All you need to know about Window Air Conditioners

Looking to get a windowed air conditioner to keep your house or apartment cool? There are a few things to consider when looking to get a window AC unit. You need to select one that is appropriately sized for the room you’re cooling. Window units are not designed to cool an entire house; rather they are only for cooling one room.

all-you-need-to-know-about-window-air-conditioners

For a room up to 350 square feet, you need a unit with 5,000 to 8,000 BTUs of cooling. A room up to 550 sq ft needs up to 12,000 BTUs, up to 1050 sq ft needs up to 18,500 BTUs, and up to 1600 sq ft needs up to 25,000 BTUs. In addition, you need to take into account the normal conditions of the room being cooled. Is that part of the house shaded or is it generally much hotter? Do you have the capacity to install a large unit in the room in question?

You also want to look for a unit that is efficient. On the specifications for the AC unit, there should be a listing for EER, or Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher this number is, the more efficient the air conditioner is. This means that you will cool more air for less electricity.

When installing the AC, make sure you have someone to help you. Window units are very heavy and can be unwieldy to hold and maneuver. If possible, install the unit on a north facing window; this side is most shaded during the course of the day and it will allow your AC to work more efficiently.

Answers to common Questions about Electricity Service

Shopping around for a new energy provider can seem overwhelming at first, but once you know what steps to take, it’s actually pretty easy. The first thing you want to ask yourself is “Is it time to switch?” Make sure that you are at the end of your contract term (you will receive a letter from your provider when the contract is almost up) or that you are on a no-contract plan. If you back out of a contract before it ends, you could be hit with an early termination fee.

 

Answers to common Questions about Electricity Service

The next question to address is “Where do I begin?” That question is easy! You can visit us online and start shopping around for a better electricity rate! We will help you compare several companies at a time, showing you their rates and plan features all in one place.

 

After that, the question becomes “Variable or fixed rate?” Variable plans change their rates every month according to market conditions. Fixed rate plans lock in your rate so it won’t be affected by market conditions for the duration of your contract. There are also prepaid plans, but those tend to have higher rates and require a lot of scrutiny to make sure you don’t use all your electricity up in a short amount of time.

 

“What are the fees?” is another good question. Every plan on a provider’s website or on our comparison lists has something called an EFL, or Electricity Facts Label. The EFL spells out the details of a specific plan, including the rate breakdown and any fees. Some fees are assessed for using too little electricity, some are for backing out of the contract early. Take a close look at the EFL so you know what the fees would be with the selected plan.

Lighting your Home or Office Energy Efficiently

Besides having a low electricity rate, you can cut your bill in half by simply replacing the lighting in your home or office. If you find yourself constantly changing out bulbs, it is probably because you are using the old standard bulbs. These light bulbs are no longer being manufactured because the Department of Energy has stated that they are not energy efficient.

Lighting your Home or Office Energy Efficiently

By simply changing out your light bulls you could be saving up to 70-80% in energy costs per year! That’s about $80 to $100 extra bucks in your pocket! The beauty of changing out light bulbs is that, their lifespan is increased with bulbs such as CFL and LED bulbs.

Here is a breakdown of energy saving bulbs you should look for:

LED light bulbs

  • Save up to $80 a year in energy costs
  • Lasts up to 15+ years
  • Available in many sizes
  • More on the pricier end (but these will literally last you forever)

CFL light bulbs

  • Saves up to 75% a year in energy costs
  • Lasts up to 9 years
  • Available in many sizes.
  • Reasonably priced.

Halogen bulbs

  • Last one year
  • Do not contain mercury unlike CFL and LED 

Fluorescent Bulbs

  • Produce a linear source of light only
  • Contain UV light

3 Simple Ways to Switch Electricity Companies

Summer is here, which means electricity usage skyrockets through the roof. If you find yourself overpaying for electricity during summer, do not worry because there are things you can do to lower than electric bill.

3 Simple Ways to Switch Electricity Companies

Step One:

Determine how much you are paying for electricity service? How much is too much? By using our comparison tool on ShopHoustonElectricity.com by entering in your zip code you can determine how much you currently pay, to what companies are currently offering.

Step Two:

How long do you need electricity service for? Whether you need electricity service for two years or two months, there are plenty of plan options to choose from. From plans with a contract, to plans without a contract; be sure to figure out how long you will need your service for.

Step Three:

Choose a plan and make the switch. Make sure you are not currently in a contract with your currently electricity provider. Check your bill to see when your contract expires if you are in one, or you can call your current provider.

Some things to keep in mind before your switch:

  • Remember to make sure you are up to date all on payments with your current electricity provider before switch.
  • There is no disconnection in your service when you switch electricity providers.
  • Your quality of electricity service is the same, regardless of which electricity company you choose.

Ideas for Lighting your Home to lower Electricity Costs

Let there be light! When it comes to saving on your electricity bill, having a low rate is only the beginning to your savings! What about going the extra mile? Lighting can save energy costs and make your home energy efficient.

 

Ideas for Lighting your Home to lower Electricity Costs

Let’s start off with changing out the light bulbs in your home/business.

  • Choose LED bulbs or CFL bulbs because they are the most energy efficient. CFL bulbs use up to 75% less energy and output less heat, than normal bulbs. The CFL bulbs also have a longer lifespan so you will rarely have to replace them.
  • Check the package of the light bulbs to make sure they are for the appropriate wattage. Example: Some bulbs are for lamps, some bulbs are for ceiling fans. Check the package for more details.
  • Install motion sensor lights if you can in your house, even for outdoor lighting.
  • Use a timer to remember to turn off all lights, if you don’t have a motion sensor option.
  • Paint walls a lighter color so they reflect light.
  • Turn off lights when not in use.
  • Rearrange furniture towards the natural light of windows or screen doors.

 

When you are not using lights, just turn them off. Also teach children to unplug gadgets and turn off lights when they are not using them to save energy costs. Replacing lighting in your home can save up to $100 per year that you can spend on other things.

Light bulb Shopping 101

Got an old bulb in your home that is not lighting up the room as much as it should? Maybe it is time to replace it.

If you are asking yourself what kind of bulbs you should buy:

Light bulb Shopping 101

 

LED Bulbs: The most energy efficient bulbs of them all. LED stands for light-emitting diodes, and produce 75% less energy that your standard incandescent bulbs. These bulbs are high quality, even though they cost more; they pay for themselves in energy cost savings!

Output: Cold to neutral

 

CFL Bulbs: These bulbs looking like ice cream swirl cones. Also known as Compact Fluorescent Bulbs they use about 70% less energy than standard bulbs. If you have a dimmer, make sure the CFL bulb package says ‘dimmable’.

Output: Cold to neutral

 

Halogen bulbs:

These bulbs look like incandescent bulbs, but they are more energy saving. These bulbs are dimmable.

Output: Warm to neutral

 

Flourescent lamps: Not dimable unless you buy a ballast; ask your local hardware store employee about these ballasts. They use approximately 25% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.

Output: Cold to neutral

Make sure you are buying ENERGY-STAR labeled bulbs! Why? Simply because your energy costs will be cut in half when you buy energy efficient light bulbs.

Energy Efficiency for the office

Whether you own or lease a building or whether you manage your business from your home or your office is your vehicle, saving money is every business’s objective. The best way to save money is to be green. By helping the environment you can also help your work place. So whether you own a multi-story business complex or a small home office, conserving money will help you save money and reduce your expense.

Energy Efficiency for the officeHome office or a large commercial complex, you will have to pay for the utility bill. This utility bill includes the cost for lighting, office equipment, heating and air conditioning and even the small appliances which you use. Here are some energy tips which will help you save on utility expense.

1. Use a programmable thermostat: Your office does not need to be heated or cooled when no employees are there. Use a programmable thermostat so it automatically turns the temperature low or high when no one is utilizing the office.

2. Turn off the lights when not in use. Make sure to turn the lights off when no one is using any portion of the office. If you have a larger commercial building, try installing sensors so the room only lights up when someone is present in the room.

3. Use ENERGY STAR equipment: Use ENERGY STAR equipment as it saves you a lot of money on your energy bill. For example ENERGY STAR qualified Compact Florescent Lights (CFLs) consume 75% less energy than regular incandescent bulbs. From lights, fans, office equipment such as printers and scanners to desktops and laptops ENERGY STAR equipment is available and costs you at least 20 percent less in your energy bill compared to regular products and produce low gas emissions so they are green all the way.

4. Reduce the Margins: When printing any document reducing the margins will conserve more paper. Also try buying the recycled paper and help the environment.

5. Unplug: Unplug the equipment which is not in use to avoid the “Phantom Load”. Also try using the power strip and connect all your major electronics such as printer, scanner and copier on it. By turning a switch off you can turn off all your major office equipment and turn them back on when you want to use them. Also it is wise to connect the coffee maker and the microwave on a power strip too.

What to Know when buying a Small Appliance

When shopping around for a new appliance, it’s best to know what you’re after and which model will fulfill your needs. Just because you find two blenders doesn’t mean they can achieve the same success. Sure, they both blend, but one with a higher wattage will blend and pulverize much better. The same reasoning goes for any appliance, so how do you know which one to get?

What to Know when buying a Small Appliance

  • Coffee Makers – Coffee makers have become highly convenient over the years. You can now make single serve cups of coffee (and tea as well, now) by using pods. These pods are pre-measured so you get the perfect cup of coffee every time. Unless you use reuseable pods, they can be very wasteful, so that’s one thing to consider. These appliances also sport multiple possible features such a preprogrammed brewing (place the beans, filter, water, and pot, and it will start brewing at whatever time you set), built in grinders (freshest coffee taste), and temperature settings (so it’s always the perfect temp, every time).
  • Toasters - Toasters usually range from 2 to 8 slots and some come with extra wide or long openings to accommodate larger items such as bagels. Toaster ovens are perfect for reheating things like pizza and other baked foods, and they do well at baking small servings so you don’t need to warm up that energy hog oven.
  • Microwave – Microwaves range in power between 700 and 1200 watts. A 1200 watt microwave will cook food faster. Countertop microwaves come in the same styles as mounted ones, and you can purchase trim kits to match your kitchen. Look for a microwave that has pre-programmed cooking options. These options make it very convenient to perfectly cook or reheat some dishes.

Whichever small appliance you’re looking for, another good tip is to look for one that is Energy Star certified. A certified appliance will use 20-30% less electricity than an uncertified model, so you’ll save money in the long run.

While Away from Home Electricity Costs Can Increase

When you plan to take a hard earned vacation, why not spend money on the vacation rather than on your next electricity bill. Being eco-friendly can also help you save some cash by being energy efficient. Whether traveling for business or pleasure or just visiting friends or family over the weekend, here is a short checklist which will help you save on your next utility bill.

while away from home electricity costs can increase

  • Water Heater: Unless you have a tank-less water heater, this unit consumes energy to keep the water warm even if you are not using the hot water. Over the month, this unit will cost you a couple of bucks so unless you fear that the pipes will freeze, you can safely turn it off. Even the temperature very low will help you in your next bill.
  • Furnace: Turn this baby down to 50 to 55 F and save 10 to 30 percent on your heating bill without the fear of freezing your pipes.
  • Refrigerator: Give all the perishables to your neighbors and turn it down to the lowest settings. You can go as high as 38 F without spoilage and keep the freezer at -5 F which will still keep your fish and veggies frozen.
  • Lights: Turn them off when you are away and if you need them for safety, install timer or motion detected lights to keep your home protected.
  • Electronics: Unplug them and don’t let the “Phantom Load” bite you. Even when the electronics are not turned on but are just plugged in, they still tend to consume power. So reduce all the extra energy cost by unplugging them completely.
  • Air Conditioning: Your home does not need to be chilled when you are away, so turn off the cooling and save as much as $15 biweekly.
  • Stove: If you know how to reignite your pilot, shutting it down during a vacation will save you a few bucks every month.
  • Last Step: Make sure to unplug your microwave, toaster, coffee maker, blow dryer and cordless phones etc. Even your TV, DVD Player and battery charger also needs to be unplugged but by taking a few extra minutes and unplugging these will help you save at the end of the month.

Electricity Shopping in Texas

When shopping for a Houston electricity provider, it’s important to know what kind of plans are available. Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) offer plans that can vary by contract length, payment options, and whether they offer renewable energy. Plans can feature a fixed rate, where your cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) is set at one price for a given length of time. Variable rate plans can change from month to month.

Electricity Shopping in Texas

Fixed Rate Plan:

Fixed rate plans are particularly attractive when rates are very low. This will lock in your rate for the length of time determined by your contract terms. Contract lengths can vary from three months to three years. If the market rate changes at any time during your contract, you will continue to pay your locked in rate, whether it is lower or higher. Your rate may change slightly if the Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) changes their fees, if ERCOT changes administrative fees, or if your REP imposes fees to cover costs associated with new laws and regulation. This type of plan makes it easier to budget your monthly electricity expenses. If you decide to back out of a fixed rate plan before your contract term ends, you will likely have to pay a cancellation fee.

Variable Rate Plan:

Variable plans have no contract length, meaning you can cancel one at any time without any penalty. However, the rate you pay can change from month to month, based on the market value and your REP’s discretion. If prices are on the decline, you’ll likely get a better rate than those in fixed plans, but if a natural disaster, cold winter, or other negative market condition crops up, your rates could spike. However, the power to choose and switch REPs at any time with no contract cancellation fees, REPs will tend to keep their rates as low as possible.

Terms, Conditions, and Options:

When shopping for lower energy costs, be sure to understand the contract terms and conditions. Pick a contract term length that best suits you, whether it is a month to month plan, or a fixed rate over a year or two. If you prefer to use renewable electricity, check your REP’s plans to see if they offer any green or renewable plans. The plan’s electricity facts label (EFL) to see what percentage of the plan’s electricity comes from renewable sources. Finally, some plans are available as pre-paid. With these, you add money to your energy account and as you use electricity, the money is deducted for the electricity you use. REPs will send you an email or a text message to alert you of how much money is left in your prepaid account. If your account runs out before you add more money, your electricity will be shut off. These plans tend to have higher rates than the others.