Your Air Conditioner Your Energy Costs and the Texas Heat

Air conditioners are a part of our everyday lives in Texas, especially come summertime. Once the summer starts heating up, you may be tempted to crank the thermostat as low as it goes to cool down quick. Or, if you’re in the market to get a new AC unit installed, perhaps you want the industrial sized unit so your house can be a walk-in fridge. If these are your plans for this summer, you may want to reconsider your options.

Your Air Conditioner Your Energy Costs and the Texas Heat

For starters, bigger is not always better. Oversized air conditioning systems are incredibly inefficient, and they may not make your home as comfortable as it could potentially be. An oversized unit will cool your home just as fast as a smaller, appropriately sized unit, but the oversized unit will accomplish this before proper dehumidification happens. This will make your home feel “clammy.” In addition, the oversized unit will draw a lot more electricity than is needed. When selecting a new air conditioning system, have professionals measure the size of your home and individual rooms so they can recommend a model that is well suited for the job.

Don’t use the circulation fans of your air conditioner to circulate air without running the compressor as well. Keeping your AC on auto mode will shut off fans at the same time as the compressor. Use ceiling and standalone fans in individual rooms to increase circulation. If you would prefer to use fans over an air conditioning system, consider installing a whole-house fan. These fans work by drawing in cool air during the night and circulating it throughout the house during the day. During the day, the house remains sealed to circulate the cooled air while the warm air is exhausted through the attic.

Setting your thermostat as low as it can go will not cool your house any faster than setting it to your preferred temperature. If left unattended, the lower temperature setting will result in over-cooling, which can lead to increased energy use, more frequent maintenance of your AC, and even freezing of your air conditioner’s condenser unit. Instead, set your thermostat as high as you are comfortable with. Every degree above your normal set temp results in 1-3% of energy savings. Remember, the closer your inside temperature is to the outside temperature, the less your AC needs to work to keep you comfortable. If you are using a window AC unit, use standalone fans to help circulate the cold air around your home. Close the doors to any rooms you do not need cooled. Finally, avoid placing appliances and electronics near thermostats, as the heat they give off can fool the thermostat into thinking the house is not cool, and will continue to run the air conditioner.

10 Ways to do your part for Earth Day 2015

Don’t forget about Earth Day 2015 ! April 22nd is the 45th annual Earth Day celebration, and it’s an excellent day to look at your daily habits and find ways to conserve more energy, water, and the environment. You don’t necessarily have to do anything major like remodel your entire home with solar power, but just some small things here and there can really add up.

10 Ways to do your part for Earth Day 2015

1. Reduce Driving — Carpooling, biking, or walking twice per week instead of taking your own car can reduce carbon emissions by 1600 pounds per year.

2. Public Transportation — Especially for those living in the city, public transportation is a great way to cut back on carbon emissions. Some bus fleets use biodiesel or solar assisted power, and every passenger on the bus is one less car on the road

3. Refueling — Refuel your car during the early morning or at night when it’s cooler outside. On a hot day, fuel dripping from the pump evaporates quickly, putting the harmful chemical compounds into the atmosphere. Don’t top off your tank, either, as that frequently leads to extra fuel drips

4. Energy Star — If you’re looking to replace your appliances, look for ones with the Energy Star label. These products are rated to be 20-30% more efficient than their uncertified counterparts. In the long run, they will save energy and money in your home

5. E-Cycling — Electronic components should be recycled. Nearly all of the components in electronics, like wires, transistors, chips, and disc drives can be reused for new computers and other electronics. Many big box stores like Best Buy have e-cycling programs

6. Water Use — Cutting back on the time you shower, shutting faucets off when not in use, and not pre-washing your dishes can cut way back on your water consumption and energy use

7. Repurpose Common Items — Glass jars and plastic takeout containers are great for food storage after they have served their original purpose. Even egg cartons can be repurposed as drawer organizers, holding spools of thread, beads, coins, rubber bands, and paper clips. If you ship a lot of packages, they also make great packing material

8. Shopping Bags — Some grocery stores offer reusable shopping bags, made from durable fiber rather than thin plastic. Some of these stores charge per plastic bag used, so bringing a reusable one will save you some money as well. If you prefer something your own style, you can find many suitable totes online and in stores to serve as your shopping bags.

9. Chemicals and Dyes — Be sure to read the labels of food, clothing, and other products for indications of harmful chemicals or dyes. Yellow clothing and products contain PCB-11, a derivative of the Polychlorinated Biphenyl chemical that was banned by the EPA 35 years ago. Foods that contain the preservative BHT should be avoided as well. BHT is believed to be a carcinogen to humans.

10. Clean Up Duty — Be sure to pick up waste from your dog when walking in parks or other public areas. We wouldn’t want this waste to flow into storm drains and pollute any water supplies.

Ways to Save Energy in your Home during the Spring Season

Looking for ways to save some energy this spring? We have a few ideas for you! These 8 areas of your home can start helping you save energy if you follow our tips. Pretty soon, you’ll be saving some green while you enjoy all of the other bright colors beginning to bloom!

Ways to Save Energy in your Home during the Spring Season1. Thermostat — Programmable thermostats help regulate your home’s daily temperature. During the spring, we don’t need heat anymore and AC isn’t needed yet, so set your thermostat to the cooling mode, but set the temps a bit higher than you normally would for summer. This will help keep your home cool on hot days, but allow you to take advantage of natural air on more comfortable days.

2. Sunlight — Keep sunlight from warming up your home by using curtains or blinds during the day on the south and west sides of your home. If you want to keep the light but not the heat, window treatments can help you out. Some treatments can be applied that let in nearly all of the light, but reflect the UV light that warms up your house.

3. Energy Star — In the spirit of spring cleaning, ditch some old appliances and electronics in favor of Energy Star qualified ones. These new items will use 20-30% less electricity, saving you up to $750 over the life of the appliances.

4. Lighting — Every incandescent bulb you replace with an energy efficient bulb can save about $15/year in lighting. Switch some of your most used lights — hallways, restrooms, and playrooms — to LEDs and see the savings! They’ll even last you a couple of decades!

5. Power Strips — Use power strips to effectively cut power to several devices at once. Any electronic device that is plugged in is drawing power. The only way to stop this is to cut power to it. Get a remote activated power strip to conveniently shut off power to devices in inconvenient locations.

6. Water — Reduce your electricity use by insulating hot water pipes and heaters. You can also reduce the setting on your tank to 120°F to save even more!

7. HVAC Maintenance — Now is the time to tune up your AC! As it gets warmer, tune ups and repairs will become more costly. Getting it done now means you’ll be ready for the hot weather to come!

8. Energy Audit — Getting an energy audit will help you find other areas of your home that need improvements to make it more energy efficient. They can find easy to miss air leaks and other issues. Once you have the audit done, you’ll know what to take care of over the summer before winter hits again.

Which kind of plan are you

Ever since the deregulation of the energy market, consumers have been given choices for their electricity needs. Not only can they choose their own energy provider, but they can also choose an energy plan that best suits them. Those plans include prepaid plans, variable rate plans, and fixed rate plans.

Which kind of plan are you

Prepaid Plan:

Prepaid plans are just what they sound like. You pay for your electricity up front, and have a certain amount to use for the upcoming month. Once you reach the limit, your electrical service will get shut off, unless you add more money to your prepaid account. These plans are good for strict budgeting, to keep you from going over your allotted electricity expenditures. These plans unfortunately tend to have higher rates than fixed plans.

Variable Rate Plan:

Variable rate plans offer no contract, so you can switch providers at any time. These month-to-month plans vary in cost each month as they are affected by the market price of electricity. If a natural disaster or production and supply issue occurs, your following month’s bill could be considerably more costly. Conversely, if supply is high and demand is low, you could see your cost plummet, while fixed rate plan users are still paying a higher rate. Since Dallas electricity providers know that you could switch at any time, they try to keep rates for these plans as low as possible.

Fixed Rate Plan:

Fixed plans have a contract that lasts anywhere from three months to three years, sometimes longer. When you sign up for a fixed rate plan, your initial rate is based on the market rate at that time. When you sign the contract, your rate is locked in for the duration of your contract term length. If some disaster befalls energy production, the market rate will go up, but your rate will remain unchanged. Other parts of your rate, like transmission and distribution charges could change, but this is not very common.

Green Plan:

Some retail electricity providers (REPs) offer residential and business electricity plans powered by renewable sources. The electricity facts label (EFL) for green plans will tell you what percentage of the electricity used comes from renewable sources. Many green plans use 100% green electricity, but not all of them do.