Do You Need a Home Energy Management System?

Are you thinking about installing a solar power array? Want to maximize energy efficiency? Then you may be interested in a home energy management system (HEMS). 

A home energy management system is designed to improve household energy use, but these systems aren’t cheap. Before you make an investment in a home energy management system take a few minutes to learn more about what a HEMS can do and how you could benefit from using one. 


The Basics About Home Energy Management Systems

The home energy management system global market is growing rapidly. It was a $2.1 billion industry in 2021 but is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2027. It’s a clear sign that as energy prices increase, more people are looking for ways to curb consumption.

The primary objective of a home energy management system is to better manage energy use to improve efficiency. The HEMS does this by gathering information then using that information to:

  • Analyze how energy is used in the home. 
  • Measure the energy requirements of appliances and systems. 
  • Measure the energy consumption of appliances and devices.
  • Coordinate the operation of electrical components including solar panels and appliances.
  • Optimize energy consumption by automating systems.
  • Sync and manage smart devices.
  • Manage home batteries and backup power supplies.
  • Analyze local utility data to adjust use based on current energy demand.

If you have solar panels you can do even more with a home energy management system. One big advantage is being able to balance out and distribute solar power throughout the day. It helps overcome the issue of inconsistent energy production. And when you produce energy with your solar panels the HEMS can determine whether it should be used, stored or redistributed to the electrical grid. 

Installing a home energy management system can reduce energy use by 5-10%. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that you’re using energy in a more sustainable way that helps decrease demand that is getting harder to meet. Plus, reducing energy use can help extend the life of your appliances, saving you even more money in the long run. 

How a Home Energy Management System Improves Efficiency

A home energy management system is a sophisticated setup that can accomplish some pretty amazing things. But how does a HEMS do it?

HEMS Software – The Brains of the System

A home energy management system is powered by innovative software. Without the software nothing is possible. The software’s algorithms are able to analyze massive amounts of data in real time. It then converts the data into reports that can be easily read and used to make energy efficiency updates. The software can even identify trends in the data and make predictions about future energy consumption. 

A home energy management system is analyzing more than just your energy use. To make the best predictions and adjustments HEMS software also measures:

  • Weather Conditions – The weather is going to have a big influence on energy use and needs. That’s why a HEMS constantly monitors current weather conditions. It’s the best way to balance comfort and efficiency.  
  • Availability of Electricity and Demand – If the grid gets strained a home energy management system can help ease the load. By measuring demand and the availability of electricity a HEMS can adjust energy use and tap into stored power if the home has solar panels. 
  • Current Energy Rates – A home energy management system can also take energy rates into consideration to determine the best way to automate systems. If you have a time-of-use or variable rate plan this feature can help you reduce energy costs even if you don’t use less energy. 

The Parts of a Home Energy Management System

The software is the brains of the HEMS operation, but it can’t do everything on its own. Other components are needed to make the system operable so that it can provide you with actionable information. The two other key components of a home energy management system are:

The Hub – The Heart of the System

The software connects to a hub in order to gather all of the data it analyzes. The hub is a device that is installed at the electric panel. It’s like a middle man that relays data from the panel to the software.

Internet-Connected Device – The Interface of the System

The software and hub gather data, but the information doesn’t do much good if you can’t read it. That’s where an internet-connected device comes into play. A device is needed to interact with the software so that the data can be read. Using a corresponding app you can get energy data reports, see changes in energy use and receive suggestions on how to reduce energy consumption. 

Provider Power customers can receive data on energy use even if they don’t have a home energy management system. Each month we’ll provide you with valuable information on how you consume energy so that you can reduce use and lower monthly costs.

Check to see which Provider Power energy plans are available in your area

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Gas Appliances vs Electric Appliances: Which Are Better for Your Energy Bills?

Are you buying a new home? Maybe you have an appliance that’s on its last leg? Or you want to upgrade your appliances for greener models? 

No matter what has you shopping around for appliances, there’s probably one big question on your mind. Are gas appliances or electric appliances better for my energy bills? 

That’s a good question and a pretty significant one. Some people don’t have the option and can only use electric appliances. But for those of you who can choose between gas and electric appliances, keep reading to get a better idea of which one is going to cost less to operate every month. 

Energy Rates: Electric Appliances vs Gas Appliances

The first thing most people think about when they’re deciding between electric and gas appliances is the cost of the energy source. Given that a lot of electricity is generated using natural gas, it’s understandable that gas prices would be cheaper than electricity prices. Generally speaking, electricity is more expensive than gas.

Of course, that isn’t always the case, especially in the northeast. You may remember how natural gas more than doubled in price over the last two years. 

When you compare costs, the timing makes a difference. At certain times of year, natural gas is going to cost more per therm in the northeast due to demand for heating fuels. If it’s a particularly cold winter season it can really increase the cost of natural gas. That will close the gap between gas prices and electricity prices. 

But to know for sure, you’ll have to research the average gas prices and electricity prices for your area. Rates are going to vary from one market to the next, even within the same state. 

Of course, if you own or plan to own a solar power system, then electric appliances will likely be the most cost-effective option since you’d be using electricity you generate from the sun for free. 

Winner

Gas Appliances – In almost all instances, despite rising natural gas prices, gas will be cheaper than electricity. 

Energy Efficiency: Electric Appliances vs Gas Appliances

But what about efficiency? What you end up paying on your utility bills isn’t just a matter of how much an energy resource costs. How much energy is used to power appliances is also a big factor. For that reason, you have to also consider the energy efficiency of gas and electric appliances.

Experts agree that gas appliances tend to be more energy efficient than their electric counterparts. Part of the reason gas appliances are more energy efficient is because gas generates heat more quickly than electricity.

However, it does depend on the appliance. For example, gas dryers are 30% more energy efficient than electric dryers. BUT – gas washing machines no longer exist. They have been replaced by a more efficient option – high-efficiency electric washers. 

All new appliances should provide information on energy requirements, meaning how much energy is needed for operation. You can use this information paired with the average energy rates in your area to get a good estimate of how much the appliance will cost to operate either monthly or annually. 

Winner: Gas Appliances – Once again natural gas comes out on top as the most energy efficient option for many appliances, although some types of electric appliances use less energy.

What to Know if You’re Switching 

Something to consider is the cost of switching from electric to gas or vice versa. Your home may not be set up for both types of appliances, which means you’ll need to do some converting. The cost could be just a couple hundred dollars or it could be a few thousand. 

If you are converting to gas, then gas lines may need to be installed. Conservative estimates put the cost somewhere between $250 and $700. And if you are converting to all-electric, then gas lines may need to be capped off and new wiring put in. Installing electric lines costs around $350 per line. 

There could be an upfront cost, but you may find that the monthly savings after switching is worth it in the long run. Something else you’ll want to keep in mind is that gas appliances tend to last longer than electric appliances since they have few parts. If you plan to be in your home for years to come, appliance longevity matters.

No matter what type of appliances you have, you can count on Provider Power as your energy supplier. We have service areas across the northeast – use your zip code to find electricity plans in Massachusetts, Maine energy plans and New Hampshire power plans for homes and businesses.

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5 Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill in New Hampshire This Fall

This time of year in New Hampshire we’re starting to feel a reprieve from the warmer temperatures, but the winter cold isn’t right around the corner yet. It’s the perfect balance between the summer and winter seasons, which means it’s the ideal time for saving electricity. Let’s take a look at what New Hampshire residents can do in the fall to lower their electricity now and in the months ahead.  

Open the Windows to Let Fresh Air Flow Through

One of the simplest, easiest and most affordable ways to save electricity is to turn off the AC and open the windows up when it’s cool out early in the morning and later in the afternoon or evening. Not only will it help the house cool down naturally, it will also circulate in fresh air for improved air quality.

In New Hampshire during early fall the temperatures drop to 50-60 degrees at the coolest parts of the day. If you open things up strategically you might be able to completely forgo the AC and furnace during the whole season and significantly lower your electric bill.

Get the Furnace Serviced

Now is a great time to get your furnace serviced for the winter season since you may be tempted to turn on the heat at night when temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Professional servicing helps extend the life of the furnace and can improve energy efficiency. Beyond cleaning and replacing worn parts, you’ll want to check the insulation around the furnace ductwork. Adequate insulation will ensure heat isn’t lost in the unlivable cavities of the home.

Weatherize Over a Weekend

Energy efficiency experts recommend weatherizing a home once a year, and early fall is also the ideal time for this type of home maintenance. It helps to get your home prepared for the winter so you aren’t faced with easy-to-fix problems that make your home less comfortable, increase energy use and raise your electric bill.

Fortunately, weatherizing is fairly easy even for a novice DIYer. Here’s a quick checklist of what to do to weatherize your home:

  • Replace worn weather stripping around the exterior doors.
  • Install or replace worn weather stripping around the door to the garage and/or basement.
  • Caulk around the exterior doors and windows.
  • Caulk any gaps in the foundation and exterior seams of the home.
  • Add insulation to exterior pipes going into the home.
  • Inside the home add caulk to fill gaps around outlets and baseboards.

Take a look at our Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit Checklist for even more ways to weatherize and improve energy efficiency.

Limit Hot Water Use

When people are trying to conserve electricity to lower their energy bill, water use isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, the hot water heater is a pretty big energy consumer. And if you have an electric water heater every drop of hot water adds to the electricity bill.

  • Start by checking the temperature setting on your hot water heater. Set it to 120 degrees or lower. For every 10 degrees that it’s lowered energy use goes down by 5%.
  • Always turn on the cold water, not the hot water when using small amounts of water. If you use the hot water setting it will likely cause the water heater to start up, but the hot water won’t make it all the way out of the faucet by the time you’re done. It essentially starts up the hot water heater for nothing. 
  • Try to limit showers to no more than 10 minutes. Make the water use really count by washing your face, brushing your teeth, etc. while you’re in the shower.
  • Opt for showers rather than baths. A hot shower uses about a third of the water needed to fill a standard bathtub.

Look Into the Electric Assistance Program

New Hampshire has a number of energy assistance programs, one of which helps residents save on their electric bill. The Electric Assistance Program (EAP) is a state program that provides financial help for those who are having a hard time paying their electric bill. Eligibility for the program is based on income. Families and individuals that qualify can get a discount of up to 76% on their electric bill.

At Provider Power we’re proud to offer fixed-rate energy plans that make electric bills more predictable. You can lock in the kWh rate for 12 months or more so that you have more assurance and control over your energy costs. Check to see which New Hampshire energy plans are currently available in your area.

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Energy Savings Programs in New Hampshire

Most people already know that energy costs are going up in New Hampshire, particularly electric rates. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has already announced that they estimate residential customers served by the utility companies Liberty and Eversource will end up paying $70 more a month for electricity. Customers served by the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative will likely pay $40 more a month on average.

What you may not know is there are state energy savings programs that can help lower costs for many NH consumers. And with the huge increase in electricity rates, more New Hampshire residents may qualify for a program.

Energy Efficiency Incentive Programs

Saving energy is a great first step in lowering utility costs. There are lifestyle changes you can make to save energy and there are also changes you can make to your home. New Hampshire residents that make energy efficiency improvements can get assistance and special incentives to offset the costs of lowering consumption.

It’s an effort on the state’s part to reduce energy consumption and make energy costs more manageable for more people. Since 2003 the state has offered programs to encourage residents and businesses to invest in energy efficiency improvements that lower demand. One way they do that is through incentive and rebates that lower the cost of energy efficiency improvements. These programs are offered through the state government, public utilities and local organizations.

You don’t have to install a solar panel system to get energy efficiency rebates in New Hampshire – although there are state programs for that. There’s a wide range of energy efficiency programs in New Hampshire that help with improvements large and small.

If there’s only one resource that you use to search for energy efficiency programs in New Hampshire it should be NHSaves. NHSaves publishes an updated list of energy efficiency rebates that are offered in the state as well as programs from the utilities.

Natural Gas Efficiency Programs

In New Hampshire, natural gas that’s needed to heat homes is usually in more demand than the electricity needed to cool homes. So it makes sense that the state utilities have energy efficiency programs for making improvements to reduce gas use.

Energy Audit Programs

If you want to know which energy efficiency improvements need to be made you can conduct a home energy audit. Some programs in New Hampshire will help residents with reimbursements or discounts for home energy audits.

Weatherization Assistance Programs

You can get assistance covering the costs of weatherizing your home through a few programs. If you’re served by Unitil or Liberty utility companies you could get kickbacks for energy audits and weatherization in addition to purchasing energy efficient equipment for the home. Some community action agencies also offer incentives for weatherizing a home.

Electric Assistance Programs

You may not be the one who sets electricity prices, but if you’re a residential customer that needs help covering the cost of your electric bill the New Hampshire Electric Assistance Program (EAP) is a valuable resource. Those who qualify can get a discount of 8-76% on their electric bill. How big the discount is depends on household income and size. The Electric Assistance Program is a 12-month program so recipients will need to reapply each year.

Gas and Fuel Assistance Programs

In the winter time in New Hampshire, natural gas and other heating fuels can really escalate in price. Unfortunately, natural gas and other fuels are absolutely necessary for keeping a home safely livable. That’s why the state and utilities offer a few different programs specifically for heating-related costs.

Gas Assistance Program

Liberty Utilities and Unitil-Gas customers can get the delivery portion of their natural gas discounted by 60% if they qualify for the Gas Assistance Program. Qualifying for the Gas Assistance Program depends on whether you qualify for other state assistance programs such as the Fuel Assistance Program.

Fuel Assistance Program

If you heat your home with natural gas or another type of fuel you may still qualify for financial assistance to offset heating costs through the Fuel Assistance Program (FAP). FAP is part of the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). In addition to getting $158 to $1,575 off fuel costs, the program helps provide emergency fuel delivery and can delay a shut-off.

Qualifying for FAP is a little more involved than other programs. In addition to household size and gross income, eligibility depends on housing type, energy costs and how many heating degree days there are for your area. If you need to replace or repair a tank for storing heating oil you may be able to get help covering the cost through the SAFETANK Financial Assistance Program.

Community Action Agencies

If you need help figuring out if you’re eligible for any of these programs, then contact your local community action agency. There are six community action agencies in New Hampshire that provide assistance to low-income families in an effort to combat poverty and uplift low-income communities. The agencies have their own energy assistance initiatives that are aimed at helping reduce heating and electric costs for those in need. They can also help residents learn about federal and state financial assistance programs.

Provider Power can help customers determine if they qualify for energy saving assistance programs on top of signing up for competitively priced fixed rate energy plans. Check to see which Provider Power New Hampshire energy plans are available in your area.

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Choosing an Energy Supplier in New Hampshire

Choosing a New Hampshire energy supplier is a benefit of living in a deregulated energy market. But that also means if you want to find the best energy plan you’ve got to do a little legwork.

Savvy energy consumers know that comparison shopping is the best way to get a plan that fits your budget, needs and preferences. Consider this your cheat sheet with the specific steps for comparing New Hampshire energy suppliers.

Step 1 – Read Reviews for New Hampshire Retail Energy Suppliers

One of the best places to start when you’re choosing any kind of service provider is customer reviews. The reviews will give you the best idea of what it’s like to be an actual customer. When you’re looking at the reviews, start with the most recent ones. Those are going to be the most accurate depiction of how the company currently operates. It’s best to stick with REPs that have a rating of at least three stars or higher.

One thing to keep in mind is the number of reviews a retail energy supplier has. If a company has a 3.8 rating after 7 reviews it’s not quite as good as having a 3.8 rating with 42 reviews.

Step 2 – Find Out If There Are Consumer Complaints With the New Hampshire PUC

Next, it’s time to look into whether or not there are consumer complaints against local retail energy providers. Check to see what the complaint was about and how it was resolved. Every state will have departments that regulate and oversee retail energy suppliers. Part of their job is handling consumer complaints.

In New Hampshire the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) takes on that role. Energy consumers can file a complaint with the New Hampshire PUC by phone, email or mail.

The Better Business Bureau is another resource for consumers. You can find out if there are complaints against a company as well as other details like when the company was established.

Step 3 – Look Up Average Energy Rates in Your Area of New Hampshire

Knowing the average energy rates for your area is the only way of knowing which providers offer a fair, competitive rate. Energy rates vary from one market to the next, so even the state average may not be the norm for your area. For reference, the average electricity rate in New Hampshire in May 2022 was 22.41 cents per kilowatt-hour. You can check with EIA.gov for the latest state electricity and natural gas averages then drill down to your market.

There are a few things that influence New Hampshire energy rates:

  • The energy source
  • Type of rate (fixed or variable)
  • Incentives and programs that can lower the end cost

Step 4 – Visit the Websites of Local Retail Energy Suppliers

There are some websites that offer energy plan comparison tools. While these are a great way to figure out who provides energy in your market, it’s not the best way to choose a retail energy supplier. Those tools may not have the most up-to-date information or all of the plans that a supplier offers. They also don’t give you a feel for how the company operates.

Step 5 – Compare Energy Plans From at Least Three Suppliers

Once you’ve checked out the sites, it’s time to select your top three New Hampshire energy suppliers to compare them side-by-side. Who has the lowest energy rates? Who has the best customer service? Does a provider have special benefits or features?

Make a list of your needs and top wants. Now one by one see if a provider meets each criteria. In the end, you’ll want to have a clear idea of which provider checks the most boxes for your personal needs and wants.

Step 6 – Contact the Provider With the Best Energy Plan

After the comparison shopping is done you’ll know which energy plan is the best option for your situation. The final step is to contact the provider to verify all of the details and learn what you need to do next to get set up on an energy plan. They’ll be happy to help you through the process of signing up and getting your utilities set up.

At Provider Power we can make it easy for New Hampshire residents to sign up for a new energy plan or switch from their existing plan. Check out the current offers to compare our competitively priced fixed rate energy plans in New Hampshire.

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Who Sets Electricity Prices?

We all use electricity every day, and we pay an energy bill every month. But who is it that decides how much you pay for that electricity?

The answer to that question isn’t straightforward because it turns out there are a number of entities that influence electricity prices. By the time you’re given a retail electric rate, the electricity you purchased has already been bought a few times, and that impacts the price you pay at home. 

Let’s take a look at how electricity pricing is determined, starting with factors that can influence prices before electricity is generated.

Regulations Related to Energy Costs (State Government)

There’s one entity that plays a major role in the price of electricity long before it’s generated and delivered. The state government has a hand in electricity pricing no matter whether you’re in a deregulated or regulated energy market.

Each state has a public utilities commission (PUC) or department that’s in charge of overseeing the consumer energy market. One of their top priorities is keeping retail energy prices (what you pay) in check. Typically, PUCs will put a cap on transmission fees that utilities charge for delivering electricity. This helps to keep energy costs in check for consumers.

However, regulations vary by state. Some states have full regulation over wholesale and retail electricity prices. Other states don’t regulate generator fees or utilities at all.

The Cost of Energy Sources Used to Create Electricity (Fuel Providers)

Where your electricity comes from has a huge influence on the price. Electricity can be a natural phenomenon in the form of lightning, but it’s largely manmade. We’ve figured out how to generate electricity using a variety of fuel sources, and that’s where the costs begin. In order to create electricity one of the following is needed:

  • Natural Gas
  • Renewable Resources (hydropower, solar, wind, biomass, etc.)
  • Petroleum
  • Coal
  • Nuclear Power

So, fuel providers are the first to influence the actual price of electricity based on the rate that they charge electricity generators for their fuel. The fuel providers are setting their prices based on the cost of extraction as well as the current supply and demand for their fuel, which can be a global measure these days. Supply and demand is also heavily dependent on the weather.

The Cost of Generating Electricity – (Power Plants/Generators)

Fuels can’t produce energy on their own. They must go through a process to be converted to energy, and that requires expensive infrastructure. Power plants must be constructed, operated and maintained in order to generate electricity.

The cost of doing that is factored in with the price of the fuel source to determine the rate the electricity generator charges local utilities and retail energy providers. This is what’s known as the wholesale price of electricity.

The Cost of Getting Electricity to a Home or Business (Retail Energy Providers and Utilities)

Once the fuels are sourced and the electricity is generated there’s still more to do, which means there are more costs involved that increase the price of electricity. There are one or two primary players involved at this point: utilities and retail energy providers (REPs).

Regulated Energy Markets

In a regulated energy market there are no retail energy providers. Consumers have to simply go with the energy plans offered by the local utility that’s based on the rates they negotiate with electricity generation companies. That means the electricity prices that all consumers in the area pay is largely dependent on what the utility pays.

You’ll see another fee on your electric bill from the utility company. The utility company will charge a delivery fee or transmission fee. This is an additional fee that all consumers pay to cover the cost of maintaining power lines and distribution systems for delivering electricity.

Deregulated Energy Markets

In a deregulated energy market there are retail energy providers that work with consumers to establish electric service instead of the local utility. Each provider negotiates with electricity generators to get the best rate possible. The rates they pay are the basis for the rates they offer on consumer electricity plans. This model helps to increase competition and encourages REPs to secure the lowest rate possible.

Consumers in deregulated markets will also have to pay the utility delivery or transmission fee. That’s a set price that should be the same every bill no matter what electricity plan you choose.

Energy Plan Comparison Shopping (Consumers)

In a regulated market, consumers aren’t going to have much of an influence over electricity rates. They have to simply accept what the utility has to offer, but that isn’t the case in a deregulated market.

In deregulated markets, consumers are going to have an impact on the electricity price they pay because they have the ability to comparison shop. They have the power to pass up REPs that are charging high rates and look around for the best price per kWh. Ultimately, consumers in deregulated markets help determine retail energy prices based on what they are willing to pay. The more consumers comparison shop the lower rates will be because the REPs have to compete to attract customers.

As you can see, electricity prices are a moving target because there are so many variables and people involved. What one entity pays up the line will have an impact on the prices others pay further along in the distribution process.

It’s time to play a role in the electricity prices you pay in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine! Provider Power energy plans offer a fixed rate so you know what you’re paying every month. Use your zip code to start comparing energy plans!

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Save on your electric bill by making improvements to your home Insulation

When you are trying to reduce energy use it’s a good idea to increase insulation. Even if your home already has insulation, there could still be ways to add more or increase the efficiency. If you want to know which home insulation improvements you’re most likely to notice on your electric bill then keep reading. 

Audit Before You Insulate

As the Department of Energy suggests, it doesn’t hurt to start with a home energy audit. This will tell you where your insulation is adequate and where it can use improvement. The audit is great at helping you prioritize improvements, especially if you’re insulating on a budget

Check Out the Attic First

Did you know that the attic is where most heat loss occurs in a home? That’s why adequate attic insulation is an energy efficiency essential. If there’s no insulation then that’s a clear indication it’s needed. But even if you have attic insulation it still night not be enough.

A rule of thumb is that the insulation should be up to the top of the rafters. You could also go one step further by using spray foam insulation to fill in gaps and corners. The Department of Energy has a handy Home Energy Saver tool to help you figure out how much insulation you need.

Upping the R-Value

You may have insulation in your attic, but what is the R-value? R-value indicates how well insulation keeps the heat in or out. The higher the R-value is the more insulation it provides. 

R-value is partially based on the thickness of the insulation. What the insulation it’s made of and density also make a difference. R-value is per inch. So if you’re aiming for an R-value of 50 using insulation with an R-value of 5 you need 10 inches of insulation. But if the R-value of the insulation is 10 per inch you’d only need 5 inches of insulation. 

Placing Insulation Over the Attic Door

The square opening to the attic isn’t that big, but it can allow a lot of cold and hot air to seep inside a home. When you add insulation in the attic make sure to affix insulation to the door as well. 

Add Insulation Around Pipes

Heating up water drives up electric bills, especially in the winter. You don’t have to settle for increased energy use when it’s cold out. Insulating the pipes helps decrease the workload since the water inside is up to 4 degrees warmer. Focus efforts on insulating pipes in the basement, garage and exterior of the home. 

Insulate Around Long Ducts

When the air leaves your furnace it’s nice and warm. As it travels through the ductwork it can become cooler providing less heat once it reaches the living spaces. One easy fix is to add insulation around long ducts. These long stretches are where the most heat is lost. First patch up any air leaks in the ducts before adding the insulation. 

Insulate in Crawl Spaces

If your home is built in a pier and beam system you may have noticed that the floors are cold even when the heater is on. It’s often an energy efficiency problem in older homes. Cold air underneath the home can make the house feel cooler inside. But if you have access to the crawl space you can add insulation to make it feel warmer. 

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking you just need to focus on the underside of the floors. Use rigid foam board around the walls of the foundation to keep the cold out. 

Go the Extra Mile With Insulated Electrical Plates

If you’ve already insulated the attic and are looking for other ways to up the insulation factor take inventory of the electrical plates on the walls. There are insulated outlet plates and switch plates that seal up the tiny cracks in the walls that let cold and hot air from outside seep inside. It might not seem like much, but each insulated plate adds up. All you have to do is switch out the old plates with insulated plates and add a little spray foam to eliminate heat loss.

Make your energy payments more predictable with a fixed rate electricity plan from Provider Power. With a fixed rate plan it’s easy to know when home improvements have a positive impact on your bill. See which plans are currently available in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. 

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How Much Does it Cost to Charge an EV at Home?

Auto industry experts at BloombergNEF estimate that by the year 2040 around 70% of new cars will be electric vehicles (EVs). It’s a change that isn’t just transforming the way we drive. It’s also changing energy demands at home. 

Today the question isn’t whether electric vehicles are the future. The question is, how are we going to power all those electric vehicles? 

If you’re in the market for an EV one of the first things that probably crossed your mind was how much it would cost to charge the car at home. Sure, you won’t be spending money at the gas pump, but what’s going to happen to your electric bill?

Let’s take a look at what affects the cost of charging an EV at home and how to estimate what you’ll end up paying to power your electric vehicle. 

The Biggest Factor – Your Price Per kWh Rate

The single biggest factor for how much it will cost to charge an EV at home is right there on your electric bill. The kWh rate is going to be the determining factor in how much you ultimately pay to charge up your battery. 

Something to factor in here is whether or not the rate fluctuates. Time-of-use plans base the kWh rate on the time of day. With this type of electricity plan you could strategically plan when the EV is charged to minimize the cost. Of course, that also means if you need to charge up during the peak demand hours you’ll end up paying a premium price to fill up your battery. 

How Much You Drive

The next biggest factor is how much you drive. It’s the same exact concept as a gas-powered vehicle. The more you drive, the more you’re going to have to fill up. In the case of an EV, you’re filling up the battery with electricity.

Size and Efficiency of the EV’s Battery

Last but not least is the size of the electric vehicle’s battery. In other words, how many kilowatt-hours is a full battery. This is also related to the number of miles you get when the battery is fully charged. These details determine how much electricity an electric vehicle uses

Few drivers are aware of how wide a range there is in EV battery size. The battery can be as small as the Smart EQ Fortwo’s 17.6 kWh power supply or as big as the new Hummer EV’s 200 kWh battery.

Calculating the Cost to Fill an EV Battery

Let’s say you plan to purchase a Tesla Model 3. It has a 75 kWh battery with a range of 310 miles. You drive approximately 1,200 miles a month. That means you need 3.87 full battery charges, which works out to be 290.32 kWh. Your current rate is 12 cents per kWh.

1,200 miles / 310 mile range = 3.87 full charges

75 kWh battery capacity x 3.87 full charges = 290.32 kWh of power

290.32 kWh x 12 cents per kWh = $34.84 electricity/mo

You’ll definitely notice a difference in your electric bill, but you’ll also see a difference in your monthly budget since the gas bill will be gone. For instance, if you bought the Tesla to replace a 2015 Camry with a combined 30 miles per gallon you’d need 40 gallons a month to go 1,200 miles. If gas is $3.19 a gallon you’ll pay $127.60 at the gas pump. 

You’ll pay for the increase in electricity use, but it’s a lot less than what’s paid in gas every month. Another thing to consider is that electricity prices have remained more stable over the years than gasoline. 

No matter what time of day you charge your EV you can count on Provider Power to provide a reliable supply of electricity across the North East. Our plans are made for the energy needs of modern families today, tomorrow and well into the future. See what Provider Power energy plans are available in your area. 

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Smart Device Use in the United States

What smart devices do we use the most in America? How prevalent are smart phones in our daily lives? Let’s find out more about smart devices in the U.S!

United States of Smart Devices: 

The Pew Research Center has been carefully tracking device use in the U.S. for years. We’ve always loved our electronics and innovative technology, so it isn’t surprising to find that Americans are often early adopters that go all-in with device use.

In the Internet of Things (IoT) era, smart devices have quickly gained traction to become an important part of everyday life. And we’re not just talking smart phones. That device has been the catalyst for a wide range of other smart devices that are able to connect and operate using your phone. 

All of these devices use a fair amount of energy. They use so much electricity for charging that the Energy Information Administration (EIA) added small electronic devices as a specific item in the Other Uses category on the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

All of these devices add to your electricity bill, which made us wonder how many people in the U.S. have smart devices. And what is the state of smart device use in the United States today? Let’s find out!

What Types of Smart Devices Are We Using?

Which smart device is an American most likely to own? It’s safe to say we have somewhat of an obsession with our smart phones, but there are a lot of other smart devices that peak our interest. 

Smart Phones 

This is clearly the largest segment of smart devices. Although nearly all Americans have had a cell phone for some time, in 2011 only 35% of people had a smart phone. In the Pew Research Center’s latest survey they found 85% of Americans had a smart phone at the start of 2021. Just two years ago, 81% of people had a smart phone. 

Given that 97% of people own cell phones, clearly there is still room for growth that will likely happen. 

Smart Home Devices

There’s a broad range of smart home devices, because people are buying them. A recent survey by ValuePenguin discovered that 65% of Americans now have at least one smart home device. 

But that number will likely grow substantially in the next few years. Between 2018 and 2026 the smart home device market is expected to grow by an astounding 25.3%. By 2025 smart home devices will be a $135.3 billion dollar industry. 

Fastest Growing Sectors of Smart Devices in the U.S.

The devices above have become common, but in a market that’s growing rapidly there are sure to be more game changing smart devices around the corner. Here’s a look at a few smart devices that you’ll see in more homes moving forward. 

Smart Locks

Home security has always been a top priority for homeowners in America. It was only a matter of time before smart locks became common, and it seems that time has arrived. Industry experts estimate that the smart lock market will grow by 12% in the U.S. between now and 2026.

The experts cite several reasons for the growing adoption of smart locks. First and foremost is growing concern over home safety. However, the rise of home automation, IoT and general awareness about the products is also increasing the number of smart locks that are installed. 

Smart Devices for Energy Management

There is increasing consumer demand for smart devices that allow for energy management. Already we are seeing an uptick in smart HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) devices and automated heater controls. Many new builds include these types of features to attract buyers. But based on consumer interest, we may soon see smart devices for whole home energy management beyond the HVAC system and refrigeration. 

Smart Plugs

One of the smartest new devices is actually used to power up your smart devices. The use of smart plugs is expected to grow right alongside the smart devices that plug into them. It only makes sense given that control is a top concern for consumers, and a smart plug lets you turn the power supply on or off from anywhere. 

As Internet access is expanded and more people begin using smart phones, we can expect to see smart device use increase in the U.S. It’s something that the energy sector is watching closely since it will surely have an impact on energy consumption in the U.S. moving forward. 

Want a reliable energy plan to power all of your smart devices? Provider Power offers fixed rate energy plans that make rates more reliable no matter how many smart devices you own. Check to see if Provider Power plans are available in your area!

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5 Energy Saving Tips for Fighting the Effects of Cold Weather

The latest Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) revealed that heating our homes is one of the largest portions of an electric bill. Space heating accounts for 15% of total residential energy use

When it’s cold outside the HVAC system has to work harder to keep a home at a constant temperature. That means energy use is going to increase even if you don’t bump the thermostat up a few degrees. But that doesn’t mean your energy bill has to increase. There are steps you can take to combat the cold weather without increasing energy use.  

Cold Weather Combat Strategy #1 – Layer Up

If it feels a little chilly inside the first thing you should do is put on an extra layer of clothes or grab a blanket. Even though we’re warm blooded creatures, people can acclimate somewhat to the cold. Multiple studies by the U.S. Army have definitively shown that if we’re exposed to the cold on a regular basis we’ll get used to it. 

So throwing on a coat or blanket when you get chilly is a great solution for warming up quickly while still getting exposure to the cold to help you adjust without the extra layers.

Cold Weather Combat Strategy #2 –  Adjust the Temperature Down Before Bed

Now that you’re bundled up, dropping the temperature on the thermostat by at least a few degrees shouldn’t be too painful. Actually, adjusting the temperature down before bed could help you sleep better. 

Researchers have found that the ideal sleeping temperature is 60-67 degrees. At this temperature REM sleep is more stable. 

The Department of Energy has estimated that for each degree that the temperature is lowered you’ll use 3% less energy. So if you like the winter thermostat settings to be 74 degrees when you’re awake, but can lower the temperature to 64 when you’re sleeping, then you’ll use 30% less energy during those hours. You can use this same strategy when there’s no one at home to reduce energy use even more. 

Cold Weather Combat Strategy #3 – Use Ventilation to Your Advantage

Energy efficiency is impacted by the ventilation and airflow in your home. You could spend energy heating a guest bedroom that has no one in it, or you could close off the vents and there’s a little less space the HVAC system has to heat. And if you have crawl spaces under the house, close off the foundation vents to keep the cold from seeping up through the floors.

Cold Weather Combat Strategy #4 – Minimize the Use of an Energy Efficient Electric Heater

The goal is to reduce energy use, so using an additional device is somewhat counterintuitive. However, in some cases using an energy efficient electric heater can be beneficial if it means the thermostat doesn’t get turned up. They can also be useful in garages and additions that aren’t tied into the HVAC system.

Even though it costs less than a quarter an hour to run, the electricity use adds up.  Space heaters can also be a serious safety hazard if not used correctly. It’s best to minimize use as much as possible, and never leave a space heater on when you’re not in the room. 

Cold Weather Combat Strategy #5 – Monitor Your Energy Use

It’s a good idea to monitor your home energy use throughout the year to help control the costs. Regular monitoring will tell you if energy consumption is going up and can even help you identify ways to save. One of the biggest advantages of monitoring energy use is you’ll spot a problem quickly before it costs you a lot of money. You can also figure out more ways to reduce energy use when you look at what is using energy in the home. 

Combat the cold weather energy increases with a fixed rate plan from Provider Power. We make your utility bills more predictable by offering a locked in rate for 12+ months. See if Provider Power energy plans are available in your area.

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