Do You Need a Home Energy Management System?

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

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


The Basics About Home Energy Management Systems

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

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

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

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

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

How a Home Energy Management System Improves Efficiency

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

HEMS Software – The Brains of the System

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

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

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

The Parts of a Home Energy Management System

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

The Hub – The Heart of the System

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

Internet-Connected Device – The Interface of the System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Energy Rates: Electric Appliances vs Gas Appliances

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

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

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

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

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

Winner

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

Energy Efficiency: Electric Appliances vs Gas Appliances

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

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

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

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

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

What to Know if You’re Switching 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open the Windows to Let Fresh Air Flow Through

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

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

Get the Furnace Serviced

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

Weatherize Over a Weekend

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

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

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

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

Limit Hot Water Use

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

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

Look Into the Electric Assistance Program

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

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

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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.
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