10 Holiday Light Safety Tips

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

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

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

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

Never Overload an Outlet

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

Use Lights and Extension Cords Rated for the Intended Use

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

Don’t Plug Extension Cords Together

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

Never Use Damaged Lights or Extension Cords

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

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

Watch Out for Snow and Standing Water

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

Keep Display Features Away From Heat Sources

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

Never Nail or Staple Cords

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

Never Try to Remove the Ground Pin

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

Be Careful Where You Place Cords

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

Turn Decorations Off When You Leave or Go to Sleep

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

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

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Best Thermostat Setting Ideas for Fall and Winter Weather

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

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

Get Comfortable With Your Programmable Thermostat Settings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Set the Temperature Back at Least 8 Hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use a Moderate Setting If You Have a Heat Pump

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

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

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How Much Our Energy Saving Tips Could Actually Save Customers

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

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

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

Energy Saver: Using a Programmable Thermostat

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

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

Energy Saver: Changing the Air Filter

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

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

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

Energy Saver: Smart Power Strip

The Savings: Up to $200 a Year

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

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

Energy Saver: Using the Clothes Dryer Less

The Savings: Up to 5% on Total Energy Use

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

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

Energy Saver: ENERGY STAR Appliances

The Savings: Over $120 a Year

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

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

Energy Saver: Switch to LED and CFL Bulbs

The Savings: Over $120 a Year

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

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

Choose your state to see which electricity plans are available in your area

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5 Back to School Energy Saving Tips for New England

The new school year is a sure sign that fall will soon be in session in New England. One lesson that we can teach our kids is that the start of the fall semester is the perfect time to learn a thing or two about saving energy. The tips below will help you do just that!

Spend Time Outside After School

Soon the time will change and there won’t be as many hours of sunlight to enjoy after school. Now is the time to make the most of it. Spending time outside after school also means kids won’t be using energy hungry devices and electronics inside. But the benefits go well beyond reduced energy use. Researchers have found kids that spend time outside enjoy better school performance, physical fitness and sleep.

Open Up the House

You can bring the fresh air inside and save energy at the same time. The fall in New England is the perfect time to open a few windows and doors around the house. The temperate weather will feel great and you’ll get a better view of the changing foliage.

Consciously Wash Those New School Clothes

Did you buy a laundry load worth of new clothes for the school year? Did you know washing and drying clothes accounts for 5% of household energy use? You don’t want to have the smelly kids in school so forgoing the laundry isn’t an option. The better solution is to eco-consciously wash your clothes.

  • Always fully load washer and dryer.
  • But don’t overload the dryer. Loads that are too full can take longer to dry.
  • Hang as much as possible and consolidate loads when you dry.
  • Do all of your dryer loads back-to-back. The dryer is more efficient when it’s already warm.
  • Wash clothes in cold water.
  • Use wool dryer balls to decrease drying time.
  • Use the extended spin option on the washing machine to draw out as much moisture as possible.
  • Set the dryer temperature too low to prevent over drying clothes.
  • If your dryer has a cool down cycle setting use it each time you dry.

In the market for a new washer and dryer? Check out the list of ENERGY STAR appliances. You may also want to consider gas-powered and heat pump dryers since they tend to cost less to operate.

Adjust the Thermostat for School Time

In the summer, kids are home during the day so the AC is working overtime. Now that school’s back in session, the thermostat can be adjusted. Use your programmable thermostat to bump the temperature up while the kids are at school and adults are at work. Set it to cool back down a few degrees for about 30 minutes before school lets out.

Charge Devices More Efficiently

Even elementary students are now using tablets for schoolwork. And good luck getting your high schooler to put their smart phone down for a second. Charging all of those devices along with the TV, Blu-ray player and gaming consoles adds up on the electric bill. There are two options for reducing energy use while keeping everything powered up:

Smart power strip – Upgrade your regular power strip to cut down on needless energy use. A smart power strip can tell when a device goes into standby mode and will completely shut off the energy supply so vampire power isn’t a problem.

Solar chargers – Why spend money on electricity when you can harness the power of the sun? Solar chargers with 15 watts or more can recharge tablets or multiple smartphones at once. Even on the last day of September sunset in New England isn’t until 7:11pm. That gives you plenty of time after school to recharge and get homework done before bedtime. Bonus: solar chargers are great to take with you on the go when you won’t be near an outlet.

Save on energy during the entire school year with an affordable energy plan from Provider Power. We are a leading electric supplier in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. Choose your state to see electric rates!

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Where Your Electricity Comes From: Your Power From Start to Finish

We use electricity every day without thinking twice about it. Flip a switch or push a button and it’s there. But where does it come from? Where does the electricity generation start? 

The short answer to that question is – it depends. In the U.S. electricity doesn’t come from a single source and it’s less centralized now than in any other point in history.

Sources of Electric Power Generation

According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA) electricity is generated from three primary sources:

Fossil Fuels – 2,651 Billion kWh

Since the electric grid first fired up more than 100 years ago, fossil fuels were the source of power. The fuel source is heated to create steam (vaporized water) that rotates turbines that are connected to power generators. The generators convert the energy into electricity.  

  • Natural Gas (35.1% total share) – In recent years, natural gas has become the primary fossil fuel for generating electricity because it’s cleaner than coal, in abundance and relatively cheap to get out of the ground. 
  • Coal (27.4% total share) – Coal used to be the #1 source of electricity generation, but over time coal-fired power plants have been shut down in favor of natural gas, nuclear and renewables. Just 10 years ago coal was the primary fuel in 20 states. 
  • Petroleum (0.6% total share) – Because of the cost, petroleum isn’t commonly used to produce electricity. It’s most prominent in Hawaii, but the state has a goal to use 100% renewables by 2045.

Nuclear – 807 Billion kWh

Nuclear power generates 19.3% of U.S. electricity. Nuclear energy is produced by a process called fission, which is when atoms within a nucleus are split. Fission is capable of producing large amounts of sustainable power. The downside is there are concerns over public safety should there be a disruption at a power plant, and it produces radioactive waste.

Renewables – 713 Billion kWh

All of the renewables together make up 17.1% of electricity production. Many people are surprised to learn hydropower is the top contributor. Whereas some fossil fuels are being used less, renewables are steadily expanding. The use of renewables is expected to grow as the infrastructure is built and the cost goes down.

Hydropower – 7% total share

Wind – 6.6% total share

Solar – 1.6% total share

It’s worth noting that the EIA estimates an additional 30 billion kWh are produced by personal small scale solar photovoltaic systems. 

Electricity’s Path: From the Power Plant to Homes and Businesses

Once electricity is generated it has to be distributed from the power plant to the end consumer. The electric grid that delivers power is one of man’s most amazing achievements. It’s an intricate network that’s a complex system of local grids with substations, power lines and distribution transformers that relay electricity across long distances. 

The path electricity takes depends on where a person lives and whether the energy market is regulated. 

The Power Players

Utilities own and manage the electricity distribution system that connects consumers to the electric grid. They charge consumers a fee for their delivery services. The utility may also handle electric billing. 

Suppliers are the entities that generate and supply the electricity that’s distributed to consumers. 

Areas With Deregulated Energy 

California was the first state to deregulate the energy market, and since then dozens of states have done the same. In deregulated areas, there’s a selection of electricity suppliers that provide the electricity that’s delivered by utilities. Suppliers also offer end consumers a variety of energy plans at variable rates. Consumers can choose the supplier they want to work with and the plan that best serves their needs and budget. 

Areas With Regulated Energy

In regulated areas, electricity is typically provided by a single municipal electric utility or an electric cooperative that’s been selected by the local public utility commission. Consumers have no choice in who supplies their electricity and rates are set with no possibility of finding better prices.    

Consumers can rest assured that electricity in deregulated areas is just as reliable as regulated markets. This is largely due to the fact that utilities are in charge of maintaining the distribution system and taking care of problems that can disrupt the flow of electricity. 
Provider Power is a premier electricity provider in the deregulated markets of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. If you’re looking for competitive rates from a local supplier check to see which electricity plans are available in your area.

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What Do You Set Your Thermostat at in the Summertime?

What do you set your thermostat at in the summertime? The answer depends on where you live and what makes you feel comfortable. Thanks to modern day technology we can control the climate in our home no matter what it’s like outside, but it comes at a cost.

The electric bill can really add up over the course of the summer. Even though it’s only needed part of the year, air cooling is nearly 15% of the total annual energy use of a home.

If you’re looking for advice on how to stay comfortable and cool without burning the kilowatt hours this summer we’ve got it.

The Ideal Temperature for Saving Energy in the Summer

A lot of time and energy has gone into determining the ideal temperature during the summer. The magic number is 78 degrees. At 78 degrees your home is comfortably cool without being too far off from the temperature outdoors for the better part of the day.

The goal is to keep the house as close to the outside temperature as possible because it helps slow down heat flow. Of course, it also requires less energy when the temperature is higher. According to the Department of Energy, you can reduce overall energy use by 1% for every degree higher than 78 degrees as long as the temperature is elevated at least eight hours in the day. Bump it up 7-10 degrees and you could shave 10% off your electric bill.

Using a Programmable Thermostat to Keep Comfortable Without Wasting Energy

Your programmable thermostat is one of the best energy saving tools in your home. If you had to reset the thermostat every time you left for work or went to bed, chances are it wouldn’t happen. With a programmable thermostat, you can set it once and not worry about it again until fall.

Your thermostat will have pre-programmed settings that will be in place unless you adjust them. They are supposed to minimize energy use, but they don’t work for all families. To get the maximum benefit from your programmable thermostat:

  • Create a custom schedule for each day based on your typical activities.
  • Bump the temperature up higher when no one will be home for four or more hours. Somewhere between 85-88 degrees is ideal. Stretch the savings by setting the temperature to increase 20-30 minutes before you leave.
  • Program the schedule so that the temperature drops back to 78 degrees half hour before you arrive home.
    Consider increasing the temperature by a few degrees when you’re asleep and turn on overhead fans if you have them.
  • Fight the urge to drop the temperature lower than normal in an attempt to cool things off faster. All it does is waste energy.
  • Put the programmable thermostat is a spot that won’t be thrown off by environmental factors like direct sunlight, drafts from an open door, warm lamps or air flow from a vent.

The goal is to reduce air conditioning use as much as possible by finding times when the temperature can be increased without impacting comfort. If you’re unsure where to start you may want to get a smart thermostat. It can analyze your AC use to create energy efficient schedules.

The Fan Factor

What if we told you there was a way to increase the temperature by 3-4 degrees and not even notice the difference? You’ll still be using electricity, but a fan requires a lot less energy than the AC and the windchill effect can make things feel much cooler when you’re in the room. Just make sure to switch the fan off when you leave to room or you’ll waste energy.

Get more energy saving tips by signing up for a Provider Power electric plan. We have New England energy plans with competitive rates and helpful advice on how to reduce electricity use all year long!

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Average Electric Bill, Rates and Consumption in Massachusetts

The cost of electricity is highly localized. From city to city and state to state the rates change. Figuring out the averages for your area can help you gauge whether a plan is cost effective and how conservative you are with your energy use.

Our team closely tracks electricity rates and consumption across New England where we serve thousands of customers. Recently, we took a look at some of the latest stats for Massachusetts. You may be surprised to learn that Massachusetts has one of the lowest monthly electric bills in the country during the summer.

Here are some other stats and facts that can help you compare Massachusetts electric rates and create a more accurate monthly budget.

Electricity Production in Massachusetts

Where does electricity come from in Massachusetts? The majority (68%) of electricity is generated by natural gas. Another 4% comes from coal.

Massachusetts has also made significant investments in clean energy and is currently exceeding state goals. In March 2018 Massachusetts had 1,867 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity installed. That’s 267 megawatts over the goal for 2020.

Massachusetts Net Electricity Generation as of January 2019:

Petroleum-Fired – 40,000 MWh
Natural Gas-Fired – 1,611,000 MWh
Nuclear – 450,000 MWh
Hydroelectric – 119,000 MWh
Nonhydroelectric Renewables – 193,000 MWh

In terms of production, Massachusetts isn’t a power player. It ranks 41st for electricity production in the nation.

Average Residential Electricity Bills in Massachusetts.

Based on the monthly consumption and average price, the average monthly electric bill in Massachusetts during 2017 was $116.86. That’s right in line with New England, which had an average monthly bill of $116.97, and slightly higher than the national average of $111.67.

Residential Electricity Rates in Massachusetts

In terms of cost per kilowatt hour (kWh), Massachusetts can be pricey. As of January 2019, the average retail price of electricity in the residential sector was 22.57 cents per kWh. That puts Massachusetts at the third highest rate in the nation. Only Hawaii (32.09 cents) and Rhode Island (22.67 cents) are higher.

The national median rate is 11.89 cents per kWh, and the average rate was 12.47 cents per kWh in January 2019. The rates range from 32.09 cents to 8.80 cents in Oklahoma, however, 45 states are below 20 cents a kWh.

Average Residential Electricity Consumption in Massachusetts

Over 6.9 million people call Massachusetts home. They reside in 2,894,484 housing units. Those kinds of numbers mean demand for electricity is high in the state, but residents are super conservative.

So much so, the average monthly electricity consumption in Massachusetts is just 583 kWh. The total energy consumed per capita is 209 million Btu. That puts Massachusetts at the 6th lowest consumption rate in the U.S. per capita.

Massachusetts Residential Electricity Use in the Summer

In general, Massachusetts electricity usage in summer is much lower compared to other states. Electricity demand actually peaks in the winter due to the cold. One in six Massachusetts residents use electricity to heat their homes. Those that use electricity spend 59% of their electric use on heating.

In the U.S. air conditioning is the largest end use of electricity, but the same cannot be said about Massachusetts in particular. Many homes have air conditioning, yet it’s not used continuously in the summer because the state enjoys relatively mild weather.

Average Rates and Consumption for Commercial Electricity in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts economy isn’t built on businesses that consume a lot of energy. The main industries are real estate, finances, professional services, business services, insurance and information.

As of February 2019 the average electricity rate for commercial customers in Massachusetts was 16.88 cents per kWh. That is slightly higher than the average 16.72 cents a kWh in New England. That national average is 10.52 cents per kWh.

Based on the latest data from the EIA, the average monthly commercial bill is $841.64. The average monthly consumption was 5,282 kWh at 15.93 cents per kWh. Massachusetts commercial customers pay about 10% more than the New England monthly average of $760.66.

Looking for competitive electricity rates in Massachusetts? Provider Power is a leading energy supplier in New England for both residential and commercial customers. Check to see if energy plans are available in your city!


Massachusetts State Profile and Energy Estimates: https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=MA#tabs-4

Average Retail Price of Electricity to Residential Sector, January 2019: https://www.eia.gov/state/rankings/?sid=US#/series/31

Total Energy Consumed Per Capita, 2016: https://www.eia.gov/state/rankings/?sid=US#/series/12

2017 Average Monthly Bill – Residential

Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_6_a

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Best and Worst Appliances for Your Electric Bill

Here’s a fun energy fact – appliances and electronics account for 45 percent of a home’s energy use. The Energy Information Administration’s latest residential energy use survey found air conditioning and space heating were still the biggest electricity consumption categories, but some appliances weren’t far behind.

The type of appliances you have and how you use them has a direct impact on your monthly electric bill. Keep reading to find out if your appliances are energy efficient or electricity offenders.

Best: ENERGY STAR Appliances

Doing away with some appliances isn’t realistic for the vast majority of people. The next best thing is owning appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation. ENERGY STAR appliances meet EPA energy efficiency standards, which means they consume less energy than non-certified machines.                

Another benefit of ENERGY STAR appliances is that the EPA provides specific information on energy consumption. It’s very handy if you’re buying new appliances and want to maximize energy efficiency. Bonus Benefit: you might be eligible for rebates if you purchase ENERGY STAR appliances!           

Worst: Storage Water Heater

No single appliance uses as much electricity as the water heater. It accounts for 14 percent of energy consumption in a household. Older storage tank water heaters that aren’t insulated are going to be the least efficient. Heat pump and solar water heaters tend to be the most efficient options. The water heater’s temperature setting also has a huge impact on energy usage no matter what type you use. Keep it at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for comfort and energy efficiency.

*Good to know: Part of the reason water heaters carry so much of the energy load is that it includes the energy needed for dishwashers and clothes dryers.

Best: Dishwasher

The water heater used to warm water to clean dishes may be an energy suck, but the dishwasher isn’t. Dishwashers make up just 1 percent of residential electricity usage. To keep energy use at a minimum always run full loads and forgo the drying cycle.                   

Worst: Refrigerators

Refrigeration is the biggest energy consumer of all the kitchen appliances. At 6 percent of total electricity use, refrigerators use way more electricity than all the other major kitchen appliances combined (microwave 1 percent, stove 1 percent, dishwasher 1 percent). When you consider that a refrigerator has to constantly run this makes sense.

There are easy things you can do to keep energy use in check while still keeping food cold. For starters, try to fully stock the fridge. The more void space there is the more energy is required to maintain the cold temperature. And it’s a good idea to check the temperature setting. It should be kept around 38 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re at it, make sure the automatic defroster is set (if available) and put the fridge in power-saving mode to limit the amount of time the anti-sweat feature is used.

Best: Front Loading Washing Machine

The clothes dryer may be an energy hog, but washing machines are surprisingly efficient. Only 1 percent of annual electricity use comes from the washing machine. The low usage rate is aided by the growing popularity of front-loading washing machines, also known as high-efficiency washing machines.

In tests performed by the EPA and Consumer Reports, front loaders proved to be more energy efficient than top loaders. They can be up to 60 percent more energy efficient than traditional washing machines and use 40-60 percent less water.

Worst: Clothes Dryer

Refrigerators are followed closely by the clothes dryer in terms of how much energy is used. The EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2019 projections estimate that clothes dryers will be 5 percent of total residential electricity use. This is significant considering clothes dryers don’t continuously run like refrigerators.

The best thing you can do is minimize clothes dryer use by drying laundry the old fashion way – hanging them on a clothesline. ENERGY STAR clothes dryers are the next best option. They’ve been available since 2014 and use approximately 20 percent less energy. The EPA estimates that if all clothes dryers in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR rated it would save at least $1.5 billion a year.

Estimating Appliance Energy Use

There are a lot of variables that go into how much energy an appliance uses, like age and settings. Where appliances are located in a house can even make a difference.

Not sure which appliances are drawing the most energy in your home? The first thing you can do is check your energy bill. If you have a smart meter it should provide details on your energy use that can help you figure out appliance consumption. You can also use the U.S. Department of Energy’s Appliance Energy Calculator.

Not getting energy use estimates from your current electricity provider? Make the switch to Provider Power to receive in-depth reports and advice on how to reduce your energy use!

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