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Save Energy At Home: Energy Efficiency Tips For Homeowners

One of the easiest ways to save money while helping the environment is to save energy at home by making your house more energy efficient. By making a commitment to make environmentally responsible choices about your electricity usage, you’re working to help preserve our valuable natural resources for future generations. Being more eco-friendly with your electricity use doesn’t require a large lifestyle change or constant expenditure of time and resources. Rather, it takes a few small changes and a focus on mindfulness.

Energy Efficiency & Your Electric Bill

Sure, you compare electricity prices to find a good deal, but your energy charge per kilowatt-hour is only part of what makes up your monthly bill. The other key component is usage. By making energy-efficient upgrades, you can save energy at home and lower your overall usage. When you multiply your electric rate by your new, lower usage, you get a lower bill that leaves more money in your pocket at the end of the month.

Small Changes, Big Impact

Making the change to a more energy efficient home is cheaper than ever. With more and more homeowners focusing on eco-friendly actions, market demand has pushed prices lower for energy saving home accessories at a tremendous pace. While the latest in energy-efficient appliances might still enjoy a premium, earlier generation technology is fast becoming standard features across the board. Here are some of the most popular energy-efficient upgrades available to homeowners today.

LED Light Bulbs – Perhaps the easiest home retrofitting job available, LED light bulbs have seen a drop in price even as the technology advances. Early LED bulbs were expensive and offered single-direction light. Contemporary LED replacement bulbs designed for a standard light socket cost a few dollars, use a fraction of the electricity incandescent bulbs use for the same light, and can last up to 20 years.

Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures – While this change may show up on your water bill and not your electric bill, it still helps save energy. The purification and treatment of drinking water uses an enormous amount of energy. These fixtures accomplish the same amount of work with less water. Using less water at home means saving energy for your community while you save money. This upgrade can be especially important in drought-stricken areas where high water use is penalized with higher rates.

Sensors, Programmables, And Other Smart Home Features – Technology has been a driving force in lowering excessive consumption of resources. Many intuitive at-home, energy-saving features have been added to technology we already use on a daily basis, such as the addition of sensors that turn off lights and appliances when a room is not in use, programmable devices that control thermostats and lights, and connected devices that let you monitor and control electrical devices from your smartphone.

Newer Energy Star Appliances –  Replacing your older appliances with more energy-efficient models can have a big impact on your bill. Look for the Energy Star label that explains how much the expected annual energy usage of that item is, and how it relates to similar appliances in its category. Comparing expected usage can be important to saving energy at home.

Seal It Up Tight – You can expect your highest costs to generally occur in the summer and winter, months when energy is needed to keep indoor temperatures at a habitable level. As inclement seasons approach, check your doors and windows for gaps or cracks that can allow your air conditioning or heating to escape. You should also check the insulation in your home for proper thickness. A great method of saving energy at home is making sure you aren’t seeping your expensive heating and cooling to the air outside your house.

Watch Your Electric Bill – If there is a problem, it may show up there first. An appliance that’s stuck on, a collapsed duct in the attic, or damaged insulation may have symptoms that are easily missed. Unexpected spikes in usage could point to a bigger problem that needs investigating. In addition, your utility bill is a great resource when you need to compare electricity prices.

It Pays To Save

Saving energy at home is easier than ever. You can still live your life, you’ll just use less energy doing it. Best of all, it can increase the value of your home. As more and more younger, environmentally conscious buyers enter the home market, energy efficient features are fast becoming an upgrade for which they’re willing to pay a premium.

Get The Electricity You Need To Power Your Home

Saving energy at home is a great way to get the most for your energy dollar. You can also find real savings with a new, low-cost electricity plan. Compare electricity prices and shop for your new electric plan with Vault Electricity.

GM Continues Transition To Renewable Energy With Wind-Powered Arlington, Texas Plant

electric-car-plantGM has recently announced its latest milestone in its drive to increase its use of renewable energy to power its operations. The company last year completed a deal to purchase sufficient wind-generated energy to power its major plant in Arlington, as well as 15 other separate facilities, which includes GM’s financial headquarters located in the downtown area of Fort Worth.

The company stated that it has agreed to buy 50 megawatts of electricity produced at the Cactus Flats wind farm, a massive 150-megawatt farm that is under development near San Angelo by Renewable Energy Systems. The Cactus Flats wind farm is another major investment in wind energy in Texas, which is currently the largest producer of wind energy in the country with over 10,000 turbines currently in operation.

The plant in Arlington builds some of GM’s most iconic models, focusing on the company’s top-selling sport utility vehicles. The plant already receives 50% of its power from renewable sources of energy, and the addition of the Cactus Flats wind farm will result in the plant being powered completely by green energy sources. It is estimated that the shift to wind power will reduce the plant’s total energy costs by up to $3 million a year, as well as reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1 million tons over the entirety of the contract.

GM’s Worldwide Targets for Renewable Energy Part of Climate Change Commitments

Beginning in 2018, GM will be sourcing over 193,000 megawatt hours of power per year from wind alone. At the beginning of the contract over 6% of GM’s worldwide energy use will be from renewable sources. This recent deal is just a small part of GM’s long-term commitment to being powered entirely by renewable sources by 2050. This goal was set alongside other similar climate change commitments, such as the development of vehicles powered by electricity.

See Also: Amazon Comes To Texas For Electricity

See Also: Arlington Electricity Providers

 

4 Ways To Boost Your Office’s Energy Efficiency

light bulb electricity buttonAlmost 20 percent of energy consumed in the United States derives from commercial buildings, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reports.

Seeking and implementing energy-saving solutions within your office building not only reduces the amount of energy consumed, but also saves money on maintenance and supplies, while providing additional comfort and health and safety benefits. Here are the top four ways to boost your office’s energy efficiency.

Switch to Cloud Computing

By storing and accessing data online rather than on a computer hard drive, your office will reduce its energy consumption, saving up to $12.3 billion on energy bills worldwide and eliminating 85.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year by 2020. Leaving local storage and in-house computing behind, cloud computing has the potential to reduce energy usage worldwide by 38 percent before 2020.

According to a study done by Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy, this means switching over could reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 90 percent for smaller, less efficient businesses and 30 percent for larger, more efficient ones. Companies like Mozy make it effortless to switch over to cloud computing, providing your office with worry-free cloud data protection, backup computers and servers, and 24/7 support for when you need it most.

Invest in Energy Star Electronics, Appliances

When you see an Energy Star label, you can be confident the product meets strict energy efficiency requirements set forth by the EPA. This step helps you save money, while providing you with the high performance you need as a consumer.

For your office, invest in Energy Star-labeled computers, monitors, printers and copiers that have been designed to boost energy efficiency, with functions like automatic low-power mode. According to the EPA, Energy Star-labeled electronics save U.S. companies and consumers $1.8 billion in annual energy costs. In the kitchen, upgrade all your appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, coffeemaker and microwave, to their Energy Star alternatives.

Invest in Smart Lighting

More than half the energy consumed inside commercial buildings is done through heating and lighting the office. Reducing consumption begins with taking advantage of natural lighting, ensuring windows are unobstructed and sunlight is flowing in to illuminate your space. In instances when natural light is unavailable, adopt smart lighting solutions throughout your building to reduce energy usage.

Switch compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, to LED bulbs. Not only do LED bulbs have a longer lifespan, but they also are more durable and prevent heat buildup, which reduces the energy used to keep the office cool.

Upgrade the HVAC System

When all the telltale signs are pointing to replacing your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, upgrade to an energy-efficient model that will greatly reduce energy usage and costs within your office building. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old or requires frequent repairs, switch to an Energy Star model and reap cost savings between 10 percent and 40 percent from your energy bill.

In addition to energy and cost savings, everyone in the office will enjoy an extended comfort zone, increased thermal comfort and improved air quality.

Become More Energy Efficient With These New Tools

electricity efficientThe U.S. Energy Information Agency reports our electricity is generated from the combined consumption of 36 percent petroleum, 27 percent natural gas, 18 percent coal and only 9 percent renewable resources. One way to reduce this heavy reliance on fossil fuels is to save on electricity wherever you can. The following household gadgets will help you reduce your energy use and make your home more energy efficient:

Pick Your Power Provider

Because you live in a state where you can choose from a number of energy providers, you can find one that uses renewable energy to generate your electricity. Vault Electricity makes it easy to select a plan that is 100% green.

Programmable Thermostats

High-tech thermostats have been around for several years. Most allow you to set a particular temperature for a particular time of day. The Nest thermostat does that but also “learns” by recording the adjustments you make throughout the day. Set it to learn for a week as you turn the thermostat up or down, then allow it to do that for you automatically. It also connects to your home network so you can control it from a laptop or mobile device. If you have a variable schedule, turn it down when you leave the house then turn it back up with your smartphone as you’re leaving class.

Controlling the Vampires

Every home has a number of energy vampires. These are devices that continue to consume electricity even after they have been shut off (or roommates who always forget to turns things off). Televisions, stereos and gaming systems are big energy vampires. The solution has been to unplug these devices when not in use. Now the Belkin Conserve Power switch provides another way with a device that goes between the device and the outlet. This switch cuts off power to any device that tries to draw a small current when turned off. Now you can enjoy those video game marathons with peace of mind.

Recharging Control

If you own a smartphone, chances are you can relate to squeezing ever last ounce out of your battery’s life. College campuses have a way of sucking batteries dry, but you can stay green as you charge them up. Mashable recommends the Bracketron Stone GreenZero Charger. When recharging mobile devices, they continue to pull a charge once they have reached 100 percent. The Bracketron device shuts off the electricity completely once a mobile device has fully charged.

Check the Lights

It can be a challenge to make sure that lights are turned off when someone leaves a room. Lutron offers motion sensor switches that replace existing wall-mounted light switches. These are specifically made for smaller spaces such as closets, laundry rooms, bathrooms and utility rooms. The money you save on your electricity bill can fund your late-night trips to the student cafeteria.

Complete Home Control

Home power monitoring and control systems, such as the one by Vantage, allow you to see what is consuming power in your home and at what rate. You can monitor each electrical outlet for how much it is used. Control lights, thermostat and appliances from a console on your computer or an app on your mobile device. Now you can expose the roommate who is responsible for most of the electrical bill.

 

Top 3 Green Home Appliances

Want to save up to $400 per month? It’s simple. Just switch out your old appliances for eco-friendly models. According to data reported by Green America, high-efficiency appliances saved American consumers up to $12 billion on energy costs in the past. Not only do energy-efficient appliances save “green,” these earth-friendly machines significantly reduce the impact on our precious resources. Additionally, Green America reported that energy-efficient appliances reduced greenhouse emissions that are comparable to the impact of 23 million cars on the road. Ready to make the switch? These are the top three green home appliances.

Washing Machines

The sustainable living experts from Earth Easy advocate the use of energy-friendly washers and dryers, as these home appliances are major energy users. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the energy used to do laundry is used just to heat up the water. For most of today’s energy-efficient washers, the cold water setting is just as effective at cleaning laundry as the warm or hot settings. Appliances like high-efficiency front-loading washers save water by using less per load. These styles also get the job done much quicker and require less laundry detergent than traditional models, making a front-load washer a sustainable choice for your home.

Dishwashers

As a consumer, it’s important to shop for an eco-friendly dishwasher that’s not too large, as the size of the appliance directly impacts how much water and energy is used to get the dishes clean. Additionally, earth-conscious shoppers should look for a model that has an internal water heater that adjusts the temperature of the water inside. An Energy Star-rated Frigidaire dishwasher not only saves you money on your utility bills, it also cleans dishes better than competing models, as it can sanitize up to 99.9 percent of common household bacteria, keeping your home clean and safe.

Ovens

Homeowners shopping for a powerful yet sustainable oven can look to Bosch. The home appliance manufacturer uses sustainable workmanship throughout the entire process, from building the home appliances to getting them to the store shelves. Even the packing material that Bosch uses is recycled. The company takes an eco-conscious approach to its business, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Bosch offers some of the top eco-friendly appliances on the market today. Whether you’re a seasoned chef of a home cook, you’ll appreciate the craftsmanship and the sustainability factor of Bosch ovens. Want to cut energy loss while cooking? It’s as easy as keeping the oven door shut while cooking. It’s estimated that 10 percent of energy is lost when the door is opened.

Protection Plans

Once you upgrade your appliances, ensure your purchase is protected with a home warranty or protection plan from Total Protect. The company offers specialty protection plans for appliances, which covers the cost to fix or repair the broken appliance. One single home appliance breakdown can cost as much as a year’s worth of coverage. Don’t risk it, get covered today.

Energy-Saving Purchases To Slash Your Power Bill

Phone charging with energy bank and using smartphone in handsNobody enjoys paying for utilities, but they are an inevitable burden. Fortunately, there are ways to slash these charges by upgrading parts of your home and lifestyle that may be wasting electricity. By switching to energy-efficient electronics, you can cut your bills in half. Here are some options to start saving energy and money.

Smartphone

While charging your phone does not use a lot of electricity, if you have an older phone that consistently needs to be charged, you are using more than you should be. Older smartphones lose battery power quicker, and you may find that you need to charge it more often than you used to. If this is the case, look into buying a new phone that will keep its charge. Check out a phone with a long-lasting battery life, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, and make the switch. Don’t waste your time and energy constantly having to plug in a cellphone that is past its prime when there are newer and more efficient models available.

Car

Vehicles are a huge expense. Routine maintenance, special repairs and keeping the gas tank full, are just some of the charges that add up. One way to offset these costs is to upgrade to an energy-efficient car, so you do not have to buy as much gas. This may mean trading in your pickup truck for a small sedan or switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle. Figure out how much money you can spend on gas, and then research cars that enable you to spend that amount or less. Buying some gas is inevitable, but reducing the amount can save you a large chunk of change.

Windows

Are your windows doing their job? They are supposed to let in light, protect you from rain and give you a view of the outside world, but they should do even more. They also should be holding in your heating and air conditioning. You may not notice small cracks that allow air to escape, but they may be costing you hundreds in heating and cooling costs.

If you cannot afford new windows, weather-proof them instead. You can use caulk and weatherstrips to reduce air leakage. There are also window treatments and coverings that block out heat during the warmer months, lowering your need for air conditioning. If you want to take the full plunge, talk to a professional about energy-efficient windows and getting them installed in your home.

Smart Thermostat

If used correctly, smart thermostats can save you money and energy. Before investing in one, you have to consider that the thermostat can costs up to $300 and it will take time to recoup your investment. However, many landlords will reimburse you for installing one, so you may want to mention it before purchasing.

Smart thermostats learn your behaviors and react. They know when you get home from work, when you routinely leave your home and other factors that affect your home’s temperature. This allows them to cool down or warm up your space before you get home, while saving energy the rest of the day. You also can control them remotely, so you can make adjustments at any time using a smartphone app. In the long run, they are great tools to streamline your energy usage and save money.

Steps To Take For A Greener, Healthier Home 

lower monthly electric billIf you’re an environmentally conscious consumer, the first place you’ll want to start being green is in your home. After all, you control many different factors in your house, and it will be easiest for you to begin there. If you’re stumped on what you should do first, this handy guide will help you along the way. From environmentally friendly pest control to ways to make your home more energy efficient, here are ways you can make your home greener.

Energy Efficiency

The best parts about making your home more energy efficient? It usually will save you money, too. It’s estimated that the 115 million households in this country use about 22.5 percent of the country’s energy, which is a staggering amount. The average American family usually spends about $2,200 a year on utilities, according to the EPA. By following some of the these tips, you can save about 25 percent on your bill.

There are many different ways to accomplish this. The first starts with your thermostat. If you use a programmable one like Nest, you can set the temperature so it turns off when you’re not there and clicks back on when you’re about to arrive home. If you’re the type that likes your home hot or cold when you arrive, using a programmable thermostat is a great way to ensure that it’s the desired temperature when you walk in the door without you having to shell out for or waste unnecessary energy. Other quick tips include:

  • Air dry clothing and dishes
  • Turn off electronics when they’re not in use
  • Lower to the water heater to 120 degrees
  • Take shorter showers
  • Consider purchasing Energy Star-certified appliances.

Eco-Friendly Pest Prevention

Yes, it’s possible to have green pest prevention. Sure, it might be easier for you to head to the store and buy the can on the shelf, but that can might contain toxins that can be seriously detrimental to your health. A study published in the medical journal Cancer found that “kids with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were seven more times likely than healthy kids to have grown up in a home that was treated regularly by a professional exterminator,” as reported by the Huffington Post.

If you do have a pest problem, there are steps you can take to combat them using eco-friendly methods. One great resource to start with is the site beyondpesticides.org. When you visit, you can search by state to find a green pest control provider. Another great sign to look for is the Green Shield Certified logo. This nonprofit certification program is only handed out to companies that practice “smarter, more effective pest control without unnecessary pesticide use.” Visit greenshieldcertified.org to find providers that meet this criteria and learn more about the program.

You also can learn more about the insects themselves. Sites like insects.org are a great place to start. By brushing up on your knowledge of, let’s say, termites, you’d learn that you can use parasitic nematodes to naturally destroy a termite population. This will not only allow you to use a more biological method of getting rid of those pests, but also can save you the money you would have spent on an exterminator.