The 2015 Thanksgiving Energy Savings Guide


Thank goodness just for the simple things – like electricity and heat – this Thanksgiving. According to Scientific American, somewhere around 25% of the world doesn’t have access to electricity. And in 14 countries, less than 10% of the entire population has electricity.

Really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

Back here in the US, it’s not so much the access. And it’s not the cost, either – electricity’s cheap. But, you have so many bills, and you have to save where you can. And you can do things right now to save on your electric bills.

So here’s how you can make that happen this Thanksgiving:

  1. Turn Down the Thermostat a Couple Degrees

More bodies means more heat generated. So you can turn down the thermostat a little without sacrificing any comfort for everyone.

  1. Let Food Cool Before Putting it in Your Fridge or Freezer

Your food will release that heat once you put it in the fridge or freezer. And that forces both to work harder. Plus, there’s other vapors in your food that make life more difficult for the fridge and freezer.

Let your food cool off as much as possible before putting it away for the day.

  1. Tell Your Guests to Bundle up And Wear Their Coats, Hats, and Gloves!

We’re kidding on this one! Had to see if you were paying attention.

Seriously, though, wear long and warm shirts and pants. You may be able to notch off another couple degrees from the thermostat.

  1. Use Your Microwave Instead of the Oven

Okay, so we’re not referring to microwaving your turkey. You’d be in for a family get-together akin to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

But, where possible, do use your microwave to cook instead. It draws half the power of your oven when in use, and it takes less time to cook.

  1. Got a Second Refrigerator? Move It To Your Basement!

With this one, you’re getting a double-whammy. When it’s cold out, frozen foods can melt because the temperature sensor only activates at 42 degrees or higher. And if it’s warm out, the refrigerator has to work harder to keep things cold.

Your basement has a more constant, and cool temperature. Stick the refrigerator down there by its lonely self. You won’t hurt its feelings!

  1. Careful When You Let Your Oven Self-Clean

If it has this feature, don’t use it unless it needs a major cleaning. Use a damp cloth to take care of minor cleaning tasks.

And if you do have to use the self-clean feature, do it right after cooking (if possible) or later at night when electricity use is lowest.

Enjoy the savings…and hey…make sure they help you host a great Thanksgiving!


Posted in conserve energy, Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment

6 Heating Savings Tips To Cut Your Energy Bills This Winter

Snowfall with Light Blue Background

It’s off to grandmother’s house we go…

But you don’t want to increase grandma’s heating bills!

After all, she and grandpa are retired now, and they have to watch their expenses closely.

While you visit, share these tips for saving on heating costs with her:

  1. Cover Up Those Bare Floors

Hardwood looks nice, but unfortunately it’s not helpful when it comes to your heating bills. Heat has a more difficult time escaping through carpeting and rugs. If grandma wants to save on her heating bills, tell her she can increase that savings by putting out some holiday-themed rugs to cover any bare floors.

  1. Close Your Fireplace’s Flue

Grandma’s house has a beautiful old fireplace. It helps add heat when in use.

But let grandma know that she needs to remember to close the flue when not burning anything. Otherwise, she’ll experience some unpleasant cold drafts…and high heating bills!

  1. Keep Your Thermostat Close to the Outside Temperature

It’s not always possible, is it? She won’t drop the temperature to 40 degrees when it’s 20 outside.

You have to use some common sense. But, if she can keep her home at 65 degrees when it’s 50 outside, that’s going to save money versus keeping the temperature at 70 or higher.

  1. Drapes and Furniture are Beautiful…But Don’t Let Them Block Air Vents

It’s easy for grandma (and you) to forget about those air vents along the floor. But to keep her home at the temperature set at the thermostat, those vents have to stay unblocked.

  1. If You’re Leaving for Vacation…

Or even if grandma’s just leaving to visit other family for a few days, remind her to set the thermostat down when she leaves. 60 degrees is enough to do the job during winter.

She shouldn’t turn it off…the house could get too cold and cause damage to pipes or appliances.

  1. Think about Buying a Heat Pump

Heat pumps can give grandma some pretty serious energy savings. In fact, she might be able to cut her energy costs in – get this – half.

Share those tips with grandma. And think about how great you’ll feel for helping her save some money and improve her financial comfort a little!


Posted in Energy Conservation, Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment

4 Sneaky Ways to Save Energy This Fall

Miniature Pinscher in costume.

Halloween is the time of year to be sneaky, underhanded, and maybe slightly deceptive (but in a fun, not harmful, way).

Try putting fake cockroaches in your children’s favorite cereal box.

Buy an undead teddy bear and sneak it into your child’s collection, or if you’re gutsy, into their arms as they sleep.

Use this camera hoax app to add a fake ghost to one of your family photos – and terrify everyone!

April Fool’s day is no fun – everyone’s expecting something. But, you can surprise and scare the living daylights out of your closest family members with those simple tricks.

Oh, and you can surprise your family with some extra money from additional energy savings like these too:

  1. Start with the Coffee Maker

You gotta have coffee, so throwing it away is not an option. But do you know where coffee makers waste serious energy?

When they keep your coffee warm. Instead of letting your coffee maker warm your coffee, dump it into a thermos immediately after it finishes brewing.

You’ll save a sweet $4.90 per month.

  1. CFL Lighting Has Some Nice Hidden Savings Benefits

Incandescent lights not only waste electricity, but about 90% of their energy actually generates heat, not electricity.

So not only do you pay to keep the lights on, but you pay to cool your home off from the additional heat they produce.

The best solution is LED lights. But they’re not necessarily affordable for everyone (although they’re getting close).

CFLs are affordable. They use 75% less electricity and don’t create nearly as much heat.

  1. What to Do with Washing Dishes

Hand-washing dishes has a surprising energy savings benefit: less heat used to heat the water. 80% of the savings comes from that, and 20% comes from the reduced water use.

You can save when your dishwasher does its drying. Air-dry if your dishwasher has the option – it uses 15-50% less energy than the heat-drying option. If you can’t do that, let your dishwasher rinse, and then open the door and let your dishes air dry.

You’ll save $3 per month.

  1. Quilted Curtains Block Sneaky Drafts

Most likely, drafts will come from your windows. But it can be hard to find their true source.

So you can make your life easier by simply buying quilted curtains. It takes less than 10 minutes to install them.

You’ll feel more comfortable, and you can turn the temperature down.

The final savings, in this case, are up to you!

Your energy bills won’t sneak up on you if you follow those slick tips.

Posted in Energy Conservation, Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment

Yes, You Need to Do Different Things if the Power Goes Out in Winter

Yes, You Need to Do Different Things if the Power Goes Out in Winter

You don’t think too much about the power going out during the winter. Who does?

And even if it does go out, it’s usually a brief shortage that lasts just a few seconds or minutes.

But every once in a while, something goes really wrong. There’s an ice storm, like the one in Arkansas that killed 10 and left 250,000 people without power for hours in 2013.

We have unusually cold weather every once in a while here in Texas, don’t we?

Remember the Packers-Steelers Super Bowl a few years ago? That threw everyone for a loop there.

Here’s how you can keep yourself safe, save energy, and make sure you do your part to help electricity come on as fast as possible:

  • Only call 911 if someone is injured or in danger, or if power lines are down. Stay away from the power lines at all costs. You can easily get killed by the electricity in the area.
  • Have a battery-powered radio on hand. Listen for emergency updates.
  • If it’s uncertain when the power is going to be on again, and you’re starting to freeze, consider traveling to a friend’s or relative’s home that’s out of the area. Or, make a day of it and go to the mall or a public venue with power. But only travel if you feel safe driving.
  • Dress warm. Most of the heat in your body escapes through your hands or your head. Wear a knit cap (not a baseball cap) and thick gloves. Use multiple layers on the rest of your body. You can use this same tip to help conserve energy when the power is on (But don’t wear gloves and a hat inside. That’s awkward!)
  • The food in your fridge and freezer will stay cold for hours if you leave their doors closed. When the power comes on again, keep their doors closed as much as possible to conserve energy.
  • Unplug all major appliances and electronics. All of them turning on at once can cause a power surge, which could ruin them entirely, or at least harm them and reduce their life. You should do this all the time when not in use…or plug them into a surge protector.
  • Check on your elderly neighbors, or friends and neighbors who may not know how to care for themselves to make sure they’re okay. And better yet, even offer to help them save energy and money when power returns.

This is what you should do in the winter if you lose power for hours on end. These tips may just save your life. And they’ll certainly save you some energy too.

Posted in Energy Conservation, Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment

How to Save Energy with Your Car


Most blog posts talk about saving gas with your car. But it’s important to save energy other ways too. Learn some of those in this post from Payless Power.

When you think about cars and energy savings, everyone wants to tell you about saving gas and driving more efficiently.

No doubt that’s important. And we’ll even review some of those tactics today. But there’s many other ways to save energy too.

Let’s check them out right here:

  1. Don’t Let Your Car Idle for More than 10 Seconds

Sometimes, you have to run in the house and grab your smartphone. Others, you have to quick go in the gas station and grab a drink. It’s okay to let your car idle then.

But beyond that, try to avoid it. It wastes more fuel than shutting your car off and starting it again.

  1. Clean and Change Your Air Filter

You usually hear this tip in relation to HVAC systems. How often you change your air filter depends on your type of vehicle and the kind of driving you do. Chevy says you should change your air filter every 45,000 miles. Hyundai says this should be 30,000 miles, but it’s wise to shorten that to 15,000 miles if you frequently drive in hot weather, on unpaved roads, or in dusty conditions.

It’s another gas-saving tip.

  1. Consider Getting a Tune-Up

Look your vehicle up online and see what kind of gas mileage you should get. Or, if you’ve noticed a dramatic reduction in your fuel efficiency, think about a tune-up too.

A tune-up doesn’t guarantee you improved gas mileage and energy efficiency. But, it certainly improves the odds.

  1. Follow Manufacturer Spec if You Do Your Own Repairs

Manufacturers put specific specifications in place to help your car perform at optimal levels at all times. So if you inflate the tires, change the oil, or put on new bearings, do it all as recommended. Plus, you’ll save yourself some additional repairs too.

  1. Does Your Employer Participate in Subsidized Mass Transit?

If they don’t, ask if they’re eligible to participate in one. Many communities have grants available for employers.

  1. Avoid Commuting to Work the Same Time as Everyone Else (Or work from home)

In just 5 years, around 40% of America’s workforce will work from home. If that’s a possibility for you, maybe it’s time to have that conversation with your boss. Just make sure you can show him how it’s going to make you more productive.

If you can’t, try negotiating your work schedule so you come in and leave before or after rush hour traffic. It’s rarely necessary for you to actually be at work for certain hours.

Some of those changes are innovative, and others maybe you already knew. Either way, they help make our world a better place.

Posted in Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment

5 Energy Savings Lessons from the Celebs

Sometimes you have to look to the stars for great energy savings ideas. Check out some nifty ideas in this post from Payless Power.

Gaudy mansions. 20 cars. Tennis courts. Basketball courts. Can celebrities, and their sometimes ostentatious lifestyles, ever be “green?”

Some do. You may not be able to do the same things they can do at scale. But you can do some of the very same things on a smaller, but impactful, level.

Check out some examples:

  1. Lisa Ling, Acclaimed Television Journalist

Built in Santa Monica, her home may be the first carbon-neutral one in the entire city. It’s also LEED Platinum certified.

One interesting thing she doesn’t have – grass. Instead, she has all succulent plants in her landscaping. They’re thicker, fleshier plants that hold water better than grass, and especially so in drier climates.

She also uses all LED lights, has high insulation, and zero-VOC paint.

  1. Breaking Bad Star Bryan Cranston

This one may be out of the reach of most. But Cranston owns a net-zero energy home (2,450 square feet) in Ventura, California. It has rooftop solar panels, recycles rainwater, and energy-saving doors and windows.


Cranston’s goal isn’t to save as much energy as possible. Instead, he wants to show people it’s totally possible to live a modern lifestyle that’s energy efficient, but also doesn’t sacrifice any of the expected comforts.

  1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The former Seinfeld star takes energy savings more seriously than most. She takes advantage of natural daylighting. Sustainable hardwood makes up the floors. Energy-efficient appliances and rooftop photovoltaic cells round out the list of energy improvements.

  1. Tricia Helfer

Known to the esoteric crowd who followed Battlestar Galactica, Tricia built an off-the-grid home in her native Alberta, Canada. Rainwater collection systems, masonry heaters, and photovoltaics help make her home energy-efficient.

  1. Daryl Hannah

Tricia Helfer publicly admits to not knowing a whole heck of a lot about being green. However, Daryl Hannah’s much the opposite. Popular in the 80s, she now devotes much of her time to promoting green causes. So much so, in fact, that she’s been arrested a few times for her actions.

You don’t have to go that far for green causes. Her green-friendly home is located in Telluride, Colorado. She has an extensive organic garden, greywater recycling (reusing the gently used water from sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines), and backup biodiesel generator.

And if you’re a little extreme like Hannah, consider putting a moss-covered stone couch in your living room.

So maybe you won’t be doing that last one anytime soon. But many of those ideas you can apply easily and affordably.

Posted in Energy Conservation | Leave a comment

How to Save Energy When You’re Looking for a New Home


Not every new home is designed to be as energy-efficient as possible. In fact, many new homes completely miss the mark.

You can easily end up paying 3-4 times more per month than you should for your energy costs. Unfortunately, contractors will cut corners when building new homes so they can increase their profit margins.

We’re not saying you need to shell out an extra $100,000 for a new home with all the most technologically advanced energy-efficiency upgrades. We are saying, however, that a moderately-priced $200,000 home should be highly energy efficient.

Here’s how to make sure that’s the case for your new home:

  1. Ask for a Year’s Worth of Energy Bills from the Previous Homeowner

As you make your decision, you have the right to due diligence. Ask the seller to see the past year’s energy bills. They’ll be close to what you’ll have to pay in the future.

Remember, energy rates always rise long-term. And if you have a different size of family, you may use more or less energy.

But at least you’ll have a good estimate.

  1. Have a Home Energy Audit Performed

Many utilities, and even contractors, do these for free. They’ll check out what’s most important, which includes things you can’t easily observe.

That means stuff like your insulation, air envelope, whether you have the right size air conditioner for your home, and your return air ventilation. Even though these things aren’t easy for you to check, they play a large role in your overall comfort.

Make sure you join along for the energy audit. That also gives you the opportunity to assess the inspecting professional’s credibility.

By the way, if they find any major item that should be repaired, you have more negotiating power with the previous homeowner. They’ll have to make the fix to sell the home to you, or anyone else.

  1. Make a Plan for Reducing Energy Bills

After you have your home energy audit done, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done. Now of course, you aren’t going to be overflowing with money after purchasing your new home (Or if you are – congratulations!).

So you’ll want to know from the inspecting professional which repair gives you the biggest payoff the fastest. Or maybe the home you look at will be so inefficient that you decide not to purchase it.

Either way – you stay protected.

Never Walk into an Energy-Inefficient Money Pit Again

If you follow those 3 steps, you’ll get a good deal – from an energy efficiency perspective. Make sure you take responsibility for them because not every realtor will recommend them!

Posted in Energy Conservation | Leave a comment

How to Prepare Your Home For Fall Energy Savings


Is it really that time already? Are the Dallas Cowboys starting their preseason again? The Baylor Bears, Horned Frogs, Longhorns, and Aggies are all ready to go too.

It’s easy to lose track of time in this busy American lifestyle we lead.

Did you realize it’s almost Fall, and that you should start prepping your home for max energy savings?

But don’t worry – we have you covered. Here are the top things to do to keep you efficient – and warm:

  1. Have Your Furnace Inspected

You should have it done annually. And since you’re going to use it soon anyway, get it checked out now if you haven’t already this year.

  1. Inspect Your Plumbing

Do you have any pipes exposed to the cold? If so, remember that the water in them can freeze, causing your pipes to burst. And that’s a super-expensive repair.

If you have pipes that will experience the full brunt of the cold, relax. You can buy insulation jackets – and they’re cheap.

  1. Have Your Roof Inspected

It’s somewhere you never get to check out personally (or rarely do). And you can lose an awful lot of energy through your roof.

It’s the biggest part of your home that gets forgotten in most fall and winter energy maintenance plans.

  1. Find Leaks and Get’Em Sealed

Leaks can be difficult to find. But they aren’t if you follow this simple process:

  • Close all your doors and windows
  • Turn off your HVAC system
  • Turn on all your exhaust fans in your bath and kitchen
  • Light a stick of incense
  • Wave it slowly around your windows and doors
  • Look for the smoke to move, and use tape to mark the areas where it does
  • Caulk those areas or replace the weatherstripping to seal your home’s air envelope
  • Use plastic film kits to seal your windows
  1. Take an Inventory of Your Lighting and Replace Old Bulbs

Remember, lighting costs about 10-12% of your home’s entire electric budget. Incandescents can still be found in many homes. And if you have enough money, LEDs are a good move at this point.

Think about using dimmers, motion-sensors, and timers too.

  1. This One’s Not As Energy-Related, but It Can Save You Serious Money

Do you have any cracks in your driveway or home’s foundation? Sure, the ones in your home’s foundation can leak some air into your home.

But, these cracks can cause major structural issues. In your home, they can cost thousands of dollars to repair. In your driveway, they don’t cost as much, but those costs do add up.

Repair them – and save yourself some money.

Follow those 6 tips, and you’re be ready for Fall and Winter.

Posted in Energy Conservation, Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment

Do Your Favorite Companies Save Energy Like This?


Everyone needs to do the right thing – and your favorite companies should too. Do they do these green-friendly things?

You have your favorite corporations. But even though it’s popular to be green-friendly, not every company does it.

And doesn’t it feel great when you know the companies you give your hard-earned money to do the right thing behind the scenes?

Next time you talk to their customer service, ask them if they do these things:

  1. Use Environmentally-Preferred Materials

Called “EPMs,’ they’re an alternative to new petro-chemical products and parts. Make sure that anything they manufacture or use comes from EPMs or sustainable materials.

  1. Use LED And/Or Natural Lighting

For many large companies, saving energy isn’t rocket science. One of the key things most can do is replace their old inefficient lighting with newer LED lighting.

If they have the budget to renovate their building, or if they’re moving to a new one, they should take advantage of the sun’s natural light too. Natural light’s also better for their employee’s health and morale, too, so that helps you get better service.

Costco and WalMart are examples of two large retailers for consumers that use a combination of electric and natural lighting to light their stores.

  1. Does It Monitor and Record Its Energy Use?

According to this article at Forbes, that’s what certified B-corporations do. New Belgium Brewing monitors and records all its energy use, waste production, and emissions. It also recycles, reuses, or composts more than 75% of the waste it produces.

You don’t have to ask your company to do this, but this company also has bikes and Toyota Prius’s available for employees to run local errands.


  1. Are Employees Educated to Shut Down Computers for the Night?

They have to be on all day, but they can be turned off at night. This practice alone could save 1,000 pounds of greenhouse gases annually per employee.

  1. Do They Use Recycled Paper?

The Information Age was supposed to reduce paper because everything would be stored electronically. But, it’s produced more information, and paper, than ever before.

Recycled paper is cheaper and just as good in quality as new paper. Make sure your company does it.

  1. Do They Use Green Power Strips?

You’ve heard about vampire power, the type of power that gets drained even when you’ve turned off your electronic devices. It happens at work too. So make sure your company uses green power strips that turn off automatically at night.

You Determine What Companies Do!

Remember, companies aren’t ultimately accountable to the CEO. They’re accountable to you, the consumer.

If enough customers stop paying and use a different company, companies have to adjust or go out of business.

So make sure your favorite companies are going green!

Posted in Energy Conservation | Leave a comment

10 Energy Savings Tips for Extreme Energy Savers


Buying CFLs, getting Energy Star appliances, driving the speed limit…those are the easy energy savings approaches for beginners.

But you, you like a REAL challenge. You want to save energy like no one else you know.

You don’t mind doing things other people might call “crazy” or “extreme.”

You’re fearless and try anything at least once.

So here’s some energy savings tips others might say are “a little out there:”

  1. Get rid of your car entirely. Bike, walk, or use public transportation. You’ll also save on maintenance, insurance, and gas costs. That could be thousands over the course of the year.
  2. Dust your light bulbs. Dust can cut your light output up to 25%.
  3. Buy large quantities of food to reduce car trips to the store. We’re talking like duffel-bag size here. You may spend a few hundred, but you’ll use that anyway and you’ll save on gasoline now.
  4. Use the smallest pots and pans possible when cooking because it takes more energy to heat larger ones.
  5. Never take a bath so you can save water. Don’t worry – you won’t smell awful. Take a shower instead because that uses much less water. And, less crazy, install low-flow shower heads.
  6. Turn your furnace down during winter and use a heat lamp to keep yourself warm instead.
  7. Wait until the weekend to do your laundry because that’s when electricity is cheapest.
  8. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of meat. Not only do they cost much less per pound (up to 70 cents per pound compared to several dollars for various kinds of meat), but you’ll cut down on the energy that contributes to climate change. It’s one of those “big-picture” energy savings techniques.
  9. Negotiate with your boss to work 4 10-hour days weekly instead of 5 8-hour days. This can be a tough negotiation, depending on the boss. But if you get it, you’ll cut 20% off the gas and car maintenance expenses you would otherwise have. Plus, you’ll save on food too by eating at home instead of eating out with coworkers or clients.
  10. Use your iPhone to help you out. Doesn’t sound so extreme at first. But you can go pretty far into depth with this one. There’s iPhone apps for gas, driving, car maintenance, traveling, mass transportation, carpooling, home energy use, and greener shopping. And lots of them. You’re sure to save energy with them all.

So there you have it – 10 (actually many more) extreme ways to save energy.

Ready? Go get’em!




Posted in Energy Conservation, Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment