Monday, January 18, 2016

3 Ways to Trim Your Energy Bills

Winter is here, which means your energy bills may start creeping up soon. That is, unless you do something about it. Here are a few ways to keep power companies from getting more of your money this winter. 

Make Sure All of Your Vents Are Open. - It sounds obvious, but it's worth checking to make sure that all of your heating vents are open. If they're not, then your home isn't being evenly heated. Consequently, your heater works harder and harder to get those parts of the home warmed up, which means it uses up more energy, increasing the bill. Go all throughout your home and apartment to double check and make sure your heating vents are open. 

Get a Programmable Thermostat. - Programmable thermostats are great investments. You can set it so it automatically heats up your home when you're home or about to be home, and set it so that your house is cooler when you're not around, so it doesn't use as much energy. Studies show that programmable thermostats can help homeowners save as much as 20% of their heating costs. In fact, they pay for themselves in the first year. 

Turn the Heat Down. - Why keep your house super warm when you can just as easily put on a sweater? You can save between one to three percent of your heating costs just by dialing things down. The optimum temperature is to set your home to 68 degrees when you're home, and 65 degrees when you're away. If you're going to be gone for the day (or at least for five hours), lower your thermostat to 58 degrees. 

It's also worth noting that there are renewable energy companies who may be able to offer you more alternatives. That being said, not all states have deregulated energy markets. Check online to see if your state allows different power suppliers to compete for customers. 

If you have any questions, feel free to share in the comments.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Michigan Delays Proposed Energy Deregulation Overhaul to 2016

The United States has seen great strides in the area of deregulated energy markets in recent years, but there are still only nine states that have both the deregulation of electricity markets and energy industry deregulation. While the answer may be different for energy companies, it's pretty clear the consumer is the ultimate winner when the government is taken out of the equation and businesses are forced to compete just like in every other industry. 

Considering the current state of industries like natural gas, and the fact that U.S. electricity use in 2013 was more than 13 times greater than electricity use in 1950, these matters will begin to play an even bigger role going forward. One of the states that has deregulated their electricity markets, and has been on the cusp of doing the same for energy companies, is Michigan. 

According to the utility and energy news source, state lawmakers have decided to push back the vote on energy overhaul legislation that was planned until 2016. Michigan has struggled with what essentially amounts to partial deregulation right now and is trying to include language to boost renewable energy use. 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) had said he wanted an energy package completed and passed before the end of this year, but with just days left in this year's session, lawmakers are forced to delay the vote until next year. 
"That was a goal," said Sen. Mike Nofs (R). "But more important than the goal is actually getting it right. So my bills aren't ready and they're not right yet." 
Renewable energy companies may already be chomping at the bit after the Michigan House Energy Policy Committee last month passed amendments to energy legislation that included a 30% renewables goal by 2025 and a compromise which would keep the state's energy choice law at 10%. 

In addition to cleaner energy companies, deregulation has helped consumer bottom-line as well. In 1995, generation accounted for about two-thirds of the price of electricity compared to today, where the cost of generating electrons currently accounts for less than half of the price of electricity, according to the Edison Electric Institute. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hawaii Debates New Alternative Electricity Suppliers

The trend towards the deregulation of electricity markets has become more and more common across the Continental United States, but it appears deregulated electricity could payoff in the one state not included in that area. Alternative electricity suppliers and energy companies are constantly looking for new opportunities and one of the most recent examples is taking place right now on the islands of Hawaii. 
According to the energy and utility industry news source, the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative (HIEC) is attempting to block the proposed $4.3 billion takeover of Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) by NextEra Energy. The alternative electricity suppliers believe they can provide the island state with the utility they need at a much lower price than NextEra Energy. 
This has become somewhat common in the U.S. as electricity remains one of the most valuable and sought after resources. In fact, U.S. electricity use in 2013 was more than 13 times greater than electricity use in 1950. 
Fortunately, through modern advances in technology and equipment alternative electricity suppliers are able to compete with already established providers, which ultimately results in lower costs for the consumer. In 1995, generation accounted for about two-thirds of the price of electricity. Today, the cost of generating electrons currently accounts for less than half of the price of electricity, according to the Edison Electric Institute. 
In this specific case, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will decide whether or not the proposed merger will go through. NextEra has reported that they will be able to save customers about $400 over the course of five years. However, the cooperative-style, nonprofit HIEC believes they can save consumers, “as much as $113 million on the existing HELCO rate base and up to $234 million including investments to modernize the grid over four years.” 
The final decision isn't expected to come down until June 2016. Hawaii regulators rejected NextEra's Hawaiian Electric's Power Supply Implementation Plan last month for not aligning with the state's clean energy goals, which could foreshadow a potential win for alternative electricity.