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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What’s Happening With The Natural Gas Price Increase and What It Means for Consumers in New England

As the winter season takes hold of the northeast, people retreat indoors to the warm comfort of their heaters. Last year everyone enjoyed low natural gas rates as the demand shrank due to the pandemic and a relatively mild winter. This winter is a completely different story.

Natural gas prices have already been on the rise since the start of fall. It’s a clear signal that the cost to heat a home will be much higher this year. But why exactly is the price of natural gas climbing?

The rising natural gas and energy prices aren’t caused by any one thing but rather a perfect storm of events. There are three primary factors at play:

  • There is a rising demand around the world for natural gas.
  • Natural gas production has been impacted by the pandemic and there is a shortage of natural gas.
  • Meteorologists predict it will be colder this winter. 

In short, right now natural gas demand is higher than supply, and the demand is likely to keep outpacing supply into the winter. That means wholesale pricing at the commodity level is increasing, and those higher prices trickle all the way down to the end user.

The volatility of natural gas prices can be difficult to deal with, but we’re here to help customers understand the natural gas situation and how it affects their energy plan.  

How Much More You’ll Spend Depends on the Heating Source and Winter Weather

By now you’re probably wondering how much more you’ll pay to heat your home this winter. That all depends on three things: your energy plan, your energy source for heating and how cold it gets.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) monthly Winter Fuels Outlook for October 2021 highlights the dramatic increase in heating demand sources and how the winter weather will affect costs. 

Here’s a breakdown of the anticipated market data and price increase by heating source:

Electricity – 6%

Natural Gas – 30%

Heating Oil – 43%

Propane – 54%

Even the increase in electricity costs during winter is related to the price hikes in natural gas because natural gas is the primary fuel for generating electricity as well. That means consumers will likely see higher energy bills this summer when they start turning on their air conditioners. 

Since the temperature is such a significant contributing factor the EIA provided a few additional estimates to help people guesstimate their future heating costs.

If the winter is 10 degrees warmer than expected the increase in price will be less significant:

Electricity – 4%

Natural Gas – 22%

Heating Oil – 30%

Propane – 29%

If the winter is 10 degrees colder than expected the increase in price will be even higher:

Electricity – 15%

Natural Gas – 50%

Heating Oil – 59%

Propane – 94%

It should be noted that the EIA statistics are based on the national average for natural gas. Fortunately for those living in New England, the current rates are right in line with the national average so the numbers should be fairly accurate for residents in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. However, the average cost per thousand cubic feet does creep higher than average in November, December and January when winter is in full swing. 

What Consumers Can Do: Check Your Contract

All this information can seem a bit bleak for end users that don’t have much control over commodity prices. A lot of people simply swallow the extra expense and cut energy consumption as much as possible. But there’s something else you can do to potentially avoid the rising natural gas prices.

Every consumer should check their energy contract to figure out if now is the time to switch plans or possibly renew an existing plan to lock in a lower rate. You’ll likely fall into one of three categories:

You have a variable rate energy plan. Customers with variable rate plans are the people who will likely see the biggest increase in their energy bills. These plans are very sensitive to price changes since the rates change from month to month based on current market prices. Look to see when the variable rate plan expires. If it’s within the next three months plan to make a switch to a fixed rate plan or your rate could continue to go up.

You have a fixed rate energy plan that will expire soon. If the rate on your plan is better than the current average for natural gas, check your contract to see if you have the option to renew. Also look to see what the requirements are for renewing. Provider Power customers can renew their energy plan within 30 days of expiration. If it’s unclear whether you can renew, be sure to call your energy supplier and ask directly. 

You have a long-term fixed rate energy plan. If you’re in this category there’s less to be concerned about because your rate isn’t going to change during the winter and might even remain the same into the summer. It’s still a good idea to keep an eye on how the natural gas prices are trending so you are prepared to renew in time if that seems like the better option. 

Need help deciding what type of energy plan will be the most affordable in the coming months? Want to know more about the rising natural gas prices and how it might affect your energy plan? Provider Power customers can contact the customer care team by phone for direct assistance. They’re available Monday to Friday to answer all of your questions!

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Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit Checklist

Before you plunk down a few hundred dollars for a professional home energy audit you may want to give things a once over yourself. It’s possible to do a home energy audit yourself to find fixes that can make a big impact on efficiency and ultimately your utility bill.  

Here’s a checklist that will provide guidance during a do-it-yourself home energy audit to help you cover all the major points. As you go through the house check off which items have been examined and what was found. This can help you prioritize fixes and energy efficiency improvements.

Let’s get auditing!

Weatherproofing 

Sealing up air leaks with proper weatherproofing is one of the first things every homeowner should do to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your house. Below are the things you need to check during your DIY home energy audit:

  • Weatherstripping around the doors to the exterior.
  • Weatherstripping around the door to the gargage. 
  • Gaps around the windows.
  • Gaps in mortar of fireplace and around the fireplace.
  • Gaps along the baseboards.
  • Air leaks at exterior spots where two different materials meet. 
  • Gaps around exterior water pipes and vents.
  • Cracks at ceiling seams. 
  • Gaps around outlets and light switches.
  • Cracks in the foundation.

Insulation

Another easy way to improve energy efficiency at home is by adding insulation. Conditioned air in the home can leak out through the ceiling and walls of the home. There are minimum recommendations for insulation that can change from year to year. Many homeowners are surprised to find their home doesn’t have the recommended minimum. Here’s what to check to determine if you have adequate insulation. 

  • Measure the insulation – if you see the floor joists at all there isn’t enough insulation.
  • Look for insulation on the top of the drop down door to the attic space.
  • Make sure the attic door is properly sealed.
  • Examine the sealing around vents, pipes and ducts in the attic.
  • Check the sealing around a chimney, if needed.
  • See if there’s a vapor barrier installed under the insulation. 
  • Look for insulation blocking the vents.

*Checking the insulation levels in the walls is much more complex and requires that the electricity be turned off. If you aren’t comfortable working with electricity it’s best to have a professional check the wall insulation.

HVAC System 

It’s highly recommended to have your HVAC system professionally inspected once a year. This should catch energy efficiency issues that can be corrected. You can also check the HVAC system yourself if it’s been a while since the last inspection. 

  • Check the air filters at least once a month and replace every 1-3 months.
  • Look to see how dirty the HVAC components are and if there’s buildup. 
  • Determine the age of the HVAC equipment and consider replacing it if it’s more than 15 years old.
  • Examine the ductwork looking for air leaks, dirt streaks and gaps at connections and seams.
  • Look for insulation around ductwork.
  • Check the vents to make sure they are clean and open or closed as needed for optimal air flow.

Lighting

Since 10% of your electricity bill is from lighting, you’ll want to make sure your home is lit up efficiently. Here’s what to check during your home energy audit to optimize the lighting.

  • Check each bulb to see if it’s an old incandescent bulb that can be replaced by a CFL or LED bulb.
  • Examine the lumens to make sure it provides sufficient lighting or can limit the number of bulbs needed to light the space.
  • Look for areas where auto on/off lights can be used.
  • Look for areas where solar powered lights can be used.`

If you aren’t sure if you’ve found issues or you want to make sure every possible energy efficiency is found, you may want to consider getting a professional home energy audit. Professional home energy audits should also include a report on how your home systems and appliances use energy to give you a better idea of what can be optimized. 

No matter who does your home energy audit, Provider Power can supply reliable, fixed rate energy plans across the northeast. Check to see which energy plans are available in your area.

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How to Charge Electronic Devices Efficiently

How many devices do you have plugged in right now? Chances are there is at least one phone, tablet or laptop hooked up to an electric outlet. 

Today nearly 6% of a household’s annual electricity use is from electronics. The total number of connected devices in the U.S. home has grown to 25 devices on average. And all of those devices need the power to keep working.

The more efficiently you charge your devices the longer they’ll last and the less energy you’ll use. So let’s jump right into the dos and don’ts of charging devices efficiently.

Don’t Charge Devices Overnight

Charging devices overnight isn’t good for the battery or your energy bill. Your battery won’t overload, but overnight charging does waste the battery’s lifespan. Here’s why. Devices are designed to quit charging once they reach 100%. However, in the background things are being used on the device so small amounts of power are being used. The charger will kick back on even if the battery drops to 99%.

As you can see even after the device is fully charged it will keep drawing small amounts of electricity that are completely wasted. It’s something called trickle charging. Never use the fast chargers overnight because this will be an even bigger issue. 

Do Short Periodic Charges

Instead of long charges that go from 0 to 100, aim to do smaller charges more periodically. With a compatible charger, you can get a good charge after just 30 minutes to an hour. Doing short charges puts less strain on the battery so that it will last longer.

Don’t Keep Devices in Hot Areas

Heat is known to zap the battery life of electronic devices at a faster pace. Think of electronic devices like human beings. About 78 degrees Fahrenheit is a comfortable temperature that will still conserve energy.

Another thing you’ll want to avoid is covering up your device and/or the charger. The device could still heat up in a mild temperature if it’s under a pillow or buried in a blanket. 

Do Use a Solar Charger

You’ll want to keep all of your devices in the shade except your solar chargers. Solar charges give you a way to keep devices powered without adding to the strained electric grid or your energy bill. But the pros do come with a few cons.

Pro

Doesn’t use electricity.

Available power supply when there’s no outlet.

Cons

May take longer to charge devices.

Need sun exposure to provide a charge.

You may also want to avoid wireless chargers of any kind right now. The issue is heating again. Sitting devices on wireless chargers can generate heat that isn’t good for the battery. 

Don’t Use High Speed Chargers Often

High-speed chargers are very convenient. Charging devices in less time seems like a huge upside – until you consider the downside. High-speed chargers use more voltage and that generates more heat. And as you now know, heat is never good for batteries in the long run.

Do Quick Charges With High Speed Chargers

If you need to charge up quickly or the only option is a high-speed charger there are ways to avoid overcharging and overheating the device. Only use high-speed chargers for 15-20 minutes max. The goal is to get enough of a charge to make it to another charger with less voltage. 

Don’t Wait Until the Battery is Completely Dead

Waiting until you reach 0% battery life isn’t the best time to break out your charger. Today’s lithium-ion battery will actually wear out sooner if you bring them all the way down to zero. The recommendation is to plug the device in before you get a 20% low battery warning. And if the warning pops up it’s definitely time to charge. 

Do Charge Devices to 80-90%

Experts recommend not charging a battery up to full power as it strains the battery just like running it down to empty. To extend the life of the battery as long as possible, just charge it up to 80-90%. 

Don’t Use Your Device While Charging

The whole reason you’re charging a device is probably that you need to use it. However, you should resist the urge to do so while the device is charging. Doing so could cause mini-cycling that makes the charging process take significantly longer.

Do Use a Smart Plug

Smart plugs are the latest craze in home automation and energy efficiency. You can use them to avoid overheating the battery with overcharging. Just plug the device in and then set the smart plug to supply power for a little amount of time. 

Charging devices more efficiently is something you’ll have to do on your own but at least you can count on Provider Power to deliver reliable energy when you need it. You can compare available energy plans and find the one that works for you while you wait for your devices to charge!

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The Ideal Home Temperature for Summer

Worried the increasing heat is going to cause your electric bill to skyrocket? Not sure what the thermostat should be set at to stay comfortable and minimize energy use?

It seems like the answer would be very straightforward and simple. It’s easy to say set your thermostat at 78 degrees and you’re done. But in reality, the best home temperature during the summer really depends on the situation. In this post we’ll provide a breakdown of the ideal temperature range based on activity in the home. 

Ideal Summer Temperature Setting When You’re Home

The summer thermostat temperature for when you’re home will feel a little more comfortable than when you’re away. The general recommendation is to keep the temperature at 78 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re home. If you can increase the temperature a few degrees and remain comfortable go ahead and set the thermostat a little higher. 

Good to Know

When you set your thermostat over 72 degrees you’ll save energy. For every degree over 72 degrees you should save about 3% on your AC costs. 

Ideal Summer Temperature Setting When You’re Away for the Day

If you plan to be gone from your house for at least a few hours you can turn the heat up a little. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests increasing the temperature by 7-10 degrees when you’re away from home for the day. Using this temperature range for eight hours a day should reduce your electric bill by about 10%. 

Good to Know

Unlike the wintertime, there’s no risk of immediate home damage if it isn’t a certain temperature inside. The goal is to get the air inside as close to the temperature outside as possible. The closer you get it the less energy you’ll use.

Ideal Summer Temperature Setting When You’re Away for the Weekend

Many people take vacations during the summer, especially weekend trips. You can offset the cost of a weekend vacation by bumping the temperature up by 10+ degrees the entire time you’re gone. Even if the house is 90 degrees inside no one will be there to feel it, and you’ll have plenty of time to get the home cooled down before you get back. 

Good to Know

If you live in a hot climate, keep the temperature no higher than 85-90 degrees when you’re gone. Sustained sweltering heat inside and outside of the home could damage temperature-sensitive devices and appliances.

Ideal Summer Temperature Setting When You’re Asleep

In the 7-9 hours that we sleep every night (ideally) our core body temperature lowers. Researchers have discovered that the ideal temperature for sleeping is 86 degrees when a person is uncovered and undressed. It’s possible to remain comfortable at night with the temperature set to 80-82 degrees when you’re wearing light clothing to sleep and ditching the covers. 

This should definitely be a comfortable temperature range if your bedroom has a ceiling fan that can be used. You may even be able to raise the temperature over 82 degrees with the ceiling fan on. 

Good to Know

Many regions of the country get a reprieve from the heat at night. It might actually cool off enough at night to shut down the AC entirely and open the windows for airflow. 

Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Setting Your Thermostat

Below are a few more things to keep in mind no matter what the situation is or where you live. 

  • Make sure the thermostat is programmed correctly. Check out this guide on setting a thermostat in the summer.
  • Always consider potential health risks. You may need to keep the home cooler if you have elderly family members, a baby or someone with a health condition is living in the house.
  • Don’t forget about indoor plants. Some plants won’t do well in warmer temperatures. 
  • Program your thermostat to lower the temperature to 78 degrees 20-30 minutes before arriving home so it feels good inside without adjusting anything manually. 
  • Keep the indoor humidity in mind. You may need to use a dehumidifier during the summer. 

Get reliable electricity all summer long with a fixed-rate energy plan from Provider Power. We’re proud to be among the top-rate electricity suppliers in New England. Find out if Provider Power energy plans are available in your area. 

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Gift Ideas for Dad that will help Improve Energy Efficiency

Father’s Day is a time to show your caring, loving dad how much he means to you. Nothing says “I love you” like helping dad live a healthier lifestyle that also saves valuable energy. It’s the type of practical efficiency that every father can appreciate.

If your dad is the type that told you a million times to turn the light out and stop wasting energy we’ve got six great gift ideas that can make your dad’s home more energy efficient this Father’s Day.

Best Energy Efficient Gift for Dads With Busy Schedules: A Smarter Thermostat

If your dad is the busy type that’s always on the go and has a chaotic schedule the best energy-saving improvement could be a smart thermostat. Unlike a traditional programmable thermostat, a smart thermostat can program itself based on your behaviors and movement around the house.

This is perfect for dads that are all over the place and aren’t sure what they’re schedule is going to be like from week-to-week.

Best Energy Efficient Gift for Empty Nest Dads: Weatherize His Home

A dad who’s little ones have flown the nest has more time, but there’s less help around the house for home maintenance. Do your dad a favor and weatherize his house for the summer so he’s less likely to swelter.

If you’ve already handled the basics like putting weather stripping around the doors and caulking around windows here are some advanced weatherization techniques you can try on Father’s Day:

Insulate the outlets with foam backing and caulking around the plates.
Fill in any gaps and patch all holes in the garage where conditioned air can leak in.
Replace the HVAC air filter.
Add insulation in the attic.

You can go the extra mile and pay to have an AC technician come out to do an HVAC tune-up so there are no breakdowns in the heat of summer. During the tuneup, the technician should look to see if there are leaks in the ductwork that need to be sealed.

Best Energy Efficient Gift for Dads with Young Kids: Smart Washer and Dryer

Dads with young kids do lots of laundry loads every week. It’s a chore few fathers look forward to in the moment and when they get the utility bill.

If you read our blog regularly, then you already know that a clothes dryer is one of the worst appliances for your electric bill. And the washing machine can be an energy hog too if it’s an older top-loading model. Do your dad a favor and get the siblings together to purchase a new smart washer and dryer set.

Most are ENERGY STAR certified, which means they are designed to use less energy. On top of that, smart clothes washers and dryers can be controlled remotely and even set up on a schedule. This is perfect for fathers that have a time-of-use electricity plan because you can time laundry to run when the price per kilowatt-hour is the cheapest. You can also dial in the settings so that each load is run as efficiently as possible.

Best Energy Efficient Gift for Nature-Loving Dads: A Strategically Planted Tree

Trees provide much-needed shade in the summertime, and that shade could lead to energy savings. Here’s a fun fact from Energy.gov – 76% of the sunlight that comes through a regular double-pane window transfers into heat inside. It’s enough to make you want to turn the AC down a few degrees, which increases energy use.

By strategically planting a tree where it blocks direct sunlight hitting windows you can help your dad feel a little more comfortable this summer. But keep three things in mind:

Which trees are native to the area and most likely to grow.
How wide and tall the tree will likely be when it’s fully grown.
Trees need to be far enough away from the house that the roots won’t affect the foundation and the limbs won’t rub against the house.

One more thing to think about is whether you want to plant an evergreen tree that blocks the sunlight year round. This can be a good idea in warmer climates with mild winters.

BONUS: Mature trees add value to the property, so it’s a great investment.

Best Energy Efficient Gift for Brainy dads: Take an MIT Open Energy Course Together

Did you know MIT offers free courses online? And did you know they have a whole program for energy-related courses, like Intro to Sustainable Energy?

Give your dad the gift of knowledge by signing the two of you up for a course. Brainy dads will appreciate learning how to use energy more efficiently and what energy-saving technology is around the corner. They’ll also enjoy getting to take the course with you as a fellow student.

Best Energy Efficient Gift for Techie Dads: An Energy Monitor

Home energy efficient doesn’t get more high-tech than an energy monitor. A home energy monitor gives you real-time readings of how much electricity your home is using and where usage can be reduced. These monitors can also tell you when electronics or appliances shut down or if they begin using more electricity, which signals there could be a problem.

Sense is the gold standard for home energy monitors. It’s pricey at around $300, but your dad could easily end up saving that much in energy by using the monitor to detect inefficiencies. It will also track trends to help you form better energy use habits. For a whole lot less you can get the VUE Smart Home Energy Monitor and still find plenty of ways to save energy.

Give your Father the gift of reliable energy from a supplier that cares! Provider Power has helped families across New England save millions while also supporting more than 100 local non-profits. Check to see if Provider Power energy plans are available in your dad’s neighborhood.

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Which House Air Filters are Best?

Did you know your air filter can impact how much energy your household uses each month? That inexpensive air filter is directly tied to the HVAC system and could help you save hundreds of dollars a year – if you choose the right one.

Air filters impact the HVAC system in two key ways:

They keep contaminants out of the HVAC equipment.

They can potentially restrict airflow.

When the airflow is restricted the HVAC system has to work harder to regulate the temperature inside a home. When the HVAC system works harder it increases the amount of energy that’s used to heat and cool the home. 

The goal with an air filter is to find a good balance between removing contaminants from the air without impeding the HVAC system.

Pay Attention to the MERV Rating

If you’ve looked at the air filter aisle of a big box home improvement store you may have noticed something called the MERV rating. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting values. It’s a measure of the air filter’s capabilities. 

A household air filter is given a MERV rating to indicate how well it clears the air of particles between the size of 0.3 and 10 microns and what kind of particles are removed. The higher the MERV rating is the better it is at removing particles.

The one downside is air filters with a higher efficiency rating are thicker, more pleated and more particles are captured, all of which can restrict airflow. 

The MERV rating scale ranges from 1 to 16. A MERV rating between 11-13 is usually a good mix of air purification and airflow

Why You Don’t Want a HEPA HVAC Air Filter

You may have heard of HEPA air filters. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. They are the air filters that are well above a MERV 13 rating. A HEPA air filter can clear 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 micron. Particles at this size are the worst because they penetrate the easiest.

HEPA air filters are amazingly good at clearing the air, which is perfect for an air purifier or vacuum bag. But they would put a horrendous strain on an HVAC system due to airflow restriction.

Household Considerations for Air Filter Selection

Now that you understand the impact of MERV rating, it’s time to consider your household members, activities and routines. There are specialty air filters that may be better suited for your home than a standard option.

If someone has allergies: Look for an air filter that has a higher MERV 13 rating and specifies that it removes allergens. Also, consider using a HEPA air purifier in the person’s bedroom.

If someone has asthma or a respiratory illness: Look for an air filter with a higher MERV 13 rating and can remove virus particles from the air.

If you have an indoor pet: Look for an air filter that removes animal dander. Reusable filters that need to be cleaned aren’t recommended.

If you have pet or smoke odor: Look for an air filter with an activated carbon treatment to remove odor particles from the air. 

If you have an existing HVAC system: It’s best to always stick to the air filter type that’s recommended by the manufacturer. Either look at the current air filter or read the HVAC system manual.

No Matter What, Change or Clean Air Filters Regularly

No matter what type of air filter you ultimately end up going with, it will need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. How often this needs to be done isn’t the same for all households. 

  • Generally speaking, a disposable air filter needs to be changed at least every three months. 
  • If you have pets in the home it’s best to change the air filter every 1-2 months. 
  • If anyone in the home has allergies, asthma or another respiratory problem change the air filter every 1-2 months. 
  • In the summer months when the HVAC system is used more often consider changing your air filter at least once every two months. 
  • Reusable air filters should be washed at least once a month.

Keep in mind an air filter that needs to be changed or cleaned is possibly restricting airflow and causing the HVAC system to work overtime. The extra energy use could even cost more than replacing the filter. The Department of Energy estimates that replacing or cleaning dirty air filters can reduce HVAC energy use by as much as 15%.

Air filters are simple yet essential parts of an HVAC system that can help reduce or cause an increase in your utility bill. Get a better idea of what your HVAC expenses will be in New England by comparing current electricity rates

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