Skip to content

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.


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 at Shop Texas Electricity.


Spring Cleaning – Natural Solutions

April 26,2018
by dmirza

Spring has officially sprung and many people are taking this opportunity to spruce up their home. This may include having garage sales, making donations of unwanted items, cleaning out an attic or basement, or just giving the whole house a good, deep cleaning. One problem with cleaning is that many cleaning products we use have powerful chemicals in them that can actually be very bad for our health. However, this Spring, you can maspringke your own cleaning solutions out of natural substances that are just as good as their chemical counterparts.

  1. Baking soda makes for an excellent air freshener. Sometimes we leave an open box in our refrigerator to soak up the odors of various leftovers. It can also be used to deodorize a room or carpet, and can even help fight stains.
  2. Lemon juice is a good disinfectant. The strong citric acid in lemons can kill most bacteria found in a home. Other citrus solvents can be used to clean paint brushes and oil and grease stains.
  3. White vinegar can be used to clean some stains and fight mildew. It makes a great alternative to bleach. Wiping down utensils with vinegar after cooking can remove leftover scents of fish or onions. After wiping them down, wash them with soapy water.
  4. Borax (sodium borate) can clean a lot of surfaces like wallpaper, painted walls, and floors. It also disinfects and deodorizes, and is safe for the environment and your health as long as it is not ingested.
  5. Washing soda (sodium carbonate decahydrate) is a mineral that removes stains and grease, and is perfect for cleaning bathrooms.
  6. Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, or make your furniture and carpeting look like new. Combining some of these ingredients can make some powerful cleaning solutions. For example, a half cup of vinegar, a quarter cup of baking soda, and a half gallon of water make an excellent all-purpose cleaner. Air fresheners can be made by combining baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice. There are many other solutions that can be made from the aforementioned ingredients, and they can handle everything from rust remover to shoe polish. You can find a list of different solutions at Earth Easy.


Cooking with Gas….or Electricity?

April 4,2018
by dmirza

electricity cookingNo matter your living situation — house, apartment, or condo — you will need a stove at some point. When shopping for a stove, there are two options to choose from — either electric or a conventional gas stove. Here are a few points to help you decide:

  • Better cooking: While technology has brought both the electric and gas stove to the same level — and it basically depends on the cook’s preference — most professional and commercial-grade ranges are gas based. Cooking with gas is more precise. The cook can control the exact amount of heat underneath a pot – a main advantage of gas over electricity. Even through personal experience, we have noticed that cooking with gas gives better results than cooking with an electric stove, especially if you are an avid cook or like to cook dishes that require precise heat and timing.
  • Price: An electric range is usually less expensive than a gas range. The difference in price can be anywhere from $75 to $200, depending on the specifications, such as model or manufacturer or features.
  • Less of a Mess: When cooking, you are bound to make a bit of a mess. While cleaning a stove can be a daunting and tedious task, gas stoves generally have sealed burners, which reduce the mess on a stovetop if something spills. On the other hand, electric stoves with coil burners usually have removable drip pans to take care of the problem, but they can become dull and dirty with constant use.
  • Ignition: While the electric stove requires no ignition, gas stoves require either a match stick, a lighter, or an electronic ignition option. The electronic ignition eliminates the need to physically light the burner with a match. The cook just presses a switch or turns the knob and the burner ignites.

While a gas stove might seem like a smarter investment, there is one main downside: you will need a natural gas line to your home in order to have a gas stove. While natural gas is generally cheaper, it is another utility bill to pay.

Bottom line, it’s up to you. Perhaps you don’t want the additional cost of having a natural gas line installed at your residence. If you’d prefer to have an electric stove, make sure you visit Shop Texas Electricity to find the best electricity rates in Texas!


Five Simple Tips to Save on Your Energy Bill

March 27,2018
by dmirza

tips to save on energy billIn today’s economy, most everyone is looking for a way to save money. Have you ever considered that you could save more on your skyrocketing energy bill? Here are five questions and answers so that you can be on your way to being an energy saver.

Q: In this deregulated energy market, have you switched your energy provider?

A: Texas is one of the lucky states to have deregulated energy markets in most of its cities. You have the power to search for and choose an energy provider who can give you the best rates and the best customer service.

Q: Are there any vampire electronics lurking in your home?

A: You’re probably thinking, what on earth are vampire electronics?! Well, vampire or ghost electronics are power gadgets that consume power just by being plugged in. Now may be a good time to walk through your home and see if you have any.

Q: Are you using Energy Star Appliances?

A: Energy Star appliances are energy efficient products that can help you save about a third of your electricity bill. And you don’t just save some green; you can be green because these types of appliances save on greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing features, style, or comfort.

Q: Are you using Compact Florescent Lights (CFL) instead of incandescent lights?

A: Compared to a regular incandescent light, CFLs give the same amount of visible light and use one-fifth to one-third the electric power. CFLs also last eight to fifteen times longer than incandescent lights so you save money in more ways than one!

Q: Are you keeping up with your Smart Meter?

A: Smart Meters help you track and review your electric consumption on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. By being able to monitor your consumption, you can take immediate action to reduce your consumption and, therefore, reduce your energy cost.

Follow these steps and you’re on your way to being an Energy Saver!

Source: Energy Star

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago

March 16,2018
by dmirza

Chicago, Illinois is home to a major celebration for St. Patrick’s Day! Horses, parades, marching bands and bagpipes, and a bright green river make the celebration a must see, whether you’re a native Chicagoan or just visiting. The St. Patrick’s Day 2018 parade will be held this Saturday, marking the 63rd anniversary of the festival where everyone is Irish for a day, and the 47th year for the river to be as green as the hills in Ireland.

The parade day, which is always a Saturday, starts out by turning the downtown Chicago River bright green at 9:15 AM. There’s no leprechaun magic here, but rather 40 pounds of EPA approved dye. The dye turns the entire Chicago River an emerald green color and crowds can be seen gathering all along the riverbanks to see the spectacle. This year, the dyeing will stretch an additional block, from State Street to Columbus, so hundreds more can get in on the tradition. The tradition was born unintentionally in 1961 when a plumber using a dye to detect water leaks spoke to one Stephen Bailey. The dye, while typically orange before entering the water, turns a brilliant green once in the river. Only Chicago has been able to successfully make this happen. Maybe there’s some leprechaun magic here after all!St. Patrick’s Day

The parade officially begins at noon with bagpipes, Clydesdale horses, and dancers filling Columbus Drive in Grant Park, with a viewing stand in front of Buckingham Fountain. It may still be pretty cold in March in the Windy City, but that never stops the thousands of people that attend one of the nation’s best St. Paddy’s Day celebrations. St. Patrick’s Day is Saturday, March 17th. How will you celebrate? Whatever you do, be sure to wear some green so you don’t get pinched!

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Daylight Saving Time: Sleep Lost VS Electricity Savings

March 13,2018
by dmirza

Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins March 11th, at the beginning of National Sleep Awareness Week. Some people will see the irony in that being that we feel like we lose an hour of sleep when we set our clocks an hour ahead. Some people like having an hour more of light at the end of the day rather than at the beginning, and we actually reap some electricity benefits from this, but is it worth the change in our sleep patterns? And how does Daylight Saving Time save electricity?

Origins of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time is often credited to Benjamin Franklin, but he never actually introduced the idea. An entomologist in New Zealand first proposed it in 1895, but Germany was the first country to implement it in 1916 to help conserve resources. The United States first used it toward the end of World War I and again during World War II, but until 1966, there was no law governing it. There have been a lot of arguments for and against DST, so what are we to believe?

Energy Savings

The US Department of Energy conducted a study in 2008 to determine the electricity savings resulting from the extension of DST that was implemented in 2005. Their study revealed that the four extra weeks of DST saved the US about 0.5% in total electricity per day. Seems hardly worth it, right? But that half percent each day adds up to 1.3 billion kilowatt hours, which could power more than 100,000 homes for a whole year.

By extending the daylight hours later in the evening, we use lights less and often spend more time outdoors. This leads to a reduction in energy usage. Some argue that it increases the amount of air conditioner use, thus overshadowing the savings, but it can vary from family to family, home to home.

Health Effects

Our bodies follow a natural circadian rhythm that is different for each person. By jumping the clock forward by an hour, we throw it off pretty radically. It may only take a few days for our bodies to readjust, but it can be a big strain on our bodies. Come fall, with the extra hour of sleep, our bodies adjust much more easily, because humans naturally want an extra 20-30 min of sleep each morning, according to Dr. David Glass. In the spring, we lose that extra 20-30 min our bodies desire by shaving an hour off our sleep. And, more often than not, people stay up later on Saturday nights in general. When DST kicks on Sunday morning, we get out of sorts.

DST Preparation

So how can we prepare ourselves for the lost hour of sleep? For the week leading up to DST, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day. By the time the weekend comes, you’ll have trained yourself to get up an hour and 15 minutes earlier. On Saturday, get some mid-day exercise in. Exercise helps tire us out naturally and as the day goes on, we’ll feel sleepier. Saturday night, go to bed an hour before you typically would and Sunday morning get up with your alarm. Sleeping in will defeat the purpose of the adjustment, making it harder for your body to accept the new wake-up time.

Source 1, Source 2

When’s the Last Time You Did a Home Energy Checkup?

March 13,2018
by dmirza
three led lamps for your home energy checkup

Do you think your A/C isn’t properly cooling or that your heater could be doing a better job? If so, you might need to perform a home energy checkup.

A home energy checkup helps you figure out where your home is losing energy. When you lose energy, you lose money. A professional technician, often called an energy auditor, can give your home a thorough walk-through where they look for leaks, examine insulation, inspect the furnace and duct-work, perform a blower door test, and more to help you save on your heating and cooling bills.

Before calling for an expert, you can also check the insulation in your attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors and crawl spaces. Then check for air leaks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, electrical outlets and open fireplace dampers. Explore lighting options such as sensors, dimmers, or timers in order to reduce electricity use. If you still feel like there might be something wrong, look for professional help.

There are some things you should take care of before the energy auditor visits your house. Make a list of any existing problems, such as condensation on windows and uncomfortable or drafty rooms. Have copies of your past energy bills. Auditors use this information to establish what to focus on when they examine your property. The auditor first examines the outside of the home to determine the size of the house and its features, and then will analyze your behavior and reported problems.

A professional energy auditor uses special equipment to find air leaks, areas lacking insulation, or malfunctioning equipment. If it’s not a tight fit, then you are losing energy and money. The auditor will also analyze how well your home’s energy systems work together and compare that analysis to your utility bills. After gathering information about your home, the auditor will recommend cost-effective energy improvements that enhance comfort and safety.

Upgrading your home can have a positive impact on your energy consumption, which means saving you money. You can save between 5 – 30% on your energy bill by making upgrades following a home energy assessment.

Source: United States Department of Energy

Thinking of a custom home? Consider installing solar panels

February 22,2018
by dmirza

Solar panels

The decision to build a house is a major decision, with a long-term impact. Ensuring the economic viability of your custom home should be a major concern while doing this.

The sun’s energy is the most abundant form of power available. Solar panels are one way to harness this form of energy and use it to our advantage. Installing solar panels in homes reduces power bills and also helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions. Careful consideration should be given to the expected power requirements while building a house and also whether installing solar panels will provide a reasonable return on investment.

Review and select the best solar home plan. The solar home plan should be selected on the basis of climates and environment they are designed for to maximize the return on investment. Most solar home plans require full sun to operate efficiently. Consider placing the solar power plant shed in a location on your lot that receives full sun.

A different approach is required for building a solar powered home. The positioning of the house is the most important consideration in this case. The integration of solar panel components in the design is an important consideration. You have to make a decision where to place batteries, solar voltage regulators, power management electronics and solar water heaters. Not all contractors can build a solar powered house. A regular electrician, plumber and carpenter would also not be ideal resources. Locate and hire reputable custom solar home building contractors.

In order to maximize the savings, paint the roof white or grow plants. This reflects the sunlight from the roof and keeps the indoor temperature pleasant and decreases energy consumed by a hungry air conditioner. Also ensure the light from the sun is captured at a maximum in order to reduce the usage of light bulbs inside the house. This way, energy consumption will be reduced during the day and ensures power bills are kept to a minimum.

Building a solar powered home may not suit everyone. It is important that the decision be made carefully, weighing the savings in the long run against the initial investment. Visit Shop Texas Electricity today to find the best green energy plan in Texas.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: