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

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

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

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

Using out-of-date appliances

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

Source: EPA

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

One item to look for when upgrading your appliances is that little Energy Star logo. Energy Star appliances may cost a little more than traditional machines, but these energy-efficient machines use less energy to get the job done than their other electricity-zapping counterparts.

The same goes for all the light bulbs in your house. If you’re still using traditional incandescent bulbs, you’re in the dark! LED lights use 80–90% less energy, provide better bright light, and last pretty much forever.

Too many devices on ‘stand-by’

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

One of the main reasons your electric bill may be high is that you leave your appliances or electronics plugged in whether you’re using them or not. While that might not have been such a problem years ago, most modern appliances and gadgets draw electricity when turned off. This is mostly because much of modern technology never really powers down. When you press the “Power” button on your DVR, computer, or television, it actually transitions to a standby mode so it can be turned back on faster, either for continued use or to carry out a scheduled task like recording a TV show or brewing a pot of coffee.

The problem is, these devices are sitting idle, sucking electricity out of your home while waiting for a command from you or waiting for a scheduled task to run. Anything with a clock, such as microwave ovens and coffee makers — and even older technologies, like VCRs — need power to keep time while turned off.

You can start saving energy by connecting devices to power strips and turning off the power strips when you’re not using them. That way, off will really means off as you’ve effectively disconnected the device from the power source. Check out how these devices rank in terms of energy usage.

Your Home Needs to be Insulated

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

Another sneaky culprit of electricity drain is the energy it takes to heat and cool your home. If your home is not properly insulated, all the money you spend on heating and cooling will be going right out your beautiful, bay windows and drafty attic space. This means your home’s unit is working harder than it should, costing you time and, of course, money!

To help deflect escaping heat/cool air, try replacing all the old windows and doors in your home with well-fitting, multi-pane choices. If this isn’t an option, you can always install weatherstripping around your doors and windows, too. Check out this handy guide from Energy.gov to find out how much insulation your home needs depending on where you live.

Electricity can be a pesky thing to keep track off, especially when it’s costing you lots of money. Let us help you get your home into ‘green’ shape, while saving you time and money on your next energy bill. Learn more about Provider Power and check out our rates for your state and we’ll help you get on track to a more energy efficient home.

 

 

Like what you read? Read more tips here: 
10 Tips to Save Energy this Fall and Winter
5 DIY Ways to Insulate Your Home on the Cheap
Blame it on the Rates: Electricity Bill Charges and What it All Means
You’re Wasting Money on Monthly Expenses: Five Tips to Lower Your Bill

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How to Save Green While ‘Going Green’ This Winter

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

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

Tip #1: Get an energy audit.

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

Tip #2: Going Green for Christmas

Did you know: Artificial trees are typically made in China from non-biodegradable plastics. And while they can last for years, they ultimately end up in landfills. A ‘greener’ alternative is a living tree. Real trees are renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. Once the holiday season is over, you can find a recycling program near you by visiting Earth 911.

Tip #3: Reverse your ceiling fan for the winter

Switching the direction the fans spin is an easy—and free—way to keep warm air circulating throughout the room rather than pooling near the ceiling. During the summer, ceiling fans that spin counter-clockwise are perfect for pushing air down, cooling off you and the space. During the winter, switch the direction the fan is spinning so it pulls the air up. Tip: Make sure the blades will spin clockwise.

Tip #4: Have a water efficient holiday

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

Running your tap continuously while preparing food or washing dishes wastes water and can use more than two gallons of water every minute your tap is running. Find ways to reduce your water and energy use, for example:

  • Scrape dirty dishes clean, instead of using water to rinse them before you put them in the dishwasher.
  • If you don’t use a dishwasher, fill the sink with a few gallons of soapy water, clean your dishes, and put them aside. Then rinse them all together afterward.

Either of these simple practices could save 10 gallons of water. If every American household reduced their water use by 10 gallons on just Thanksgiving Day, it would save more than 1 billion gallons of water, as well as save any energy or materials used to pump or treat tap water.

Tip #5: Light your home with LED lights.

Advances in LED technology mean you can buy dimmable LED light bulbs that offer a similar warm glow to incandescent bulbs. While LED light bulbs may cost a bit more than incandescent bulbs, they can last up to 25 times longer and typically use about 25 to 80 percent less energy, according to the Department of Energy. Between the energy savings and extra lifespan, this is one simple investment that could lead to long-term savings on replacement bulbs and utility bills for years to come.

Looking for more tips on how to save money on your energy bill? Connect with us today and we’ll help you get on track to a more energy efficient home.

 

Like what you read? Read more tips here: 
10 Tips to Save Energy this Fall and Winter
5 DIY Ways to Insulate Your Home on the Cheap
Blame it on the Rates: Electricity Bill Charges and What it All Means
You’re Wasting Money on Monthly Expenses: Five Tips to Lower Your Bill

 

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Blame it on the Rates: Electricity Bill Charges and What it All Means

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

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

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

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

It’s important to remember:

  • Watts is the rate of use at this instant. We use watts to see how hungry a device is for power (e.g., 100-watt bulb is twice as hungry as a 50-watt bulb).
  • Watt-hours is the total energy used over time. We use watt-hours to see how much electricity we used over a period of time. That’s what we’re paying for.

Depending on the appliance, you can’t always trust the wattage printed on the device because many devices don’t use the full listed wattage. For example, the compressor in a refrigerator doesn’t run constantly, so you can’t go by the listed wattage for a fridge. To get a more accurate use of electricity of your appliances, go through these steps:

Step #1.  Go get your electricity bill and see how many kilowatt hours you used last month.

Step #2.  Assume that the lights in your kitchen and living room together use 400 watts. How much does it cost if the lights are on 24 hours a day, for a whole month?  How much per year? Assume 15¢/kWh, then go through the formula mentioned above to figure cost.

Step #3.  Assume your window AC uses 1440 watts.  How much does it cost to run it continuously for a month?  How much per year?  Assume 15¢/kWh, then go through the formula mentioned above to figure cost.

So what does this all mean? How do you know you’re paying for exactly what you use? How do you know that you’re getting the best rate?

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

 

If you live in a deregulated market, you have the power to choose the company that supplies energy to your home or business. By the time you flip a switch or press a button to enjoy the benefits of convenient, reliable energy, several different entities have worked together to bring this energy to you.

Electricity can be a pesky thing to keep track off, especially when it’s costing you lots of money. Let us help you get your home into ‘green’ shape, while saving you time and money on your next electricity bill. Connect with us today and we’ll help you get on track to a more energy efficient home.

Like what you read? Read more tips here: 
10 Tips to Save Energy this Fall and Winter
How to Save Green While ‘Going Green” This Winter
You’re Wasting Money on Monthly Expenses: Five Tips to Lower Your Bill
5 DIY Ways to Insulate Your Home on the Cheap

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Community, Green Living Energy Savings, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire

10 Tips to Save Energy this Fall & Winter

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

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

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

Here are 10 of our favorite energy saving tips as the leaves (and the temperatures) fall:

    1. Seal up those windowsWhile “any season is a good season to seal up the windows,” fall and winter take priority. Harsh winds and temperature dips can pull the warmth out and push the cold air in. Seal up the edges of your windows to diminish the impact of these cooler seasons. The best part? You can do it from inside the house!
    2. Schedule a maintenance appointment for your home’s boiler and other heat services. Just like you, your boiler and water heater need a routine checkup to ensure everything is running at maximum efficiency. If not, you may be putting yourself at risk for inefficient energy usage, home fire, or other unwanted disasters.
    3. In addition to checking the boiler and water heaters, remember to also check your air filters. It’s a good idea to replace them on a seasonal basis, as they can get dirty and spike your energy usage. Breathe easier (and cleaner) with a new filter.
    4. Open the windows. (Well, not too much) Make the most out of our planet’s natural source of heat: the sun. Open your blinds, drapes, and/or curtains and let the sunshine pour in. Harnessing the heat from the sun may help decrease the amount of energy needed to warm your home.
    5. Adjust your thermostat. Lowering your home’s thermostat is a super quick and easy way to save energy. Consider keeping temps lower in the evenings while you’re asleep, as well as when no one is home.
    6. Inspect your home’s insulation. It’s easy to look at the obvious culprits when auditing your home’s energy use (e.g. windows, doors, thermostat). But what about what’s behind the walls? In the attic? In addition to sealing up the windows, check to see if your home’s walls, ceilings, and floors could use a boost too.
    7. Check your fireplace. For homes with cozy fireplaces, remember this can be a culprit of increased energy costs. Be sure to do a thorough cleaning and check to see if any heat is escaping. If this is the case, you can help reduce heat loss by sealing your chimney. And remember- if you have a fireplace and a heating system in your home, avoid running both at the same time. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, consider switching to a gas, which will reduce air pollution and save you on energy costs.
    8. Unplug unused electronics. Did you know your table lamps use energy, even if they’re not turned on? From your TV to your cell phone charger, these pesky energy suckers can amount to a significant increase in energy usage if constantly left plugged in. Make a habit of turning unused items off, and unplugging them, if possible.
    9. Use ceiling fans to your advantage. Ceiling fans can be used strategically to achieve better airflow: counter-clockwise will push hot air up in the summer and clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months. Turn your ceiling fan on a low setting to gently push hot air back down.
    10. Consider switching to solar power. Depending on where you live and your energy costs, using ‘green energy’ may be a better choice for your home. Connect with us today to learn more.

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

Seasonal transitions are a great time to do a home energy audit. This video by the U.S. Department of Energy walks through various ways to check your energy use. Low energy score? Just refer to these tips to keep your home warm and cozy this fall and winter!

Still stuck? Connect with us today and we’ll help you get on track to a more energy efficient home.

Like what you read? Read more tips here: 
How to Save Green While ‘Going Green’ This Winter
5 DIY Ways to Insulate Your Home on the Cheap
Blame it on the Rates: Electricity Bill Charges and What it All Means
You’re Wasting Money on Monthly Expenses: Five Tips to Lower Your Bill

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You’re Wasting Money on Monthly Expenses: Five Tips for a Lower Energy Bill

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

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

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

1.) Install CFL or LED light bulbs

Have you ever updated the light bulbs in your house? Old incandescent bulbs burn almost four times the energy as CFLs or LED lights. CFL and LED bulbs also last longer, so you’ll be changing bulbs less often. Remember to look at the lumens number, which tells you the actual amount of light coming from each bulb, instead of the wattage.

Think about it this way: if you use a light for about four hours a day, and average electrical rates are about 12 cents per kilowatt per hour, replacing a 60-watt bulb with a 14-watt CFL or LED saves about 66 cents per month. It doesn’t sound like much, until you consider how many light bulbs you have in your home. If you replaced ten light bulbs, you could create a lower energy bill and cut almost 80 dollars a year!

2.) Install a programmable thermostat

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

There’s no point in heating a house with no one in it, right? Invest in a programmble thermostat. They allow you to automatically set and change the temperature (both heating and cooling) when you’re at work, on vacation, or even sleeping. This cool tech-y trick won’t just impress your coworkers—it will also save you a ton and you will have a lower energy bill!

3.) Unplug unused devices and use power strips

We all have those devices that are always plugged in but are never used. Does your phone charger stay plugged in all day? What about your toaster and blender? Most electronic devices draw something called a phantom charge, which uses small amounts of energy that can add up quickly when you factor in an entire house-worth of appliances. This tip is simple to implement: just unplug things when you’re done!

To make it even easier for yourself, snag a few power strips with one central power button. You can turn off all your devices and stop that phantom charge with one press of a button. Bonus points for you if you install a power strip with a timer that will automatically turn off your chargers at a time you set during the day.

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

 

“Smart” power strips are a great tool for more advanced devices like your TV. A smart power strip can be programmed so your DVD player will only turn on if the television is being used.

4.) Lower the temperature on your hot water heater

Nearly a sixth of your energy costs come from your water heater. Usually, you have it set to keep water much hotter than you need. This lets heat and energy escape and you end up paying for it.

So how do you get your water heater to not be a total drain? Turn the setting down to just 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit and buy a water heater blanket to keep the heat in. Don’t worry — the money you’ll be saving in energy will pay for the blanket within about a year.

5.) Air seal your home

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

 The energy you’re paying for is being wasted, and sometimes in hidden ways. Drafts and cracks in your home can let hundreds of dollars in energy bills escape every year. Air sealing your home can be a quick weekend project for you and your family. Energy.gov is great resource to get you started on sealing up your home to prevent air leaks and energy waste.

Whenever your bill is bringing you panic and confusion, consider these tips before calling your energy provider. Chances are, you can make a couple easy changes in your household and in return see a better bill.

To learn more about Provider Power and see rates in your state, click here!                                                                                                                         

Like what you read? Read more tips here: 
10 Tips to Save Energy this Fall and Winter
5 DIY Ways to Insulate Your Home on the Cheap
Blame it on the Rates: Electricity Bill Charges and What it All Means
How to Save Green While ‘Going Green” This Winter                                                                                                   

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Behind the Headlines & Electric Utility Fees

It is always good to look beyond the headlines, they don't always tell the whole story. This Wall Street Journal story about electric utility fees is one example.

The Headlines Read:

A Wall Street Journal article from October 20, 2015 suggests that utilities are seeking to punish customers because of their efforts to conserve electricity. The article, well the research used to justify the article, is based mostly on a report published by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (in Chicago).

The Research Says:

The headline and report from the Chicago group are very misleading. Yes, 22 utilities have asked for higher fees. Yes, other utilities have suggested they may ask for increases. These fees though are not a result of consumers’ conservation efforts-they are fees associated with developing a smarter grid, infrastructure upkeep and associated costs.

From WSJ.com

What the article does point out and should be of concern, flat rate ‘fees’ that every consumer pays the same amount for disproportionately impact those who use less power. While most of our electric bill can be attributed to the amount of power we use (we pay a rate per kilowatt for supply and a separate rate per kilowatt for delivery), fees are fixed and not tied to usage

Bradley Klein, a lawyer for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, is quoted this way,

The result {of higher fixed fees} is that low-use customers pay more than in the past, and high-use customers pay less.

William Dornbos from the Maine-based Acadia Center (they promote clean energy) says high monthly fees reduce the portion of the bill that a customer has the ability to lower.

Fixed fees are unpopular because they disempower the customers and discourage investments in rooftop solar and energy efficiency.

To bring this full circle, the reality is:

• In both regulated and de-regulated states, utilities have fixed rate fees. Fess are usually related to costs associated with infrastructure and technology updates.
• Utility fees are the one part of your electric bill not tied to kilowatt usage.
• Fees are approved by regulators, consumers do have an opportunity to speak up and oppose (or support them) before enacted.
• Deregulated states, where consumers select their supply company, are not immune to these utility fees.
• Conservation efforts don’t cause these fees to increase; this is especially true in states with energy choice

A copy of the author's Central Maine Power bill showing "Fixed Delivery Fee"
A copy of the author’s Central Maine Power bill showing “Fixed Delivery Fee”

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Simple Tips to Save Money & Energy Around the House

No more thinking or guesswork - Here are some simple ways you can cut back on energy consumption for each room in your home - and save money while doing so!

Have you ever wondered how you can cut energy costs depending on the room you’re in? Now, we take the thinking and guessing out of it. Here are some simple ways you can cut back on energy consumption for each major room in your home.

Save Money and; Energy Around the House

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