Monday, July 25, 2016

Beat the Summer Heat Without the Big Energy Bill

Americans look forward to summer vacation all year, but the warmer weather can also bring it's own set of challenges. The heat is great for a beach vacation, but it also makes the average energy bill go through the roof. Air conditioning represents the largest use of electricity in American homes, and that statistic is unlikely to change with the record high temperatures that the United States has already seen this year. Alternative energy companies encourage consumers to think differently about their power suppliers for environmental reasons, but there are also economic advantages involved.

Three Ways Homeowners can Slim Down Their Summer Electricity Bills:

Install a programmable thermostat
Even before alternative electricity suppliers become involved, homeowners can reduce their summer spending by installing and programming a smart thermostat. This appliance can maintain your desired room temperature to keep you comfortable. Heating and cooling systems will kick on and off as needed, rather than working continuously. 
Motivated homeowners can even set temperature changes according to time of day, so that their system isn't burning energy to keep the house cool while everyone is away at work. The result is an efficient heating and cooling system that expends less energy. Programmable thermostats save consumers an average of 10% on their yearly energy bills. 

Update your appliances
Alternative energy companies often suggest an energy audit, or an appliance-by-appliance look at where your home uses electricity. Out dated TVs and old refrigerators can be significant drains on your energy bank. It may be more cost effective to replace those appliances than to pay for their inefficiency. For instance, modern refrigerators are 60% less expensive than they were in 1975, and they use 75% less energy. 
This means you can abandon that weird ice cave in the back of the freezer and save. Heating and cooling systems are especially big drains, so think about your hot water heater, oven, and microwave in addition to your fridge. Updating appliances is a great way to slim your energy bill before you consider alternative energy companies.

Consider alternative power companies

The energy market is slowly shifting and becoming more competitive.  Previously, regulated markets meant that only one power provider supplied all aspects of a home's energy and the cost was controlled publicly. Deregulated markets allow companies to become innovative and compete to offer the best services for the best price. The deregulation of electricity markets isn't about making the power supply less controlled; it's about letting new technology improve the market. Look into your options and decide what's best for your energy needs. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer is upon us and it's going to be a hot one! Before you crank up your AC, take a look at these simple tips for conserving energy this season.

Six Ways to Conserve Energy:

Use a Programmable Thermostat: Did you know that the largest use of electricity in the United States’ residential sector is air conditioning? AC accounts for 19% of electricity use in homes. However, you can save approximately 10% every year on heating and cooling costs simply by using a programmable thermostat.

Replace your HVAC Filters: When an HVAC system is not functioning properly, it must work even harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Replacing the filters is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your system running smoothly. Some energy companies and power suppliers offer incentives for installing high-efficiency systems, so talk to your electric company.

Keep it Shady: Your house doesn't have to be a dark cave, but too much sunlight will heat up your living space quickly. Insulated drapes and blinds will keep the sun at bay, preventing the interior of your home from becoming an oven. This way, you won’t have to crank up the AC at all times.

Use Cold Water/Limit Hot Water Usage: Heating water accounts for up to 18% of a home’s utility bills. You can save energy just by washing your clothes in cold water and cutting down your shower time.

Air Dry Laundry and Dishes: Rather than wasting energy on machine-drying clean clothes and dishes, hang your laundry on a line or drying rack and allow your dishes to dry on their own.

Unplug Chargers and Other Devices: Some chargers and other electronic devices continue to draw power even when they are not in use. Always unplug anything that does not need electrical power at that very moment.

We use a lot more electricity than we realize these days. In fact, U.S. electricity use in 2013 was more than 13 times higher than electricity use in the year 1950.  Fortunately, those who live in deregulated energy markets have options. 

The deregulation of electricity markets gives consumers a choice of energy suppliers. Deregulated energy markets can motivate suppliers to help offer competitive prices and can also allow for the institution of renewable energy companies that provide green energy products. As a result, consumers can help cut costs and do their part to improve the environment, especially during the hot summer months.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Deregulation of Electricity Markets: A Brief History

Today, 17 states across the nation have varying degrees of deregulated energy markets. In the future, that number is only likely to grow. 
Why is the deregulation of electricity markets such a big deal, and why is it only a relatively recent occurrence? Learn about the history of energy industry deregulation with this quick timeline. 
1935: The Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA)
Congress passed PUHCA during the Great Depression era as part of Franklin Roosevelt's widespread trust-busting campaign. Back then, eight utility companies controlled 73% of the country's electrical grid. The act limited the geographic reach and scope of energy suppliers by putting them under state-by-state regulation.

1978: Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act
This act came as part of the 1978 National Energy Act, which itself was a response to the energy crisis of 1973. In an attempt to promote domestic and renewable energy companies along with consumer-based conservation initiatives, this act enabled non-utility generator companies to produce power -- a small first step towards eventual deregulation.

1992: National Energy Policy Act
The deregulation of electricity markets took another step forward in 1992 with a congressional reform of PUHCA. This act expanded the choices for utility companies in sourcing their energy, which aimed to help smaller utility companies compete with larger ones.

1996: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 888
By 1995, electricity delivery cost from investor-owned utilities averaged seven cents per kilowatt hour; two-thirds of that cost came from electron generation itself. Order 888 from FERC allowed for open competition between energy providers in hopes to drive down energy costs, though jurisdiction still ultimately fell to individual state regulation.

2005: Energy Policy Act
This act finally repealed 1935's PUHCA, which seemed no longer relevant to many. Today, electron generation makes up less than half of the costs of electricity, and open market competition, thanks to the deregulation of electricity markets, continues to have an impact on consumer price, choice, and freedom.

When it comes to the most efficient and cost-effective method of providing your home with energy, the long process of deregulation has only just begun. Find out if your state allows for consumer choice in deregulated energy markets and consider your options today.