Thermostats are used to control the temperature of a building. They are set to the desired temperature and will turn heat or air conditioning on or off to maintain that set temp. There are sensors inside the device that detect the current temp and if it is below the set temperature, the thermostat will either turn on the heat or turn off the air conditioning. If it is above the set temperature, the device does the opposite, either turning off the heat or turning on the air conditioner. Which thermostat is right for you? Here are some of the most common thermostats used in homes.
- Manual Thermostat: Also called a mechanical thermostat, this device is often found in older homes. It usually features a dial with a needle to set the temperature and a switch for heating or cooling. This thermostat is best for people who are home during most of the day and like to keep the temperature at a set level.
- Digital Non-programmable Thermostat: A digital version of the manual thermostat, this version replaces the dial and needle with an easy to read Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). It remains very basic in that it features switches for automatic function, which turns the heating or cooling on or off as needed, an override to simply keep the unit’s fan on, and another switch to set between heating, cooling, and off. In addition to these switches, there is often rubber arrow shaped buttons which increases or decreases the desired temperature setting.
- Programmable Thermostat: According to the United States Department of Energy, these thermostats can help save about 10 percent on your electricity by allowing you to set temperatures throughout the course of the day. Though it may seem intimidating to program, this thermostat will let you set temperatures for different times of day, usually four different time frames, as well as program the unit to function differently for weekends and weekdays. For example, a business that is not open weekends can have their thermostat set to not turn on at all during the weekend, but the thermostat will maintain the set temperature during typical work hours, like 9 am to 5 pm. It also features switches for heating and cooling, and can be briefly overridden to reach a set temp for about an hour before reverting to its preset program.
According to the United States Department of Energy, the average residential cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) was 12 cents per kWh in April of 2012. So, what state has the highest rate and how high is it? Hawaii tops the list of highest electricity rates in the country at an average of 36.27 cents per kWh. With energy costs skyrocketing, this keeps Hawaii as one of the most expensive states to live in.
Hawaii is the third lowest energy consumer in the US, using approximately 200 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) worth of energy per capita. Wyoming consumes the most energy at 948 million BTUs, yet their rate is 10.37 cents per kWh, just under the national average. Texas both produces and consumes 10 percent of the country’s electricity, making them the highest producer and sixth highest consumer. Texas’ average rate is 11.32 cents per kWh, also below the national average.
Similarly, the United States is the top producer of electricity in the world, but they are also the top consumer. Though the average rates may seem high, they are still nearly half that of the rates in the European Union. Europe has one of the highest electricity costs in the world.
Energy costs vary greatly between locations, but the best way to keep your bill costs down is to conserve energy and lower the amount of kWh consumed each month.
Retail Energy Providers (REPs) and utilities are often thought to be the same, but actually, they are quite different. A REP sells electricity to an end-user customer such as a home or business owner. The REP buys the electricity wholesale from a utility company. The utility, also called a Transmission and Distribution Service Provider (TDSP), generates the electricity though solar, wind, coal, nuclear or other means. They are also responsible for operating and maintaining the power lines, electrical substations, and transformers over which electricity is transmitted.
Utilities are part of both regulated and deregulated market, and you cannot choose who your utility provider is. However, you can choose your REP based on price, customer satisfaction, and other factors. Most REPs offer competitive pricing and forge strong bonds with their customers in order to continually supply them with electricity.
If you reside in Texas, there are five utility providers that generate and transmit electricity based on the city you live in: AEP Central, Center Point, Oncor, AEP North and Texas-New Mexico Power. Under those five utilities, there are over 30 different REPs that one can purchase the electricity from. The REP is responsible for all customer interaction for billing and providing electricity, but the utility is responsible for generation and transmission of that electricity. In the event of a power outage or blackout, the utility is liable for getting the power restored. In the event of a power outage due to an unpaid bill, your REP will handle the restoring electricity to your home or business.
Now when you look at your bill, you will understand why there are two providers listed. The utility or TDSP charges you for the generation and distribution of electricity, while the REP offers the electricity for affordable rates.
Solar energy is one of the most plentiful renewable resources available on the planet. It costs nothing to produce, is present every day, and it can power various appliances in your home. One such appliance is the water heater. Most people have a gas or electric powered water heater, but installing a solar powered heater will help cut the bills needed to power it by other means. In addition to saving you some green, it allows your home to be greener. Solar powered water heaters do not pollute the atmosphere, and do not require an external power source other than the sun itself.
- It Is More Affordable: The primary advantage to having a solar powered water heater is that it will save you money on your monthly energy bills. Often, people mistake the installation of a solar water heater as a tricky and costly endeavor. In reality, it is a simple process that will allow you to quickly start putting the sun to work for you. A solar water heater gathers sunlight through special panels, often mounted on the roof of a building, and converts that solar energy into electrical energy, storing the electrical energy until it is needed to heat your water supply. Since the solar system is completely independent from your home’s electrical or gas lines, you can take that relaxing hot bath in peace.
- It Is Good for the Environment: Solar energy is the most plentiful source of energy on the planet. It is also naturally a green source of energy. By installing a solar powered water heater, not only will you cut your energy bills, but you will also cut down on pollution. Conservation is very important these days, and utilizing solar energy is one of the best ways to help keep the planet in pristine condition for years to come.
Find more energy conservation tips and start saving on your monthly electric bill.
According to the Department of Energy, 11% of your utility bill goes towards your lights. By taking a quick look at your business’s energy bill, you can calculate just how much this is and how much you can potentially save. Ideally, the best way to tackle this issue is to hire an energy auditor but as that’s an expense most aren’t willing to pay (and we completely understand why), we’ve got the next best solution. Read on for some tips on how you can be your own business’ energy auditor!
Switch: Trash those inefficient incandescent bulbs and replace them with energy efficient compact florescent lights (CFLs) as they consume 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and also produce 75 percent less heat. Another would be light emitting diodes (LED). Such bulbs cost more but they last for years so they’re more than worth it.
Turn it off: When you leave a room, turn off the lights. How many rooms or offices are left empty for hours at a time while the lights stay on? You definitely don’t want to work in the dark but turning the lights back on is just as easy as turning them off.
Sensors: One easy way to deal with the last tip is to install occupancy sensors. With occupancy sensors, the lights will turn off when there is no motion in the room. Occupancy sensors are especially handy in conference rooms, restrooms, and storage areas as people tend to forget to switch off the lights in these rooms.
Research: Do you know how much your business is paying per kilowatt hour of electricity? The best way to find out is to call your retail electricity provider and if you’re not in the middle of a contract, see what new offers they have available. If you don’t think they have the most competitive rates, shop around. Deregulation gives you the power to choose, take advantage of it.
Renewable energy is typically considered to come from the wind, the sun, or even water (hydro power) but what about biomass? Biomass is matter we all might consider to be garbage such as dead trees, animal waste, tree branches, wood chips, used tires, and more. This stuff that nobody wants or has use for can be turned into usable energy…but how?
A Renewable Energy Source
Think about it. Humans and animals will always produce garbage/waste as long they live. Because of this, biomass is a source of energy that can never be depleted. An interesting tidbit is that biomass contains stored energy from the sun because trees and plants absorb the sun’s energy (photosynthesis) to grow. That energy is passed on to the animals and people that eat them.
Harnessing the Power
Biomass is one of the most plentiful and underutilized source of renewable energy in the world. We have the capacity to generate 43% of the world’s renewable power from bio power but it turns out that we only utilize about 10%. The most common biomass used to generate energy is wood. Humans have burned wood for cooking and heating for centuries and this same method is utilized in generating steam which rotates the turbines converting mechanical energy to electric energy.
Other Forms of Energy
Burning wood is not the only way to release energy. Biomass can be converted into other usable forms of energy, such as methane gas, ethanol, and biodiesel. Leftover crops, such as corn and sugar, can be fermented to create ethanol and biodiesel can come from leftover food products like animal fat and vegetable oil.
Biomass, in short, literally turns trash into treasure and renewable energy is the best kind because it has the potential to remove our dependence from fossil fuels, which will run out one day. Researchers are still looking for ways to burn more biomass and less fossil fuels, which would make for a greener future for coming generations.
Like many questions, if you ask ten different people, you may get ten different answers. Some might say their electric bill in the winter is comparable to how it is in the summer months. There is, however, a general belief that prices go down in the winter months because air conditioning greatly affects your bill and you don’t run it unless it’s warm outside. There are certain factors to consider, which we break down below.
1. Did you check your gas bill?
Is your heat powered by natural gas? Natural gas costs less than electricity so that could be a big factor affecting your electricity bill (in a good way, of course). Make sure you check your gas bill and compare it to the summer months and see how it stacks up.
2. What’s your climate like?
Even in a state as big as Texas, for example, people have different needs for heat during the winter months. Cities down South might not use their heater as much if the temperature doesn’t warrant it. Oppositely, cities up North get colder weather, even snow, and going without heat is terribly inconvenient. States up North may have more of a need for heating in the winter than they do a need for air conditioning in the summer (assuming they have an air conditioner at all).
3. Caution saves!
The easiest way to save on your energy bill is to be energy efficient. Unplug small appliances and electronics that you aren’t using. If you’re shopping for new appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR label. Switch to LED or CFL bulbs if you haven’t already (those inefficient incandescent bulbs are slowly being phased out so you might as well switch now). Monitor your thermostat closely so you’re not overcooling your home in the summer or overheating it in the winter. In fact, consider using your fireplace (if you have one) to heat your home! Small things can add up to big savings.
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