Insulate around the hot water heater. You can purchase an insulated sleeve that goes around the tank and cover the pipes with foam or fiberglass insulation.

Provider Power can help residents in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine clean up their energy use! We offer competitive rates on clean energy plans that also support the communities we serve. When you select Provider Power everyone wins!

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Making Smart Choices on Your Electricity Bill this Valentine’s day

Right about now you may be putting the final touches on Valentine’s surprise for your sweetheart. The last thing on your mind is the utility bill – until it arrives. Suddenly, a candlelit dinner seems a lot more economical.

Being that we’re still in the grip of winter, it’s understandable that electric bills will be higher than other times of the year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. Today we’re taking inspiration from those cute little Valentines conversation heart candies to provide tips on how you can make “smart” choices on your electricity bill.

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“Pick Me” – First, Make Sure You Choose the Right Service

If you live in a deregulated area you’re not stuck with a single provider. Customers can play the field and choose the electric provider they like best.

Much of the time the primary focus is on finding the provider with the lowest rates. While that is important, it’s best to find a provider that’s the total package. Providers that offer fixed rates make your monthly bill more predictable. Length of the contract is also a major factor when you’re looking for an energy partner. If you find a great rate locking it in for a long-term commitment will benefit you.

“Thank You” – Don’t Overlook Customer Service

Customer service is kind of like the quiet kid in class who surprises you with an amazing handmade Valentines Day card out of nowhere – it can be easy to overlook and you’ll probably regret it if you do. Provider Power makes customer service a priority because we know reliability is important. We also know that when a customer calls they like to hear the voice of a knowledgeable rep on the other line who can handle billing issues quickly.

Another aspect of customer service that’s sometimes forgotten about is the extra perks. Electric providers that want to keep customers happy are all about incentives like offering sign up rebates, referral rewards, and additional resources to improve energy efficiency at home. In other words, if a company is just an energy provider they may not be “the one.”

“Be True” – Know How to Read Your Bill

The utility delivers your bill each month, but how often do you read it beyond the amount due? Your electric bill may not be as entertaining as a romance novel, but understanding how to read it can actually help you to make smart choices.

If your provider has the customer service aspect of the business nailed down there’s a good chance they’ve created a guide to help customers decipher their bill. The guide will explain each part of the bill and how monthly rates are calculated. This information can help you discover when you use the most energy in a year, month or day. Knowing how to read your bill can also reduce the need to call customer service since you may be able to find the information you need yourself.

“Hot Stuff” – Temperature Settings Have a Huge Impact

There are a lot of ways to reduce energy use at home, but some changes move the needle more than others. When it’s cold outside you’ll want to pay careful attention to the temperature indoors. There are two places in particular to monitor:

Hot water heater – Too often people have their hot water heater turned up too high, and it wastes electricity and/or gas. The Department of Energy recommendation is to keep the temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 20 degrees cooler than the factory default setting. Bonus: the cooler setting helps minimize mineral buildup.

Programmable thermostat – It’s tempting to crank up the heat during winter, but that won’t heat your cold house more quickly, and it will certainly increase your bill. The better strategy is to program your thermostat so that it remains a constant, reasonable temperature inside. When people are home and awake keep it at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. When the house is empty and everyone is asleep you can bump it down to 66-68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get chilly you can always add a layer of clothing or snuggle under a warm blanket.

“Text Me” – Use Your Smart Meter to Your Advantage

Many cities are replacing old equipment with new smart meters. They not only make it easier for utilities and providers to generate bills, but they also make it easier for customers to lower them. A smart meter is a powerful tool the can provide real-time updates on energy use. By monitoring energy use you can know how and when you use the most energy and can make adjustments to reduce usage or do energy-intensive tasks during off-peak hours. Some smart meters will even send you energy management and cost summary alerts.

Another benefit of using a smart meter is there are no surprises on your next bill. You’ll know ahead of time how much electricity was used in a billing period.

New England customers will fall in love with what Provider Power has to offer. From supporting local non-profits to helping customers make smart choices on their energy bills, Provider Power is the type of electricity supplier you want to have a relationship with. Pick your state to see the available electric plans!

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What Causes High Electric Bills in the Winter?

Your electric bills may not be as high during the winter as they are in the summer when the AC is chugging away, but you have probably seen an increase since the fall months. Higher winter electric bills are a common occurrence.

There are a few reasons for the increase in kilowatt-hours once things start cooling off.

Fewer Hours of Daylight Mean Higher Lighting Costs

Lighting accounts for 9% of electric use in U.S. homes. It’s the third largest source of electricity consumption noted in the Annual Energy Outlook 2018. In the winter when the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun, we get fewer hours of sunlight each day. That means we need more light artificially, which in turn bumps up the electric bill.

December is the darkest month of the year whereas June is the sunniest. In most northern states, you will only get about eight and a half hours of sunlight during the winter solstice – nine hours if you are lucky. Just be happy you are not in Fairbanks, Alaska where the sun will only be out less than three and a half hours. The further you get from the equator the more pronounced the daylight difference gets. Daylight savings fall back makes matters worse.

For fun, you can use the calculator from the U.S. Navy to figure out how many hours of sunlight you’ll get in your location this winter.

Time to Switch to CFLs and LEDs

Winter is the perfect time to make the switch to CFL and LED light bulbs if you have not already. Sure, they cost a little more upfront compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, but you will make that money back and then some. CFLs and LEDs use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. They also last 25 times longer.

The Colder it is Outside the More Energy it Takes to Keep Things Warm Inside

There is another downside to having fewer hours of daylight during the winter – colder temperatures. The angle of the sun also plays a role in making it colder during this time of year.

Depending on which survey you look at, space heating accounts for anywhere from 6-15% of overall electric use. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 36% of U.S. homes rely on electric furnaces and pumps for heat. Electric heating sources are most common in the southeast, but you can find homes with electric furnaces and pumps in the very cold northeast region. Portable electric heaters are also the most common secondary heating source across the nation.

Weatherize Your Home to Keep the Heat In

Every homeowner should take measures to weatherize in the winter. With a few inexpensive products (caulk and weather-stripping), you can seal up cracks and crevices around doors and windows that let warm air seep out. You can go a step further by adding extra insulation to the attic and weatherizing around outdoor electric outlets.

Get Your Heating Equipment Serviced

Heating equipment will be working overtime during the winter. When your furnace or pump and ducts are in perfect condition, they are super-efficient. You can do some maintenance measures yourself, like keeping the filters clean. However, it is best to have a professional service electric heating equipment and check the ducts for leaks once a year.

Roll Out the Rugs

Adding rugs to hard floors can make a big difference underfoot. Rugs also help to insulate the floors and prevent drafts making it feel warmer inside the house.

In Winter We’re Inside More Using Electric Entertainment

During the winter we are more likely to hunker down inside than spend our free time outdoors. You can again blame this trend on less daylight and colder temperatures.

The more time we spend inside the more likely we are to consume electricity in an effort to entertain ourselves. Televisions, DVRs, gaming consoles, computers, and smartphones are all running on electricity. TVs and related equipment account for 6% of electric use while computers eat up another 2% of electricity usage.

Put Devices on a Power strip

Putting devices on a power strip is one way to beat rising energy costs. This simple piece of equipment can help reduce standby power use, which costs customers up to $100 a year.

Focus on Electric-Free Entertainment

It can be hard to turn your attention away from screens, but winter is the perfect time to cozy up with a good book. Since everyone is inside, you can also start a family game night where you break out the board games.

Harder to get Hot Water

Water heating can use more electricity than space heating – around 10% of total electric usage. This is particularly true if your water heater is located in the attic or an uninsulated garage. When it is cold, the water heater has to work harder to warm up and there is a higher likelihood of heat loss.

Insulate the Water Heater and Pipes

Use a water heater insulation jacket with a value of R-8 or higher to reduce heat loss by as much as 45%. While you are at it, go ahead and put foam or sleeves around the water heater pipes for added insulation. Bonus: Since the water heats up quicker, you will also reduce water consumption.

Electrifying Holiday Decorations Increase Energy Bills

If you are the type that loves to deck the halls (and living room and exterior) during the holidays, you are bound to see a bigger electric bill. The string lights, inflatable yard decorations, and motorized figures spread joy while consuming a lot of electricity.

Timing is everything

One of the best things you can do is to put your decorations and displays on a timer. Set the timer so that they come on about a half hour after sunset and go off around 11 pm or so.

Use LED Holiday Lighting

Like the bulbs around your home, the most energy efficient option is to use LED holiday lights. Bonus: you will be able to use them for more holiday seasons.

Provider Power can help you freeze out the higher electric costs this winter. Get competitive electricity supply rates in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts without any disruptions or inconvenience. Discover the difference of deregulated energy!

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You’ve got the Power: How to Beat Rising Energy Costs

Electricity can be a sneaky thing. It’s always there and sometimes it can be hard to measure. This often leads to rising energy costs, leaving you scratching your head asking, “What happened?”

There are many things that can cause an electric bill to get out of control, but here are a few of the common culprits. Learn how to beat rising energy costs.

There are many things that can cause out of control rising energy costs, but here are a few of the common culprits:

Using out-of-date appliances

There are many things that can cause an electric bill to get out of control, but here are a few of the common culprits. Learn how to beat rising energy costs.

Source: EPA

Today, it can feel like technology, from our cell phones to our refrigerators, need constant updating. While we’re not recommending you buy the latest appliance, it is important to replace old, worn-out tech in the spirit of conserving electricity. Appliances are one of the biggest chunks of your electricity bill, so it’s crucial you’re not running ‘clunkers’ when you should be upgrading to energy-efficient models instead.
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How to Save Green While ‘Going Green’ This Winter

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is lovely, until you realize all that heat is escaping out of nooks and crannies in your home. Winter is surely on its way and the time to beat high energy costs is now. Here are a few ways you can save green while going green this winter:

Winter is surely on its way and the time to beat high energy costs is now! Here are a few ways you can save green while going green this winter!

Tip #1: Get an energy audit.

The first step in checking your money-saving potential is to hire a professional BPI certified energy rater to evaluate your spaces. This person will conduct what’s called an “energy audit” and he or she will test your home for energy losses and safety issues. Having an idea of what’s costing you the most energy (and money) is a great way to stay informed and stay ahead of fees.
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Blame it on the Rates: Electricity Bill Charges and What it All Means

It’s as easy as flipping on the lights– electricity is quick to use and seemingly immeasurable. Or is it? When the electricity bill comes in the mail, it can be difficult to make sense of the charges and fees; it can leave you wondering, “What am I even paying for?” Let us break it down for you.

When you buy gas, you’re charged by the gallon. When you buy electricity, you’re charged by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). When you use 1000 watts for one hour, that’s a kilowatt-hour. To get kilowatt-hours, take the wattage of the device, multiply by the number of hours you use it, and divide by 1000.

Example calculation: 500watts*10hours=5000/1000=5kWh

When the electricity bill comes in the mail, it can be difficult to make sense of the charges and fees; it can leave you wondering, “What am I even paying for?” Let us break it down for you.
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10 Tips to Save Energy this Fall & Winter

It seems fall and winter always come just a little too soon, and we’re forced to say ‘goodbye’ to our shorts, t-shirts, and long days in the sun. As you transition your closet from summer clothes to much warmer layers, it’s important to prepare your home to save energy, as well.

If you haven’t already, spend time thinking about the impact cooler temps and colder precipitation have on your home: heavy, wet snow on your roof, harsh winds sweeping across your home’s siding, and sharp, crisp frost covering your home’s windows. It’s a big seasonal change, and it can have significant impact on your energy bill.

As you transition your closet from summer clothes to much warmer layers, it’s important to prepare your home, as well.

Here are 10 of our favorite energy saving tips as the leaves (and the temperatures) fall:
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You’re Wasting Money on Monthly Expenses: Five Tips for a Lower Energy Bill

Our days are filled with energy usage: from plugging in our phone, microwaving our meals, and keeping our homes at a reasonable temperature (for both the sweltering summer and freezing winter.) We use a ton of energy. We’ve compiled some simple ways to create a lower energy bill, reduce your energy usage, and increase the money leftover in your pocket at the end of every month.

Here are five great tips for making changes around your home without breaking the bank. Tackling all five could result in massive savings on your energy bill!

Looking for ways to lower your monthly budget without buying new appliances? Take a look at these tips for trimming your monthly energy bills without having to invest.
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