Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Texas Energy Efficient Ideas For Your New Home

Whether your home is new construction of old – looking for these Texas energy saving ideas can save you thousands of dollars over the years. Certain things your home does not have already might be things you will want to change for energy efficiency and comfort.

Energy Star is a rating given to new home construction which means the home has gone through stringent requirements when it comes to receiving the energy efficiency rating.

Insulation, air sealing, window and door construction and sealing, along with appliances, lighting and ventilation systems are things that may be considered. Many building codes are including certain requirements for air sealing and insulation on new home construction in Texas, in an effort to save energy. By making sure these insulation and air sealing procedures are followed, you can be assured your new home is airtight and will keep the air in the house that you need for comfort and the outside elements where they belong. Make sure you check for air sealing tests on new home construction.

Thermal windows and doors are part of this equation, so if the house has passed air sealing, you don’t need to worry as much. You can have air sealing done on an existing home. By going through and sealing existing cracks and seams where drafts can come through, you can improve your energy bills dramatically.

Your ventilation system is another Texas energy savings component, and the newer HVAC systems are built for efficiency. Make sure you have the right size of unit for your home’s square footage or any energy savings will go out the window, and you will have hot and cold spots. A proper heating, ventilation and air conditioning system can save you up to 50% on your energy bill, versus older, inefficient ones.

Appliances are being made with energy saving features, as well. Energy efficient appliances can pay for themselves in a short period of time, through savings on your energy bill. Don’t forget to check your water heater for energy efficiency, too.

Your home’s lighting systems are important, and houses that are built to take advantage of natural lighting and natural heating or cooling may include skylights, tinted windows, shade trees, and have southern exposure.

Many homes are including solar panel systems to help generate power, and these can increase a home’s resale value and generate enough power for an entire house, depending on the size of the system.Also, using compact, fluorescent bulbs can offer cost savings, and outdoor lighting that uses solar power is a great way to save energy costs. They store the sunlight all day and use it each night. It used to be that ideas for energy efficiency involved turning your lights out when you weren’t using them and weather-stripping your windows and doors. While those are still good pieces of advice, you can realize larger energy savings that amount to more than 50% using these ideas.

Most new Texas home construction includes many energy efficiency features, but you may need to make conversations on older homes. Tax credits and utility rebates are available in many areas for many different types of systems and appliances. Now is a good time to take advantage of energy efficient ideas for your new home

Monday, June 29, 2009

What is Energy Star?

You've probably seen the now familiar blue and white logo with the word "Energy" followed by the outline of a star to indicate the joint governmental effort known as ENERGY STAR at least a few times over the past decade or so, but still may not be sure exactly what the program is all about. Created by the U.S Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992, ENERGY STAR aims to save consumers money while protecting the precious environment at the same time through the use of products and practices that are energy efficient.

While there's been quite a bit of attention on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, many people may be rather surprised to learn that their homes can actually cause twice the amount of air pollution as their cars do. Fortunately, the benefits of ENERGY STAR compliant appliances are becoming more and more known as we search for solutions to combat the growing problems of global warming and rapidly decreasing supplies of vital resources.

The Benefits of ENERGY STAR Rated AppliancesToday, the typical household's energy related utility bills are over $2,000 per year, but, in the year 2008 alone, Americans saved an incredible 19 billion dollars on their home utilities with the help of ENERGY STAR products and other electricity savings methods. This equals a savings of approximately one-third of the total cost of a year's utilities, or about $700 minus the $2,000 total. The previous year in 2007, Americans avoided releasing a whopping forty million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the air we breathe by using products that received the ENERGY STAR rating.

Now, new homes are being built to meet the strict guidelines required to be an ENERGY STAR certified home and must be at least fifteen percent more energy efficient than those built just a few years ago that met the 2004 IRC (International Residential Code). These new "smart" homes, also called green homes or green buildings, have a number of energy-saving features that have the potential to be up to 30 times more efficient than the average home.

ENERGY STAR Products for Every Room of the Home - Currently there are products carrying the ENERGY STAR label in more than 60 different categories, all of which use less energy, save more money, and have less of an impact on the world around us. Thanks to many major technological advances in our modern world, you'll now find the ENERGY STAR logo on far more than just refrigerators or television sets.

All throughout the house, using qualified light bulbs will save two-thirds energy than the ordinary, incandescent bulb most of us still have. And, down in the basement or up in the attic, ENERGY STAR furnaces with a rating of 90% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) or more, which is already 15% more efficient than the minimum federal standards, can save a considerable amount of money, especially if you live in a colder climate.

ENERGY STAR TVs will use half the amount of watts (three compared to six) when not turned on, and qualified VCRs will use 30% less Texas energy than their non-compliant counterparts. Even cordless telephones have built-in modes that save energy along with digital-to-analog converter boxes (DTAs), DVD players, computer and office equipment, and of course, appliances for the kitchen and laundry room.

Do remember that just because a product or service is advertised as being "energy efficient" that doesn't necessarily mean it will perform as well or meet the same stringent energy guidelines as outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA for the ENERGY STAR program. By using Energy Star rated appliances and lowering your Texas electric rate from ChooseEnergy.com - you will be on your way to much lower Texas electricity bills.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to Beat the Summer Heat in Texas

Temperatures soar in the Texas summer, and many of us run our air conditioners full blast, but that means high cooling bills. Can you beat the heat without breaking the bank? If you just change a few things about your behavior and your home, the answer is yes.

Let's take a look at how to do it. Conserving energy and using less Texas electricity has long been a focus for people who want to save the environment, and it's definitely good for the world around us, but it's also good for our wallets. After all, the less power you use, the less you have to pay for. In the summer time, bills can soar due to air conditioning use, but a few simple things can help you reduce the cost of staying cool.

Try keeping shades and blinds closed during the hot part of the day, and leave most lights off, using only the ones you need at the moment. The sun and electric lighting can both add pretty significant amounts of heat to a room. Keep in mind that heat rises. That means that if you're up really early in the morning you can open upstairs and downstairs windows to let the cool air rush in and the hot air rush out. Close them just as soon as it starts to warm up, however, and just leave the upper windows open. That way, upstairs rooms don't turn into a muggy sauna.

Laundry can have a big effect, too. Instead of running the washer and dryer during the day, run the washer in the early morning and hang your clothes on the line (when rain is not expected) or just run them at night. A clothes dryer creates and puts out a lot of heat, and running hot water in a washer does the same. Plus, in some areas, you'll be charged less for using major appliances at night, saving you money.

Cool as little space as you can. Air circulation is a good thing, but in a house that's not designed for it, you can't get a breeze going through the house. In this case, shut the doors and spend most of your time in one room, running a fan or air conditioner only there. There's less space to cool, and less Texas energy expended in doing it. Don't mess with the AC, either. Leave it at the same setting consistently, and don't turn it on and off. That'll cool things the most efficiently. Even if you have an air conditioner running, use your ceiling or floor fans, too. They use a remarkably small amount of energy, and are a big help in keeping things cool.

Don't do too much inside. Workout outdoors or head elsewhere to get things done. The air outside may be hot, but it also is more likely to keep moving. This will vary by day and location, of course. You can also take cool showers, stick to eating mostly meals that don't need cooking, and drink a lot of water. When you are outside, stick to shady areas so you don't overheat - you’ll be less likely to want to crank the AC up when you get indoors.

Use these helpful tips and lower your Texas electric rate by going to ChooseEnergy.com. Choosing a lower cost per kWh - will help lower your electricity bills substantially.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Texas Electricity Demand Nears Record

The demand for Texas electricity neared a record many days this week. Despite the year high temperatures on Friday, Texas electricity was 41 megawatts short of the record set back in August 0f 2006. With demand topping 62,000 megawatts many times this week - Texas electricity usages was up because of extreme high temps across the state this week.

The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has requested that consumers and businesses try and conserve their electricity demands between the hours of 3p.m. and 7p.m. to try reduce the demand and usage on our Texas electricity system.

With this increased demand - consumers on month-to-month contracts can expect to see a slight increase in their Texas electricity costs in the coming weeks. Increased demand will certainly increase price - this is why ChooseEnergy.com has recommended consumers and business owners shop for a lock-in Texas electricity rate before month-to-month prices increase.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Should You Get a Texas Energy Audit?

Whether you are concerned about your Texas energy usage or you are in a place where you would like to make your entire home more conservative in terms of resources used, you will discover that an energy audit is something that you need to take a look at. Not only can an energy audit help you identify places where energy and thus money are being wasted, you will find that having done an energy audit recently can actually make your home attractive to potential buyers. Take some time to consider what an energy audit is, what it does, and why you need one as soon as possible!

First, many experts consider an energy audit to be the first step in making your home more efficient. With the HOT summer here and the amount of Texas electricity many of us consume - this is certainly a good thing. Some people will find a checklist that they can go through online, while many others decide that they would rather leave something this important in the hands of professionals. Essentially, your home is examined in a step-by-step process that takes into account all the ways that you use energy and how you are going to be able to prevent the wasting of energy. In any household, there are going to be places where energy seeps away unnoticed, and the goal of an energy audit is to stop this from happening.

One important reason why you might want to have a professional energy audit done is that it will give you a quantitative and qualitative measure of the energy that is entering and leaving your house. You will not only know what areas are not secure, but you will also have an idea of how much energy is being leaked through those areas. More importantly, it will tell you where to focus your efforts when you are looking to make sure that your energy is being preserved.

There is a lot of great information out there that can help you stop energy leakage, but to make use of them, you are going to need to know when the leaks are occurring and to what extent you need to be worried about them.

Also remember that when you preserve the Texas energy of your home, it is going to make a huge difference to your energy bill. Especially if you live in an older house and have not made the improvements that you need to make yet, you'll discover that an energy audit can save you hundreds of dollars from your Texas energy bill, particularly if you are facing a long winter where heating is going to be important. Similarly, if your home uses air conditioning, you'll discover that you are going to need to think about how you can avoid air conditioning the entire neighborhood.

Take some time and really consider how an energy audit can help your household. This is something that can make a huge difference to the way that you pay your bills and even your general comfort. There are so many different ways to lose energy through that you need to notice them now and fix it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Texas Business Electricity: Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

When it comes to paying for electricity to run a business, it's easy to get burned by overpriced utilities. In fact, the cost of Texas electricity has been cited as among the top problems for small business owners as revealed in a recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. This is why it's important to know what to look for when you are shopping for a Texas electricity provider for your Texas business.

Here are some things to consider when deciding where to purchase Texas business electricity:

- Fixed vs. Variable Rates. A fixed rate, as the name suggests, means that the per-unit cost of electricity will not change for the duration of the contract term. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part a fixed rate will keep your energy costs consistent, provided your business doesn't vary much in its energy usage. With a variable rate, the price per unit of electricity fluctuates based on market conditions. A variable rate will at times yield lower prices, and at times will be priced higher than a fixed rate.

So, how can you decide whether a fixed or variable electricity rate is right for you? Generally, a fixed rate is the best option if your business will be entering a long term contract. This is because over time, energy prices will rise according to the cost of inflation, cost of oil, or natural gas among other things. However, your per unit electricity cost will not increase for the life of the contract. In practical terms, this means that you will be paying less than market rate for your electricity as the contract progresses. On the other hand, if market rates drop, you may be locked into a long term contract and unable to renegotiate at a lower fixed rate. If you are considering a shorter term contract, a variable rate may be the way to go. While pricing can be somewhat unsteady, you are likely to get lower prices in the short term than you would with a fixed rate electricity contract. Plus, this allows you the flexibility to enter into a long term contract in the event that electric prices take a drop that warrants locking in a fixed rate.

Contract Terms. Many providers of Texas business electricity offer month-to-month plans, mid-term contract terms of up to three years, and in some cases, even longer term contracts of three years or more. It's important to choose the plan that best meets your needs, and to carefully review all facets of any written agreement. In particular, you should be aware that you may have to pay a cancellation fee if for any reason you terminate a contract before the full term is completed.

Environmental Responsibility. Lastly, many Texas businesses choose to purchase Texas energy created from renewable resources like solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and others. If you are concerned about whether the electricity you purchase is "green" energy, ask your Texas electric provider or review the provider's Electricity Facts Label. By taking each of these factors into account, you'll be in a better position to decide what type of Texas business electricity suits your needs. This will help you save money, understand the terms of your contract, and use resources responsibly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smart Meters - Will They Really Help?

You may have heard about the recent call for installing smart meters in our homes. These meters are advanced electrical meters that identify power consumption in greater detail than ordinary meters, and send that information back to the utility for billing and monitoring. But will they really help reduce power consumption and help us lower our Texas electric bills?

Let's take a look at what smart meters can and can't do for us. Traditional power meters regulate only the energy consumed, and not when it was used, meaning that it's hard to match consumption with production. Smart meters are one of the more economical methods of measuring not only consumption, but times other information. This allows power companies to set different prices according to when the power is used. This will allow customers to save money by using power at nonpeak hours and avoiding paying too much for energy. It's hoped that this will keep Texas electricity prices down.

Italy's dominant utility is currently serving over twenty-seven million customers with fully electronic smart meters capable of measuring and managing power, and which have a software controlled disconnect switch. They're solid state, and communicate via low voltage power lines. These systems offer more features to utilities, allowing remote changing of billing plans, the ability to detect outages and unauthorized use, and the ability to turn power on and off remotely. Smart meters have also been implemented in Turkey, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Australia. In the United states, a number of jurisdictions are actively pursuing smart meter technology, such as Northen California and Texas. Implementation is imminent in the UK and in Ireland.

Energy experts have noted that it's important for meters to allow homeowners to make choices such as buying their power when it's cheapest and selling wind turbine and solar panel electricity to utilities when they choose to.The biggest problem with smart meter technologies is generally communication, since each meter must be able to securely and reliably communicate the information to a central point. This can be tricky, given the range of locations and environments in which these meters are located. Some solutions that have been proposed include cellular networks, radio, and power line communications.

Recently, US President Obama has called for the installation of forty million smart meters, as well as three thousand miles of transmission lines. This would be the first real update to the electrical grid in about forty years. Some feel that this will create what is being called a "smart grid" and will be as big an influence on our society as the Internet, the Interstate, the telephone and the railroad. The ability of this grid to pull energy from clean power projects is one of the reasons it's being supported, as well as its ability to forstall the need for building new power production centers.

Smart meters can cost anywhere from a hundred to three hundred dollars to install - each. The amount depends on the quality of the smart meter in question, but it will be a significant investment. However, venture capitalists have been investing in this technology recently, so it may be possible. Soon, you could be choosing when you use power based on the price, and possibly saving money and energy.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Texas Electric Summer Saving Tips

Summer is right around the corner, which means trips to the beach, time off from school and of course, outrageous electric bills. Don’t spend a fortune this summer on your energy costs, follow these Summer saving tips to save money all around your home get lower Texas electric bills.

As much as 50% of your home's energy costs come from heating and cooling. In the summertime that of course stems from cooling using your air conditioner. You can lower these costs by doing small things like keeping your windows and doors closed while you are using your AC and insulating them to prevent air leakage. You can also save money by changing your air filter, insulating the air ducts and keeping the AC unit in top working condition. Another money saving tip is to install an automatic thermostat, which you can program to turn off in the middle of the night and during the day when nobody needs it running.

The amount of appliances we have in our homes can be mind boggling sometimes. They are in every room of our house, and they come in all sizes and types. From major appliances such as your refrigerator, your washer and your dryer to smaller ones like your toaster, coffee maker and blender, you can save costs by purchasing energy saving units. They might cost a bit more upfront, but the savings will pile up from month to month with lower energy costs.

Water heating accounts for a large percentage of every home's energy bill. But you don't have to start instituting a 5 minute shower rule to see savings in this area. You can buy an energy efficient water heater which will get the job done while eating up less resources.

Most people joke about the costs of leaving your lights on, but it does actually add up. It can be a quarter of your electric bill every month. Besides turning off the lights when you leave a room, what else can you do? One of the best energy saving tips across any category is to switch all of your old light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. If you don't know what they are, they are the spiral designed bulbs in stores. They last 10 times longer than standard light bulbs while using up to 75% less energy. That's amazing efficiency and it will result in a huge savings.

Household electronics eat up a lot of energy, from televisions to computers, clocks and many more items. Even when off if they display the time or any power lights, they are still using energy. Look for efficient models that turn completely off, or start to unplug all electronics when they are not in use.

If you have a lot of office equipment in your home, you can be adding lots of money to your electric bill. Think about it, you have computers, printers, faxes, shredders, scanners and other pieces of energy craving equipment. Buy energy efficient models and turn everything off when it isn't in use.

Shop for a lower electric rate and lock it in during those spiking summer months. Simply go to ChooseEnergy.com to shop and compare rates in your area. You can sign up online in just a few simple steps and you'll see the savings pay off in the form of lower Texas electric bills.

You don't have to be a genius to lower your monthly Texas electric bills, just follow these easy and straightforward tips and you'll start seeing the savings.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Summer Savings on Texas Electricity

In summer many people make use of their air-conditioners and this results in increased Texas electricity use. Because of this most of us are suddenly confronted with a much higher Texas electric bill that we received in the winter months. That is why, when Spring and Summer arrive, it makes good sense to begin to prepare for your energy consumption during the hot Texas summer. The whole point is to keep your Texas energy bill the same or only minimally higher once you are using the air-conditioner more regularly.

By examining your Texas electricity usage you will be able to determine all those areas of your home or business where your usage is particularly high. You need to decide which areas you can work on to reduce your energy need. This will lower your bill at the end of the month and keep you in good shape for when the weather gets hotter and the air-conditioner is switched on. By cutting back on your energy usage you will be preparing for the cost of running the air-conditioner.

The great news for consumers is that Texas has made it possible for different energy companies to exist. This means that these companies are all competing for our business and the best way to attract customers is to not only offer them great service, but also great prices. Before the summer heat has even arrived you should take a closer look at which company will supply your energy requirements at the best price for you. This is another way to keep your bill down in preparation for the hot Texas summer months.

Another effective way of reducing your monthly Texas electric bill is to take a look around your home and make note of all the appliances that you tend to leave plugged in even when you are not using them. Perhaps, like millions of people who own a mobile phone, you leave the charger plugged in all the time. Also, if you own your own computer, remember that it still uses up energy when it is in sleep mode. So consider switching it off when it is not in use. You might be pleasantly surprised just how much this one precaution can positively impact your energy bill.
As you can see, taking note of which electrical items in your home or business can be switched off when not being used, can add up to a nice saving on you monthly energy bill. Coupled with the other practical steps we have already seen, you will be amazed at how much of a reduction you will see in your energy usage and this will mean that your increased use of the air-conditioner in the summer months will not cause your bill to rise by much.

By doing a little bit of research and by making a little effort, you can enjoy the warmer months in your air-conditioned home or office with peace of mind. Find out other ways that you can reduce your energy consumption by taking a look at some energy saving tips. You should be able to find quite a few helpful hints and tips that will help you to manage your Texas electricity bill and also enjoy the savings you will incur. So put in a bit of time and effort and then reap the rewards.

Texas Electric Price Update

It's time to lock in your Texas electric rate today. If you live in Texas and have been thinking about what to do with your electricity rate - please lock in now. Prices are extremely favorable for those that can lock into a Texas electric plan today you should strongly consider it. If you are on a month-to-month rate - you should certainly switch to a locked in rate today. Summer heat and high summer bills are coming - that will also bring higher month-to-month rates. Since it usually takes about 45 days to switch, but only one billing cycle for your provider to increase your month-to-month rate - don't wait and get caught in the middle. They will be raising that month-to-month rate soon. Supply and demand...

The price of your Texas electricity is going to vary not just according to your use, but according to where you live, how the power was generated, and how it was delivered. We live in Texas and much of our power is from natural gas. Right now - natural gas is LOW and that means low Texas electric rates. These power plants are going to need MORE natural gas soon because of the increased demand for electricity - thus nigher natural gas costs. That's right - a higher electric rate as well. The utility will spread its costs out among its customers, and if its costs go up, so do your rates. Supply and demand and season can also have an effect on electricity and related items, with gas and oil prices often rising in the summer months, due to more demand from cars, businesses, power plants, homes, etc..

So, how can you reduce the amount you’re paying? Change the rate per kilowatt hour you are paying and cut down on your usage. After all, about nine percent each of the average bill is paying for heating water and lighting. Ten percent is space heating and sixteen percent is air conditioning. Computers, electronics, freezers, dryers and other devices make up the remaining forty percent.

All of the experts agree - lock in now - even the Chairman of the Public Utility Commission recently told people that now is the time to lock in your rate by shopping for the lowest Texas electric rate.