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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How to Read Your Provider Power Energy Bill

Did you make the switch to Provider Power recently? Switching energy providers is simple – you don’t even have to update your contact information for billing. However, your bill will be different than before.

Here’s some basic yet essential information on how to read your energy bill.

One Account, Two-Part Energy Bills

In areas where energy is deregulated two entities are needed to get electricity to a home or business:

Provider Power

We’re the energy supplier. We’ve purchased electricity from power generation companies to sell directly to consumers. Provider Power also provides customer service to help you make the most of your electric services.

Public Utility

The local public utility delivers the power to consumers’ homes and reads the electric meter. They are also the ones who correct power outages and maintain the power infrastructure.

Because Provider Power and the local public utility work in tandem, you may get two energy bills. It’s also possible that you’ll receive a single bill from your utility, but the supply charges for Provider Power will be listed separately. It all depends on your market and how billing is regulated.

Items on Your Electric Bill

Every utility and supplier will have their own unique energy bill. Today, many are online e-bills rather than paper bills that are mailed to a property. Regardless of how it’s delivered, most electric bills have similar items to look for.

Account Number

Every bill will list the account number at the top to identify the account being billed. It’s a good idea to always make sure the account number is correct.

Invoice Number/Date

Also at the top of the bill, you’ll find the bill’s invoice number and the date of the statement.

Service For Section

This section contains a lot of basic account information. There will items like the utility company ID number, utility account number and Provider Power’s license number.

Summary of Activity/Account Summary

Here is where you’ll see the amount that’s due and when it has to be paid. You’ll also get a breakdown of your activity since the previous bill. It will include the previous amount due and last payment that was received. If there were any penalty payments or late fees they’ll be listed in this section as well.

*If you receive two bills this section will only contain the supply charges. The fees from the utility company for electric transmission and delivery will be on a separate bill.

Electric Plan Details

Your bill should include information about your specific electric plan including the name, kWh rate, term length/expiration date, auto payment status and more.

Billing History

You can see the billing activity over the previous 12 months.

Important Messages

Any pertinent info such as promotional details will be included in this section.

Payment Stub

If you receive paper statements and plan to pay by mail a detachable payment stub will be on the bill usually at the bottom. The stub will include payment information for that bill.

Definition of Terms

This is a glossary explaining the different terms used on the bill. If you still need clarification for a term or have a related question contact customer support at 866-573-2674 Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.

Payment Methods

Your bill should specify which payment methods are accepted and how you can pay (by mail, online, payment centers, etc.). There should also be information on the steps to take if you need financial assistance in order to pay your energy bill.

Current Charges

The current charge is a complete breakdown of the total amount due. This will include the charge for energy usage plus other monthly fees from Provider Power, taxes and other fees from local and state governments. Examples of other fees include PUC assessments, utility surcharges, and advanced metering charges. If you have any credits that were applied it should be noted.

Usage Details

Here you’ll find all of the information related to your electric usage – kilowatt hours used/meter reading, previous meter reading and billing period.

If You Receive a Single, Combined Energy Bill

For customers that receive one, combined bill there are a few things to be aware of in terms of the charges that are included.

Provider Power supply charges will be a line item on the bill breakdown. Typically it is specified as a supply charge with the rate and usage noted.
Transmission and distribution/delivery charges are for the utility’s services. They are based on how much energy is used.
Local and state taxes will be included.
Any additional fees will also be added as a line item.
The utility company may refer to both the supply and transmission charges as “energy charges”. If this is the case, it may look like you are being charged for your electric use twice when in fact they are two separate charges.

Summary Billing for Multiple Meters

If your property or account has multiple meters there will be a summary billing section that notes the locations of each meter and the electric usage for each one.

Learn More About Provider Power Billing

Still, have questions about your electric bill? We’re here to help you understand every facet of your electricity usage. Give our customer service team a call at 866-573-2674 if you need more information about your electric bill.

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Electric Use

March is a time of renewal. We’re shaking off the last chill of winter, leaves are starting to turn green and people are airing out their homes. Like nature, everyone is eager for a fresh start.

There are things every homeowner can do to freshen up around the house and reduce energy use at the same time. Use these four electricity spring cleaning tips to enjoy lower bills all year long.

Clean the Air Vents and Filters

The simplest way to improve the energy efficiency of an HVAC system and appliances is to clean the vents and clean/change air filters. Doing so will improve air quality and airflow. When air flows more freely equipment doesn’t have to work as hard and less energy is used.

Air vents, also known as return registers, should be cleaned regularly to prevent buildup.This can be easily done with a vacuum or a damp cloth. If a room is rarely used you may want to consider closing its vents after they’re cleaned.

Air filters should be cleaned or changed at least once every two months. The Department of Energy estimates that keeping air filters clean can decrease HVAC energy use by up to 15%.

Clean and Seal the Air Ducts

The air ducts are another spot to add to the spring cleaning list. The jury is still out on whether cleaning has a huge impact on energy efficiency, but it certainly cleans up the air quality. If there’s evidence of mold or pest activity in the ducts a good cleaning is definitely needed.

While you’re cleaning the air ducts go ahead and check for leaks. The jury may be out on cleaning, but sealing up leaks in the air ducts will make a difference in the amount of energy that’s wasted. When the air ducts leak heated and cooled air seeps out into voids and crawl spaces rather than inhabited rooms. Sealing the leaks will keep climatized air in the ducts so it gets where it’s supposed to go.

  • Duct mastic is recommended for sealing around joints and seams.
  • If gaps around joints and seams are larger than a quarter inch use drywall tape first to bridge the gap.
  • Choose heat-approved tapes, butyl tape and foil tape to seal leaks on the duct surface

Extra Energy Saving Step: To maximize the energy savings consider having your HVAC system professionally serviced and cleaned. The NADCA found that cleaning a slightly dirty system reduces energy use by 11%.

Clean Up Cracks Around Window Doors

An item that should be on your spring cleaning list is weatherizing around the doors and windows. You may have heard this tip before, but few people realize how beneficial it is for your comfort, health and wallet.

Weatherizing means using caulk and weatherstripping to seal up gaps around windows, doors and other spots in the home. For less than $20 and a few hours of your time you can get numerous weatherization benefits:

  • Keep out debris, dust and dirt
  • Prevent bugs from getting inside
  • Minimize moisture problems
  • Stop climatized air from getting outside

The last point can have a dramatic effect on energy use. According to a report by Fine Home building as much as a third of the energy used in a home leaks out. Of course the other points can impact energy efficiency as well since pests and filth can clog filters and damage duct work.

If you’re really motivated to clean up the energy waste you can seal up a home well beyond the windows doors.

Clean Out the Hot Water Heater

Inside the bowels of your hot water heater sediment can build up. This build up can prevent the water heater from operating at peak performance. The solution: clean out your hot water heater at least once a year. This is what’s known as flushing a water heater. It can be done with a few simple tools. Just don’t forget to turn off the electricity and gas before you begin.

Extra Energy Saving Step: Insulate around the hot water heater. You can purchase an insulated sleeve that goes around the tank and cover the pipes with foam or fiberglass insulation.

Provider Power can help residents in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine clean up their energy use! We offer competitive rates on clean energy plans that also support the communities we serve. When you select Provider Power everyone wins!

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Making Smart Choices on Your Electricity Bill this Valentine’s day

Right about now you may be putting the final touches on Valentine’s surprise for your sweetheart. The last thing on your mind is the utility bill – until it arrives. Suddenly, a candlelit dinner seems a lot more economical.

Being that we’re still in the grip of winter, it’s understandable that electric bills will be higher than other times of the year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. Today we’re taking inspiration from those cute little Valentines conversation heart candies to provide tips on how you can make “smart” choices on your electricity bill.


“Pick Me” – First, Make Sure You Choose the Right Service

If you live in a deregulated area you’re not stuck with a single provider. Customers can play the field and choose the electric provider they like best.

Much of the time the primary focus is on finding the provider with the lowest rates. While that is important, it’s best to find a provider that’s the total package. Providers that offer fixed rates make your monthly bill more predictable. Length of the contract is also a major factor when you’re looking for an energy partner. If you find a great rate locking it in for a long-term commitment will benefit you.

“Thank You” – Don’t Overlook Customer Service

Customer service is kind of like the quiet kid in class who surprises you with an amazing handmade Valentines Day card out of nowhere – it can be easy to overlook and you’ll probably regret it if you do. Provider Power makes customer service a priority because we know reliability is important. We also know that when a customer calls they like to hear the voice of a knowledgeable rep on the other line who can handle billing issues quickly.

Another aspect of customer service that’s sometimes forgotten about is the extra perks. Electric providers that want to keep customers happy are all about incentives like offering sign up rebates, referral rewards, and additional resources to improve energy efficiency at home. In other words, if a company is just an energy provider they may not be “the one.”

“Be True” – Know How to Read Your Bill

The utility delivers your bill each month, but how often do you read it beyond the amount due? Your electric bill may not be as entertaining as a romance novel, but understanding how to read it can actually help you to make smart choices.

If your provider has the customer service aspect of the business nailed down there’s a good chance they’ve created a guide to help customers decipher their bill. The guide will explain each part of the bill and how monthly rates are calculated. This information can help you discover when you use the most energy in a year, month or day. Knowing how to read your bill can also reduce the need to call customer service since you may be able to find the information you need yourself.

“Hot Stuff” – Temperature Settings Have a Huge Impact

There are a lot of ways to reduce energy use at home, but some changes move the needle more than others. When it’s cold outside you’ll want to pay careful attention to the temperature indoors. There are two places in particular to monitor:

Hot water heater – Too often people have their hot water heater turned up too high, and it wastes electricity and/or gas. The Department of Energy recommendation is to keep the temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 20 degrees cooler than the factory default setting. Bonus: the cooler setting helps minimize mineral buildup.

Programmable thermostat – It’s tempting to crank up the heat during winter, but that won’t heat your cold house more quickly, and it will certainly increase your bill. The better strategy is to program your thermostat so that it remains a constant, reasonable temperature inside. When people are home and awake keep it at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. When the house is empty and everyone is asleep you can bump it down to 66-68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get chilly you can always add a layer of clothing or snuggle under a warm blanket.

“Text Me” – Use Your Smart Meter to Your Advantage

Many cities are replacing old equipment with new smart meters. They not only make it easier for utilities and providers to generate bills, but they also make it easier for customers to lower them. A smart meter is a powerful tool the can provide real-time updates on energy use. By monitoring energy use you can know how and when you use the most energy and can make adjustments to reduce usage or do energy-intensive tasks during off-peak hours. Some smart meters will even send you energy management and cost summary alerts.

Another benefit of using a smart meter is there are no surprises on your next bill. You’ll know ahead of time how much electricity was used in a billing period.

New England customers will fall in love with what Provider Power has to offer. From supporting local non-profits to helping customers make smart choices on their energy bills, Provider Power is the type of electricity supplier you want to have a relationship with. Pick your state to see the available electric plans!

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What Causes High Electric Bills in the Winter?

Your electric bills may not be as high during the winter as they are in the summer when the AC is chugging away, but you have probably seen an increase since the fall months. Higher winter electric bills are a common occurrence.

There are a few reasons for the increase in kilowatt-hours once things start cooling off.

Fewer Hours of Daylight Mean Higher Lighting Costs

Lighting accounts for 9% of electric use in U.S. homes. It’s the third largest source of electricity consumption noted in the Annual Energy Outlook 2018. In the winter when the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun, we get fewer hours of sunlight each day. That means we need more light artificially, which in turn bumps up the electric bill.

December is the darkest month of the year whereas June is the sunniest. In most northern states, you will only get about eight and a half hours of sunlight during the winter solstice – nine hours if you are lucky. Just be happy you are not in Fairbanks, Alaska where the sun will only be out less than three and a half hours. The further you get from the equator the more pronounced the daylight difference gets. Daylight savings fall back makes matters worse.

For fun, you can use the calculator from the U.S. Navy to figure out how many hours of sunlight you’ll get in your location this winter.

Time to Switch to CFLs and LEDs

Winter is the perfect time to make the switch to CFL and LED light bulbs if you have not already. Sure, they cost a little more upfront compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, but you will make that money back and then some. CFLs and LEDs use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. They also last 25 times longer.

The Colder it is Outside the More Energy it Takes to Keep Things Warm Inside

There is another downside to having fewer hours of daylight during the winter – colder temperatures. The angle of the sun also plays a role in making it colder during this time of year.

Depending on which survey you look at, space heating accounts for anywhere from 6-15% of overall electric use. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 36% of U.S. homes rely on electric furnaces and pumps for heat. Electric heating sources are most common in the southeast, but you can find homes with electric furnaces and pumps in the very cold northeast region. Portable electric heaters are also the most common secondary heating source across the nation.

Weatherize Your Home to Keep the Heat In

Every homeowner should take measures to weatherize in the winter. With a few inexpensive products (caulk and weather-stripping), you can seal up cracks and crevices around doors and windows that let warm air seep out. You can go a step further by adding extra insulation to the attic and weatherizing around outdoor electric outlets.

Get Your Heating Equipment Serviced

Heating equipment will be working overtime during the winter. When your furnace or pump and ducts are in perfect condition, they are super-efficient. You can do some maintenance measures yourself, like keeping the filters clean. However, it is best to have a professional service electric heating equipment and check the ducts for leaks once a year.

Roll Out the Rugs

Adding rugs to hard floors can make a big difference underfoot. Rugs also help to insulate the floors and prevent drafts making it feel warmer inside the house.

In Winter We’re Inside More Using Electric Entertainment

During the winter we are more likely to hunker down inside than spend our free time outdoors. You can again blame this trend on less daylight and colder temperatures.

The more time we spend inside the more likely we are to consume electricity in an effort to entertain ourselves. Televisions, DVRs, gaming consoles, computers, and smartphones are all running on electricity. TVs and related equipment account for 6% of electric use while computers eat up another 2% of electricity usage.

Put Devices on a Power strip

Putting devices on a power strip is one way to beat rising energy costs. This simple piece of equipment can help reduce standby power use, which costs customers up to $100 a year.

Focus on Electric-Free Entertainment

It can be hard to turn your attention away from screens, but winter is the perfect time to cozy up with a good book. Since everyone is inside, you can also start a family game night where you break out the board games.

Harder to get Hot Water

Water heating can use more electricity than space heating – around 10% of total electric usage. This is particularly true if your water heater is located in the attic or an uninsulated garage. When it is cold, the water heater has to work harder to warm up and there is a higher likelihood of heat loss.

Insulate the Water Heater and Pipes

Use a water heater insulation jacket with a value of R-8 or higher to reduce heat loss by as much as 45%. While you are at it, go ahead and put foam or sleeves around the water heater pipes for added insulation. Bonus: Since the water heats up quicker, you will also reduce water consumption.

Electrifying Holiday Decorations Increase Energy Bills

If you are the type that loves to deck the halls (and living room and exterior) during the holidays, you are bound to see a bigger electric bill. The string lights, inflatable yard decorations, and motorized figures spread joy while consuming a lot of electricity.

Timing is everything

One of the best things you can do is to put your decorations and displays on a timer. Set the timer so that they come on about a half hour after sunset and go off around 11 pm or so.

Use LED Holiday Lighting

Like the bulbs around your home, the most energy efficient option is to use LED holiday lights. Bonus: you will be able to use them for more holiday seasons.

Provider Power can help you freeze out the higher electric costs this winter. Get competitive electricity supply rates in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts without any disruptions or inconvenience. Discover the difference of deregulated energy!

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