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Are You Connected Through Power Surge Protectors?

August 3,2018
by dmirza

surge protectorsMany people take electricity for granted, and they do not always understand that they have to take certain precautions to ensure that all the devices they have plugged in are safe from power surges. A surge in the power could damage the items you have in the outlet, and this could be extremely expensive given the cost of some of the gadgets out there today! It’s always a good idea to find methods by which you will be able to keep all of your devices safe and sound. Surge protectors are a great way for you to do just that.

Why Use Surge Protectors?

The protectors are going to be able to control those surges so that they do not destroy your computers, televisions, and video game consoles, amongst other items that you have plugged into your home. Surge protectors are very important for businesses as well, and they should be used with all of the computers and other expensive gear. One of the reasons that surge protectors are more important today is because of the advancements in the common devices that we use. Many of them have microprocessors that damage easily with power fluctuations. Keeping them as safe as possible is going to ensure that your devices have a much longer life.

Many different things can cause surges in the electricity; even turning on a device that consumes a large amount of electricity, such as a dryer, could cause a surge in electricity through your home. Both surges and spikes can be dangerous for your electronic devices, but your surge protector can do a good job of keeping them safe. They will be able to absorb the excess voltage.

Tips for Using Surge Protectors the Right Way

You should only use them inside and in a dry location. When you are buying the protector, you want to make sure that it does not exceed the electrical rating of the device you will plug into it. You should never use the protectors with aquariums either. Something else that you should remember is that you must not use a surge protector with an extension cord.

What to Look for in a Surge Protector

When you are buying a surge protector, you always want to make sure that you are buying the best quality possible. A good surge protector is going to have a ground indicator light, cable line protection, an alarm, and a good response time. You will find that some protectors have quite a few more features. It’s always a good idea to look at some reviews to make sure that you are buying a quality product that is going to do what it needs to do to keep your equipment safe and secure.

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Recycle and Reuse: Why We Need to Make the Effort

July 26,2018
by dmirza

recycleHave you stopped to think about just how much waste humans put into the environment every day? The planet contains billions of people, and each of those people contributes to dirtying the earth and generating an amazing amount of trash and refuse daily. If we didn’t recycle, the impact of all of this waste would be overwhelming. While there are some people out there who still, for some reason, can’t see the benefit of recycling, most are starting to do their part and try to live a greener life.

Whether you are recycling at home or you are trying to start a program at work that helps to recycle, you will find that there are quite a few benefits to doing so. Let’s look at those benefits, and then look at some of the ways that you will be able to do your part.

Benefits of Recycling

When you recycle, you are going to be saving natural resources and wild areas around the world. Recycling means that we can reuse and re-purpose some of the goods already in existence so that there is no need to take more of the nonrenewable goods from the environment. In addition, recycling is going to help reduce pollution. You are also saving energy when recycling. Consider all of the energy expenditure that it would take to make new products from raw materials. Using recycled materials is going to reduce the time and energy that it takes to create goods.

When you recycle, you are also going to be conserving space in landfills. Whenever anything has to go into a landfill, it is going to take up space, and it can take many years – sometimes thousands of years – for some materials to break down in a landfill. By recycling, we will have more space in these areas, and it helps to keep toxic chemicals out of the landfills and groundwater.

Something that many people do not even consider when it comes to recycling is the fact that it is an industry that has the potential to create quite a few jobs. If more people were recycling, it would cause a rise in the need for jobs around the country, and this would help the overall economy.

Starting to Recycle

It’s not hard to start recycling. Simply having a bag for bottles, cans, and glass, and taking them to a local recycling center is a start. You can recycle paper and other goods as well. It is also possible to take some of the old items that you have and donate them rather than filling up a landfill with items that could have a new life elsewhere.

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CFLs and LEDs – What Makes Them So Special?

July 13,2018
by dmirza

CFLs LED lightAre you still using traditional incandescent lighting in your home? If you are, then you just might be in the minority. Most people are seeing that the energy efficient bulbs on the market today, even though they are a bit more expensive, have quite a few advantages. Your traditional lighting can account for up to 25% of your energy bill each year, so finding methods by which you are able to reduce this cost is a great first step toward lower energy bills. Fortunately, with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) and LED (light emitting diode) lights, you have new and better options for all of your lighting needs. Each of these options can serve different purposes and are great for home and work alike.

CFLs

These are similar to the larger fluorescent bulbs, but they are much smaller and will work with the standard lamps that you might have at the home or office. One of the major differences with these CFLs and their larger counterparts is the light that they emit. They do not have the same harsh look that a traditional fluorescent light is going to have. Instead, the light has a characteristic that is very similar to the old incandescent lights. They are able to give off the same level of brightness, but they do so by using far less energy. As with other types of bulbs, you can find different colors such as red and blue.

LEDs

The LEDs are small, solid bulbs that are quite energy efficient and that have changed quite a bit over the past few years. Originally, they were small bulbs in electronics, penlights, and other single-bulb applications. However, some manufacturers are starting to see that they can be beneficial in other ways as well and are creating clusters of lights that they can use in the home for lighting. You can find quite a few bulb colors, including white, amber, green, red, and blue.

Benefits of New Lighting

With the different options that you have when it comes to home lighting today, you might be wondering if it is really worthwhile to change out all of your old incandescent bulbs. Once you start to see some of

the benefits that the new types of lighting can offer, you will see why it is a good idea.

The new lighting is energy efficient and it will help you save on your monthly electric bill. Even though the bulbs might be more expensive to buy at the outset, they are also going to last much longer than the traditional bulbs, which means that you are going to be able to save even more in the end. They are becoming commonplace too, and you should never have trouble finding what you need.

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Understanding Your Utility Bill: What Do All Those Charges Mean?

July 6,2018
by dmirza

Utility BillMost bills aren’t met with open arms and your utility bill is no exception. Bills can be confusing with all sorts of fees and surcharges tacked on. Do you ever just look at your “Amount Due”, pay it, and move on? It might be the quickest thing to do but when you understand what all those numbers mean, your utility bill can be less of a headache and can help you learn where to save energy and cut costs.

‘Utility bills vary from state to state and from company to company but these components will appear somewhere on most electricity bills:

Electricity Used

The total electricity used is based off of information obtained from your meter readings. The number will be listed in kilowatt-hours, or how much energy your home uses per hour. A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. To give you some insight, a 100-watt bulb operated for 10 hours equals one kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Retail electric providers receive meter readings from the Transmission Distribution Utilities on a monthly basis. The Transmission Distribution Utility is the company that owns the poles and wires through which your electricity is delivered.

Electricity Charges

Retail electric providers will offer you a plan which may provide you a fixed or variable rate for the electricity that you consume. Fixed rate plans allow you to lock in your energy charge for a fixed term and variable rate plans mean that the energy rate will fluctuate. For example, with Source Power & Gas, you may be paying a fixed energy rate of 5.6 cents per kWh consumed. Based on this example, you would see:

Total kWh: 700

kWh charges: 700 kWh @ $0.056

Your utility bill starts to get confusing when you look at how the energy and delivery charges are presented. If you have “un-bundled” billing, you will see the charges for “energy,” as well as charges for “distribution” and/or “transmission” listed separately. The distribution and transmission charges are considered “pass through” charges because they are assessed by your local Transmission Distribution Utility and included on your bill by your Retail Electricity Provider. The distribution and transmission charges go to pay for carrying that electricity over high-voltage power lines to substations, and then from substations over the low-voltage distribution power lines that enter your home. If you have bundled billing, you will see a charge per kWh that will cover both the energy charge and the distribution and transmission charges.

Combined, the energy and distribution/transmission charges equal the total amount you pay for your electricity usage. Finally, your Retail Electricity Provider will also include taxes and a monthly fee, if applicable, to your plan. If you are confused about any part of your utility bill and want a line-by-line explanation, call your Retail Electricity Provider and they can help you.

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ENERGY STAR Label: How Do Products Earn It?

June 29,2018
by dmirza

Energy StarWhen you shop for goods and appliances for the house, you probably see labels on some of the items that say “Energy Star”. Many people do not look into what this label means, but it is actually quite important for those who are searching for items that will help them save on their electric bills each month. Energy Star is a government program that determines quality efficiency levels for electrical appliances (along with many other types of products). In order for a product to have this label, it needs to meet certain requirements and specifications.

The main purpose of the label is so that it would be possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants, and to make it easy for customers to know which of the products on the market are going to be the most energy efficient and provide them with the most savings on their electrical bills each month.

Earning the Energy Star Label

The EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, creates the Energy Star label requirements that a product must meet in order to display the label. They have some guidelines that they use when they create the specifications. The product categories have to be in an area that will be able to provide savings nationwide. The products have to have features and performance levels that the customer expects and demands in addition to being energy efficient. This means that the products still have to work just as well as those that are not energy efficient. There can be no loss in quality.

The product needs to be able to achieve energy efficiency through non-proprietary technologies that other manufacturers would be able to use as well. The energy savings have to be verifiable and measurable as well.

As you can see, companies do have to go through quite a bit of testing, and they have to meet stringent requirements if they are going to be able to have and display an Energy Star label. They do not simply give out the labels; the companies and the products really do have to earn them, and that’s a good thing. It ensures that the products that come out with this label attached are able to do exactly what they say. You know that you can trust the products that have the label, and that’s a great thing for consumers.

Why the Bother?

Why do companies bother if it takes so much to get the label? The world is moving toward a greener lifestyle, and people are starting to look for the Energy Star label. They know that it can help them save money, and that it can help to protect the environment. Getting the label is good for the environment, but it is good for business as well.

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Hazards Around the House – Keeping your Family Safe

June 24,2018
by dmirza

electric hazardsAccidents in the home account for a substantial number of injuries and deaths each year, and often those accidents have to do with electricity hazards. While it is a part of everyday life, many people simply do not take certain precautions, which can lead to accidents. You don’t want to be one of the thousands of people injured each year, and you don’t want any member of your family to get hurt because of some simple safety measures being ignored. Understanding the basics about how to be safe around electricity can be very helpful, and is something that everyone should learn.

Electrical outlets are the cause of thousands of injuries each year, and electrical failure is the cause of almost 90% of electrical fires. Once you start looking into all of the issues that can happen because of electricity, faulty wiring, and incorrect installation, you will see just why it is so important to minimize these hazards.

Be Safe

Electrocution and electrical fires are two of the most common home hazards when it comes to electricity. It’s a good idea to have some knowledge about your home electrical system so that you can maintain it properly. However, you should only do basic maintenance. Problems with your electrical system that require repair should be left to a licensed professional. Too many people believe that they can take care of something that they believe to be a small issue but this is how accidents and fires happen!

If you are going to work on any appliance, even if it is something as simple as gluing together broken portions of your favorite lamp, make sure that you unplug it. Just because you turn it off does not mean that the danger is gone. Unplugging is going to save you from possible injury and it could save your life.

Ongoing Maintenance

Home electrical fires have the potential to be deadly. It’s a good idea to have an electrician inspect your home every year or two, just to make sure that you don’t have issues with your wiring. Make sure that you have smoke detectors on every level of your home to provide you with ample warning in case there is an issue. Look for signs such as flickering lights that could indicate something’s wrong. You should also make sure that the cords on your appliances are always in good condition.

With a bit of precaution and maintenance, you should be able to avoid many of the common hazards that occur with electricity.

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Kids Can Help Save Energy, Too!

June 6,2018
by dmirza

kids saving energySaving Energy

Everywhere you go, you hear about, “going green” and saving energy. More than just the adults are getting in on this trend. Many children are starting to learn in school the importance of saving energy. It is also a parent’s responsibility to teach their children more about conservation. Understanding this and putting it into practice at an early age are going to help instill the importance of saving energy for the rest of their lives. Future generations are likely to be much savvier when it comes to using less energy.

Tips for the Kids

No matter how young the kids might be, they can start saving energy. Here are a few tips that they will be able to incorporate into their lives.

Make sure that they know to turn off the lights in the room whenever they leave – as long as no one else is in the room! When they are brushing their teeth, teach them that it’s a good idea to turn off the water until they need it. They should also know that it is a good idea to unplug their computers and games when they aren’t using them. Explain that even though the computer might be off, it is still taking some energy from the outlet.

Many kids who get hungry for a snack will stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open. This wastes quite a bit of electricity. Tell them that they should have a plan of what they want to eat before they get to the fridge so that they can get in and out quickly. If they have quite a few toys that run on batteries, introduce them to the concept of rechargeable batteries. Show them that these batteries are going to be better for the environment than wasteful disposable batteries. The energy that it takes to remove those batteries from the environment is much higher than what you would use recharging batteries.

A Fun Option

Here’s a fun exercise that you might want to try with your children. Make some little badges, or buy some fake badges and “deputize” the youngsters as energy police. Teach them about some of the things that you and the family have to do in order to reduce your energy usage, and give each of the energy saving tips a special code. Whenever anyone the family violates one of these energy saving laws, the kids will be able to write them a ticket. This is fun for the kids, it gives them more responsibility, and it helps to teach them the importance of conservation at the same time.

These are just a few of the things that you and your children can do to save energy at home, which, in turn, will help the planet

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Always-On Devices and How They’re Costing You Money

May 25,2018
by dmirza

always-on devicesIf you happened to find $19 billion, what would you do with it? Improve infrastructure of your state? Help the less fortunate? Invest in alternative energy? If we as Americans would cut back on the energy wasted by the vampire effect and always-on devices, we could save $19 billion every year. Our own energy bill would drop by $165 to $440 each year. It would reduce 500 MW of energy used in the country.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has researched the impact of always-on devices in homes that constantly draw electricity. When a device is turned off, it still draws power, often called the phantom load or vampire effect. Even things like phone chargers draw electricity when the phone isn’t connected to them. Some of these devices fall under regulations restricting them to about half a watt of energy use while in standby, but always-on devices don’t fall under this regulation. Always-on devices that are inactive account for about 23% of household energy use in California.

An always-on device often has a digital display that is always operational in some capacity. Appliances like coffee makers and Wi-Fi enabled refrigerators or washers may have a display that is always functioning. Other devices like DVRs and set-top boxes are considered always on because they are constantly receiving information and we rarely, if ever, shut them off. Blu-ray players and smart TVs also constantly receive data whether for updates or ready access.

The best way to combat this energy waste is by unplugging unused devices. For devices like DVRs and set top boxes, we can’t shut them off when we record television shows, so we could invest in smart power strips. These strips have three always powered ports and several unpowered ports. One always-on port connects to, say, a TV as a master device. When the TV turns on, the strip detects the change in energy flow and turns on the unpowered ports. In addition, there are usually a couple other always powered ports just for DVRs and set tops so you don’t miss out on recording. Fully shut down computers and unplug them, and change their settings to be more power conserving while they’re in use. Use timers to control lights and program a thermostat to help regulate your home heating and cooling.

Energy Bill Too High? It Could be Because of Your Water Heater

May 18,2018
by dmirza

water heaterDid you know that water heating is the second most expensive use of energy in your home? The most expensive is climate control, which accounts for half of a home’s energy use.

Water heating still takes up a staggering 14-18% of energy use. Most everything else is around or under 10%. With Summer coming up, now is a good time to evaluate what kind of water heater may be the best option for your home.

Every day, Americans use about 64 gallons of water, leading to heating costs of between $400-600 every year.

There are several different types of water heaters, each with their own pros and cons. Certain ones work better than others based on different factors such as water demand, geographic location, and weather.

Storage Water Heater

Storage water heaters store up a large volume of water and continuously heat it as necessary to maintain the set temperature. They generally last 10-15 years, but if they aren’t replaced when they should be, they can leave a huge mess.

The cost of the unit is the lowest out of the options, but standby heat loss can add up to a lot of waste energy. Be sure to insulate the tank and pipes to reduce this heat loss.

Tankless Water Heater

Like the name implies, there is no storage tank for this heater. Instead, a long snaking pipe rests within the heating unit and it warms the water as it flows through.

These units are somewhat pricey, but last upwards of 20 years. The biggest downside is that when there is a high water demand (such as running a washing machine and shower at the same time), the water flow rate can be drastically reduced.

However, an average home can save about $100 per year on water heating over a storage unit.

Heat Pump

About as costly as a tankless water heater, a heat pump model can actually save more money every year.

The average family can save about $300 per year on their energy bills.

These heaters are 2-3 times more efficient than a storage tank and last about the same amount of time. However, they are better suited to warmer climates as they output cold air, which would be taxing on heating systems.

Solar Water Heater

Solar water heaters are the most expensive to install and are 1.5 times more efficient than storage water heaters.

They last about 20 years, but the biggest drawback is that you may need a backup system for cloudy days or when there is high demand.

Tankless Coil & Indirect Water Heater

These water heaters are cheaper to install than most of the alternatives and they have very low maintenance costs, but they only last about 10-11 years and can be very inefficient in warm climates.

Choosing a Heater

Ultimately, you want to look at what your peak demand is for water consumption, as this will help determine if an alternative system will work well for you.

The greater the efficiency factor (EF), the bigger the savings. Things like standby and cycling losses drop the EF, so insulate the tank (if possible) and any pipes to ensure the greatest retention of heat.

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Practical Tips On Saving Energy in the Workplace

May 4,2018
by dmirza

workplace energyOwning or managing a business tends to come with a lot of bills. Perhaps you’ve been looking at your expenses lately wondering where you can cut costs and put some more money back into company profit. Did you ever consider that you can save energy and, in turn, reduce your utility bill? We’ve compiled a list of some obvious and not-so-obvious tips for you to convert your workplace into a more energy efficient one.

* Turn lights and equipment off after hours.

* Choose Energy Star® products when possible.

* Put equipment, especially computers, on sleep mode when not in use (running a screensaver on your computer consumes more electricity than you realize).

* If you have a huge energy bill month after month, an energy audit might be a sound investment.

* Make sure to increase the temperature when you leave. There’s no need to cool an empty space.

* Use a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature and to avoid unnecessary cooling costs.

* Close window blinds to shade the rooms from direct sunlight.

* Install ceiling fans, which makes the indoor temperature feel at least 4 degrees cooler.

* Keep cooling and ventilation system tuned. Make sure to replace filters regularly.

* Use desk lighting as often as possible instead of overhead lighting and make sure to turn off the lights when the area is not in use.

* Replace incandescent or florescent exit signs with LED exit signs.

* Install automatic/occupancy sensor room lighting controls to turn off and on the lights only when the room is occupied.

* Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent lights (CFLs). They last longer and use 75% less electricity and produce the same amount of light.

* Turn off computers and other equipment, especially overnight and over the weekend.

* If possible, use an ink-jet printer instead of a laser printer as it uses 90% less energy.

* Consider having your employees use a laptop instead of a standard computer as laptops tend to use 90% less energy.

You’d be surprised to find that utilizing even just some of these tips can make an impact on your next electricity bill.

And if you want to be greener for the sake of the planet, make sure you select a 100% renewable energy plan for your workplace, which you can find here.

Source: http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/tips/business_summer.html

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