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.

Renters can also save on their electricity bill

Renters can also save on their electricity billIf you are renting an apartment, condo, or loft; energy efficiency can seem out of your hands. Just because you cannot make fixtures the place you are renting does not mean you limit you from being energy efficient in it.

Here are some ways renters can save on their energy costs:

  1. Using CFL bulbs or LED bulbs save about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. You can get yourself from the local hardware store and replace the bulbs in your home.
  2. Make sure that the maintenance department of the place you are renting replaces the air filter in your air cooling system, or central air system.  If you live in an apartment, a simple maintenance request can check your air filter, or if you are renting a home ask your landlord about how the air filter can get checked. A dirty air filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder. A clean air filter can save you up to $180 per year on energy costs.
  3. If your water heater is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit it can save huge on energy costs, and your water bill of course.
  4. Adjust the refrigerator to about 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit so your fridge is not overworking itself – this will save towards your electric bill each month.
  5. Caulk window corners that have leaks with weather stripping caulking glue from your local hardware store. The cool air and warm air will not leak through during the summer and winter.
  6. Close curtains and shades at night.
  7. Add window shades during the warmer months to keep cool air in. Ask your local hardware store about shades for your windows. An alternative is to add aluminum foil to your windows during the summer. This budget friendly method will also reflect heat away from your windows.
  8. Unplug any appliances and electronics when not in use, or use a power strip to power  them all off at once.
  9. Make sure the exhaust fans in the bathroom, kitchen stove, are off within 20 minutes after cooking or showering.
  10. Ask your landlord or apartment complex if your thermostat is programmable. Programmable thermostats will auto turn off while you are away from your apartment/home.

The best way to make these energy saving tips go the extra mile for those who are renting, is a low electricity rate. If you have control over who is your electricity company, then take advantage of that. Switch electric providers is the most energy efficient method and will put extra savings in your pocket. You can sign up for a month to month plan, or however for a plan for the length of your lease. Stop overpaying on your electricity costs today!

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!

Summer Energy Efficiency

Summertime brings with it high energy bills due to the need to keep our homes cool in the intense heat. One of the best ways to keep your energy bills low is to choose a Houston electricity provider with cheap electricity rates. There are also ways to reduce your Houston electricity usage, which will allow you to keep cool while saving energy and money. Most of these methods require no extra cost, just simple, easy to implement actions.

 

  • Thermostats — Keep the thermostat set as high as you can tolerate. Every degree above your preferred temp can save you 1-3% on your AC energy use. Shut the thermostat off at night and open your windows to let in natural, cool air. This will keep your AC from running all night. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to help regulate the temperature of your house year-round. The programmable thermostat will run the AC or heat only when you set it to, so it can remain off overnight or while you are at work.
  • Fans — Ceiling fans can help you feel cool while using less electricity than an AC unit. Using fans in conjunction with the AC will allow you to set the temperature even higher and still remain comfortable.
  • Landscaping — Strategic placement of trees and shrubs can shade your home in the summer, keeping your home’s temperature lower. These plants can also serve as windbreaks, which can reduce the energy use in the winter by 20-40%.
  • Windows — Install windows with an argon gas filling to reduce solar gain and heat loss for the summer and winter, respectively. You can also coat windows with a low-e film to help with this. Also consider installing removable or retractable awnings on southern-facing sides of your home. The shade will reduce the amount of solar gain and provide a shaded area to sit outside. Remove or retract the awnings for the winter to gain the benefit of solar gain.
  • Roof — Reflective roofs can reduce the roof’s temperature by up to 60°F, which will keep your attic space much cooler and reduce your energy needs. A green roof can also be used to reduce roof temperatures while providing a green space where you can plant flowers or foods despite limited property space.
  • Maintenance — Maintain your AC system by cleaning or replacing the filter every 1-3 months and getting a tune-up every 6-12 months. Keep your AC running efficiently to ensure the airflow is high and energy use is low.

 

You can beat the heat and keep greener in your wallet by using these tips and signing up with a Houston electricity company that will provide you with cheap electricity. Shop Houston Electricity helps you find the best deal from competing energy providers and gives you the power to choose the provider and the plan that’s right for you.