Look How You Can Reduce Your Electric Bill During This Pandemic

Staying home almost every hour of the day has been a dramatic lifestyle change for most Americans. Now that we’ve been social distancing for more than a month some people are noticing a change in their utility bills as well.

Being at home more inevitably means more energy will be used than normal. How much more is used is the question. There are a number of things you can do to reduce use and possibly even lower your electricity bill during the current pandemic. Here’s how.

Time Your Energy Use Right

More and more electricity providers are offering a time-of-use plan that set different rates for different hours of the day. The goal is to get people to use energy less during peak hours by making the off-peak hours cheaper.

Most time of use plans is broken into 3-4 time blocks. The lowest rates are generally after midnight until 6 am. The most expensive hours are from around 3 pm to 7 pm. The more you can minimize energy use during the middle of the day the lower your electricity bill will be. 

Smart devices and appliances can help you time things right. Whenever possible set schedules for electronics like the dishwasher to turn on. A programmable thermostat can also help you reduce the amount of electricity needed to keep your house comfortable.

Another thing you can do to time energy use for maximum efficiency is to avoid using the stove, burners, and toaster oven during the middle of the day when it’s the hottest. These appliances will make it feel hotter inside and tempt you to lower the AC. 

Shift Your Sleep/Wake Schedule

Working from home comes with a few benefits. For one, you’ve got more control over your daily schedule. You have the flexibility to shift your sleep schedule so that you’re awake an extra hour or so when it’s sunny outside. 

Of course, if you’re on a time of use plan staying awake an hour later in the evening might actually be more cost-effective because rates typically drop after 9 pm. It all depends on your energy use habits and the variable rates. After crunching the numbers you should be able to find a schedule that minimizes electricity costs. 

Go Out in Your Yard or Patio More

Needless to say, getting outdoors will lighten the energy load. If you have a yard or patio that allows you to keep at least 6’ from others try to get outside for an hour or two every day. 

While you’re outside considering breaking out the grill. It’s the most energy-efficient cooking apparatus that requires zero electricity. 

Those who live in an area where trails have opened back up can venture a little further for more energy-free fun and exercise. Just remember to bring a mask, practice social distancing and try not to touch things along the path. 

Light Up the Night With Solar Power

You can extend the outdoor entertainment and lower your energy bill even more by using solar lights around the deck or patio. A set of 4+ solar lights should provide enough illumination to use the outdoor space after the sun goes down. 

Shorten Your Showers

Let’s be honest. Sitting indoors all day hardly works up a sweat. Shortening your showers even by just a few minutes noticeably reduces water and electricity use. Cut your shower down from 15 to 10 minutes and you could save up to 25 gallons of heated water if you have a non-conserving showerhead.

Clean Your Vents and Air Filters

Free-flowing air feels better now and when you open your electricity bill. Long before the Covid-19 pandemic regularly cleaning air filters was considered best practice. Keeping vents exposed and clean is another step that helps the AC work as efficiently as possible. 

The Department of Energy estimates that changing or cleaning air filters once a month can lower electricity use by as much as 15%

Bonus Benefit: cleaning vents and filters improves air quality. This is particularly important if your access to the outdoors is limited. 

Switch Suppliers

Residents of deregulated energy markets have one more way to lower their electricity bills during the pandemic – switch suppliers.

Electricity rates vary from one provider to the next, and the price of energy fluctuates all of the time. You may discover that another supplier is offering a rate that’s more cost-effective than what you pay now. It never hurts to compare your options when you have extra downtime. 

When you look for providers online pay attention to customer reviews. Like any other service, you’ll want to know that the supplier handles problems and concerns in a prompt, professional manner. Having reliable electricity is extremely important, which is why you want a supplier you can trust.

Before you switch suppliers to look over your current contract if you have one. There may be an early termination fee. 

If you live in Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire Provider Power is an electricity company near you! We’re a competitive electricity supply company that delivers unique electric plans and exceptional customer service. Provider Power is here for you – call or go online to make a supplier switch in minutes.

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Social Distancing Tips From Provider Power

Up until a few weeks ago, the term social distancing wasn’t a part of everyday conversation. It was a concept that few people had the first-hand experience with, but now it’s a reality for millions in the USA and around the world. In the wake of the COVID19 pandemic, people are following a stay at home mandates and self-quarantine initiatives in an effort to stop the spread. 

The tips below can help you take social distancing measures without feeling the effects of isolation. 

Replace Social Visits With Video Chatting

If you’re one of the thousands of people who got an Echo for the holidays you may want to send the gift-giver a thank you card. When people were told to stay at home for over two weeks, platforms like Facetime and Echo became a social lifeline that provides face-to-face discussions that are one step away from in-person interactions.

And people aren’t just video chatting one-on-one. Some people are arranging video chat happy hours and dinners with a group of family and friends. You have to make dinner and drinks yourself, but it’s better than feeling like a social outcast. 

Want to organize a virtual movie night? Then check out the Netflix Party Chrome extension. Discord is another option that can allow a group of users to share the screen of one person who’s streaming a movie. 

Zoom use has skyrocketed in recent weeks primarily among professionals and students. The app is designed for work functions and has had high-profile plugs from entertainers like Howard Stern that are producing shows remotely. The video conferencing platform also has special features like filters and backgrounds that take video chatting up a level.

Take a Walk, But Keep Your Distance

It’s kind of amazing how little Americans walk these days. A few years ago researchers like Tom Vanderbilt pointed out that Americans walk less than any other industrialized nation. Part of the reason we stopped walking is the technology that limits the need to travel on foot. Health experts are concerned that quarantining at home isn’t going to help the problem.

If you aren’t at high risk for severe COVID19 illness and keep a safe distance from others (6+ feet), taking a walk won’t break the social distancing rules. Most state parks and trails are closed, but even a quick walk around your neighborhood can be beneficial. The fresh air is good for your pulmonary health and mental state. And walking is actually a great form of exercise that just about anyone can do for free. 

Take a Virtual Class

Catching up on the streaming shows you’ve fallen behind on isn’t the only way to be productive during the self-quarantine period. As many school children can tell you, remote learning is the new norm. 

There are virtual classes for virtually every interest, hobby, and profession. You can take an online driver’s education, join a yoga group or learn how to cook a new dish. At the end of the quarantine, you can at least say you learned something new.   

A few more of our top social distancing tips include:

  • Meditate for five minutes a day – that’s long enough to realize the mind-calming benefits and ease anxiety.
  • Order an adult coloring book online to tap into your creative side.
  • Read up on how to teleconference with your medical team. It’s a good idea any time you may be contagious.
  • Watch a familiar show or movie if you’re home alone. The familiar voices can be soothing even if they come from the TV.
  • Going for a bike ride is another way to get exercise without coming into contact with others.

Provider Power is dedicated to serving our customers during the COVID19 outbreak. We have taken measures to enable our customer service agents to work remotely so that they can stay safe while providing the exemplary assistance you’ve come to expect.

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Spring Cleaning Tips to Help Reduce Energy Consumption

Spring is the time when people are motivated to get their house in order. Closets are cleared, couches are vacuumed under and everything is given a good scrub down. It takes a lot of manpower, but your spring cleaning session could also require a lot of energy. 

Before you decide to just live with the clutter in an effort to conserve energy, consider making a few adjustments while you clean to reduce consumption. Here’s how!

Make Your Own Healthy Surface Cleaner

Have you ever thought about how much energy goes into each item we buy? The product itself has to be made along with the packaging then it’s shipped to a store or your door. Once you’ve used the product the container is thrown out and the process starts again. 

There’s a lot of waste involved and tons of energy that we consume indirectly. And when you’re shopping for cleaners there’s also the concern of how many toxins are used that can pollute the environment and become a potential hazard for people. 

Luckily, Mother Nature produces some pretty good natural cleaners that aren’t harsh and can be bought in bulk. Some natural items you can use during a spring cleaning session include:

  • Lemon
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Ammonia

There’s a good chance that if you check around the kitchen you’ll find that you already have a few of the items handy and don’t need to buy additional cleaners. Every product you don’t purchase is the energy saved!

Open the Windows While You Clean

In the spring there’s this brief period when you can turn the HVAC system off and open the windows. Not only does it save a ton of energy, it can improve air quality. 

Many people are surprised to find the air in their home isn’t as healthy as they thought. When homes are shut up for months with heaters running the air inside can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoors. Opening the windows is like airing out the house. In the dead of summer when the air conditioner is whirring away you’ll be glad you did. 

Clean Out Your Air Filters

When the air conditioner does finally kick on, a clean air filter can maximize energy efficiency. Cleanable air filters are more economical and it reduces waste as well as consumption. 

The one downside is reusable air filters can remove allergens, dust, and pollen from the air, but they don’t improve the air quality as well as standard disposable filters. If air quality is more important than using the greenest option you may need to stick to regular air filters and change them every two months.

Clean the Blades and Change the Ceiling Fan Direction

It’s hard to purify the air in your home if there’s dust-caked all over the fan blades. Cleaning the fan is a task that usually only takes place during spring cleaning so make it really count. 

While you are giving the ceiling fans some attention, make sure the blades are spinning in the right direction. During the spring and summer, the blades should turn counter-clockwise to pull air up so that it circulates and creates a chill effect. Using fans around the house can lower your energy bill by as much as 10%.

TIP: Always clean the blades before changing the direction. That way dust won’t dislodge and float around once the fan is turned on.

Dust Your Electronics

How many electronic devices are in your home? Most families have a dozen or more around the house. Altogether, electronics account for 4% of your energy bill. 

Make sure electronics run as efficiently as possible by dusting them regularly. Dust buildup can actually cause poor connections, which affects how well electronics operate. It can also cause electronics to overheat. Overheating can reduce the lifespan of your electronics and make them work harder when they’re being used. 

Clean Around the Fridge

A clean refrigerator is an efficient refrigerator. By some estimates, the refrigerator is the second biggest energy drain in a house after the HVAC system. New standards have resulted in ENERGY STAR refrigerator models that use up to 40% less energy than fridges from 2001, but that’s when they are new.

But to realize those energy savings you have to maintain the refrigerator. At least a few times a year you’ll want to clean around the condenser coils and the vents so air circulates freely. The seals around the door can also be cleaned to ensure the fridge closes air-tight.

Now it’s time to clean up with an energy plan from Provider Power. Residents in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts can count on us for reliable energy during the most intense spring cleaning sessions. Use your zip code to find available energy plans!

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Checklist for Moving to New England

Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts – those six states make up what’s known as New England. That’s your first tip for moving to the area. Many people mistakenly think that New England includes the entire northeastern part of the U.S., but locals will quickly correct them. 

One caveat about moving to New England is seasonality. If you plan to move during the winter you’ll have to account for potentially harsh weather conditions that make things a little more difficult. And fall can actually be very busy with people who are leaf-peeping. The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is one of the most popular leaf-peeping spots in the country. 

Moving is never an easy-going process, but being prepared does make it easier. The checklist below will help you make a move to New England no matter what time of year you plan to relocate. 

Packing

Packing is by far the most tedious moving task that people don’t look forward to doing. The trick is to get started early so that you can take it little by little in an organized manner. The more organized you are during the packing process the quicker it will be to unpack. 

Supplies

  • Boxes (boxes and more boxes)
  • Specialty boxes for electronics
  • Packing tape
  • Sharpie marker (for labeling)
  • Newspapers or packing paper
  • Bubble wrap

Travel Bag

  • Few sweaters (it’s usually sweater weather in New England)
  • Snow boots (if you’re moving in the winter)
  • Medications and prescriptions
  • IDs
  • Layers of clothing (dressing in layers is a good idea most of the year)
  • Phone chargers       
  • Personal devices

First Night Box

  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Shower curtain with hangers
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper plates
  • Toiletries 
  • Flashlight 
  • Trash bags
  • Basic toolset
  • Sheets and pillowcases
  • Blankets

Loading and Unloading

  • Know whether there are any special circumstances like a steep driveway (which is somewhat common in New England) that will affect where the moving truck can be parked.
  • Have a snow shovel on hand – if it’s winter you’ll need one to clear entryways to the house.
  • A moving dolly is a much safer way to move heavy and bulky items whether or not walkways are iced over.

Transport

How will you get all of your things to New England? Whether you make a DIY move or hire professional movers below are a few things that need to be done.

Moving Truck

  • Estimate the space needed. There are calculators online that can give you an estimate based on the number of boxes or rooms in your home.
  • Make sure the mover you hire is registered with the Department of Transportation and has a U.S. DOT number for moving across state lines. The DOT search tool can be used to verify the information.
  • Schedule the moving truck to arrive the day you plan to leave and get to the destination the day of or the day after you arrive. Do this about a month in advance if you’re moving during the busy summer season.

Personal Vehicles 

  • Get snow/winter tires if moving during the winter months.
  • Do a safety inspection to check the fluids, hoses, tires and more.
  • Load up jewelry, computers, documents and other sensitive items in your own vehicle that you’re driving.
  • Know the vehicle registration laws. You should have a grace period, but vehicle registration needs to be arranged within 2-4 weeks of moving.

Traveling

  • Chart a course. One thing to be aware of with a tall moving truck is that overpasses can be just 9’ tall in some areas. 
  • Line up hotels in advance if you have any special needs, like needing pet-friendly accommodations.
  • Get a lay of the land. Some New England cities, like Boston, have a somewhat baffling street layout. 

Residential Setup

With so much going on for the move it’s easy to forget that things need to be set up at your new home. You don’t have to get everything arranged in advance, but you will want to handle the to-dos below.

Utilities 

  • If your new home is in a deregulated energy market you can choose the energy plan you want. To get the best plan you’ll need to compare rates and features. It’s also important to verify that the provider is licensed to operate in the state. 
  • Water services are typically available through the local government. Check the city website for details on how to initiate service.

Trash Collection

  • Trash collection is another service that’s usually set up through the local government.
  • Recycling may be handled by a third-party provider that’s independent of the city. 

Mail 

  • The easiest way to change your mailing address is online at USPS.com/move.
  • Schedule mailing address changes to take effect a day or two before your move so that mail doesn’t end up being delivered to your old address. 
  • To make sure you know where your mail is by signing up for the USPS Informed Delivery service. The USPS will send email updates about what mail is scheduled to be delivered each day.

Pets 

  • Get documents and records from your current veterinarian. 
  • Give your pets extra love and attention. Moving can be stressful for animals.
  • Line up pet-friendly hotels if moving by vehicle will take more than one day.

Congrats! You’re ready to move to New England. Now grab yourself a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and get ready for all the unpacking. 

Need to set up electricity in New Hampshire, Massachusetts or Maine? Provider Power is a New England-owned leading supplier of electricity.  It’s Power with a Purpose!

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How to Surge Protect Your Home

When the electrical current quickly spikes in your home it’s known as a power surge. A power surge isn’t just an inconvenience that can knock out the power. It can damage devices, electronics, and appliances that are plugged in by overloading them and shorting out the circuitry. They can also cause degradation over time if it happens repeatedly. More concerning is power surges have been known to cause house fires.

What can you do to protect your home from power surges? You may not be able to stop them from happening but you can prevent damage by taking a few precautions. 

Why Power Surges Happen

First, let’s talk a little bit about why power surges happen. Knowing how and why they happen can help you figure out what will be the best preventative measures.

The main reason power surges happen is that the voltage delivered to your home isn’t constant. Most home electrical systems use a 120-volt alternating current. The keyword there is alternating. Rather than constantly being 120-volt, the voltage ebbs and flows in a rhythm. The voltage ranges from 0 to 169. 

When a power surge happens the voltage spikes well above 169 volts for just a fraction of a second.

Power surges usually occur for one of three reasons: 

  • The local utility is power grid switching
  • The motor of a major appliance like the AC system switches on
  • Tripped circuit breaker
  • Short circuits in the wiring
  • Downed power lines
  • Lightning strikes nearby

Lightning is the common culprit of powerful power surges. When lightning strikes near a power line the electrical power travels into the home through connecting lines outside, like the ones used for cable or telephone service. 

Ways to Prevent Power Surge Damage

There are a number of things you can do to prevent a power surge from causing serious damage. Experts agree that taking a multi-prong approach is the best course of action. Using a combination of surge protection outlets, surge protection devices and whole house surge protectors will give you the best coverage.

Surge Protection Outlets

Specialty surge protection outlets help reduce to flow of electricity when it spikes. You don’t have to change out every outlet in your home. Start by replacing the outlets that are constantly in use, such as the outlet that the refrigerator is plugged into. 

Surge Protection Devices (SPDs)

You can also use surge protection devices to protect specific devices and appliances. SPDs don’t stop a surge. They absorb the energy and divert the power to grounding wires. Many surge protection devices look and operate like a power strip.

Another option is a surge station. It’s like an SPD but also includes the ability to connect phone lines and coaxial cables.

The third type of SPD, and the most expensive, is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). It prevents damage from power surges and also has a backup battery in case the power goes out.

A general rule of thumb is that the higher the Joule rating is the more protection the SPD will offer. A rating of 600 Joules or higher is the recommendation, especially if more than one device is plugged into the SPD.

Whole House Surge Protectors

Surge protection outlets and SPDs are good to have but they offer limited protection. A whole-house surge protector will provide the most comprehensive protection for the entire electrical system. There are two main types of whole house surge protectors: service entrance surge protectors and electrical panel surge protectors.

Service Entrance Surge Protector 

This type of surge protector is added to the base of your electric meter or the primary electric panel. When a power surge happens from outside of the home (lightning or utility power fluctuation) it lowers the intensity. It protects parts of the electrical system that don’t plug into an outlet such as hardwiring, light switches and motors. 

There are two types of service entrance surge protectors: secondary surge arresters and transient volt surge suppressors (TVSSs).

Electrical Panel Surge Protector

Another option is using an electrical panel surge protector. This type of voltage suppressor is hardwired into the panel. You’ll need a licensed electrician to install the electrical panel surge protector, but it usually takes two hours or less to get the job done. Look for an electrical panel surge protector that’s rated to suppress at least a 40,000 amp surge or higher.

Rewiring and Circuit Breaker Replacement

If power surges are caused by wiring or circuit breaker issues it’s time to call a licensed electrician. You may need to rewire the whole house or portions of the electrical system. Replacing the circuit breaker may also be recommended.

Unfortunately, nothing can completely protect your house from an extremely powerful lightning power surge, although suppressors can absorb and divert around 85% of the voltage That’s why it’s best to unplug appliances and devices during a storm. 

Provider Power can’t protect you from an unexpected power surge, but we can help protect you from rate fluctuations with our fixed electricity plans in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Check to see what plans are available in your area!

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10 Holiday Light Safety Tips

The holiday season is easily the most festive time of year. One of the most time-honored traditions is bedazzling homes in decorative lights. A Rasmussen Report survey a few years ago revealed a whopping 71% of Americans decorate their homes.

It turns out decking the halls is good for your emotional health. Psychoanalysts say that people who decorate early are happier, largely because the decorations remind them of happy memories from childhood.

Unfortunately, those fond memories can take a turn for the worst really quick. As beautiful as brightly lit holiday displays are, they can also pose risks. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) notes that approximately 5,800 people a year visit the ER because of a fall while putting up holiday decorations. Thousands more are injured by extension cords. And hundreds of house fires are caused by Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.

The last thing you want is to end up in the ER rather than basking in the magical glow of your light display. Make sure you spread holiday cheer rather than hazards with these safety tips.

Never Overload an Outlet

The #1 rule (even when it isn’t the holidays) is to never overload an outlet. If you are using numerous outlets and power strips it’s a sign that your power needs exceed your outlets. Additionally, don’t overload an extension cord by plugging it into a power strip.

Use Lights and Extension Cords Rated for the Intended Use

Extension cords can be dangerous when they aren’t used properly. One thing to watch out for is the rating. Extension cords can be indoor or outdoor and should meet the power needs of what you’re pulling it into. Only use outdoor extension cords for decorations on the exterior of your house.

Don’t Plug Extension Cords Together

It may seem like common practice, but plugging extensions together isn’t recommended because it’s a serious fire hazard.

Never Use Damaged Lights or Extension Cords

A broken bulb can be replaced, but when a string of lights or extension cord is damaged it could injure a person or cause a fire. Always check lights and cords for damage before plugging them in:

  • Make sure the socket isn’t cracked or broken.
  • Inspect all wires for fraying.
  • Look out for visible wires.
  • Ensure the connections aren’t loose.

Watch Out for Snow and Standing Water

Letting extension cords and light strands sit in the water or snow is a major no-no. Moisture and electricity never go together, even when lights are rated for outdoor use.

Keep Display Features Away From Heat Sources

The outdoor fireplace or fire pit creates a cozy winter setting, but it can also be hazardous. The same goes for fireplaces and heaters inside. All decorations, including lights, must be at least three feet away from heat sources.

Never Nail or Staple Cords

Nailing and stapling cords could puncture the outer insulation and expose wires. This type of damage can cause someone to be shocked or create a fire. When you need to keep cords out of the way use insulated holders that are designed for that express purpose.

Never Try to Remove the Ground Pin

Some plugs have a third prong at the bottom called a ground pin. The ground pin should never be removed. Doing so could cause an electric shock. Additionally, never try to plug a cord with a three-pronged socket into an outlet with two slots.

Be Careful Where You Place Cords

Cords need to be clear of pathways to prevent trips and should always be exposed. Putting cords under rugs, furniture and curtains could cause them to overheat.

Turn Decorations Off When You Leave or Go to Sleep

Turning lighted decorations off when you aren’t at home or are asleep is more energy-efficient and safer. The easiest option is to use a timer that can be set to turn the lights on and off based on your daily schedule.

Provider Power is making the holidays a little happier in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts with competitively priced electric plans. Check out the latest plans online to make the switch before Christmas!

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Best Thermostat Setting Ideas for Fall and Winter Weather

It’s the time of year when we switch from cooling down with the AC to warming up with the heater. You go to the programmable thermostat and tap the “heat” button. If that’s where the process ends you’re missing a golden opportunity to save energy. You’ve heard programmable thermostats can save a bundle on heating costs, but it’s not clear how the saving happens.  

Here are seven ideas on how to use your thermostat this fall and winter to save energy and stay comfortable.

Get Comfortable With Your Programmable Thermostat Settings

Can you believe a study from Carrier found only 47% of homes had their thermostat in program mode? The majority were actually in “hold” mode. In that setting, your programmable thermostat is essentially a manual one. 

Programmable thermostats can be confusing devices. Don’t worry, even thermostat experts like Therese Peffer from the California Institute for Energy and Environment at the University of California Berkeley says she gets confused by some thermostats. Before you set up a fall and winter heating schedule, take a few minutes to learn the terminology for the options and what you can program. Many thermostats allow you to create a unique schedule for an individual day, the weekend and certain times of the day. There’s also the infamous hold and vacation modes. If your manual isn’t handy look it up online using the thermostat’s model number.

Keep the Thermostat Around 55-60° F When No One is Home

The lower you can keep the heat during the day, the more you will save. The magic number is 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit when the house is empty. At this temperature, your home is closer to the outside temperature and the heating system won’t have to work so hard. During the fall on nice, temperate days it may actually warm up more than that inside without the use of the heater.

*If you have pets, keep the temperature around 64 degrees. 

Keep the Thermostat Around 55-60° F When You’re In Bed

When you’re snuggled up in bed under a warm comforter you’re less likely to notice if the thermostat is set a few degrees cooler. The recommendation is to set the thermostat to 60 degrees or a little lower at night when you’re asleep. Lowering the temperature slightly actually helps you sleep better because your body temperature drops when you’re asleep. 

Set the Temperature Back at Least 8 Hours

The Department of Energy knows a lot about proper thermostat settings. Their research has found you can save up to 1% on annual heating costs for every degree you lower the temperature – if the temperature is set lower for at least eight hours.

Schedule the Thermostat to Increase the Temp 30 Minutes Before You Get Home or Wake Up

It doesn’t take long to warm up a home, even if you dropped the temperature to 58 degrees or lower while you’re away. To avoid getting frostbite the moment you get home without wasting energy, schedule the thermostat to bump the heat up 30 minutes before you arrive. 

Only Bump the Temperature Up to 68 Degrees When You’re Home

If you crank the heat up to 80 degrees when you get home, it could cancel out the energy savings of scheduling the thermostat to turn the temperature down while you’re away. The closer you can keep it to 68 degrees, the more energy you’ll save. Plus, heat loss is slower the lower the temperature is inside.

Do 68 degrees feel a little chilly? Add a light layer of clothing or use blankets for extra warmth. A hot drink can also make you feel warmer. Another option is to use a humidifier to put more moisture in the air, which makes it feel more comfortable. During winter, humidity levels can be as low as 10%. A humidifier can help you keep it at an ideal 30-50% humidity inside. Bonus – a humidifier can also help improve winter ailments like dry skin, chapped lips, bloody noses and respiratory problems. 

Use a Moderate Setting If You Have a Heat Pump

Approximately 1.3 million homes in cold and very cold regions have a heat pump. Because of the way heat pumps are designed, setting your programmable thermostat to drop the temperature to 55-60 degrees during the day can cause it to run inefficiently. It’s so inefficient it negates the savings of keeping it cooler inside. With a heat pump, it’s best to use a moderate setting like 68 degrees all day long. 

At Provider Power we can’t set your programmable thermostat for you, but we can provide helpful advice on how to save energy during the fall and winter. We also offer competitively priced electricity plans in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts so staying comfortable is affordable even when you bump the temperature up.

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How Much Our Energy Saving Tips Could Actually Save Customers

Customers that follow the Provider Power blog have gotten a lot of energy-saving tips over the years. But how much can you really save by saving energy?

In 2017 the average monthly electricity bill before factoring in gas service was $111.67 nationwide ($1,340 a year). Statewide it ranged from $149.33 a month in Hawaii to $79.16 a month in New Mexico. It’s no wonder the Energy Information Administration (EIA) found 31% of households have difficulty paying their energy bills at least one or two months out of the year.

It may not seem like small changes will make a big difference, but they can. Keep reading for a breakdown of how much some of our top energy saving tips can save you.

Energy Saver: Using a Programmable Thermostat

The Savings: 10-30% on Space Heating and Cooling

This is a big saver that takes very little time and energy on your part. On average, air conditioning and space heating are the two largest energy end uses in homes, 17% and 15% respectively. However, ENERGY STAR reports they can account for as much as half the energy used. On the low end, using a programmable thermostat can save the average customer nearly $43 a year and $201 a year on the high end. What’s even better is that if you already have a programmable thermostat no money has to be spent to get the savings. 

Energy Saver: Changing the Air Filter

The Savings: Up to 7.5% of Energy Use a Month

In addition to using your programmable thermostat, another way to reduce the cost of heating and cooling is by increasing efficiency. An easy and inexpensive way to do that is to change the air filter regularly (at least once every three months). According to the Department of Energy, doing so can reduce HVAC energy use by as much as 15%. That works out to be 7.5% or $8.375 a month on average ($100.50 a year) if half your bill goes toward space heating and cooling. 

If a standard air filter costs as little as $1, you’ll save up to $96 a year by replacing the filter every three months. You can save a little more by getting a reusable air filter that can be cleaned instead of replaced.

Energy Saver: Smart Power Strip

The Savings: Up to $200 a Year

A smart power strip helps eliminate vampire power that’s sucked out of electronics in standby mode. All this lost energy is nothing but a waste of about $200 a year. Another benefit of smart power strips is they can be put on a timer to shut off electronics that are accidentally left on.

How much you can save with a smart power strip depends on what you’re plugging in. Let’s assume you only use one smart power strip for the entertainment center. Just the TV and related devices make up 7% of energy use. If the smart power strip cuts energy use by half you’d save nearly $47 a year minus the cost of the power strip. 

Energy Saver: Using the Clothes Dryer Less

The Savings: Up to 5% on Total Energy Use

Five percent of the total energy use in a home is used by the clothes dryer, an appliance that is only running a few hours a week. In other words, it’s an energy hog.

Realistically, it is possible to forgo the clothes dryer altogether and use a clothesline for a couple of dollars. Customers that are able to do that could save around $67 a year plus the cost of the clothes dryer itself. It would take a little more time to hang the clothes, but you get the residual benefit of knowing you’re doing something good for the planet and your financial well-being. 

Energy Saver: ENERGY STAR Appliances

The Savings: Over $120 a Year

The ENERGY STAR program is around for a very good reason – it helped consumers save $30 billion in energy expenses in 2017 alone. Appliances make up 30% or more of the average household’s energy bill. ENERGY STAR states that its certified products reduce energy use by about 30%. If you used an ENERGY STAR refrigerator, water heater, clothes dryer, clothes washer, dishwasher, microwave and oven you’d reduce your electricity bill by $120 over the course of a year.

If you used ENERGY STAR products across the board beyond appliances you can save an estimated $575 a year on electricity and gas

Energy Saver: Switch to LED and CFL Bulbs

The Savings: Over $120 a Year

Lighting accounts for 10% of energy use (basically all of the energy is electricity). That’s around $134 a year in electricity. But energy-efficient LED and CFL light bulbs use up to 90% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. The savings could be as much as $120 a year, which makes up for the cost of replacing all the bulbs in a home in about the first year. The really good news is these bulbs can also last up to 15 times longer so you save even more in the long run.

It’s also important for customers in deregulated areas to comparison shop before choosing an electric supply company. That energy saving tip can dramatically lower your bill when you lock in a competitively low rate. Provider Power supplies customers in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts with great rates on electric plans that range from 6 months to 24 months term

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