Stay Cool without AC

Power-To-ChooseBeating the summer heat is a challenge every year, especially when you come to realize just how much it costs to run your AC all summer long. Even if you have cheap electricity, you can still rack up quite a bill since climate control accounts for about 50% of home energy use. However, there are a few ways to cut back on your AC use and still stay cool this summer.



Keeping your windows shut during the day might not seem right at first, but the air in your house is usually cooler than it is outside during the day. By keeping your windows shut, you keep more of that cool air in. At night, open your windows up if the outside temperature is cooler than the inside temperature. Try opening windows that allow the nighttime breeze to flow right through your home. This cross breeze will really cool your home down for the night. It’s important to close the windows and any blinds or curtains before the sun starts heating your home in the morning, though.



Using fans to keep you cool is far more energy efficient than an AC, and there are certain ways to use your fans effectively. For ceiling fans, make sure the fans air blowing down at you. Staying under these fans will keep you cool, but they won’t necessarily keep the room cool. If you leave the room, shut the fan off to conserve energy. Standalone and window fans can be set up to blow directly at your. Window fans also tend to be very powerful, so blasting yourself with these can really take the heat off. Mist yourself with water while the fan blows for an increased cooling effect.



            Preparing a refreshingly cool meal like a summer salad or bright colored fruit salad will keep you feeling cool. Avoid using the oven or stove if cooking meals as they will drastically increase the heat in your home.



If you have energy efficient CFL or LED lights, heat generated from lighting won’t be as big of a worry, but older incandescent light bulbs lose 90% of their energy as heat and can quickly turn a room into a sauna. Keep the lights off as much as possible and use purpose built lighting like an LED desk lamp when possible.



Cold showers and swimming are excellent ways to stay cool. If you plan to go swimming, be sure to wear sunscreen to prevent a lasting burn that will take days to dissipate. A cold shower will definitely cool you down and if the humidity is low, the evaporation of the water off your skin will cool you down even more.



To prepare for future summers, consider installing insulation in your attic. This will reduce the amount of heat buildup in your attic that can lead to an overheated home. When you do go back to using your AC, make sure the ductwork is properly sealed, especially in the attic. Otherwise, you could lose about 20% of your climate controlled air.



Shade seems to be one of the most obvious solutions for beating the heat outside, but it also applies to the inside of your home. Planting trees on the east, south, and west sides of your home will shade your home from the sun’s rays during the summer. Come winter, as the trees lose their leaves, more light will get in to keep your home warmer. Alternatively, you can install an awning on your home over patios or large windows. By shading these areas, you will reduce solar heat gain.
All of these tips will help you keep cool and can also reduce your energy bill. To further reduce your energy bill, contact Shop Houston Electricity to compare the rates and plans of different Houston electricity companies in your area. You have the power to choose your own electricity plan, including plans that use green energy. Contact us today to get started on lowering your energy bills!

Pool Safety 101

Cheap-ElectricitySummertime means pool time. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a dip in the pool or a day at a waterpark. But all that refreshingly cool water doesn’t mean anything if you end up slipping on a wet spot and hurt yourself. There are several ways to keep yourself and your family safe while they gather around the pool this summer. First and foremost is to not let children out of your sight. Do not let them run around a pool, as the water can make surfaces slippery which can lead to a child breaking a bone or falling into the water.

Between 2005 and 2008, an average of 35 deaths occurred per year involving children 4 or younger. Children may not always be aware of the dangers associated with pools and may try to enter them unsupervised. To counteract this, make sure in ground pools are surrounded by a fence at least 4 feet high with gates that open away from the pool and self latch when closed. If possible, have these gates alarmed to alert you if someone has opened them. Above ground pools should have the ladder removed and should be covered. Jacuzzis and hot tubs should be closed and locked.

Any children in the pool should be supervised at all times, preferably by adults who know CPR. At the very least, have a cell phone immediately available in case of an emergency. Looking away even for “just a second” is always when disaster can strike. Make sure children who are inexperienced swimmers have life jackets on while in the pool. Keep the drains of a pool covered with a safety grate to keep kids from being pulled into the drain from the suction.

The buddy system is a common practice for lakes and ocean swimming, but it can also be helpful around the pool at home. Have two children be buddies and if you or another adult see one child without the other, check the pool first before searching elsewhere. Make sure everyone involved in supervising children in a pool, ocean, lake, or other deep water knows how to swim. Finally, ensure pool chemicals are properly stored in an inaccessible, locked cabinet. Do not allow children to help with adding chlorine or other chemical treatments to the water. Chlorine is highly acidic, and in 2012, almost 5000 people were treated for chemical burns related to pools.

Wind Power in Texas – Cheap Electricity

Cheap-ElectricityWith its wide open areas and relatively constant and predictable wind, Texas is a world leader in wind energy production. On March 26, 2014, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas declared that Texas broke a wind energy production record at 8:48 pm. The wind turbines in the state generated 10,296 megawatts (MW) of electricity at that time, which was equal to about 29% of the 36,000 MW of total electricity produced at that time. The 10,296 MW of electricity produced at that time was also the most electricity produced by any United States wind power system to date, according to the American Wind Energy Association.


Turbines along the Gulf Coast supplied 1,433 MW, or about 14% of the total amount of wind energy produced while turbines mostly located in West Texas provided the other 86%. West Texas is a major contender on the wind scene, especially since it is home to numerous Competitive Renewable Energy Zones that generate wind and directly integrate it into local grids. As of April 2014, there is about 11,000 MW of wind energy generators online and another 8,000 MW worth of generators scheduled to come online over the following months. From 2012 to 2013, wind power in Texas grew from 0.7% of the total grid’s energy to 9.9% of the grid’s total energy throughout the state.


Wind is an excellent source of cheap electricity and ERCOT is looking to expand it as much as possible. As the nation’s leader of wind energy production, Texas is paving the way for how to develop and harness this powerful resource. Several regions of the country are following Texas’ example and continuing to develop wind power. Some of them are not far behind, either. The Midwest Independent System Operator which covers from North and South Dakota to Michigan and Indiana had a record wind output of 10,012 MW in 2012. Xcel Energy of Colorado met 60% of the grid demand at 1:00 am on May 24, 2013.


If the current rate of expansion keeps up, we are sure to see more wind energy records in the years to come as well as a widespread infrastructure to support wind generated electricity. You can help contribute to the public demand for wind energy by harnessing your power to choose an energy provider and plan that offers renewable energy. Every voice that demands clean, renewable energy is another step toward a sustainable energy plan for the nation.

What you should know about your Thermostat this Summer?

With the summer temps already hitting 90°F, we’re all cranking up the AC by bringing our thermostats to the lowest settings possible. But, did you know that maintaining these low temperatures is doing a number on your electricity bill? If you are maintaining your house temperature at 68° all day long, you are paying at least 10-15% more on your electricity bill. For just eight hours per day, setting your thermostat 10-15° higher will save that wasted energy. Do this when you’re asleep and out at work to maximize your savings, which can range from 1-3% per degree higher.
By installing a programmable thermostat, you can let the thermostat do all the temp setting for you. A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature for different parts of the day, and it will turn your AC on or off when the trigger temperatures are reached. You can set the thermostat to be 68° from the time you get home to when you go to bed, set it to 78° while you are asleep, 72° in the morning as you get ready for work, and 78° while at work. This can net you a significant savings on electricity usage.
Programmable thermostats are not for everyone, though. While they aren’t very complicated to program, they do have limitations with certain types of heating equipment. Heat pumps work like an air conditioner in cooling mode, but in heating mode, setting the temperature below your preferred temp is actually inefficient for the system. Any savings you would gain from lowering the temperature, you would lose to the inefficiency. Electric resistance systems like baseboard heating requires a special line voltage programmable thermostat to run.
with steam and radiant heat systems, it can take hours to reach the set temperature on your thermostat. Some newer programmable thermostats can “learn” how to optimize your heating needs around this, but you can also set the thermostat to begin warming up a few hours before waking up or coming home.
To further maximize your energy savings, set the thermostat a little higher than normal for your at-home temperature. Remember, you can save 1-3% per degree over the course of eight hours when you raise your thermostat higher. Closing blinds or curtains during the day will keep out extra sunlight and also keep you home cooler. This means that you won’t hit the “on” temperature as often, and you’ll hit the “off” temperature more quickly. By optimizing your home to take advantage of airflow and shade, you can vastly improve the efficiency of your AC.
You have the power to choose the best method for heating and cooling your home. In addition to saving electricity and therefore money, you could switch to a new provider that offers cheaper electricity rates. You can also pick a plan that offers renewable energy options to contribute to the well-being of the environment as well.

Knowing your Options when it comes to Light Bulbs



There are several options to consider when lighting your home. Incandescent bulbs are on their way out, with the federal ban on them beginning in 2007 and the full phase out scheduled for this year. There are also compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) which have a distinct curly or multi tubed shapes. There are also light emitting diode (LED) bulbs that use several small diodes to light the whole bulb. Both CFLs and LEDs are more efficient than incandescents, so they use about 80-85% less electricity. That energy savings adds up to a lot of cash, too, considering that lighting can account for up to 25% of your electricity bill.

The incandescent light bulbs we know today were a culmination of several inventors. The first was invented in 1802 by Humphry Davy using a platinum filament. Incandescence is heating a wire filament to the point where it glows. Many early incandescent bulbs contained carbonized bamboo filaments. Several other patents were issued and Thomas Edison help streamline the commercialization of the light bulbs in the late 1800s. However, it was the Hungarian and Croatian team of Sandor Just and Franjo Hanaman that invented the tungsten filament incandescent bulb in 1904 that we use today. The downside to incandescent lights is that 90% the energy consumed is given off as heat. The remaining 10% of energy is the light that we see. These bulbs are terribly inefficient, requiring a lot of energy for very little light. These bulbs also only last about 1200 hours, or about 2 years worth of use at a rate of 3 hours per day.

Compact fluorescent lamps use between 75-80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs to give off the same amount of light. Instead of heating a wire filament, a CFL bulb is filled with argon gas and a small amount of mercury vapor. They can last about 10,000 hours or 9 years based on 3 hours of use per day. With the energy they save, they pay for themselves in about 9 months, but some people are leery of their use because of their mercury content. They only contain about 4 milligrams of mercury. For comparison, a mercury based household thermometer contains about 500 milligrams of mercury. Some bulbs contain as little as 1 milligram of mercury per bulb. CFLs also can take some time to reach full brightness, and they are not good with constant cycling (turning on and off).

Light emitting diodes are made from semiconductors that are attached to electric leads, and when the juice starts flowing, the diode emits a brilliant light. LEDs are 80-90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and can last up to 100,000 hours. Their lifespan is about 25 years with 3 hours of use per day. These bulbs, with their long lifespan, low cost to use, and low energy consumption, they are the ideal source of light for our homes. The biggest downside to LEDs is the cost per bulb is relatively high.

Besides switching to energy efficient bulbs, you can lower your monthly bills by switching to a Houston electricity company that offers cheap electricity. You have the power to choose your energy provider. Shop Houston Electricity can help you sort through plans by provider, price, and options like renewable energy. The cheapest electric rates are at your fingertips!