5 Electricity Savings Tips So Senseless You Should Ignore Them

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Some electricity savings tips are just…well they’re just plain stupid. And you should totally ignore them.

Because they make your life really inconvenient. Or the time you spend making them happen far outweighs the money you save.

Check out these dumb tips we’ve heard to get an idea of what we mean:

  1. Wear Slippers and a Hat During Winter…When You’re Inside Your Home

Okay, so maybe slippers aren’t ridiculous. But one website we found, and we won’t mention their name, recommended wearing a hat inside all winter long. That’s because most of the heat in your body escapes through your head.

That’s true. But, could you imagine everyone in your family wearing stocking caps all winter long, and sitting around in the living room talking to one another? The only time they take theirs off would be to take a shower!

Come on! No one wants to do that. Can you imagine the complaining?

  1. Turn Down the Thermostat One Degree When Guests Come Over

So tell us, who’s thinking goes like that? “Uh-oh. Here come our guests. Let’s make sure to turn the thermostat down one single degree for two hours while they stay over.”

Seriously? You’ll save maybe 50 cents, if that. Some “energy savings opportunities” simply aren’t worth the hassle. Focus on having a good time with your guests instead.

  1. Fill Your Half-Empty Fridge or Freezer with Bottles of Water

Technically, you will save energy with this tip. But not nearly enough to justify the cost of buying the water from the store. You’re looking at pennies at best.

But even major utilities, like Wisconsin Public Service, tell you to do it. If you actually take this tip seriously, you belong on “Extreme Cheapskates.”

  1. Install Foam Gaskets Under Your Electrical Outlets

Again, you will save energy with this one. But they cost at least $1 a piece. It may take years before you recoup that dollar.

Ever heard the saying,”Can’t see the forest from the trees?” This one falls into that category. Don’t waste your short life doing it.

  1. Install Replacement Windows

Yes, windows do save energy. And sometimes a significant amount of energy. But it’s not a practical tip because it costs a lot of money to replace your windows.

So it’ll be years before you see any real financial savings, and possibly never. The only reasons you would install new windows are:

  • To make your spouse happy
  • You don’t like yours anymore
  • You really want to help the environment, even if it costs you money

Do whatever you want. We’re not here to judge you. But it’s important you know the reality of installing new windows.

Be Careful When You Read Energy Savings “Tips”

The internet lets anyone with a computer become an “expert.” So read those energy savings tips you find on the web carefully. And check them out from multiple sources to ensure they’ll give you a worthwhile benefit for your time.

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6 Ways to Save Energy You Haven’t Heard Before

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Wow, we’ve probably written thousands of energy-saving tips here on the Payless Power blog! If you followed most of them, you’ll definitely cut at least a few hundred bucks off your yearly energy bill.

Well, we’ve found a few more tips for you that we likely haven’t mentioned before. Give them a read and see if you’ve heard of them before:

  1. Paint Your Roof White

This one’s only for homeowners in sunny climates. So, Texas makes a pretty good fit. In fact, Berkeley University found that white roofs can cost up to 40% less to cool than black roofs. In a sunny climate, that amounts to $100 per year in savings.

Simply use paint rollers on an old paint roller flame, along with a long pole to save wear-and-tear on your back. And you only need to use a cheap white, elastomeric paint just about every hardware store carries.

  1. Buy a Halogen Oven

These ovens save an astonishing amount of electricity versus the standard electric oven: 75%. And they cook 50% faster too.

Roast a chicken in just 30 minutes.

  1. Forget the Water Heater Blanket – Install a Solar-Powered Water Heater

No joke here. You simply mount photovoltaic panels on your rooftop and watch the savings roll in. Some power companies offer financial incentives for doing this. Check with yours for additional savings before you actually do the installation.

  1. Keep Your Freezer Full

This seems the reverse of what you’d think. But, an empty freezer sucks more energy than a full one. So keep it full. And you’ll never have to worry about making a late run to the grocery store for supper.

  1. Grill Out When You Can

Your grilling days may be coming to an end here in December/January. But who knows? You can get the occasional warm day here and there. Buying propane or using charcoal costs less than using electric.

Keep this one especially in the forefront of your mind as spring rolls around so you don’t have to run the AC.

  1. Use Motion-Detecting Lights

Make these CFLs for sure, and LEDs if those fit your budget. Not only do they help you save serious energy, but you don’t even have to think about monitoring them for more energy savings.

So those are 6 ways to save energy that we likely haven’t discussed before.

Which will you put to use?

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How to Do Your Own Home Energy Audit

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Some power companies and HVAC companies do home energy audits completely for free. But not all do. And you may not have access to a free home energy audit.

So here’s a simple way to do your own:

  1. Check Your Furnace’s AFUE Rating

It’s easy and fast – you can’t miss it. Look for a big yellow sticker with a number on it. Say the rating is 88. That means your furnace is 88% efficient.

You can get efficiencies as high as 97 and 98. But, you pay a lot more up front for that. You should have a furnace in the 92-95 range.

  1. Check Your AC’s SEER Rating

Sorry, this isn’t as straightforward as your furnace. SEER is a bit more confusing. For starters, the higher the number, the better the efficiency.

The minimum number a central AC unit can have today is 13. For example, an AC with a SEER of 13 is 30% more efficient than one with a SEER of 10.

So, consider a more efficient central AC if yours is getting old (15-20 years), or if you’d like to buy a more efficient unit.

  1. Check Your Home For Drafts

This is one of your biggest, and most cost-effective, wins. You might know of some already. To find major leak sources, wait for a windy day, and close all your windows and turn off your gas furnace and water heater. Shut all your windows and your fireplace flue.

You can either wet your hand or light an incense stick. Pass your hand or the stick around baseboards and windows. If the smoke wavers or your hand feels cold, you’ve found a draft and an area to seal off.

  1. Water Use

You should have a low-flow shower head, low-flow toilets, and low-flow sink faucet aerators. That’s what you need for optimal efficiency anyway.

  1. Insulation

This one’s harder to check on your own because you don’t look at insulation every day and learn what’s good and what’s not. When you go up in your attic, you should notice insulation piled as high as the tops of your floor joists. If it’s fallen lower than that, then it’s settled. And it’s time to have some new stuff blown in.

If you notice your house feeling unusually hot during summer or strangely cold during the winter, that’s another sign you need insulation. If you’re one of the rare Texas homes with a basement, it should be heated. If it’s not, you should have insulation.

So those are some of the areas for the biggest wins. Give them a check, and see which fit your budget.

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5 Tips for Saving Electricity with Your Kids This Year

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You can save energy and have fun with your kids too. And you can help them understand ways to save energy at the same time.

Here’s some ideas you can do:

  1. Use Rechargeable Batteries in Their Toys

It’s a small way you can save serious energy over buying batteries. And it’s a great way to teach your kids too. Plus, you won’t have to worry about buying batteries every time you go to the store.

And you can teach your kids basic handyman skills – like how to use a screwdriver and put the batteries in. Who’d have thought their toys could be such a great teaching tool?

  1. Turn Off the Videogames and Play Outside

PS4 and Xbox One are energy hogs – even when you’re not playing them. The electric costs do add up, but they’re nothing compared to the bonding you miss out on with your children.

Teach them how to have a good time outside during the winter. Maybe it’s hockey, snowshoeing, snowball fights, ice skating, or wrestling. And remind them how you save electricity by not playing all those videogames!

  1. Use LED Lights for Your Decorations

LEDs are so ridiculously efficient that they’re like using no electricity at all. By the time your kids grow up, hopefully they’ll have replaced CFLs.

Teach your kids about LEDs versus CFLs. Maybe talk about the “old days” and their advantages over incandescents. Buy your kids LED flashlights and play hide’n’seek, tell scary stories, or read their favorite books.

  1. Vampires Don’t Come Out Just on Halloween…

Sorry to say it, but energy vampires suck your energy 365 ¼ days per year. We’re referring to appliances you leave plugged. This could also be your laptop charger, smartphone charger, or maybe a charger for your kid’s toys. It’s a great teaching opportunity to show your children that even the small things count.

  1. Buy Energy-Star Devices

If you are getting your children some electronics, make sure they have the big Energy Star logo on the side. Explain to your children what that label means. There’s no guarantees as to the amount of energy you’ll save, but you will save significant energy compared to similar devices without the label.

Saving energy can be fun….without making your life irritating or miserable.

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4 Winter Energy Savings Mistakes Not to Make

Festively decorated living room

“He’s making a list – and checking it twice! Santa Claus is coming…to town.”

But if you make these naughty winter energy savings mistakes, he might cross your name off the list and give you a nice sack of coal:

  1. Turning Your HVAC System Off

Think of how much money you’d save by not running your heating at all…

Wait a minute. Don’t do that – ever.

It actually puts a lot of stress on your HVAC system and costs you more in energy and wear on HVAC system than you get in savings.

Instead, change your thermostat based on activity levels in your home. If people are going to be in your house, and they’re going to be actively using it, use 68, or whatever your most comfortable setting is. If no one’s going to be around, or you’re all going to sleep, cut that to 60 (or 8 degrees lower than your comfortable setting).

Your energy bills – and your HVAC system – will thank you for it.

  1. Not Changing Your Filter Costs You 15% in Wasted Energy

It’s easy to forget about your filter, among all the other things you have to do in life. The recommendation home inspectors and realtors give is to check yours every time you pay your mortgage.

If it’s a high-usage month, like you need serious heat every day like you do in January or February (or nearly every day), change your filter monthly. If it’s one of those “tweener” months like October or November, you can usually safely change your filter every 2 months.

  1. Ignoring Obvious Problems

Umm…what was that noise you just heard? Or maybe your system cycles on and off constantly. Or maybe you don’t get nearly the heat you should.

Money gets low during the holidays. No doubt about it. But you can’t afford to ignore obvious HVAC system issues too long.

They only get worse and cost you more money. Try to get a no-interest financing plan if you can’t afford a large repair or replacement.

  1. Your Water Heater is the Ultimate Villain of Energy Savings

Poor guy…he’s all alone at the top by himself. That’s cause your water heater sucks about 13% of your home’s entire energy usage.

From a cost and energy-savings perspective, gas water heaters beat the stuffing out of electric ones. Gas water heaters cost about 50% less than electric ones to buy, and they cost about $1300 less to operate over a 13-year period.

If you’re stuck with an electric one, turn the temperature down to 120 degrees. That keeps the water comfortably warm. And you’ll save around $20 per month.

Avoid those winter energy-savings mistakes…and watch your bank account swell this holiday season.

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The 2015 Thanksgiving Energy Savings Guide

Thanksgiving

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!

 

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6 Heating Savings Tips To Cut Your Energy Bills This Winter

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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How to Save Energy with Your Car

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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.

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