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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Mother’s Day: Energy Savings Tips for the Family from Mom

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Although we don’t know your mother in particular,  we can bet she and others across the nation would just love it if you helped save some energy by following these tips:

  1. Shut the door.  Children especially need reminders on this one.  Remind them to shut the front and back door, and don’t forget the refrigerator and freezer door too!
  2. Install dimmer switches.  With incandescent light bulbs going by the wayside and LEDs and CFLs taking their place, this tip doesn’t net as much savings as it did in the past.  But, you can lengthen a bulb’s life significantly by simply dimming it.  And dimmer switches only cost a few bucks to purchase.
  3. Add a motion sensor.  Mom likes the house looking nice at night.  But at the same time, you can save energy by only turning on exterior lights when someone needs them to see.  They’re inexpensive to purchase, and if your husband’s handy, they’re not too difficult to install either.
  4. Make the ceiling fan energy efficient.  Mom loves that decorative ceiling fan you have in your home, doesn’t she?  Energy Star ceiling fans can reduce the load on your HVAC system by as much as 10%, and they only cost $30 to purchase.  They also help the temperature around the home feel several degrees cooler, reducing your need to power up the HVAC system.
  5. Buy her new shades.  Cellular and honeycomb shades can significantly reduce the loss of heat in your home.  And they’re not all that expensive to purchase either.  You can make your mom happy and save her energy in one fell swoop!
  6. Install an efficient faucet aerator.  You can cut your water use from 2.2 gallons per minute to just 1.5.  That’s almost 33% savings right there!  And if you get a decorative one, mom will appreciate that.
  7. Get her a nice welcome mat.  Wait a minute…this helps conserve energy?  Yes, it does in a roundabout way.  It cuts the amount of pesticide residue that gets inside your home by 25%!  Do it at your front and back door.  Then, you don’t have to spend as much energy running a carpet cleaner and vacuum over you floor!

So there you go…some nice ways to make your mom happy for Mother’s Day and save some energy too.

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!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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How Much Energy Are You Wasting?

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A blog post at Clean Technica says the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted research which found 61% of all energy that moves through the American economy gets wasted.  And, it also continues to argue that some experts believe the true energy efficiency of our economy is around 14%.  If all that’s not enough to get your attention, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found waste was at an all-time high in 2012.

Pretty amazing in an era when we place more attention than ever on being green and environmentally-friendly, isn’t it?

Whatever the true energy efficiency numbers are, it definitely shows there’s room for improvement.  The two biggest energy wasters, according to the post, are the generation of electricity at power plants, and how you use your vehicle.  Other common energy wasters were household use of heating, cooling, and lighting.

What You Can Do

While you can’t do much about the efficiency of power plants in generating electricity, much of the United States’ energy waste is related to consumer use.  Here are a few big things you can do to save energy:

  1. Vehicles – You don’t have to be an expert mechanic to modify your car so it’s more fuel efficient.  Most of the problems with fuel efficiency are related to personal habits.  First, drive the speed limit.  Going 10 mph slower saves 2-4 miles per gallon over a short trip.  Don’t drive aggressively – hitting the throttle reduces fuel efficiency.  Keep your windows up at all times – drag from the air decreases your fuel economy by up to 10%.  Keep your tires properly inflated.  When you have your oil changed, replace your dirty air filter with a clean one to reduce fuel costs by up to 10%.
  2. Lighting – Ditch the incandescent light bulbs in your home.  Get compact fluorescents at minimum.  They give you the most immediate financial savings.  If you can, consider LED lights – they’ll save the most energy and money over the long-term.  If you have fluorescent lights with magnetic ballasts, use ones with electric ballasts and increase your efficiency by 30%.  And, keep the lights off and use natural sunlight whenever possible.  If you have a large home with many lights, put some on automatic controls that turn the lights off and on according to a schedule.
  3. Cooling – Have a professional inspect your AC system.  Filters should be changed or cleaned monthly during the cooling season, and about every 2-3 months during the offseason.  Prune away plants and weeds from the exterior, but do not use a weed whip, as that can shoot more efficiency-reducing debris inside your AC unit.  If it’s not already in the shade, have your AC system either placed in the shade, or build shade around it.

Those are the big things, and while they do seem obvious, remember how inefficient our economy is as a whole and think of what you could do to increase your own efficiency. One way to help increase your energy efficiency is by monitoring your electricity usage with a company like Payless Power, 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!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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22 Cool Ways to Save Energy

There are many ways to save energy – many more than you can count even.  However, you tend to hear the same ones over and over again.

Some of these tips will be familiar, but many you haven’t heard of either.  Check out this lengthy list of ways to conserve energy:

  1. Use kitchen, bath, and all ventilating fans as little as possible.  They blow away heat and AC.
  2. Insulate the ceiling or your attic to an R-value of 49.  The higher the number, the better.
  3. Insulate your ductwork in unheated and uncooled areas of your home.
  4. Use weather stripping on your attic door to prevent air leaks.
  5. Caulk and weather strip your windows and doors.
  6. Install triple-track glass and screen storm windows.
  7. Install a water heater with an EF rating of .91 or above for the best efficiency.
  8. Use cold water, not hot water, in your garbage disposal.
  9. Cover pans when boiling water – it helps them boil faster.
  10. Clean your oven burners and reflectors regularly so they heat faster.
  11. Turn off oven burners a few minutes before you finish cooking.  Your food will still cook, and you’ll save energy.
  12. Turn off the oven itself 7 minutes before you finish cooking.  The trapped heat will finish the cooking.
  13. Use your microwave to cook small meals – it uses less energy than an oven.
  14. Only preheat your oven when you absolutely need to.
  15. Don’t broil food unless you have to – it uses a ton of energy.
  16. Thaw your frozen foods before you cook them.  Use the warm air temperature instead of your electric energy.
  17. You save the most electricity when buying your dishwasher.  Get an energy-efficient model the either uses air power or overnight dry settings.  You can reduce the energy your dishwasher uses by 10% or more.
  18. Keep the fridge at a temperate of around 38-40 degrees.  The freezer should be around 5 degrees.  If you have a separate freezer, keep the temp around 0.  Only open the door when you need it, and close it as soon as you can.
  19. Keep sunlight off your refrigerator and freezer so they don’t get warmed up.
  20. When washing clothes, use warm or cold water, and always rinse in cold.
  21. Showers are more efficient on your water usage than baths, but only if you limit your time to around 10 minutes.
  22. Make sure your shower has a water-flow controller installed at the showerhead.

If you apply these 22 tips to your life, your home will be the model of energy efficiency!

If you’re interested in an easy way to save money, 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!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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How to Help Your Teen Reduce Their Energy Use

When you think of Spring, you start to think of graduation.  And graduation reminds you of your teenagers.  Hey, at least they made it this far in life without hurting themselves!

Because much of the energy efficiency issues our nation faces are related to consumer use, it’s wise to address the issue while your teens are just getting ready to move out.  Then, when they’re in college, hopefully they know more about saving money and conserving energy so they don’t have to be calling home as much asking for more.

Here are the biggest ways you can help your teen save energy:

  1. Unplug everything when you’re done.  Laptops, smartphones, and MP3 players should be unplugged when your teen is done using them.  The same goes for all electronic appliances (TVs, dishwashers, microwaves…) too.  They can consume energy even when turned off and not operating.  This also increases the life of appliances, helping them save even more money.
  2. Turn it off instead of using sleep mode.  The sleep mode feature of any electronic device simply reduces energy use, rather than eliminating it entirely.  Teach your teen to turn things off totally when they’re done so they don’t waste power and require charging again later.
  3. Buy used clothing.  This seems like a strange one, doesn’t it?  But, keep in mind it takes energy to produce new clothing.  Your teen won’t notice an immediate benefit, but they will help the environment.  Plus, they get used to the idea they won’t have a ton of money to buy designer clothing during college.
  4. Turn off the faucet and take short showers.  Leaving the faucet on while brushing your teeth uses two gallons of water per minute.  Showers are more efficient than baths, but still consume a fair amount of water.
  5. Carpool with friends whenever possible.  They have to do it now that they don’t have their own vehicle.  When they get on campus, they may not even be able to have one.  And when they get that first job, they may carpool with other employees to work.  They might as well get into the habit now and help reduce the gas our country consumes.
  6. Buy reusable grocery bags.  They may eat on campus or go to a grocery store.  If they do go to a grocery store, they should use reusable bags, and some stores offer discounts for doing so.  Remind them to think of the energy saved because not as many plastic bags will be produced.  They won’t realize a benefit for themselves, but it will help them to care for the world at large.

If you show your teens these tips, they’ll be set up to help you save money now and to save themselves money and energy in the future.

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How to Save Energy Costs While on Spring Break

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Ahhh, the college years.  You’re slowly transitioning from the careless years of high school to that of responsibility.

Every cent counts when you’re in college – that’s money you can use to go out and party!

And if you’re still in the dorms, you might as well prepare yourself for the time you move out and have to pay your own energy costs.

If you’re sharing a house or an apartment with some friends, you’re probably not living in the most up-scale, energy efficient dwelling.  So, you could save yourself and your friends a fair amount of money by paying attention to energy efficiency.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your energy bills:

  • Get Energy Star certified products.  When you purchase a new mini-fridge, television, computer, or anything else electronic, make sure it has the Energy Star label.  An Energy-Star television, for example, uses around 25% less energy than one without the label.
  • Be wary of vampire energy drain.  If you plug your gadgets directly into the wall, they can consume energy even if they’re turned off.  That happens also even if they’re not plugged into the charger.  Instead, plug them into a power strip.  Not only do you save directly on energy, but you increase the life of your devices as well.
  • Buy CLF or LED lights.  Hopefully you’re not too wild in your living space, and these don’t get broken!  If you’re not worried about that, CFL light bulbs present a good, cost-effective alternative to incandescents.  LEDs are even better, but it takes more time for their savings to pay off because they typically cost more to purchase.
  • Turn off stuff you don’t use.  If you see a screensaver running, you should realize it’s time to take action.  The same goes for any device sitting in “sleep mode.”  These consume less power than leaving your devices on, but they still consume a significant amount of power if they’re never turned off.
  • Turn off, or reduce the heat when you leave for the day.  In Spring, you still may need the heat occasionally.  Even in very cold temperatures, you can turn the heat off for the day, and it will be reasonably warm when you get home.  Then, while you make supper, you can turn the heat on and let your place heat up.  Turn it down again at night, and lay in an extra blanket or put on another layer of clothing to stay warm and reduce costs.

When you add up all of these energy savings, especially if you live in an older building, you can save up to a few hundred bucks throughout the year.

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How to Reduce March Madness Energy Costs

Have you filled out your brackets yet?

So, one of the year’s greatest sporting events – the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is here.

If you’re a total fanatic, you’ll spend hours in front of the TV.

And speaking of that television, which can be a real energy hog, what can you do to make sure it uses the least amount of energy possible, while you still get to watch the tournament?

A few ideas:

  1. Turn it off when you’re not watching.  Okay, let’s get the easy one out of the way.  Just turn it off when you’re not watching the tournament.  Switch it to standby if you have a hard time remembering this.
  2. Keep tabs on the brightness.  Usually, the default factory setting is brighter than necessary.  Set it to a more appropriate level if that doesn’t interfere with your viewing experience.  If your TV has an ambient light sensor, make sure that feature is turned on.
  3. Use the radio screen blanking feature.  If you like to listen to the radio through your television when the tournament’s not on, make sure the screen stays blank the entire time by turning on this feature.
  4. Do you really need a huge TV?  Did you know a 32-inch LCD screen uses half the power of a 42-inch plasma?  If you’re not the type who needs a massive television, keep this in mind when you purchase a new one.
  5. Switch to energy-saving mode.  What this does is dim the backlight, which cuts the energy used by up to 1/3.  You’ll have to change this setting again at night, but hey, when it comes to efficiency, why not go to all lengths?
  6. Buy a new television.  Okay, so this could be the perfect time to justify the purchase of a new television to your spouse.  For example, a LED TV is 20-25% more efficient than the typical LCD or plasma.  One Clean Technica article claims a 400% difference in energy usage between the most and least efficient 37 inch TVs!  Even if you have a newer one, it may not be energy efficient at all…
  7. Look for OLED technology.  It’s still somewhat new to the market, so you might have a hard time finding an OLED TV.  But, they do exist, and they’re even more efficient than LED televisions.

Bet you didn’t know all of those ins and outs of purchasing energy-efficient televisions…

And hope you win your office bracket pool this year!

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How to Stay Energy Efficient While on Vacation

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Even though we get nice warm weather here in Texas (maybe not the case now, but it will be soon), Spring can be a good time to take a vacation with your family.

If you want to keep your home energy efficient while on vacation, what can you do?  A few things:

1)     Turn off the AC.  You should have a programmable thermostat, so just set it for the right temperature once you get home.  If you have pets, set the AC for a little higher temperature than normal – around 72 degrees or so.  Every degree you raise the temperature saves you about 2-3% on your energy bill.

2)     Turn off the water heater.  You probably don’t think about this one too often.  But, it uses quite a bit of energy, and there’s no need to keep it on while you’re away from home.  Turn off the circuit breaker for the water heater.  If it’s gas, turn off the gas valve.

When you get back home, allow your hot water tap to run before you turn the gas on once again.  Do this to make sure your tank has water in it.  If it doesn’t, it can get damaged.

3)     Unplug all chargers and electric appliances.  Even if you turn them off but leave them plugged in, they still consume some energy.  They’re called “energy vampires” when they do this.  Plus, if there’s a thunderstorm, you’re guaranteed none of your appliances will be damaged.

4)     Use automatic lights if you can.  If you live in an area where there’s a good chance someone could break into your home while you’re gone, you’ll probably think to leave a light or two on to scare away intruders.  Do it if you have to, but better yet, have timers installed so they turn the lights on automatically.

5)     Refrigerator.  It’s safe to set your refrigerator, one of the biggest consumers of energy, to around 42 degrees or so.  If you’re a hardcore energy saver, or if you’re going to be gone for a long time, unload all the food, place a box of baking soda in the freezer to attract moisture and prevent mold growth, and unplug the fridge.

6)     Pool/spa.  Lower the temperature setting and reduce the filter run times while you’re gone.

Those tips will help you save on energy costs, and help you reduce the financial burden of your vacation, hopefully making it a little more enjoyable for you and everyone else.

For more money-saving tips, 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!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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When do Solar Panels Pay for Themselves?

Now that the costs of manufacturing solar panels and installing them have come down significantly, they’re at the point where they are affordable for many homeowners.

But how much money do they help you save, and when do these savings start to actually outweigh the costs of installation?

There’s no precise calculations, and it depends largely on how much you pay to have the installation performed.  However, here are some ideas that could help demystify the issue:

  1. For Texas residents, you can save about $20,960 on average, over the course of 20 years.  The number was computed based on 2011 research, and solar power’s cost has dropped much since then, so the real figure could be higher.  You can view data for Texas and every other state in the nation in an infographic at CostofSolar.com
  2. Don’t forget about federal and state tax incentives.  There is a residential tax credit of 30% that will remain in effect until December 31 of 2016.  For credits available to Texas residents, visit this website.
  3. How much does installation cost?  Do know that whatever you do, installation is going to be expensive.  Contractors will give you different numbers, but the average cost is around $5 per watt, or nearly $15,000 for the typical 3-kilowatt system.
  4. Remember electricity costs are generally rising.  To account for your total savings, you have to also factor in the cost of electricity.  The Edison Electricity Institute conducted a study which found they rose 2.5% per year from 2000 – 2006, while inflation grew at a rate of 1.99% per year over the same time.
  5. Know how much electricity solar produces.  Of course this info disagrees with point number one, but it’s here just for your information.  The typical 3-kilowatt system creates 450 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month.  In a state with an average amount of sunshine, that equates to about half of the monthly electrical usage.  If that bill is an average amount of around $100, it would save you about $50 per month.  Figuring a new cost of $50 per month, that’s $600 saved per year.

Give that Info, What Should You Do? 

If you’re saving $600 per year, you won’t break even on the cost of your solar panels (assuming a $15,000 cost) until you’ve owned them for…25 years!  But, with that 30% discount in place, that takes the installation cost down to $10,500.  That lowers the payback time down to 17.5 years.

The bottom line:  the 30% federal tax incentive is in place until December 31st of 2016, and installation costs will come down.  Get your solar panels installed before then, if they fit in your budget, and make sure you pay special attention to see if the federal government extends that deadline.

For may ways to save money, switch to Payless Power for pre-paid electricity! Offering low-cost energy plans to suit both residential and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people with some of the best 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!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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