How Much Electricity Does an Electric Car Use?

People who are thinking about buying an electric car for the first time ever have a lot of questions, which is understandable. One of the most common questions people have is how much electricity an electric car uses. 

Saving money at the gas pump is a top motivator for going with a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). However, if the electricity consumption of a PEV is significant your monthly bill from the utility provider could be noticeably higher. You can calculate an estimate by using your kilowatt-hour rate and determining roughly how much electricity an electric car will use. Here’s how.

Calculating Electric Car Electricity Use

Gas-powered vehicles have the familiar miles per gallon (MPG) measurement. The MPG tells us how far a vehicle will go on a single gallon of gas (or diesel). 

Measuring fuel efficiency is a little different for electric vehicles. With PEVs, the distance is measured in kWhs per 100 miles. So, in order to calculate how much electricity a PEV will use on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and the cost you’ll need to know:

The rate you pay per kilowatt-hour

The EVs kWhs per 100 miles rating

Now, let’s break it down with an example. Let’s assume that you pay $0.12 per kilowatt-hour. Your electric car requires 30 kWhs to go 100 miles on a fully charged battery. That would mean it costs $3.60 to charge a depleted battery, which works out to be $0.036 per mile or roughly 1/3 kilowatt-hour per mile (3.3 miles per kWh).  

But that’s not the end of the calculation. Now that you know the miles per kilowatt-hour you can determine how much electricity will be used in a month. That depends on how much you drive. 

Let’s assume you’re an average driver that drives 13,500 miles a year. That would work out to be approximately 1,125 miles a month. Going that many miles would require 341 kWhs for an EV that gets 3.3 miles per kWh. 

In this example, the electric car uses 341 kWhs a month for a total cost of $41 in electricity. 

Of course, this is a very straightforward example. In the real world, there are a lot of variables that can affect the electricity usage and rate that is paid.

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Electric Vehicle Electricity Use

How many miles per kilowatt-hour an EV gets is out of the owner’s control, but there are still ways to reduce high usage at home without cutting back on the miles you drive. Below are three simple ways to do just that. 

Charge at Public Stations

The easiest way to dramatically reduce electricity consumption at home is by charging up for free when you’re out and about. Right now there are 31,287 electric charging stations across the U.S. and Canada. Before heading out make sure to check and see if you’ll be stopping in an area that has one.

Charge at Night If You Have a Time-of-Use Electric Plan

People that have a time-of-use plan need to be very mindful of when they charge at home. With this type of electricity plan the kWh rate changes throughout the day depending on demand. Generally, rates are lowest between midnight and 6am. Charging during these hours won’t impact how much electricity is used, but it will make a difference on your monthly bill. 

Use a Smart AC Level 2 Charging Station at Home

If you’re going to invest in an at-home charging station, AC level 2 charging equipment may be the best option. Level 2 equipment comes with smart features like a charging timer and data collection. These features make it easier to charge up when it’s cheaper and get a better idea of how far you’re driving on a given day.

The Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) is a great resource for anyone who’s considering an electric car. The center has information on calculating EV electricity use, a charging station locator tool and much more.

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Wireless Electricity: Is It a Real Thing?

These days it seems like everyone is cutting cords, and wireless technology is quickly becoming the standard. We’ve got wireless phones, cameras, and Wi-Fi that can deliver an Internet connection just about anywhere. So it’s only natural that scientists would turn their attention to wireless electricity at some point. 

Imagine not having to plug in to get power. Or homes that don’t need to be connected to electric lines. But is it more of a sci-fi fantasy than a possible reality? Let’s find out!

Wireless Power Isn’t a New Idea

Some people may think that wireless electricity is a novel concept that has come about in the modern Internet Era. But those people would be wrong. Scientists, physicists, and engineers have been working on wireless power for over 130 years. 

Nikola Tesla was among the first to toy around with the idea of creating a system that could wirelessly transmit power. His attempts lead to the creation of the Tesla coil that can produce up to a million volts of electricity. That is the amount needed to transmit electricity wirelessly. Tesla even built the now-famous Wardenclyffe Tower in 1901 with the goal of transmitting electricity from it. 

Where We’re At With Wireless Electricity Today

Tesla laid a very firm groundwork for wireless electricity long ago, which begs the question “why don’t we have wireless electricity today?” 

Although Tesla was very optimistic about the adoption of wireless electricity, his investors were less impressed with the way things were progressing. J.P. Morgan (who funded Tesla’s wireless electricity experiments) pulled the plug on it by defunding the project. Advancements were stopped short, and Tesla’s tower was demolished.

That could have been the end of Tesla’s wild notion that he could transmit electricity wirelessly, essentially for free. But it’s a concept that’s just too enticing to ignore.

Tesla himself realized that transmitting electricity through airwaves proved to be virtually impossible beyond a short distance. However, he discovered the ground was a much better conductor for his methods. Using metal rods buried in the ground, Tesla claimed he was able to power on lightbulbs that were hundreds of feet away from his lab.

Scientists today think wireless electricity is possible, but few agree with Tesla’s approach. They say magnetic induction and microwaves are the keys to transmitting energy wirelessly. Researchers around the world, including a group from Stanford University, are working towards putting the final pieces of the puzzle in place. 

Wireless electricity transmission is actually being used on very small scales right now. For several years, physicists have been able to power multiple devices wirelessly without a direct line of sight for up to 30 feet. Furthermore, the devices being charged were in motion. This was achieved through magnetic resonance coupling, feedback resistors, and voltage amplifiers.

For researchers at Stanford, distance isn’t the issue as much as the amount of power being transmitted. Once they are able to transmit larger quantities of energy and produce wireless power receivers, the researchers believe it is possible for wireless electricity to be used in real-world settings. And it’s a possibility that isn’t far away. There are ongoing wireless electricity projects that hope to produce tangible results by 2031. 

The Advantages of Wireless Power Transmission

Is wireless power something that’s even worth pursuing? Is it worth the hassle to completely transform the electric system across the U.S.? The short answer is – yes.

No More Cords

The most obvious and immediate advantage of wireless power transmission is getting rid of the tangle of cords that keep devices shackled to an electric outlet. They would no longer be needed since electricity is delivered through the air. Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also safer with fewer cords around. 

Wireless Power Transmission Could Decrease Electricity Costs

One of the biggest advantages of wireless power transmission is its promise of free electricity. While electricity wouldn’t be free (it still has to be generated after all), there’s a good chance it would cost less eventually.

The infrastructure for buildings would cost less if electricians didn’t need to wire the whole property. Maintenance of the electric system would be reduced, which decreases the expense of delivering electricity. There would even be less need for technicians to serve as meter readers. 

Implementing new technology typically costs more upfront, but as it’s adopted and becomes more widespread prices tend to decrease even lower than they started. 

Electricity Could Reach More Places

It’s hard to believe, but there are still many places on this Earth where electricity isn’t readily available. Getting electricity to some structures is extremely difficult due to lack of infrastructure, environmental challenges or both. If electricity can be transmitted through the air it would bring power to millions of people throughout the world. 

Electric Cars Could Charge as They Drive

Another major invention of the last century was electric vehicles (EVs). Despite misgivings, demand for electric cars has steadily increased in recent years as concerns over climate change and gas prices have risen. If wireless electricity transmission were possible electric vehicles could charge as they are driven. How far an EV can go on a charge would be a non-issue. 

Less Toxic Waste

Disposable batteries are serious pollutants. In the U.S. alone, almost 3 billion batteries are thrown away each year. The toxic materials inside can leak out and contaminate the soil or water. With wireless power, it’s possible to develop batteries that can be recharged over and over again while in use, thus greatly reducing the number of batteries that need to be made and eventually discarded. 
While we wait on wireless electricity to become a reality, Provider Power can help you tap into the electric grid with the flip of a switch. Just input your zip code to find available electricity plans in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

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Best Time to Shop for Electricity Online

Deregulation has completely changed the way people in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts get electricity. You no longer have to settle for a sole provider that was selected by the local government. In deregulated energy markets, consumers are the ones that get to do the choosing.

That means consumers have a decision to make. It’s a decision that can have a long-term impact on your monthly budget, and the right answer isn’t always clear. What are electricity consumers to do?

As with so many other purchase decisions today, consumers that comparison shop online is the ones that find the best deals.

The Electricity Comparison Shopping Challenge

The one problem when you’re shopping for electricity plans is the prices can fluctuate. Electricity isn’t like many other consumer goods that have a set value for the foreseeable future. The rates for electricity can change day-by-day. There’s a good chance the rates will be higher or lower than what you saw just a week ago. 

The changing prices mean you can do research in advance, but you’ll have to save the serious comparison shopping until you are ready to sign up for a new service. 

The Best Time to Compare Electricity Plans Online

When you sign up for an electric service it’s not a one-time expense. It affects your finances month after month.

The absolute best time to compare offers and sign up for a new electricity plan depends on where you live. That’s because consumer demand has a big influence on what’s offered. Ideally, you want to compare electricity plans when demand is low because this is when wholesale electricity prices are at their lowest. 

Wholesale electricity prices are driven by use. In the northeast, winter is the peak electricity season, and in the summer demand skyrockets in the south. According to the Energy Information Administration’s data, our customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine should find the lowest rates between May and October.

Because electricity rates and plans are so regional, researching your area’s weather trends to find the most temperate months is a good idea. You can also use your billing records over the last year or two to determine when demand is the lowest in your city. 

Keep in mind there are a few factors that could complicate matters when you’re trying to find a better electricity plan. One of the most common issues is being under contract. If you signed up for a fixed-rate plan you may be under contract with your current provider. You might have to pay a fee for breaking the contract to switch providers.

Of course, not everything can be perfectly timed in life. If you find yourself in need of a new electricity plan during the peak seasons see what Provider Power has to offer. We have fixed-rate electricity plans, and you can lock in your rate for up to 24 months. 

Get seasonal price protection that can make chilly winters and hot summers easier to handle!

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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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