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How Solar Power Technology Can Reduce Your Energy Costs And Carbon Footprint

Solar power technology is bringing light to America’s energy future. The DOE estimates that there is now enough solar power being generated every year to power 3.2 million average American homes. Energy from the sun is clean, sustainable and not harmful to our environment. Plus, you can save money by reducing costs on your energy bill. With electricity rates going up, it’s the right time to consider making the switch to solar energy.

Isn’t it great that today, solar power technology is available for a wide range of indoor and outdoor applications? The sun is a renewable energy source, and we can harness the energy to convert it into electricity. You can use the power of the sun for literal power and to heat your home. It’s a great source for lighting—you’ll find a wide range of solar-powered outdoor lights in use for residential and commercial purposes, from decorative landscape fixtures bringing beauty to yards to SMART LED street lights that keep people safe. You can use solar energy to heat a pool or hot tub and not worry about soaking up a steep energy bill. And, with the availability of car solar panels to power an electric car, there’s a bright road ahead. Also, with solar power technology becoming much more efficient and economical, it’s becoming easier than ever to reduce emissions and our carbon footprint by making the switch to solar.

In Texas, you can choose a green energy plan that is best suited for your needs. With the ability to compare the best programs and green energy providers, making the switch is a breeze. You can choose green energy providers that offer a variety of plans. Plus, some programs provide bill credits when your usage is at a specific kWh. There are month-to-month variable rate plans with no contract and no early termination fees available, or you can lock in a fixed rate and reap the benefits of enjoying clean, renewable energy at the same price month after month.

How solar impacts your bill

We can capture and harness solar energy through passive and active solar energy systems. According to the Department of Energy, heating consumes about half the energy of the average home, but you can cut this cost in half by using passive solar heating and cooling. This strategy uses a home’s location and materials to economize energy use. Where your home is positioned plays a big part in how it allows the sun to enter in the winter and block it in the summer. Water heating, your home’s second-biggest energy cost, can also be done more efficiently by using solar power. Start with an energy audit before pursuing any solar installations so that you can identify your most efficient potential improvements.

So, how does solar power technology impact your bill? If you have solar power systems installed in your home, it can drastically reduce your monthly electric bill over time. Utility rates may change at the drop of a hat. When you purchase solar power technology for your home, you are in control of your energy costs. Of course, you will need to buy a solar panel system, so there are initial upfront costs. The good news is that solar photovoltaic panels now cost half of what they did in 2011, a trend the DOE seeks to advance with a $53 million research initiative.

If you’re leasing or renting a place, you can still go green. The alternative is to select a 100% renewable energy plan from a green energy service provider in your area.

How solar affects the environment

It’s no secret that using fossil fuels is dirty and expensive. Extracting and using fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas is harmful to our environment. It’s time to act quickly. The earth’s temperature is rising much faster than expected. By 2030, the earth could be getting warmer by 1.5C degrees, and while that may not seem like much, this slight temperature change is enough to destroy up to 90% of the coral reefs on our planet. Sea levels are rising, causing floods and significant damage worldwide.

There is still hope for our future. We can turn to our natural resources and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Solar power is clean and abundant. So, when you choose to install solar panels or switch to a green energy plan, you’re also doing your part to improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions—you’re getting your energy from non-polluting solar energy systems/power plants, which do not produce dangerous emissions.

We can make a positive change by switching to renewable energy. It’s not just people that are converting to solar and other renewable energy sources. Companies are, too. There’s still time to turn things around. We can give our planet a chance and keep our lifestyle intact by building a low carbon economy that can mitigate the effects of climate change.

 

What Factors Make Up Your Electricity Price? | Infographic

The amount of power used by your household influences your electric bill. The time in which you use energy could also be a significant factor in your electricity price. For instance, the peak hours for electricity demand are highest in the afternoon and the early evening. During these peak hours, wholesale electricity prices are usually higher. Supply and demand affect the cost of how electric power gets to your home.  Some electricity plans charge different rates at different times of the day because of this.

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The Factors that Influence the Price of Electricity

Electricity supply costs vary minute by minute and are calculated per kilowatt hour (kWh).

Fuels: High demand for electricity can increase demand for fuels, including natural gas. Higher demand results in higher costs to generate electricity.

Power Plants: The cost of constructing, maintaining and operating power plants influences the price of electricity.

Transmission and Distribution: Maintenance is a factor in the price. Costs also include repairs from damage caused by accidents or extreme weather conditions.  The expense of generating electricity is only a small part of electricity expenses.  Much of the cost associated with supplying electricity to consumers is in the cost of transmitting the electricity from the power plant to the end user.  This includes maintenance and upkeep on powerlines and relay stations along the way.  These costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher electricity rates.

Weather conditions: Rain and snow provide beneficial amounts of water for generating low-cost hydropower. Favorable wind speeds provide low-cost electricity generated by wind turbines. Extreme weather conditions can raise prices. The cost of electricity is usually highest in the summer when demand is high for cooling.

Regulations: Where you live has an influence on what you pay for electricity. Some states have fully regulated prices. Others have a combination of both. Many states have deregulated energy markets, including Texas, California and New York.

Pro Tips On How to Cut Down on Your Electricity Bill

If possible, try to do all your laundry, dishwashing and other power-intensive tasks during off-peak hours. Tip: Some electric companies charge more for power used during the day rather than at night.

Pick the Right Provider: Do some research and discover a provider that offers time-of-day pricing. This format encourages electricity conservation and can help reduce peak demand. You can also choose a provider that utilizes green energy.

Lower Your Thermostat: During the summer, adjust your thermostat to 80 degrees, and when you’re not at home, adjust to 62 degrees in the winter.

Turn off Ceiling Fans and Lights: When you circulate the air in your home, it can make you feel more comfortable. However, if you’re not home, turn them off. The same thing applies to lights. If you don’t need them on, turn them off.

Unplug: Unplug fixtures or switch off the power strips when they’re not in use. When you unplug unused devices, you can reduce what is called “vampire energy.”

Replace Old Appliances: Older appliances are less likely to employ energy efficiency technology. Upgrade to ENERGY STAR®-certified appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers. You can even upgrade to an ENERGY STAR®-certified television.

Visit www.VaultElectricity.com for more information on how to choose the right electrical service provider.

How to Maximize Energy Efficiency in Your Home

Energy-efficient homes are designed to use less energy. Energy efficiency equates to saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. When you learn how to save energy at home, you can also have a better handle on rising electricity rates. After all, it seems like every year the price for electricity goes up. The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The good news is that even if you don’t have an energy-efficient home yet, you can take some cost-effective measures to make it happen.

How to save energy at home

Scheduling an energy audit is a great way to start saving energy at home. Energy auditors can recommend the most cost-effective measures to make your home energy efficient and comfortable. Energy efficiency house plans will typically include upgrades in and around your house, including ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances and effectively insulated walls and attics.

You’ll also want to improve the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. Replace an older furnace with a high-efficiency condensing system, which can result in savings on your energy bill. You should maintain HVAC systems annually, and if it’s over 10 years old, consider replacing it with a sleek new model.

Good landscaping makes your house look more attractive and can also help you save energy. When shade trees are planted strategically around your house, they can cool down the warmer parts of your home. Consider planting deciduous trees. In the summer, the foliage can block the sun during those bright summer days, and when it drops its leaves in the winter, it allows the sunshine to enter your house.

Do you feel a draft coming in from your windows? Are the windows in your home old and leaky? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be a good time to replace those windows with energy-efficient models. Replacing single-glazed windows with double-glazed windows improves the look of your house and makes it more comfortable.

Energy-efficient appliances

Invest in energy-efficient appliances and enjoy the savings on your energy bill. While the savings of having just one ENERGY STAR® appliance may seem small at first, those savings add up over time.

Refrigerators.

When you enter energy-efficient homes, you’ll notice state-of-the-art ENERGY STAR® certified models that don’t just look good, but run efficiently and save energy.

Dishwashers.

You can lower your utility bills and still get your dishes sparkly clean with ENERGY STAR® certified dishwashers. Over the last decade, the technology has dramatically improved, with today’s newer models saving tons of water while still getting the dirtiest of dishes clean.

Clothes washers and dryers.

When you upgrade to ENERGY STAR® certified clothes washers and dryers, you and your clothes will feel good. You’ll love saving more than $300 over the lifetime of both. Energy-efficient clothes washers use approximately 25% less energy and about 33% less water than standard machines. An energy-efficient dryer uses about 20% less power.

Consider upgrading to energy-efficient dehumidifiers and air purifiers. You can leave them on all day and enjoy breathing much better indoor air quality.

Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and knowing how to save energy at home can bring on the savings. You can keep even more money in your bank by switching energy providers, including those that offer green energy electricity plans. Vault Electricity can help you discover the lowest electricity rates in Texas. Compare, choose and save!

Energy Saving Tips for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, energy use takes up a large part of your budget. In fact, most small business owners say that the amount they spend on energy is one of their top-three expenses. According to an ENERGY STAR® estimate, small businesses across the U.S. spend over $60 billion on energy every year. A large chunk of that money goes to the consumption of electricity. After all, you need electrical power to keep the lights, computers, office machines and other business essentials on and running.

Running any size business can be stressful; however, if you learn how to run your business efficiently, it can be rewarding. So, don’t worry. If you’re a small business owner or are thinking of starting a business, there are simple adjustments you can do to reduce energy costs by up to 30%. Sounds great, right? We’ve put together some energy-saving tips for small business owners. If you’re ready to reduce energy use, save money and create a positive, energy-efficient work environment, keep on reading!

8 tips to save on energy costs in the office

Conduct an energy audit. We recommend getting an energy audit. Many electric utility companies offer free audits that can help determine your baseline energy use or you can hire a company to do it. They can provide an outline with suggestions on how to save energy at the workplace. You can opt to have a professional come to your business and inspect for air leaks and any insulation issues with your location.

Switch your retail energy supplier. Owning a small business in Texas has many advantages. One great advantage is having a business located in a deregulated market, which allows you to switch your retail energy supplier. It’s wise to compare plans, and you can do so using websites such as Vault Electricity that work with dozens of retail energy providers to offer you the best quotes. Retail energy suppliers are competing for your business and want to offer you the best rates in town!

Lock-in favorable electricity and natural gas rates. With energy prices fluctuating at a rapid pace, it makes sense to take advantage of locking in a natural gas and electricity rate that stays the same, month after month.

Use energy-efficient office equipment. Upgrade your office equipment to ENERGY-STAR® rated electronics. ENERGY-STAR® rated equipment is energy-efficient, so it can help save you money and help you manage your energy costs. What about the coffee maker? There are energy-efficient coffee makers and toasters available so you can keep the office happy, too.

Use natural lighting. If your business happens to get an abundant amount of natural light, let the sunshine inside. Using natural light from the sun doesn’t cost a thing, and it’s renewable and efficient. Turn the lights off when you don’t need them, and you can reduce energy costs.

Upgrade your light bulbs. Does your business still use incandescent lighting? If so, it’s a good time to switch them out with CFL and LED light bulbs. CFLs and LEDs use up to 80% less energy and may last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Unplug equipment that’s not in use. It’s the end of the workday, so there’s no reason to leave printers, monitors and other office equipment plugged in. Office equipment that remains plugged in and not in use is “phantom energy.” We recommend plugging equipment into a surge protector so you can turn equipment off with the flip of a single switch. Tip: Replace desktop computers with laptops. A notebook computer uses 80% less energy than a desktop computer.

Maintain or replace your HVAC equipment. Did you know that today’s air conditioners consume up to 30% less energy to cool an office than those made in the 1970s? Annual maintenance is a great way to keep your AC unit running smoothly while also keeping in mind how old it might be. Even replacing a 10-year-old air conditioning unit can save you up to 20% in cooling costs. Today’s units are much more energy-efficient. While we’re discussing the AC, you’ll want to lower your office temperature by one degree during the winter and raise it one degree higher in the summer. Also, program the thermostat so that it’s not running during non-working hours.

Get the employees involved in energy efficient behavior

Let your staff know that you’re trying to be more conscious of energy costs. After all, saving energy is a team effort. Just a simple email blast or note in the office is enough to make them aware. An open dialogue gets employees invested and helps to create a work culture that is all about energy efficiency. Employees may be interested in getting a carpool started, too, which is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint. Let them know that saving energy costs means there’s more money available to keep the business thriving. Small changes in employee behavior can build pride in the workplace and can contribute to a positive and more productive work environment.

10 Tips to Save Energy During Winter

For many, wintertime is magical. It’s also the coldest season, and you’re going to want to stay as cozy as you can in the comfort of your home. The good news is that you can keep your home snug and warm this winter season. The thing is, when it’s cold outside we like to turn on the heaters and do whatever we can to keep our home comfortable. Keeping the heaters on all day long and into the night is not exactly efficient energy use. However, by applying some simple techniques, you can be a master in how you promote efficient energy use. Below are cost-free and low-cost tips that can help you see energy savings on your electricity bill, even during the coldest winter evenings.

Let the sunlight shine inside.

The sun is the furnace of the world, and it can bring some warmth into a home. You can open the blinds and draw the curtains on south-facing windows and allow the sun to heat your home naturally. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing. You’ll want to remember to close your curtains and blinds at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.

Adjust your thermostat temperature.

You can achieve efficient energy use in the winter by adjusting the temperature on your thermostat. When you’re home, lower it to a comfortable temperature. When you’re asleep or away from home, go ahead and turn your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours and your energy savings can be about 10% a year.

Bundle up indoors.

Wear your winter wardrobe indoors and get all nice and cozy. Get this. The energy savings add up for every degree you lower your thermostat. So, slip on your fuzzy socks, wrap a scarf around your neck, and put on some ultra-soft PJs. Enjoy lower electricity rates and buy more clothes with the money you save!

Switch the blade rotation on your ceiling fans.

Hot air rises to the top. When you reverse your fan’s blades so that they run in a clockwise rotation, it can help push the warmth down.

Upgrade your windows.

Efficient energy use windows are an excellent investment for your home. Sure, it can be costly to install. However, tightly-sealed windows can reduce heat loss and bring substantial energy savings all year long. Plus, they can be considered an upgrade your home, possibly increasing the value of your home.

Replace your old light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs.

Are you still using incandescent light bulbs in your house? Winter is the perfect time to swap them out for LED or CFL bulbs. With shorter days, you’re going to want to keep the lights on longer. Making the switch to LEDs can lead to substantial energy savings. LED bulbs consume 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs, which can lead to lower electricity rates. If you’re one to put up holiday lights, you’ll want to upgrade to LED bulbs. Look for holiday lights that are ENERGY STAR® certified.

Inspect for drafts.

The cold winter air can seep into your home. It can make its way indoors under doors, around windows and through electrical outlets. When there’s a draft, It takes much longer to warm your home. With the installation of weather-stripping and insulation, you can keep that cold winter air outdoors, where it belongs.

Upgrade to a smarter thermostat.

It’s time to invest in a smarter thermostat. This low-cost upgrade can lead to energy savings. With a programmable thermostat, you can lower electricity rates by up to 12%. It’s also going to be a great benefit during the warm spring and summer months coming right up. Plus, you can adjust your home’s temperatures from a smartphone so that you can come home to a comfortable house.

Lay down a rug or mat.

We love hardwood floors. The thing is, during winter, they can feel downright cold. Purchase a beautiful floor rug, and it can help insulate your floors. Plus, a rug or floor mat can also reduce the noise level. Once the warm weather arrives, you can always remove the rug and put it away until next winter.

Turn off the lights!

This simple technique is one that you should practice all year long. There’s always that one person in the house that likes to leave the lights on. You’ll be amazed at the energy savings you can get by just turning off the lights when you don’t need them. You can always leave post-it notes around the home for the people in your household that have a hard time remembering.

 

Efficient energy use is a goal every household should strive for. The little things add up! Consider applying the tips mentioned above for energy savings throughout the year.

Top 3 Green Home Appliances

Switching your old appliances for eco-friendly, green models can save you up to $400 a month! Let’s face it, we all want cheaper energy bills. Besides keeping a ton of money, making the switch to green home appliances is good for the environment. We’re already recycling, watching how much water we consume, minimizing our use of plastics and carrying our bags to the grocery store. So, it makes sense to buy new household appliances that are energy efficient, too. You’ll also want to choose green energy providers that live up to the same standards as you.

Check this out: Data compiled by Green America reported that green appliances used by American consumers save up to $12 billion on energy costs. Plus, energy-efficient appliances can reduce greenhouse emissions. Bottom line: You can save money and do your part in helping to leave a healthier planet for generations to come. Who doesn’t want to do that?

So, why are green appliances important? First, you’re going to use less energy. In the state of Texas, there’s a high chance that this energy is coming from burning fossil fuels. Burning fewer fuels leads to a happier environment. Second, green appliances help to conserve water. Unfortunately, there is not an infinite supply of water available. You can also consider switching to an alternative electricity supply, such as solar power and natural gas.

Taking care of the environment should start at home. Below are the top three green appliances. Replace outdated appliances and get ready to save money and help the environment!

Choosing Green Energy Appliances

Upgrade to an energy-efficient washing machine. Did you know that about 90% of the energy used to do a load of laundry is to heat water? Here’s the thing: We don’t need to use hot water to get clothes clean. In fact, today’s energy efficient washing machines can get your clothes clean using the cold water setting. Look for front-loading washing machines because they use less per load. Plus, front-loaders are faster, and you’ll use less laundry detergent, which helps to save money and our planet.

Eco-friendly dishwashers are the smart choice. Washing dishes is one of our least favorite chores. If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, you know how great it is. Remember when dishwashers were huge? Guess what: They don’t have to be. When you’re out shopping for an eco-friendly model, consider the size. The size has a direct impact on the amount of water and energy being used to get those dishes clean. There are models available with internal water heaters, which are great because they can adjust the water temperature inside. Plus, many ENERGY STAR®-rated models are better at cleaning and sanitizing dishes.

Shop for sustainable ovens. You might be wondering what a sustainable oven is. These are ovens built by manufacturers that use sustainable workmanship. The entire process is sustainable, from creating the ovens to the way they get delivered to the stores. Bosch manufactures ovens this way — even the packing materials used are made from recycled materials. Of course, it’s not merely a process of choosing an eco-conscious builder of ovens. Simple things, such as keeping the oven door shut while you’re baking a meal, can reduce energy cost. After all, up to 10% of energy lost is due to an open door. So, next time you want to check to see if your meal is ready, turn on the light or take out the dish, close the door and put it back in if it’s not ready to eat.

Some other appliances to consider include consumer electronic devices such as monitors and TVs that are ENERGY STAR compliant.

Compare Green Energy Providers

Going green is easier than ever for both residential and commercial properties. Did you know that you can compare green energy providers? It’s true. Thanks to our user-friendly website, it’s easy to find green energy providers in your area. You can find renewable energy providers that offer plans with 100% renewable electricity. For a small monthly fee, some green energy providers provide customers with the option to convert their traditional plans to a 100% green plan. Some of the sources in a green energy plan include solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy, geothermal and tidal power plants.

At Vault Electricity, we update electricity rates hourly. That way, you have real-time information you can use when comparing the green energy providers on our list of trusted companies, such as Green Mountain Energy and TriEagle Energy. Compare rates today and find the best plan suited to your home or business needs.

Right now is a great time to adjust your habits toward being a more eco-friendly consumer. Shop around for green appliances and be sure to compare green energy providers on our website.

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.