8 Creative Energy Savings Tips

Whoever said artists get to have all the creativity was wrong. You can have it too when you save energy each day.

With that in mind, check out these creative ways you and your family can save energy:

  1. Put Frozen Food in Your Refrigerator the Night Before

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If you can think ahead a little, take that steak out of the freezer and place it in your fridge. That way, you won’t need to use energy defrosting it.

  1. Exercise When You Feel Cold

Instead of turning up the thermostat, save energy and improve your health by exercising instead. Long-term, exercise also helps improve your circulation, so you’ll stay warmer.

  1. Use Your Microwave

Okay, so maybe this one isn’t quite as creative as you’d expect. But, using your microwave cuts down on the amount of time and energy conventional stoves use to cook. So when you can, use that microwave.

  1. Have a Raw Food Competition

Do it with your family, friends, or neighbors. The idea is simple: see who can make the best meal without using a single electric appliance.

  1. Have a Family Dinner in the Dark

Turn off every single light, and use a candle to illuminate the dining room. Just be careful with it so you don’t start a fire. The kids’ll think it’s a blast, and you’ll save energy by not having any lights on. Oh, and make sure you use the microwave to do your cooking too!

  1. Take Boiling Water on Your Stove to a Whole New Level

The fastest and most energy-efficient way to boil water is to use a kettle. Also, make sure you only boil the amount of water you actually need to use. Note that you can lose a ton of heat when using kettles and pots that do not cover the entire burner. If you do have to boil something, use pots and kettles that cover the burner fully.

  1. Examine Your Cookware

Always buy copper-bottomed pots and pans, and make sure you use ceramic cookware in your oven. Make sure the bottom of your cookware is flat and stays in contact with each burner/heating element. If that’s not the case, you lose about 50% of the heat.

  1. Fridges – The Silent Energy Suckers

Adjust the thermostat to the season. To determine your energy-efficient setting, put a thermometer inside of a jar of water in the fridge overnight. In the morning, it should read between 34 and 41 Fahrenheit. If your fridge isn’t full, fill the empty areas with jugs or bottles filled with water. This helps keep the temperature down.

So Really…

We actually gave you more than 8 tips…lucky you! Which are you going to add to your routine today?

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7 Ways to Save Energy When Driving on Your Next Vacation

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There’s still half of summer time left, and that means taking the whole family for a ride and going on vacation for many. Fortunately, gas prices are holding relatively in check at this point.

However, when you do go on vacation, you still want to be as energy-efficient as possible. Here’s how to do that when driving:

  1. Drive as Slow as Possible

We’re not saying you should be dangerous here. But, do drive right around the speed limit. Driving slower reduces your gas consumption, and it also decreases the likelihood and severity of an accident.

When you think about it, if you go 75 mph in a 65 mph speed limit, you only gain .16 miles for every minute on the road (versus someone going 65). For every hour, you get 10 more miles if you go 75 instead of 65. So is it really worth it to you to get there about 10 minutes earlier?

  1. Use Cruise Control As Often as Possible

The most fuel gets consumed when your vehicle accelerates. So, set your cruise control when you can. You also make your driving more predictable for other motorists.

  1. Avoid Traveling During Peak Times

You’ll get stuck on the road longer, have to start, stop, and accelerate more, and your chances of getting into an accident are much higher. Avoid traveling during the heaviest traffic flows if you can.

  1. Avoid Using the AC If Possible

This might send everyone in your family into a tizzy, so you’ll have to use it judiciously. Energy savings is important, but you do have to weigh that against how your family will react. Using your air conditioner increases fuel costs from 13-21%, so that’s a nice savings if you can shut it off.

  1. Take Only What You Need and Nothing More

A roof rack loaded down with stuff makes your vehicle use more fuel. If you can carry everything inside of your vehicle, do so. The best solution is to take as little as possible on your vacation.

  1. Perform the Necessary Maintenance

Either have a relationship with a mechanic you trust, or perform the maintenance outlined by the owner’s manual yourself. Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure. Change the air filter. When you need new tires, have the same make and model placed on your vehicle that were there when it was new.

  1. Be Careful for Fuel Economy-Improving Devices

Both the EPA and the FTC have publicly stated none of these devices offer the fuel economy improvements promised. If you see them, don’t bother buying them.

So if you follow those seven tips, you’ll get pretty good fuel economy. Enjoy the savings!

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How to Stay Cool in the Texas Heat…Affordably

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Summer’s in full swing…we’ve hit those high-90 temperatures once again, with some days going over 100+. That can raise your energy costs quite a bit, so how do you keep those under control and yourself comfortable at the same time?

Here’s our tips:

  1. Pull the Blinds

The sun helps our plants grow, but when it comes to your personal comfort, it’s not your friend. By closing the blinds all day long, you keep your home cool naturally.

  1. If You Let the Kids Play With the Hose…

Ideally you don’t do this because it wastes a ton of water. But if you simply have to, make sure there’s some sort of device on the end (versus just letting them spray the hose however they want). At least this gets most of the water going where you want it to go, so you’re apt to use less than you would if there were no flow control device at all.

  1. Go Sightseeing

Yeah, this costs gas. But at least you don’t have to use any water or AC. And if you’re driving a fuel-efficient vehicle, you won’t use that much gas anyway.

  1. Turn Your AC Off If You have to Leave Your Home for More than 8 Hours

This is the rule of thumb. Ignore the myth that turning your AC system on and off repeatedly wastes more energy than leave it on all the time. If you’re not comfortable turning it off, at least set the programmable thermostat to 3-5 degrees higher than your normal temperature to save some energy.

  1. Only Turn Ceiling Fans on When You are in the Room with Them

You may have heard some talk about keeping ceiling fans on all the time to circulate air throughout your home and reduce the need for your AC. The truth is ceiling fans only help you feel cooler when you are actually in the room with them. Keeping them on when you are not in the room only costs you more energy and money.

  1. Shut Your Fireplace Damper During the Cooler Months

This is an easy one to forget. How would you actually be able to tell you had accidentally left this open? Unless you scrutinize your energy bill carefully, you’ll never notice. Make sure you check it if you haven’t already.

If you follow those tips, you’ll notice a nice dip in your monthly energy bills during these intensely hot summer months. What could your family do with the extra cash you save?

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6 Huge Energy Savings Misnomers for 2014

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When any mainstream movement quickly catches on in society, some misnomers come into play as well. There’s no doubt the green, energy-saving movement is a good one, but it has its own share of myths too.

If you are trying to do your part and save energy while also reducing your carbon footprint, you want to make sure that’s actually happening. Here are some energy savings myths to watch out for:

  1. Energy Star Appliances are Always the Best Choice

This is true in many cases, but you have to be very careful. You see, Energy Star is mostly based on the honor system. Companies monitor their products energy usage. In some cases, tests have shown the products actually use much more energy than stated on the labeling.

More often than not, you’ll be okay buying Energy Star products. But you do have to be careful.

  1. New Homes are Energy Efficient

The truth is new homes, on average, are more energy efficient than older ones. However, that doesn’t mean they are as energy efficient as they could be.

There’s often room for significant improvement. Some do get ENERGY STAR certified, but that’s just a small minority of new homes. Make sure the appliances, windows, siding, HVAC, and insulation are all as energy efficient as they can possibly be.

  1. Keeping Your Thermostat at a Constant Temperature Minimizes Energy Use

The truth is actually the reverse: it takes less energy to cool a warm room during the morning that it does to keep the temperature constant throughout the night. To maximize energy efficiency, remember setting the thermostat a few degrees higher during summer saves a significant amount of energy and money. Also, keep your blinds closed during the day to keep the heat out.

  1. Turning Lights/Appliances on Draws Extra Energy

The reverse is true. Your appliances do not use additional energy when powered on or off. If you don’t need your appliances or lights, turn them off. That way, you’ll experience true energy savings.

  1. A High-Efficiency AC System Instantly Saves Energy

It might, and it might not. The truth is the greatest impact on efficiency is having the right-sized AC system for your home. If it’s too large or small, it might kick in way too often, resulting in tons of lost energy.

  1. Installing Gaskets in Electrical Outlets Saves Energy

This one is actually partially true. However, studies have shown only about 1% of all air that leaks out of a home goes through your electrical outlets.

You can save energy this way, but it’s not a huge energy-saver..

Those are the biggest energy savings myths of 2014. There are many more. But if you start there, you can avoid the trap of believing you’re saving energy when in fact you’re not. As always, make sure you do your research first before implementing new energy savings measures.

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How to Save Water When Watering Your Lawn

With summer in full swing, you’ve probably already been watering the lawn for some time now. Have you thought about how to water it efficiently?
Take a look at a few ways you can do this:
1. Install a programmable sprinkler system.

These do cost a few thousand dollars to install. But once you have them set up and going, they keep your lawn green and healthy year round. Besides that, most contractors install them to be as water efficient as possible. Best of all, because they’re programmable, you don’t even have to think about how you’re using the water.

A green, healthy lawn? Water efficiency? Almost no work? Sounds like a good deal.
2. Water from 4-6 am.

This is the best time to water your lawn in Texas because the sun’s not so high that it evaporates 30-50% of your water. On the other hand, it’s not so low that the ground is cool and does not absorb moisture as well. This can lead to water pooling, which can cause the growth of fungus.

Yes, it’s early in the morning, but it is the best time to water your lawn.

3. Water only when your grass is too dry.

How do you know if your grass really needs water? Look at it closely.

It begins to take on a blue-gray tint, and the blades will start to curl and wilt. Step on your grass. If your footprint stays on longer than usual, it’s time to water.

4. Make sure your sprinklers cover the lawn.

Sounds simple, but think of how many homeowners you’ve seen who water the sidewalk and street. Make sure your sprinkler only hits the grass.

5. Stop watering if you see runoff.

If you notice water flowing off your grass and onto the sidewalk or street, it’s time to stop watering. If you routinely overwater, you can also cause obnoxious thatch to build up.

6. Install a rain sensor.

You don’t need to water your lawn if rain is expected to come that day or the next day. If you use a timer, this can be easy to forget.

Have a rain sensor installed instead. It’ll detect when there’s rain outside, and your sprinkler system will automatically stop watering your lawn.

7. Use a rain barrel.

It’s such a simple solution, but it works. What you do is make sure your gutters empty into your rain barrel. Then, you use the captured rain water to care for your lawn and garden.
So those are some pretty simple tips you can use to conserve water when caring for your lawn. Some cost more than others, while still others cost nothing at all.
Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be reducing your water usage, helping the environment, and saving some money.

For more ways to save money and electricity, visit http://paylesspower.com. Offering cheap energy plans to suit both personal and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people not only with some of the best cheap electricity rates in Texas, but also with helpful customer service. Visit the website to learn more about how to save electricity at home, or connect with the online community on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Pinterest.

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Energy Savings: Father’s Day Edition

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Whew, we’ve covered a million and one different ways you can save energy. Today, we’re going with a special Father’s Day edition dad will certainly appreciate.

Here are some of 2014’s top energy-efficient gifts your dad might enjoy:

1.     EverSense Thermostat

Yes, digital thermostats are already at every home. But this one takes energy savings to an entirely different level.

One of its coolest features is it learns your family’s schedule and then uses smartphone technology to detect how far you are from your home. Then, it begins adjusting your thermostat based on the season and your desired temperature.

Your dad can also check weather reports to make sure he doesn’t unexpectedly get caught in severe weather during the work day.
2.     Hue LED Lighting System
Apple and Philips worked together to create this amazingly cool (and energy-efficient) lighting system. Each light bulb wirelessly connects to your iPhone or iPad.

You then use these devices to control the color and time the LED bulbs turn on and off. For example, if your Dad’s a fisherman, you can recreate a sunrise.

3.     WakaWaka Solar-Powered Smartphone Charger

Solar panels are a little too costly for a Father’s Day gift. But, this solar charger is the next best thing. In just under two hours, it can fully charge a smartphone battery.

What dad wouldn’t love the chance to move a little farther off the power grid?

4.     Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector

Was your water bill a little too high last month? Find the source of the leak with a thermal leak detector.

It uses thermal imaging to find where wall surface temperatures vary. It basically works like a stud finder, except it locates leaks hidden inside of walls.

5.     Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion

Are your appliances not in use? This kit controls basically any device you can plug into a wall. Lights, fans, computers, and more can all be controlled from your smartphone.

You can schedule when devices turn on or off. You can even tell them to power on or off when they sense your motion.

How nice would it be to have the lights turn off whenever you leave the room?

So those are five really cool gifts your dad might like for this coming Father’s Day. Which do you think he’ll enjoy the most?

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How to Save Energy at Your New Home

How to Save Energy at Your New Home

It’s the warm summer season once again, and if you’re like many individuals, it may be time to buy a new home. Even if you’re not buying a new home though, these tips will still help you save money.

These are the main ways you can save money when buying a new home:

1.     Have All New Appliances

Newer models are almost always more efficient than older ones. Look for the ENERGY STAR label, as those appliances generally use 10-20% less energy than standard models.

Make sure this is true with your water heater, which is responsible for consuming the most electricity in your home.

2.     New Windows

Windows can account for up to 25% of your electric bill. What happens with older windows is they let in too much hot air, which causes your air conditioning to kick in.

Double-paned storm windows with “low-e” coatings are the best at minimizing heat loss. Make sure you have weatherstripping that seals off air leaks as well.

3.     Insulation

Make sure your walls, floor, and attic have the insulation needed to keep your home energy-efficient. Some homes are ENERGY STAR certified, which means they meet the EPA’s energy efficiency requirements. If that hasn’t happened for the home you’re considering, ask the realtor if anyone has ever performed a home energy audit.

4.     Light Bulbs

Even though the federal government has said we can longer produce incandescent light bulbs, they’re still found in many homes. At minimum, you’ll want to replace them with compact fluorescents, which have the fastest financial payoff.

LEDs save the most energy because they use less power to generate the same electricity and last twice as long as CFLs. Because of their high cost though, LEDs still cost more to operate over their lifetime than CFLs.

While CFLs are the most cost-effective option, the prices of LEDs are expected to drop rapidly in the coming years.

5.     Water-Efficient Landscaping

If the home you’re considering simply has to have a sprinkler system, make sure it’s an energy-efficient one. And there’s tons of things you can do to modify your landscaping to be more water-efficient.

This includes using dark soil to retain more moisture, using only native plants in your gardening and landscaping, and using mulch to replace water-consuming grass.

Even newly constructed homes can have huge opportunities for saving energy. Now, at least you know where to begin looking.

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The Ultimate AC Buyer’s Guide

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Most of the savings you experience from your AC system come when you make the purchase.  And trust us, you can purchase the wrong AC system for your home, even in today’s advanced technological world!

Here’s what to look for if you’re considering purchasing a new one:

  1. Get one with a SEER rating of at least 13.  SEER stands for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio.”  The higher the number, the better.  At a rating of 15, you balance the cost and efficiency well.  Beyond that point, you have diminishing returns, and going above 16 may not save you any additional energy at all.
  2. Get the right cooling capacity for your home.  Strangely enough, an AC system’s capacity is measured in tonnage.  One ton of refrigeration equals 2,000 pounds (one ton) of ice melting over a 24-hour period.  Your HVAC contractor can help you calculate the correct capacity.  The insulation and cubic feet of interior space are a couple factors that affect the type of AC system you get.  Getting an AC system much larger than needed actually cools your home much more inefficiently than getting the right size.
  3. Do some simple maintenance to amplify your efficiency.  Don’t use standard duct tape to seal cracks in your ductwork.  Use mastic, a gooey pain-like substance, or foil tape.  Are your basement walls insulated?  If not, they should be.
  4. Consider a heat pump.  They use refrigerant to move heat from one physical space to another.  They do not generate heat.  Generally, they cost more than regular AC systems, but since they provide both heating and cooling, they can be cost competitive when you factor in the costs of heating and cooling systems together.
  5. If you do install an AC System…  Consumer Reports asked 40,000 people who bought AC systems from 2005-2011 how reliable their AC systems were.  The most reliable brands were American Standard, Rheem, Trane, Bryant, Ruud, Carrier, and Lennox.  Amana, Goodman, and York all scored significantly lower than these other leading brands.

If you follow these tips when purchasing an AC system, you’re sure to get an efficient, reliable one that doesn’t give you much hassle over the years.

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A Memorial Day Weekend Guide to Saving Energy

For northern states, this weekend kicks off the warm summer season.  And for us southern states, we begin the mental aspect of summer – vacation and relaxation.

Here are some tips for saving energy as you spend time with family and friends this Memorial Day:

  1. Taking out the boat?  Do this.  Make sure you go easy on the throttle.  The harder you hit it, the more gas you consume.  And when you load up your boat, take the bare minimum amount of stuff you can along with you.  A heavy load is the other major fuel consumer.  If you can be precise enough, fill your fuel tanks to about half full.  That helps reduce your load.  Refueling trips will be necessary, but they won’t consume as much fuel as carrying a heavier load.
  2. Cut your propane use when grilling.  Most of the wasted fuel when grilling comes when you preheat the grill.  So, just make sure you preheat as little as is needed to cook your meal.  Generally this should be around 5-10 minutes.
  3. Take a shorter vacation.  Were you planning to drive a couple states over for a family vacation?  That’s okay to do from time to time.  If you really want to save though, think about a closer location you’ve never visited.  To get ideas, just take a look at a map of your state and see what national/state parks are around.  Pick one you haven’t visited before.
  4. When you do drive… Consider purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle if it fits in your budget.  Drive the speed limit.  One story also claims it’s more efficient to drive with the windows down versus turning on the air conditioner.  We’re not sure about that, but consider testing out how that works in your vehicle.
  5. Watch the AC if you’re staying home.  There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple and staying at home this Memorial Day weekend.  If you do that, watch your home energy consumption.  Keep the shades down to keep your home cool. Don’t leave the doors open.  Long-term, think about planting trees to provide shade for your home.

Remember, it’s most important to have a good time with your family over Memorial Day weekend.  Don’t get so obsessed with saving energy that you ruin your enjoyment of the weekend.  At the same time, you can still enjoy your weekend fully while being kind to the environment and saving money.

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The Water Heater Buyer’s Guide

You can save a ton of energy for your home by using water wisely.  Besides distributing water, one of the bigger consumers of electricity and gas in any home is your water heater.

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If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it’s definitely time to start thinking of replacing it with a newer and more reliable and efficient one.  Here’s what you need to look for when buying one:
1.     When Precisely is a Good Time to Replace Your Water Heater?
Consumer Reports says to do this:  See how many years you have left on your warranty.  If the labor costs will cost less than $50 per year for the years remaining on the warranty, then keep the water heater.  If not, replace it.
2.     Choose the Right Capacity
You might want to consult with a professional on this, just to be sure. However, in general 2-4 people use around 80-85 gallons per day. You want the right capacity for your household because it takes energy to keep the water warm while it’s not in use.

3.     Gas Water Heaters Cost Less to Run
In fact, they cost about half that of electric water heaters.  This is based on the average cost of gas across the nation.  Double-check the prices in you region just to make sure this is the case.  They do cost much more up-front, but they pay back for themselves quickly – usually within a year or so.

4.     Tankless Water Heaters
These water heaters eliminate the risk of tank failure, and they don’t need any energy to heat water when it’s not in use.  They’re best for their convenience.  They typically don’t save money because they cost much more to buy and install.  While they heat water quickly, almost instantaneously, they often don’t heat it as well as you’d like.  They also don’t push as much water through, so in larger households, not everyone may have access to the hot water they’d like.
5.     Solar Water Heaters – Nice to Your Environment, Not Your Wallet
Yes they do use heat from the sun to produce electricity.  And you can get federal and local rebates to offset some of their installation costs.  Even if you do, it typically takes 10-30 years before their savings offsets their costs.

6.     Get Water Heaters with the Longest Warranty
Warranties can last from 3-12 years – that’s a broad range!  Longer warranties usually increase the cost of the water heater.  However, water heaters with longer warranties usually have added conveniences like the ability to heat your water faster and thicker insulation, which leads to less heat loss and more energy savings.

So there you have it!  That’s the basics of buying a water heater in today’s market.  The traditional tank model is the way to go if you need a new water heater.

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