Unconventional Ways to Spend Less on Your Home

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

Fluctuating oil and gas prices in the past month highlighted the importance of energy-efficient practices. Energy saved means lower household expenses while reducing fuel usage and your carbon footprint in the process.

HVAC System

The biggest energy hogs in households are the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Thankfully, the climate in Texas requires minimal to no heating, but air conditioning can really drive up electricity usage.

Installing a programmable thermostat to regulate indoor temperature based on the hours when occupants are home is a sensible idea, but you can maximize savings by keeping your blinds or drapes drawn in rooms that get a lot of sun. This will keep the room cooler and prevent the A/C from kicking on unnecessarily. Remember to clean air filters as the HVAC equipment has to work harder if it has to draw air through dirty filters.

Water Heater

The recommended setting for water heater thermostats varies between 120 to 140 degrees F. The lower end of the setting is sufficient in warmer areas and is a safer setting in households with young children. For a true reduction in water heater usage, use cold water for laundry, house cleaning and bathing if possible.

Kitchen Appliances

Food preparation often requires several appliances, all of which contribute to at least 20 percent of household energy usage. The refrigerator setting should be kept close to 37 degrees F while the freezer section should be at about 3 degrees F. Older and larger-size models use more energy, so optimize your savings by keeping the right-size refrigerator or freezer in your kitchen. A 31 cubic-foot refrigerator only makes sense if your household includes growing children and frequent guests.

Use a microwave instead of the oven whenever possible. Food cooks quicker in the microwave, and it does not generate as much heat as the oven. When using the oven, consider that the temperature drops as much as 25 degrees every time the door is opened, raising the temperature in the kitchen even more.

Beware the Phantom Load

When appliances and equipment are turned off but remain plugged into the outlet, some maintenance load continues to pass through the wire. This is a negligible load per unit, but it could be substantial in many households given the number of TV sets, video game consoles and home office equipment left plugged in when not in use. Use a power strip with an on/off switch to disconnect completely from the power source. Unplug devices when they are fully charged, and remove the charger from the power strip.

Count the Small Stuff

Use energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs especially in areas where indoor lights are most often found. Opt for low-flow showerheads and supplement the effort to conserve water by taking shorter showers. Seal windows and doors to prevent cool air from escaping, and choose landscaping features that will add shade to keep the house cooler.

Saving in 2015 with an Energy-Efficient Car

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

As automotive technology progresses, it’s possible to find cars that get well over 100 miles to the gallon thanks to a combination of electric and gas power. Many standard vehicles are now clocking 40 mpg or more, even those without hybrid engines. If you’re looking to invest in an energy-efficient vehicle this year, keep your eyes open for one of these options.

Gasoline Savers

Updated fuel delivery technologies such as direct injection are making fuel-powered cars more efficient than ever. Direct injection allows for better regulation of fuel delivery so the engine only receives gas on an as-needed basis. In hybrid cars, features such as auto shutoff when at rest and battery assistance while driving cut down on gasoline use. Vehicles that use both gas and electricity for power tend to do the best in terms of fuel efficiency.

Everyday Electric

Some models being unveiled in 2015 are completely electric, using no fuel whatsoever to operate. These boast a conversion rate of electricity to car power between 59 and 62 percent, while vehicles that run on gas generally perform at 12 to 21 percent. These quiet vehicles offer reliable performance without the pollution associated with gasoline. Harnessing electricity from green sources such as wind and solar power further decreases the environmental impact.

Discover Diesel

Diesel fuel is no longer the dirty option it once was. Instead of belching fumes into the air, the diesel vehicles of 2015 use low-emission systems fitted with particulate traps for clean operation.

Making changes to the fuel hasn’t decreased the performance of these vehicles; they still have the strength and reliability that has come to be associated with traditional diesel power. Thanks to new modifications, drivers who prefer diesel-burning engines can enjoy enhanced operation without releasing excessive pollutants into the atmosphere.

Making the Most of Your Vehicle

Investing in an energy-efficient car is just the first step in greener driving. It’s possible to achieve even better fuel economy and preserve resources through smart driving and maintenance habits, such as:

  • Keep tires inflated to the proper pressure.
  • Have the engine serviced regularly.
  • Replace the fuel filter as needed.
  • Fill up with quality fuel.
  • Reduce aggressive driving habits.

Save Water to Save Money on your Energy Bill

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

On the average day, your household uses gallons of hot water for many important chores, from scrubbing dishes to washing your clothes. If you’re not careful, you risk wasting a decent amount and unnecessarily raising your monthly energy bill. However, changing your daily habits and upgrading your appliances can help you reduce your hot water waste.

Change Your Bathing Habits

Taking a hot bath may feel relaxing after a long day at work, but baths use far more water than quick and lukewarm showers. If you must take a hot shower, try to keep it under five minutes. If you don’t mind a short chill, you can even turn off the water while you put shampoo in your hair to save some extra money.

Lower the Temperature of Your Water Heater

Most water heaters have a default setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Lowering your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees can help you save some money each month. You can also insulate your water heater and the surrounding pipes to help conserve additional energy.

Run Your Dishwasher Efficiently

Your dishwasher uses a lot of hot water to get your dishes sparkling clean, and running the appliance with only a partial load wastes hot water. You should also avoid using lots of hot water to wash your dishes by hand before you put them in the dishwasher. If you tackle your dishes quickly after eating, a light rinse from the faucet should help you eliminate most food residue, and your dishwasher can take care of the rest.

Repair Leaks Immediately

Leaky plumbing wastes water and raises your energy bill, even if it’s only a small leak. As faucets and showerheads age, they are more likely to start leaking. If you can’t fix your existing faucets, consider purchasing low-flow alternatives to help you reduce your water use.

Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances

If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher or washing machine, consider buying an energy-efficient model. These new appliances are designed to use hot water more effectively and reduce your waste. When you’re shopping, check each appliance’s EnergyGuide for information about the appliance’s water use. Although these models may cost more upfront, you’ll end up saving more money in the long run.

Wash Your Clothes Without Hot Water

Using the hot water setting on your washing machine is usually unnecessary to completely clean most clothes. Try using cold or warm water to clean your clothes. You can even buy laundry detergent that specifically works well with cold water.

LEDs, CFLs and HIDs: What’s the Difference?

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

If you’ve purchased light bulbs recently, you’ve most likely been overwhelmed by the range of options. There are traditional incandescent bulbs, modern compact fluorescent bulbs and a plethora of other ultra-efficient lighting options. And each type of bulb is available in multiple sizes and wattages that only add to the confusion. To decipher the differences, it’s important to understand how these technologies work.

Light-Emitting Diodes

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are extraordinarily efficient. Today, consumers can purchase LED bulbs that fit any standard socket. These bulbs are ideal for indoor and outdoor use. To improve the light quality, manufacturers combine colored diodes and arrange them in patterns that enhance light distribution. LEDs are by far the longest lasting option. One bulb can last for 50,000 hours. Plus, they contain no hazardous materials so disposal is easy.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Experts have called the compact fluorescent light (CFL) the most important lighting breakthrough in the past half-century. Thanks to a compact design and integrated ballast, these efficient light bulbs can be installed anywhere. Although CFLs are more expensive than incandescents, they last 10 times longer. A single bulb can burn for 12,000 hours.

Consumers know that CFLs last longer, use less energy and stay cooler than incandescents, but most of us have trouble believing that an 18-watt CFL can replace a 60-watt incandescent. But watts only represent electric use. Light is measured in lumens. As a rule of thumb, pick a CFL that’s one-fourth of your current wattage.

High-Intensity Discharge Lamps

If you want industrial-strength lighting in your home or outdoors, high-intensity discharge (HID) light bulbs might be a good choice. Instead of using a filament, these bulbs send electrical current through a gas-filled capsule. Streetlights have used this technology for years.

Although you may not be familiar with the term HID, you’ve probably heard of mercury vapor, metal halide and high-pressure sodium, which are all HIDs. These bulbs use 80 percent less energy than comparable incandescent bulbs and have a life expectancy of 20,000 hours. Like CFLs, HIDs contain mercury and must be treated as hazardous waste.

Whether you choose LEDs, CFLs or HIDs, you’ll be using less energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and saving money. These bulbs cost more initially, but they will pay for themselves within three years and can save you more than $75 over their life.

Chill Out Without Freezing Your Bank Account

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

Keeping cool during a hot Texas summer without draining the bank account is a challenge for any family. On a particularly hot day, the temptation to run your air conditioning at full blast may be too tough to ignore. Before you crank up the dial, however, consider a few alternative ways to cool your home without racking up a huge electricity bill.

Use Windows Effectively

During a milder summer, you can take advantage of cool nights and breezes to reduce the heat in your home. When outdoor temperatures begin to fall in the evening, you should open windows throughout your home, especially on upper floors. You can prop up a couple of fans near windows to help draw cooler air inside more quickly. In the morning, close your windows to trap cool air inside. You should also close blinds and curtains to reduce the amount of sunlight entering and heating your home.

Use More Fans

Although fans do not reduce the temperature in your home, they can distribute air throughout your home and help avoid the creation of hot spots of stagnant air. Ceiling fans are inexpensive to run and can make the rooms in your home seem more habitable in the summer. Consider a few other ways to use fans in your home:

  • Running a fan while you sleep may help you feel more comfortable, even when it’s hot in your bedroom.
  • Box fans can help move cool air from your basement to the upper floors of your home.
  • Direct small desk fans in your direction when using electronics to prevent hot air building up around you and your devices.

Reduce Appliance Use

Your home’s appliances generate a lot of heat. Turning on your oven to cook a pizza can quickly make your kitchen resemble a dry sauna. During the summer, make a habit of using your appliances less frequently and more wisely. For example, don’t run the dishwasher during the hottest part of the day; instead, use it in the evening when you can cool your home naturally with open windows. You can also quit using some appliances completely. Instead of using your dryer, put the sun to work by hanging your clothes out to dry in the backyard.



Larger Homes More Energy Efficient

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

On average, homes built after 2000 are about 30 percent larger than older homes, but they only consume 2 percent more energy than pre-21st Century homes. Interestingly, this has shown that although newer models are bigger than ever, the additional energy they use compared with older homes is negligible. A survey published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, highlights the major advances in energy-efficient construction from the last several years that have made that possible.

You may ask: if newer homes are more energy efficient, why are they still technically consuming more energy? That mostly has to do with their sheer size. There’s more space to cool down in a hot state like Texas, and larger homes tend to have more appliances and electronic gadgets, so they use a lot more electricity.

Energy-Efficient Design Concepts

In many areas, stricter building codes have forced home construction companies to strive for greater energy efficiency, and demand for energy-efficient homes is very high. Construction companies are taking a whole-house systems approach these days, which treats a single house as a complete energy system. Many factors are taken into consideration to achieve optimal energy efficiency, including:

  • Local climate
  • Site conditions
  • Space cooling and heating
  • Windows, doors and skylights
  • Air sealing and insulation
  • Water heating

Clever Designs for Enhanced Energy Efficiency

Many clever advances have been made to improve the energy efficiency of new homes. There’s passive solar heating and cooling, which makes effective use of windows and other elements to naturally and passively keep a home warmer or cooler. Or cool roofs, which are a big hit in Texas and use highly reflective materials to keep less heat from getting into a home.

More than anything, though, achieving a tight building envelope helps to keep energy costs in check. According to the Department of Energy, uncontrolled air leakage accounts for 30 to 50 percent of a home’s heating and cooling costs. By building airtight homes, developers can drastically slash energy costs for homeowners.

Keep Your Energy Bill Out of Hot Water

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

Keep Your Energy Bill Out of Hot Water

Is your water heater sending your energy bill sky high? Conserve energy and save money with these five tips for better water heater efficiency.

Lower the Thermostat

Most water heaters come pre-set at 140 degrees; however, the Department of Energy recommends an optimal temperature of 120. Dialing down the thermostat just ten degrees can save three to five percent on your monthly energy bills. Measure the temperature of the water at the faucet and make adjustments accordingly. Wait two hours before testing again to make sure that the water is coming out the way you want.

Lower the Flow

Leaking faucets waste a lot of water, and if the hot water faucet on your kitchen sink or shower is the one dripping, it puts a constant demand on the water heater. Fix any leaks you find right away, and install low-flow showerheads to cut down on the demand for hot water. Not only do these reduce energy waste and your hot water use by 25 to 60 percent, they can also conserve as much as 14,000 gallons of water a year.

Ensure Insulation

Most water heaters are located in the basement, which is often much colder than the rest of the house. In this environment, heat is lost from the water tank and pipes every time you turn on the faucet, meaning you have to wait longer for water to reach the desired temperature. Wrapping an insulated blanket around the heater tank and insulating sleeves around hot water pipes holds heat in to conserve energy.

Upgrade for Energy Efficiency

Water heaters have an average life span of 10 to 15 years, so if your unit is getting older, it’s time to start shopping for a more efficient model. Look for heaters with an Energy Star rating or those labeled “high-efficiency.” Gas-on-demand models and tankless systems that heat water directly can be up to 30 percent more energy-efficient than those with storage tanks.

Say No to Sediment

Dirt and debris build up in water heater tanks over time, causing them to work harder to do their job. You can drain the tank yourself twice a year using a garden hose or remove about one quart of water every three months to cut down on sediment buildup and ensure that the heater is operating at peak efficiency.

These simple changes conserve water, save energy and should have a noticeable impact on your utility bills in the long run.

Change the Small Things for a Greener Planet

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

Although you can’t personally save the whales or eliminate pollution, you can still help encourage a greener planet. Following a sustainable lifestyle isn’t just about activism or grand gestures. Swapping the batteries you use or adjusting the way you run errands may seem insignificant, but even small changes add up over time.

Cut Out Junk Mail

While most junk mail is recyclable, it’s better to simply stop it from arriving in your mailbox in the first place. Take note of which companies send you junk mail; you can usually get in touch with them to stop the unending flow of useless advertisements and catalogs.

Use Rechargeable Batteries

Batteries power many of the devices that you use in your daily life, but when you toss spent batteries in the trash, they end up in a landfill. Consider investing in a few rechargeable batteries, instead and help keep unnecessary pounds out of the dump.

Shop at Thrift Stores

Shopping at thrift stores is a great way to find old treasures, save money and reduce waste. Thrift stores contain a variety of fun items, from old paperbacks to holiday decorations. When you’re done with your own items, consider making a donation to the thrift store for someone else to enjoy.

Combine Errands

Running multiple errands throughout the day wastes fuel. If possible, try to combine your errands into one trip. You can also look for smarter ways to accomplish your errands instead of sticking to your normal routine; consider riding your bike or walking to the store when you only need to get a few groceries.

Shop With Reusable Bags

Plastic bags are handy for taking out small loads of trash and bringing home groceries, but they often end up as litter. Reusable bags are a great alternative, if you remember to use them. Leave a few canvas totes in your car so you’ll always have the option to skip the plastic bags at the grocery store.

Pay Your Bills Online

Paying your monthly bills online is a small but effective way to eliminate paper waste. Instead of waiting for a paper bill to arrive, you can simply log in to your bank’s website to pay what you owe. You won’t even need to bother with a check and envelope.

Skip Appliance Use

Appliances are handy tools that make daily life more convenient. Some appliances, however, waste a lot of resources, including water and electricity. In the summer, you can use your dryer less by hanging out your wet clothes to dry in the sun. Use windows and fans instead of your air conditioner during the summer, and dress warmly during the winter to avoid using your furnace.

4 Ways to Reduce Your Electricity Bill

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

All the modern conveniences of American home life come at a heavy price, usually in the form of astronomical power bills. Here are some simple cost-cutting tips that will allow you to spend your money on something more exciting than utilities.

Seal Those Cracks

You’d never let money fly out your window; however, the cost of energy wasted due to small crevices throughout your home can quickly add up. Check door frames, windows, rim joists and other spaces that connect to the outside to make sure air isn’t escaping. Caulk and expanding foam, which are available at most hardware stores, can easily solve the problem. If you feel a breeze seeping through your closed front door, it may be time for new weatherstripping.

Look for the Energy Star Logo

The Energy Star logo is an official stamp of approval from the American EPA. To earn such a distinction, a product must meet specific energy-efficient standards. Washers and dryers, TVs, refrigerators and many other large and small appliances may bear the symbol. Energy Star certified products last longer, reducing the amount of waste in landfills and lessening your monthly and long-term energy expenses.

Best of all, Energy Star products are price controlled; while they may have a more expensive initial price tag than a competitor, the additional cost must be offset by less than 5 years of energy savings to be approved by the EPA.

Exorcise Your Phantom Power

While your laptop is plugged in, your XBOX is on standby and you’re just using your microwave as a clock, your electric meter is slowly ticking up. Keep electronics that are not being used or are already fully charged unplugged. One way to simplify the process is to connect multiple appliances to a power strip so you can shut them all off with one switch.

Avoid “Peak-time” Charges

Your water heater is one of your biggest energy suckers. Many energy companies have a distinguished “peak time” during which the cost of power is higher than usual. Find out when your power company’s peak time is and try showering, washing clothes and rinsing dishes after those hours. If you have a thermostat with a timer, you can program it to turn off during peak hours. Knocking your thermostat back 15 degrees for eight hours a day can cut up to 10 percent off your annual power bills.

Lower Your Winter Heating Bill With These Quick Tips

by energyproviderstexascomenergyn in Uncategorized

Winter chills can take a toll on your heating bills. Because the temperature dips and fluctuates each night, your heating unit may turn on more frequently, which leads to higher costs at the end of the month. Fortunately, you can lower your heating bills by doing a little preventative maintenance and adjusting your thermostat on a daily basis.

5 Tips for Lowering Your Heating Bill

  1. Adjust your thermostat according to your daily habits. When you’re at home, set it to 72 degrees. When you leave or go to sleep, lower the thermostat to 68 or below. If you have animals, keep the thermostat set at a low but comfortable temperature.
  2. Have a professional inspect your heating unit. A professional can check for problems and make sure the unit operates at optimal performance. If you hear bangs or buzzes from the outside unit, contact a professional right away. Odd sounds indicate a struggling heating unit, which results in higher bills.
  3. Seal all air leaks in your home. Add more insulation in the attic and basement, and apply sealant around the windows. You should also check for holes in your ductwork to prevent hot air from escaping into the attic space. Attach a foam insulator to the bottom of your front and back door to prevent cold air from leaking into your home.
  4. Close your chimney damper to keep cold air out of your home. Some homeowners leave the damper open without realizing it and then pay the price once the monthly heating bill arrives.
  5. Replace your air filters. Clogged, dirty air filters hinder the air flow and waste energy. Therefore, the heating unit has to work harder, and it shows on your bill.

With just a few simple changes, you can lower your heating bill each month. For further energy savings, consider updating to Energy Star appliances and windows. Energy Star products can help you save up to 15 percent on your heating bill each month.