7 Fun Ways to Save Energy

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We humans are creatures of habit – and that’s a good thing most of the time. But then sometimes, you get stuck in a rut doing the same old stuff.

So let’s shake things up a little and use these fun ways to save energy:

  1. Go for a walk instead of watching TV. What do you do most of the time just after you have supper? Usually you turn on the television.

Give it a break and connect with your family, friends, and neighbors instead.

  1. Schedule your own power outage. What would you do if the power suddenly went out for 4-6 hours? Pretend that actually is happening to you.

Play board games with your family, hide’n’seek with the children, or whatever fun activities come to mind.

  1. Work from home. It costs less energy to just use electricity to work from home than it does to commute back-and-forth for most workers. Talk to your boss about doing a 4-week trial to see how it goes – and make sure you do your very best, most productive work.
  1. Have a raw food competition. Now this is very interesting. Organize the event with your friends and neighbors. The idea is that everyone makes their own meals without using any appliances. Give the winner a prize – or just the satisfaction that they know they’ve made the best dish.
  1. Get together with others to watch your favorite TV shows. Do your neighbors watch the exact same thing you do at the same time? Save energy weekly by watching the show together. You’ll have more fun too because everyone catches different things from the same show.
  1. Frost your own windows. Follow this handy-dandy DIY guide to frosting your windows. It blocks out the sunlight so your home isn’t heated and uses less air conditioning. Your room will also stay warmer in the winter.
  1. Make your own AC unit. Now here’s the thing – you don’t have to be MacGyver (points to you if you get the reference there) to make it happen. All you need is an investment of $30, a fan, a bucket, and a few hours to make your own AC system. Check out this YouTube video to see how it’s done.

It’s Time to Switch it Up (And Off)!

Have more fun in life – you’ll save more energy when it’s fun, and hey, you’ll take some stress off your shoulders too!

 

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7 Surprising Energy Savings Tips

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Okay – so you think you’re the most energy-efficient homeowner there is? Before you go stroking your ego about your environmental friendliness, make sure you’ve used these tips:

  1. Use a Rain Barrel to Collect Water

An inch of rainfall on a 1,000 square foot roof gives you 600, yes 600, gallons of water! You can water your entire yard and garden for free by collecting this water in a rain barrel. In fact, you could fill several rain barrels if you really wanted to.

Just make sure you install your rain barrel correctly.

  1. Stay Married

Who’d have thought marriage is more environmentally friendly? Think of it this way: if you two split up, you’d each need your own place to live. Michigan State researchers have found that divorced families add about 6,000 pounds more of carbon dioxide per year.

Keep your spouse happy!

  1. Pack Your Fridge & Freezer Tightly

Think of it this way: the more available space they have inside, the more cool air sits in until you open the door. Then all that warm air from the kitchen rushes in to take its place. Do this for both your fridge and freezer.

  1. Eat All-Local Meals

Now you personally won’t experience direct energy savings from this. But, think of all the energy it takes to process the food you eat, ship it, and then keep some of it cool at the store.

Buy from your local farmer’s market, and not only do you save energy, but you support the local economy too!

  1. Stop Doing Your Dishes by Hand…

Okay, so almost everyone has a dishwasher. But here’s the thing most are missing: pre-rinsing costs you up to 20 gallons of heated water per day. And make sure you only wash with full loads.

Those energy savings add up quite nicely at the end of the year.

  1. Buy a Halogen Oven

You can roast a chicken in 30 minutes! These ovens not only heat things up faster, but they use 75% less energy than conventional electric ovens.

  1. Seal Your Home from Drafts

Leaks underneath your doors and around windows and attic doors actually add up to a significant amount of energy wasted each year. Make sure you have a tightly sealed home “envelope,” as the professionals say.

Did You Know All Those Tips?

A couple you might have, but most of these are fairly obscure. Which can you implement today to reduce the energy you consume?

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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.

Contact Us and Start Saving!

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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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