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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!




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7 Energy Savings Ideas for Small Businesses


Run your own small business? Find out some easy ways to save energy, and money, in this post from Payless Power.

Do you run your own small company? Are you a contractor? Maybe you work from home as a consultant. You could even have a small office.

Whatever you do, you need every bit of capital you can get to keep growing your business.

Here’s what you should be on the lookout for to save money and energy:

  1. Consider Annual HVAC Maintenance

It doesn’t cost much, and it can catch costly major problems when they’re minor and inexpensive to fix. Not only do you save energy, but you save money on repairs and future maintenance too.

  1. Watch Your Windows!

If you have a small office, consider hanging blinds to block the sun out during the day. You can even get solar screens that let you see out, and keep the sun from shining in too. That helps you save money during summer because your HVAC won’t have to work as hard.

During the winter, let the sun help you out and open up your blinds. You’ll save money and energy because its heat warms your office.

  1. If You Rent Your Office Make Sure Your Landlord Uses CFLs

Not everyone’s made the change to CFLs or LEDs yet. CFLs are the best bang-for-your-buck these days, but LEDs, if your landlord can afford them, are much better. To put it in perspective, CFLs cost 75% less to operate, while lasting 10 times longer than incandescents.

  1. Always Buy Energy Star Products

They represent the most energy-efficient products in the market. Computers, printers, copiers, fridges, TVs, windows, thermostats, and many others get rated by Energy Star.

  1. Train Your Employees on Energy Usage Best Practices

Computer repair professionals know users are responsible for 90% of all problems they fix. And they repair the same ones over and over again.

The same is going to happen with energy usage at your small business with your employees. That is, unless you create official policy and refresh your employees with it annually.

  1. Use Rechargeable Batteries

Yes, you can still get throwaway batteries. But evidence shows rechargeable batteries are much more effective. Plus, you save yourself a trip to the store, and having to go buy them.

  1. Consider an Energy Audit

With privatization in the Texas electric industry, there’s plenty of competition to help SMBs like yours reduce energy usage. You can get a free energy audit that tells you exactly how you can save electricity from many utility companies.

There’s 7 ways you can save energy and money. And you can use that to grow your business, or take a nice little vacation!

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Everything’s Bigger in Texas, But Your Electricity Bill Doesn’t Have to Be


Everything’s bigger in the Lone Star State, but when you’re looking for the cheapest electric company in Texas, less is more.

What’s bigger in Texas? For starters, sheer square mileage. About the size of France and Switzerland stuck together, Texas is the second-largest state in the nation at 268,820 square miles, right behind Alaska. But the bigness of Texas doesn’t stop there: the job market is huge, and just keeps booming. For instance, the Texas solar industry provided nearly 7,000 living-wage jobs in February of 2015, and the oil and gas boom of recent years led to Texas creating 49% of all new U.S. jobs between 2009 and 2011. Record in-state job growth continued to surge throughout 2014.

Even with the thriving job market, one thing Texans don’t need any bigger is electricity rates. Through the ongoing quest to find the cheapest electric company in Texas, residents are shedding the “bigger is better” approach in favor of lower electric bills to keep them comfortable amid the humidity and heat for which Texas is also famous.

Deregulation Gives You the Power to Choose the Cheapest Electric Company in Texas

Higher temperatures and bigger populations means nearly unmanageable heat at times in cities like Houston and Austin. Fortunately, a convenient law known as deregulation of the electricity market makes it easier for 85% of Texans to keep themselves cool without drowning in their budgets, as they seek out the cheapest electric company in Texas.

Approved in 2002, deregulation makes it possible for residents to choose electricity service from a wide variety of retail electric providers (REPs). Intended to transfer control of electricity from the state and monopolies to local, independent providers, deregulation puts financial freedom more firmly in the pocketbook of the consumer.

In spite of the booming economy and shining metropolitan cities, hard-working Texans are savvy when it comes to saving and in that respect the lower the electric rates, the better.

What It All Means For You

When you’re searching for the cheapest electric company in Texas, deregulation arms you with multiple resources for comparing rates and finding the best provider for your budget and lifestyle.

Multiple factors that can help you research providers include:

  • Determining whether you want to pay a deposit or put money down to receive service
  • Your own preference for fixed rates, variable rates, or indexed rates
  • Whether the provider applies any cancellation fees
  • Urgent connection options
  • Daily notifications issued with prepaid services for optimal savings

As a Texan, you love the ultra-modern cities, the wide open spaces, and the romanticized largeness of our beloved state. You probably even enjoy the heat on most days. But when you’re looking at finding the cheapest electric company in Texas to minimize your bill, check in with Payless Power and see what we have to offer. Sign up with us today, and you’ll find the best things in life aren’t very large at all

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Top 5 Ways You Know Prepaid Electricity Is Right for You

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb

Are you happy with your electric provider? Does your monthly bill easily fit within your budget? If you’re shaking your head, prepaid electricity in Houston, Texas may be a game-changer for the way you use power.

Ever since the deregulation of the Texas electricity market was approved in 2002, residents in more than 400 Lone Star State cities, including Houston, have gained the freedom to choose their own electricity providers, including those that offer prepaid electricity. If you’re not sure whether this energy model is ideal for you, Payless Power has removed the guesswork by compiling a list of the top 5 ways you can gauge if you should make the prepaid leap.

  1. You Want to Save Money – We know you’re thinking, “Who doesn’t want to save money?” But the truth is that many people end up paying way more than is necessary for many commodities, including electricity. By going with prepaid electricity in Houston, you only pay for what you use, helping you automatically. Unlike fixed plans or indexed plans that are configured on the average consumer’s usage, you prepay when the balance gets low, just like refilling a prepaid phone or card.
  1. You Don’t Like to Deal with Contracts – Contracts can lock you into a monthly rate with a steep cancellation fee, should you need to terminate service. Overwhelming to many who may have unpredictable or limited income, contracts are inflexible and not sympathetic to the inevitable financial challenges life throws your way. Prepaid electricity Houston, Texas providers, like Payless Power, offer a variety of payment options and hold you to no contracts. You are free to leave when you no longer need or want service, without a cancellation fee, no questions asked.
  1. You’d Rather Not (Or Can’t) Pay a Costly Deposit – Just as inconvenient and costly as contracts, many providers require a deposit and credit check to activate service. During a tough economic time when many people’s credit is slipping, it’s comforting to know that regardless of your financial status, prepaid electricity allows anyone to receive the energy they need to power their lives.
  1. You Want Control Over Your Daily Use – Directly linked to how much you save, the best prepaid electricity providers offer tracking systems to monitor your daily usage. Usually sent via email or text, these alerts enable you to track trends to make sure you don’t run out of power before your next pay period. Customers of Payless Power have reported saving up to 27% on their energy bill by switching to prepaid service.
  1. You Need Electricity Now – When you’re in a pinch and need emergency electricity, prepaid is the way to go. No one can wait around for power, especially in the heart of our Houston summers, when AC is a way of life. Without having to wait for credit checks or shelling out money for a deposit, you can often activate service within hours.

Prepaid is quickly becoming the choice for budget-conscious residents of our Southern city. To activate prepaid electricity in Houston, Texas, sign up with Payless Power today.

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The Single Best Home Energy Savings Tip


What’s the number one thing you can do to save energy at home?

Would it be to wrap your water heater in a blanket?

Should you keep the blinds pulled shut during summer?

What about taking shorter showers?

All great tips. But this one’s far better. And you’ll get more energy savings than any other tip.

Teach Your Family Energy Savings Habits

Why’s this the best tip?

Think about it: you can only do so much yourself. But when you teach everyone else in your family what to do, the effects multiply.

Otherwise, you spend all your time getting on their case and monitoring their behavior. That creates a negative relationship in your family – and you don’t want that. And you have so many other things to do, it’s going to be hard to pay attention too.

How do you teach your family members to save energy?

Some simple tips to do that:

  1. Model the Desired Behavior Yourself

Consistency makes a huge difference when changing behavior. If you don’t do it yourself, your family members will get angry and point out your wrongs.

You won’t do it perfectly. So you could ask them to help you watch your behavior. And then when they call you on your mistakes, admit to them.

  1. Set Goals and Have Your Family Suggest Rewards for Achieving Them

Start with something small. For example, you could say: let’s cut our electric bill by 10% this month.

Ask your family members how they’d like you to reward them. Maybe you take them out for pizza or ice cream.

They’ll be much more motivated to save energy when there’s a reward waiting for them.

  1. Remind Your Family How Helpful They Are for Participating

Keep the conversations positive. Don’t use them as times to point out where everyone’s going wrong and how they can improve.

Instead, focus on what’s going right and what your goal is. For example, focus on how you’ve noticed everyone’s taking shorter showers. Talk about how much water and money you’ve saved. Discuss the ways that impacts the environment positively.

And then discuss what needs to happen to meet your goal. Of course, remind your family the reward they get for achieving the goal.

Change Isn’t Easy!

Regardless of how you approach energy savings, it’s going to take hard work. And your family might resist at first.

But, use this approach, and you’ll notice less energy used, more money saved, and you’ll do your part to take care of the environment!

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The Ultimate Guide to Saving on Your Electricity Bill for Apartment Renters


Honest disclosure: we spend a lot of time talking to homeowners.

And sorry – we don’t give people living in apartments enough air time.

Here are some tips for you to increase your energy savings:

  1. Use lights only when you need them
  2. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs…even if you know you’re not going to stay for a long time in your current apartment
  3. In a fixture with multiple lights, do not use CFLs and incandescent bulbs – the heat from the incandescents dramatically reduces the life of CFLs
  4. Dust your lamps and light fixtures regularly so they give off their maximum brightness
  5. Portable/baseboard electric heaters eat a lot of energy. Wear thicker clothing during the winter and turn them low.
  6. Curtains and window shades help keep the heat in during winter so you don’t have to use as much electric energy heating your apartment.
  7. Turn the computer off if you’re going to be away from it for more than an hour…and do the same with your printer.
  8. Watch every other electric device in your apartment, and turn them off too because they use standby power when plugged in.
  9. Let frozen foods thaw slightly before you cook them.
  10. Use smaller appliances in place of bigger ones. For example, cook with your microwave rather than your oven when you can.
  11. To keep your food both safe and cold, keep your fridge at 36-42°, and your freezer at 0°. Using any more energy than that is just a waste.
  12. Washing your dishes by hand saves much more total energy versus using the dishwasher.
  13. Limit the length of your shower or bath. Maybe even shower or bathe at the gym as often as possible!
  14. Are you a really good tenant? Ask your landlord to buy an energy-efficient fridge or microwave. Good tenants can often get what they want.
  15. Live on the second floor? Open up your windows when it’s cooler out to circulate as much cool air as possible.

Apartment renters – we didn’t forget about you! Hope this helps you save some money so you can buy your own home.

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