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!

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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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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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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