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.

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.

Lower your electric bill with proper light bulbs

Looking to lower your electricity bill? You can start by swapping out old incandescent light bulbs and replacing them with more efficient CFLs or LEDs. CFLs and LEDs can be up to 80% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, meaning you could be paying 80 cents per dollar less for your electricity when it comes to lighting. Lets look at these efficient bulbs to understand how they are beneficial.

Lower your electric bill with proper light bulbs

Electricity use is measured in watts. Your bill is tracked by kilowatt hours (kWh), which is 1000 watts used in an hour. Bulb brightness is measured in lumens. A typical indoor incandescent bulb is 60 watts and emits 800 lumens of light. That means every hour it uses 60 watts to produce that light. An LED bulb producing 800 lumens of light uses just 12 watts of electricity.

CFLs, or compact fluorescent lamps, are mini fluorescent tubes. They usually look like a curly tube shaped bulb. They are less expensive per bulb than LEDs, but they last about half as long. Incandescent bulbs, depending on how often they are used, can last for a couple of years. CFLs can last up to 9 years and LEDs can last about 20 years.

Another way to reduce energy usage in any kind of bulb is to use 3-way or dimmer switches. These types of switches allow you to only generate as much light as is needed. With a standard on-off switch, the light bulb is either using no electricity or the full amount it can use. With dimmer switches, you can use less electricity when less light is required. Furthermore, you can use occupancy switches to turn lights on when they detect movement and turn off when no movement is detected for a while. These kinds of lights prevent themselves from being left on when not in use.

Get the most out of your Energy Bill Savings

Reducing electricity use in your home can be pretty simple when you break it down by category. The main categories in your home are lights, electronics, water, and climate control.

Get the most out of your Energy Bill Savings

Lighting

It’s always a good practice to turn off the lights when you leave a room, but if your home has a tendency to leave them on, occupancy sensors can shut the lights off for you. If the sensor doesn’t detect any movement for a set period of time, from a few seconds to a few minutes, it will shut off the lights. Installing more efficient lighting like LED bulbs will also reduce your energy usage. LEDs and CFLS are about 80% more efficient than incandescent bulbs.

 

Electronics

The only way to stop electronics from consuming electricity is to unplug them entirely. So long as the power cord is connected, appliances and electronics are draining energy. You can use a power strip to shut off the electricity to several devices at once, like in entertainment centers. If you do need to leave them plugged in, powering down the device will definitely save more energy than a sleep mode.

 

Water

Set your water heater to 120°F to save energy for heating the water. and insulate your hot water pipes. This reduces energy waste by getting warmer water to the faucets. Using aerators and low-flow shower heads, you can reduce the amount of water, and subsequently energy, being used in your home. When washing dishes or clothes, only run full loads and use colder water settings more often.

Climate Control

Programmable thermostats let you set periods of time throughout the day for your heating or cooling to run. This allows you to keep the thermostat off while you are at work or asleep, thus reducing the time you’re AC or heat runs. And since climate control is about half of your energy bill, you’re sure to notice a savings!

ERCOT Prepares for the Texas Heat

March is here, and that means that the Texas heat is not far behind. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is gearing up for this hot weather by preparing the electricity grid with 77,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity. The peak demand is expected to cap out around 69,000 MW, so this will ensure that everyone has reliable electricity as we head into cooling season.

ERCOT Prepares for the Texas HeatKen McIntyre, VP of Grid Planning and Operations at ERCOT, said that they will “continue to monitor a number of factors that could affect power plant availability and demand over the summer. . . .” ERCOT also expects, even in a worst-case scenario, to have at least 500 MW of electricity in reserve. This summer will also see the addition of 346 MW of peak wind capacity which is enough to power 69,200 homes during peak demand on a mild spring day, according to ERCOT’s data.

Summer always sees a huge increase in energy demands due to the increased need for air conditioning. You can help reduce the peak demands from your home by using programmable thermostats to only run the AC while you’re at home and awake, such as in the morning before work and in the evening before going to bed. At night, if it’s cool enough, shut off the AC and open up the windows. You can save energy and subsequently money on your energy bill as the temperatures heat up this summer.

Snow and solar panels

Green living starts at home.  There are plenty of things that one can do to save energy and lower the electricity bills.  One of the natural ways to get electricity is solar panels.  These panels can still generate electricity under light snow fall, but when snow blocks sunshine completely, it becomes a problem for the panels to generate electricity.  Generally if the snow melts quickly then there is no worry, but if there is lot of snow it can cause problem.  There are ways to combat the said issue.Snow and solar panels

 

To avoid the snow to remain in the panel, the panels should be arranged in slanting or steep position, which would let the snow fall down or melt more easily and they can deal with harsh climate easily.  Snow can be swept off the panels using a garden rake. Snow on the ground reflects and can create more electricity.  Solar panels allow snow to melt faster because of the reflection caused.  If there is light dusting of the snow, the solar panels lets it melt faster and generates electricity in the normal way.

 

Snow and solar panel can go along together without any problems or issues, if proper care and regular cleaning of the solar panels is done during the winter season.

Prepare your Home for the Cooler Weather

Temperatures are steadily dropping all over the state, which means you’ll be using your AC less often. That can be a very good thing, since climate control in your home equates to about 50% of your energy bill. On the downside, once we get into November and December, we will enter the heating season where we’ll have to start kicking on the furnaces to stay warm. There are a few ways you can prepare your home now so it will be warm and energy efficient later.

 Prepare your Home for the Cooler Weather               Perform a home inspection for yourself, looking for areas where air can escape outside. Doors that lead directly outside or even to a garage may have gaps where air can escape. You can close these gaps by Weatherstripping. Weatherstripping uses a material like rubber to help seal the frame of doors and windows. For gaps that formed from a crack in the frame, caulking can be used to seal it. Where possible, inspect the ductwork for your furnace as well. Make sure all segments are securely fixed together and don’t have any leaks. You don’t want to turn the heat on in your home only to warm up the attic. If you have a window air conditioner, take it out and shut the window. Though they can be a hassle to move,they are also a major air leak during the winter.

            Have your furnace inspected and maintained by a certified technician. Just like maintenance on a car, giving your furnace a tune up will keep it running effectively. Make sure there is no furniture blocking the vents and clean or replace any filters in the system. A dirty filter reduces airflow and keeps you from getting the warm air quickly. Filters should be checked every month and cleaned or replaced when they are dirty or every three months.

            Installing a programmable thermostat can net you a big savings on your energy bill. They allow you to set the temperatures you want over the course of the day. This means the furnace can be off while you are at work, warm up just before you get home, turn off while you’re asleep, then turn on when you wake up, and repeat the cycle without you needing to do anything. Once the thermostat is set for the times you want, you just leave it in heat mode and let it do its thing.

            By using these tips, and getting cheap electricity by exercising your power to choose, you can lower your monthly electricity bills and keep your home feeling comfortable all winter long. Don’t be left out in the cold, contact Shop Houston Electricity today to start comparing energy companies and find one that will net you the biggest savings!

Fall into Saving Energy

We’ve all heard the phrase “Spring Forward; Fall Back” regarding Daylight Saving Time, but what if you could make the prices on your energy bill “fall back?” This fall, you can do exactly that and make your energy bills fall back into lower rates, allowing you to stay comfortable in these cooler months while saving yourself some electricity and money.

Fall into Saving Energy          Let’s start with temperature control in the home. In this transitional season, you may find that you don’t need to run the heat or the AC at all. If that’s the case, then just leave it off, as that will save you some extra money. To help prepare for the coming colder months, you could consider installing a programmable thermostat to regulate your heat flow in the winter. Programmable thermostats automatically turn your heat or AC on and off at set times during the day. You can program one to remain off while you are at work or asleep, but keep your home comfortable while awake and at home. Cutting back your at-home temperature to a lower setting for the winter month will also conserve energy.

Checking your home for air leaks is especially important. It doesn’t matter if your heat is only on while you’re at home if you can’t enjoy it. Gaps in ductwork lose air before it’s even in the room you want to warm up while gaps in window or door frames lose air before a room can be brought up to a comfortable temperature. Weatherstripping your home using caulk or rubberized inserts will prevent this air from escaping and reduce the amount of time your heater needs to run.

Speaking of windows, there are special window films that you can apply that actually reduce the amount of heat that escapes through the actual panes. The best part? With recent advancements, these films remain perfectly clear and don’t tint the view outside! You will still retain the same amount of natural light, but you’ll be able to keep the heat inside.

Water heaters are constantly running to make sure you have hot water at a moment’s notice. Most factories set the default temperature on these heaters to 140°F, but you can lower that to 120°F and still get hot water on demand. Furthermore, insulating hot water pipes will help them retain heat on their way to the sink or shower, and this will save you from wasting water waiting for it to warm up.

Finally, you can really fall into savings by switching to a Houston electric company that offers cheap electricity. Energy rates trend downward around this time of year, so it’s a good time to lock in a low fixed rate plan. Shop Houston Electricity can help you sort through dozens of different companies and plans to find one that fits your budget.

Knowing your Options when it comes to Light Bulbs

Cheap-Electricity

Cheap-Electricity

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!

Low Cost, High Electricity Quality

Prior to the 2002 bill that deregulated the Texas energy market, cheap electricity wasn’t really a possibility. Utilities determined the rate you paid for electricity, and if you didn’t like the rate, you couldn’t change to another utility unless you moved to another part of the state. However, once deregulated, the market was opened up for competition between different energy providers. This significantly decreased the prices paid by the consumers. Some people believe that the electricity from a company offering cheap electricity is inferior to one charging a higher rate. Fortunately, the saying of “you get what you pay for” doesn’t really apply to the Texas electricity market.

Utilities are still very much a part of the energy network. However, they only maintain the power lines that deliver your electricity. Retail Energy Providers (REPs) purchase shares of electricity from generation facilities like nuclear plants, wind farms, and coal plants. They then sell this electricity to you, the consumer. Regardless of who your REP is, the electricity is being transmitted over the same lines, so there is no difference in the quality of electricity. Each REP may have varying levels of customer service, but higher priced REPs are not always better and lower priced REPs are not always bad.

Besides being able to choose your provider, you also have the power to choose the plan you want for your electric service. Some plans vary based on contract length, with longer contracts having a lower rate that gets locked in and won’t change even if retail rates go up, other plans offer renewable energy. If you are interested in having your home powered by renewable energy, check the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) for the plans offered by a REP. The EFL will tell you exactly how much of the electricity is generated from renewable sources. Some REPs exclusively offer renewable plans, so every plan will be 100% renewable energy.

When it comes to contract lengths, it’s best to consider your current situation and energy needs. If you’ve just moved to the state and are still looking for an energy provider, find one with a variable rate monthly plan. The rate for these plans will go up or down based on market conditions, but there is no penalty if you decide to switch providers. If you’re ready to settle in for the long term, contracts vary in length between 3 months and 36 months. When you choose a fixed rate plan with a contract, your rate will remain the same, despite any changes in market conditions, whether good or bad. You could also be penalized if you back out of the contract before it ends.

Just remember that no matter whom your provider is, your electricity quality will always be high quality. And whenever you switch providers, your service will not be interrupted. On your switch date, billing will be transferred from your old provider to your new one, but your power will continue to flow for the whole transfer. Houstonians, compare and shop electric rates from providers with Shop Houston Electricity.