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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TV Efficiency Guides: High-Powered TVs Drain Energy

by Megan McKoy-Noe

Which appliance uses more energy: a refrigerator or television? Consumers may not realize that some large entertainment TVs—when used an average of five hours per day—can cost more to operate than a new, basic refrigerator.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 44 percent of American homes have three or more television sets, and each new set adds to a home’s monthly energy bill.

In the market for a new television? You’re not alone—U.S. consumers purchased an estimated 40 million new televisions with an average screen size of 50 inches last year.

To keep your electric bills in check, here are some tips to consider before buying a new television:

Display Tactics
Three parts of a TV impact energy use: display technology, screen size, and resolution. Plasma and liquid-crystal display (LCD) are the two most popular types of display technologies. Plasma screens often are cited as the largest energy user―mainly because their large 42-inch to 65- inch screens typically draw between 240 watts to 400 watts.

LCD TVs don’t need much power to operate―111 watts on average. Most LCD screens range in size from 21 inches to 49 inches. These TVs fall into two categories: those with cold-cathode fluorescent lamps to illuminate the screen; and backlit models employing a light-emitting diode (LED). LED units offer several benefits, notably better picture quality and thinner and lighter screens. They also use slightly less energy, at 101 watts.

Most prospective buyers already have the ideal screen size in mind; remember that the larger the screen, the more energy you’ll drain. And although a high-definition TV (HDTV) transforms the latest blockbuster movie into a theater-like living room experience, these sets generally use more power to generate better picture clarity.

ENERGY STAR Boosts Ratings
ENERGY STAR TVs cut an estimated $3.5 billion from consumer electric bills annually.  The joint energy efficiency ratings program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the first set of voluntary television efficiency standards in 1998. Today’s ENERGY STAR-qualified screens use, on average, 40 percent less energy than standard models, whether you’re watching the latest hit show (active mode) or have the screen turned off (standby mode).

Standards are constantly ratcheting up. In 2008, a 50-inch ENERGY STAR-rated television used 318 watts on average. In 2010, those sets had to curb energy use to 153 watts or less, and by 2012 50-inch TVs could not drain more than 108 watts. ENERGY STAR provides an online guide so potential buyers can find qualified televisions ranked by energy use, size, brand, and display type at www.energystar.gov.

ENERGY STAR Partners like TopTen USA also maintain lists of the top energy efficient televisions (and other household appliances) based on size at www.toptenusa.org.

Look for Labels
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recognized the need for education and easy comparisons for the amount of energy televisions consume. In 2011, a yellow Energy Guide label—a common sight on refrigerators, dishwashers, and other large appliances—became a requirement for TV.

“TVs now vary widely in the amount of energy they use,” comments FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “By comparing information on the Energy Guide labels, consumers will be able to make better-informed decisions about which model they choose to buy, based on how much it costs to operate per year.”

The label compares the annual operating cost of a specific television to the plug-in cost of similar models. The label must be attached to the front of all televisions; websites selling televisions must also provide an image of the label for prospective buyers.

While the FTC Energy Guide labels provide the annual cost to operate a television, consumers in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho can identify the most efficient ENERGY STAR television models by looking for an orange, “Most Efficient,” sticker. Learn more about the effort at www.energyefficientelectronics.org.

Tune in to Savings
If you’re not in the market for a new TV but want to make sure your model is operating efficiently, these tips may help you save energy:
  • Turn off the TV and other connected devices when they’re not being used—consider using smart power strips to eliminate continually power draw.
  • Reduce TV brightness by turning down the LCD backlight―you’ll save energy and still retain good picture quality.
  • Turn on the power saver mode, which many new TVs offer
  • Control room lighting. While many energy-saving tips reduce brightness of the screen, you can compensate by dimming lights around your TV.
Your television set isn’t the only energy-guzzler in your residence. Visit www.TogetherWeSave.com to find more ways to save energy and money at home.

Sources: ENERGY STAR, Federal Trade Commission, Cooperative Research Network, CNET.com, Energy Information Administration

Megan McKoy-Noe, CCC, writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service organization for the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Brian Sloboda contributed to this article.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Electronics Recycling Opportunity

The use of computers, televisions and other electronics continues to grow. As demand increases and technology evolves, we replace older electronics and the volume of electronic waste increases.  Do you have computers, laptops, monitors, printers, cell phones and other electronics that are obsolete?  Not sure what to do with them? 

You can do your part in conserving valuable resources and refurbish used electronics than to dispose of them in landfills. It prevents valuable materials from going into the waste stream.

Take them to the Electronics Recycling Event at the Central Peninsula Landfill on Saturday, December 1st from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The landfill is located at Mile 98.5 Sterling Highway in Soldotna. Click HERE for more information.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stay Warm & Save Energy This Winter

by Madeline Keimig, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives

On top of staying warm throughout the winter months, a lot of people worry about saving money and energy. According to a poll by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, four out of 10 consumers are worried about money this holiday season.

The average family spends $2,024 a year on energy; nearly half of that goes towards heating and cooling costs. Stay warm and save energy with these helpful winter tips:

·         Pick smarter lightbulbs. Decorate for the holidays efficiently with strands of light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  Using LED holiday lights for 12 hours a day cuts seasonal lighting costs by 90 percent when compared to traditional incandescent holiday lights.

·         Check furnace filters. Be sure to clean or replace your heating and cooling system’s air filter. At a minimum change the filter every three months; a dirty filter clogs the system, making the system work harder to keep you warm.

·         Install a programmable thermostat. Is your home alone most of the day? Programmable thermostats can knock up to10 percent off heating bills with the ability to automatically turn temperatures down 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours a day.

·         Insulate water heaters and pipes. Wrap water pipes connected to the water heater with foam, and insulate the water heater, too. To save about $75 annually, consider lowering the water heater temperature from 130 degrees to 120.

·         Bundle up your home. The more heat that escapes from cracks, the more cold air enters, causing your system to work harder and use more energy. Use an incense stick to spot air leaks. When it’s windy outside, hold a lit incense stick near your windows, doors, and electrical outlets. If the smoke blows sideways, you’ve got a leak that should be plugged with weather-stripping, caulk, or expandable foam.

·         Use a low-flow showerhead. About 14 percent of your energy bill funds water heating. Low-flow showerheads can minimize water use by up to 50 percent—a helpful change, especially when extended family members visit for the holidays.

Want more ways to save? Take the home energy savings tour and see how little changes add up to big savings at www.TogetherWeSave.com. 

Sources: Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, ENERGY STAR, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Consumer Reports
Madeline Keimig writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives, the national branding program for 700-plus electric cooperatives in the U.S.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Energy Watch: Public Awareness for Energy Emergency

October 30, 2012:  Between 6 pm and 8 pm this evening, the Energy Watch Campaign is asking southcentral Alaska residents to voluntarily reduce their energy consumption. The annual test is aimed at preparing for the the possibility of a problem with delivering natural gas.

Energy Watch is a collaborative effort between the Municipality of Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and regional utility organizations.

To learn more about the Energy Watch campaign, click HERE.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mark Your Calendar : HEA's Energy & Conservation Fairs

Make plans to attend Homer Electric's Energy and Conservation Fairs hosted next month in Kenai on November 3rd at Kenai Middle School from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and in Homer on November 10th at West Homer Elementary from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The fairs foster an environment for members to seek information, services and products that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and sustainability – all under one roof! Workshops, demonstrations, and speakers will be on hand with energy solution topics and programs.
This is a family friendly event with children's activities and "Louie the Lightning Bug's Conservation Voyage," complimentary food, giveaways and informational booths. Join us for this annual event!

For more information on the event, go to HEA Energy & Conservation Fair.  To view photos from the event, go to




October is National Cooperative Month

Join Homer Electric in celebrating cooperatives in Alaska and across America during National Cooperative Month.

Every October, cooperatives are recognized for the qualities that make the business model unique: local democratic control, commitment to supporting the communities they serve and improving quality of life, special benefits and services, and the return of margins (the co-op term for profits) back to members in the form of capital credits.

Homer Electric is one of more than 900 electric cooperatives, public utility districts and public power districts serving 42 million people in 47 states. Electric cooperatives were formed because rural communities were struggling for lack of investment. Neighbors banded together and lit up the countryside when no one else would. That’s what we celebrate each October.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Energy Efficiency & Conservation Student Contest

Homer Electric is  proud to sponsor our 3rd Energy Efficiency & Conservation Student Contest for grades kindergarten through eight. HEA invites students to enhance their skills in science, writing and technology by entering the contest held in conjunction with the 2012 Energy & Conservation Fairs in November. 

The contest categories are:
  • Kindergarten, Grade 1 & 2 - Coloring contest
  • Grade 3 & 4 - Energy limerick poem
  • Grades 5 & 6 - Song lyrics or game
  • Grades 7 & 8 - Script for a play/TV show
Entries and registration form should be postmarked no later than October 26, 2012. For more information on contest rules, prizes and to download an entry form, go to HEA Energy Efficiency & Conservation Contest link.  Contact Tanya Lautaret at 283-2305 or tlautaret@homerelectric.com for details.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Generator Safety

Late autumn, winter, and early spring are times when the threat of inclement weather and other unexpected interruptions cause extended power outages. Many of us, including our friends, family and neighbors, have considered purchasing or borrowing portable generators to use in the event of such a power outage.

For the safety of you and your family, along with our field personnel, Homer Electric encourages you to be aware of generator safety and operation.

Generator Connections
Thorough knowledge about residential wiring is a must. The number one concern is to avoid "backfeeding" which is the result of improperly installing the generator and endangers the lives of our line workers and other emergency personnel. A generator must always be grounded before connecting to the building load. The safest thing to do is to consult with a qualified electrician and consider installing a transfer switch.

HEA strongly encourages all residential customers to have a properly licensed electrician install the equipment necessary to connect emergency generators, whether permanently mounted or portable, to their home's electrical system. All installations must meet the National Electrical Code.

For more information on generator safety, view HEA's Home Generator Safety brochure

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shedding Light on Energy Savings

     The lightbulb has undergone relatively few changes since it was introduced in the late 1870s. But new technology that can drastically reduce the amount of energy and money used to light our homes (accounting for roughly 13 percent of the average household’s electric bill) has arrived.
     Consumers have several options when choosing lights: traditional incandescent lightbulbs, halogen incandescent lightbulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), regular halogen bulbs, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Most consumers are well aware of the energy savings of CFLs, but some are turned off by their curlicue shape and color of the light they produce. In response, manufacturers are making CFLs that look like traditional lightbulbs. CFLs can be as much as 75 percent more efficient than basic incandescent bulbs.
      LEDs are beginning to find their way onto store shelves as well. They can last up to 25 times longer than a classic incandescent bulb but are much more expensive. (Some LEDs are yellow in color even though the light they produce is white.) The key to buying an LED: Find one that has fins beneath the actual bulb to help cool it. LEDs make sense in fixtures like a yard or porch light that stays on eight to 12 hours a day.
      Halogen lamps (reflector-based, incandescent hybrids, and advanced lamps) are another option. They provide excellent color quality and can be dimmed. In fact, the dimming properties of halogens are the hardest for other light sources to mimic.
      When halogen lamps are dimmed, filament temperature decreases. This causes the light to change from white to yellow or red-orange. In many environments, such as homes and restaurants, people have come to expect and appreciate this “warmness”  from dimmed lights.
      However, after traditional incandescent lightbulbs, halogen lamps are also the least-efficient and offer the shortest life (only three times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb). Recent federal efficiency standards will eliminate most reflector-based halogen lamps from the market beginning in 2012.
      Advanced halogen lamps, on the other hand, use IR technology. These products provide a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in efficiency but cost two to three times more than standard halogen products. Halogen incandescents also remain a good alternative for consumers not ready to make the leap to CFLs or LEDs.
     You can also try other simple measures for trimming lighting expenses. Add occupancy sensors to wall switches in bathrooms, basements, or laundry rooms. These devices will automatically turn lights off when no one is in the room.
     Dusk-to-dawn fixtures come with a photo sensor that shuts off a light when the sun comes up. However, if the sensor is positioned in such a way that it is covered by a shadow, or if the sensor breaks, the light will operate during the day. Replacing can be a fairly simple task, but pay careful attention to all of the safety warnings and precautions that come with the new sensor.
      Understanding how much energy different bulbs consume and replacing broken equipment can be easy ways to save energy while maintaining a home that provides ample light. 
Brian Sloboda is a senior program manager specializing in energy efficiency for the Cooperative Research Network, a service of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Additional content provided by ESource.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Renters Have the Power to Save Electricity

If you rent your home, it often seems that you can’t do much to control your electric bills. But in reality, there are lots of low- or no-cost tricks that you can put into place to cut down on electricity use. 

“Usually leases forbid renters to make alterations to a structure, so your energy-saving solutions have to be simple,” says Brian Sloboda, a senior program manager specializing in energy efficiency with the Cooperative Research Network, an arm of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Electronics and Appliances
The notion that regularly powering down your computer will shorten its life is outdated. Nowadays, computers tend to become outdated themselves before frequent shutdowns cause any damage. The U.S. Department of Energy consumer website, EnergySavers.gov, offers this guideline: If you won’t use your computer for more than 20 minutes, shut off the monitor; if you won’t use it for more than two hours, shut the whole thing down.

However, there is a caveat: If your computer takes its time waking up, your own time might be worth more than the electricity you save.

Most electronics feature a glowing light when turned off—that means they’re still drawing electricity. A quick fix for this “vampire,” or phantom, load involves plugging various devices into a power strip. Simply flip the switch on the power strip when you won’t be using the devices. 

While your hands are most likely tied when it comes to the types of major appliances installed, if one needs to be replaced, lobby your landlord to purchase an ENERGY STAR model. Visit energystar.gov for more information on particular products.

A roll of weather stripping and a tube of caulk can go a long way in saving energy and money. Check for gaps around doors and windows. Can you see daylight? If so, ask your landlord if you can seal cracks and reduce air flow.

The Air Sealing section on EnergySavers.gov offers tips on the right types of weather stripping and caulk for your residence. While you’re talking to your landlord, ask if he or she will pay the cost if you do the labor.

Look to your windows for additional savings. Of course, you probably can’t replace them, but if they’re drafty in the winter, try sealing kits you can purchase at any home improvement store. These plastic sheets fit over your window to block drafts. Curtains can also help—close them in the summer to block sunlight, and open them in the winter to let the warmth in.

Useful Tips
A few more simple tips can help shave your electric bills:
  • When lightbulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). If they have an ENERGY STAR label, these bulbs typically last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use 75 percent less electricity.
  • Use your vacuum to clean coils in the bottom panel of your refrigerator. Never figured out where those coils are? Watch this video by Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives to learn how.
  • Similarly, keep your dryer vents clean. Clogged refrigerator coils and dryer vents will cause your appliances to work harder and increase the risk of fire. 
  • Don’t allow furniture to block air vents, and shut the vents in rooms you don’t use.
  • Check the temperature on your water heater. These devices don’t need to be set at more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit for daily showers and chores.
Sources: U.S. Department of Energy (EnergySavers.gov), Cooperative Research Network
Magen Howard writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

CFL Safety Guide & Clean Up Precautions

As energy-savvy consumers know, equipping five of a home’s most frequently used light fixtures with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can save a family $70 a year in lighting costs. Please be aware of proper disposal of CFLs. Most importantly, let the CFL cool before replacing the bulb and take special care not to break the bulb.
But what should you do if a CFL breaks?
CFLs are made of glass tubing containing about 4 milligrams of mercury. Although this isn’t much—classic thermometers contain 500 milligrams of mercury—consumers should still take precautions if a CFL breaks, since mercury vapors may pose health risks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated the guidelines for cleaning a broken CFL. The revised guidelines break the process into three steps: what to do before cleanup, during cleanup, and after cleanup. More in-depth guidelines are available at www.epa.gov/cflcleanup.

Before Cleanup 

  • Have people and pets leave the room.
  • Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
  • Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:  stiff paper or cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces) and a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.
During Cleanup
  • DO NOT VACUUM.  Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken.  Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
  • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
  • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
After Cleanup
  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of.  Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
  • Local disposal locations include the Central Peninsula Landfill in Soldotna, the Homer Bailing Landfill Facility and at Home Depot in Kenai.
If a consumer has a particular concern they can contact EPA or their local/state environmental agency for assistance. The updated guidelines feature a brochure on proper handling of CFLs, cleanup procedures, and recycling tips. The brochure may be downloaded at www.epa.gov/cflcleanup.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to Buy an Energy Efficient Appliance

You go shopping for a new refrigerator, and you’re on a budget. The best buy is the fridge with the lowest sales price, right?
Not necessarily. If you buy the lowest-priced refrigerator, you may end up spending more than if you buy a more expensive one. The reason? The cost of owning a home appliance has three components: the initial purchase price, the cost of repairs and maintenance, and the cost to operate it.
To figure out how much you’ll spend over the lifetime of the appliance, you have to look at all these factors. The appliance with the lowest initial purchase price, or even the one with the best repair record, isn’t necessarily the one that costs the least to operate. Here’s an example of how an appliance's energy consumption can affect your out-of-pocket costs.
Suppose you’re in the market for a new refrigerator-freezer. Different models of refrigerators with the same capacity can vary dramatically in the amount of electricity they use. For one popular size and configuration, for example, the annual electricity consumption varies across models from a low of about 600 kilowatt-hours a year to a high of more than 800 kilowatt-hours a year. Based on Homer Electric’s current electricity prices, that means the annual cost to operate this refrigerator can range from about $106 to $142, depending on which model you buy.
A $36 difference in annual operating costs might not sound like much. But remember that you will enjoy these savings year after year for the life of the appliance, while you must pay any difference in purchase price only once. As a result, you may actually save money by buying the more expensive, more energy-efficient model.
You can learn about the energy efficiency of an appliance that you’re thinking about buying through the yellow-and-black EnergyGuide label. The Federal Trade Commission’s Appliance Labeling Rule requires appliance manufacturers to put these labels on:
  • Refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers
  • Water heaters, furnaces, boilers
  • Central air conditioners, room air conditioners, heat pumps
  • Pool heaters
When you shop for one of these appliances in a dealer’s showroom, you should find the labels hanging on the inside of an appliance or secured to the outside. The law requires that the labels specify:
·         The capacity of the particular model
·         For refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and water heaters, the estimated annual energy consumption of the model
·         For air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers and pool heaters, the energy efficiency rating
·         The range of estimated annual energy consumption, or energy efficiency ratings, of comparable appliances.
Some appliances also may feature the ENERGY STAR logo, which means that the appliance is significantly more energy efficient than the average comparable model. To compare how updating appliances and making other changes around your home can impact your electric bill, visit www.TogetherWeSave.com. 

Source:  Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Energy

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reinventing the Incandescent Lightbulb

For the first time in more than 100 years, the basic incandescent lightbulb is getting a facelift. To accommodate new energy efficiency standards set by Congress (which require lightbulbs to be more efficient starting in 2012), a new generation of incandescent lightbulbs has entered the marketplace. These products boast energy savings of 25 percent and a lifespan up to three times longer than their soon-to-be extinct predecessors.

“Up to 12 percent of a typical monthly electric bill pays for lighting, so removing energy-wasting bulbs from the market will have a big impact on America’s energy use,” explains Erik Sorenson, a project manager with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), which represents companies that make products used in the generation, transmission, distribution, control, and end use of electricity.

Retooled incandescent bulbs contain a small capsule of halogen gas that surrounds the filament, which increases efficiency and improves longevity, while retaining the shape, color choices, and dimming capabilities that consumers have favored in incandescent bulbs.

Under the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, lightbulbs must be 28 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs (which use 90 of their energy producing heat) starting in 2012, and by 2020, they must be 70 percent more efficient. NEMA estimates the new standards could save Americans up to $15.8 billion per year.
Other options

The new generation incandescent bulbs will join compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as energy-efficient lighting options. CFLs and LEDs both are about 75 percent more efficient than traditional incandescents. CFLs last about 10 times longer; LEDs about 25 times longer. But CFLs are the more economical choice at the moment. The cost of LEDs is expected to come down as the technology advances.

“With lighting legislation mandating more efficient technologies and consumers looking for every opportunity to save, navigating lighting solutions has never been so important,” emphasizes David Schuellerman, GE Lighting’s public relations manager.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy (EnergySavers.gov), National Electrical Manufacturers Association, GE

Friday, February 17, 2012

Energy Audit for Commercial Business Can Yield Up To $7,000 Reimbursement

The Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) announced the opening of the application period for its Alaska Commercial Energy Audit Program. Owners of eligible commercial buildings throughout Alaska may be reimbursed up to $7,000 for a qualifying energy audit.

The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and is expected to provide 100 to 150 commercial energy audits that will specify energy efficiency measures that can be implemented, how much energy can be saved, and how fast those measures will pay for themselves.

“Energy efficiency is good for business,” said AEA Executive Director Sara Fisher-Goad. “This program will help private sector commercial building owners make informed decisions about how to invest in long-term energy savings.”

The Alaska Commercial Energy Audit Program will reimburse eligible applicants the cost of an energy audit up to a specified dollar limit on a per square foot basis. Eligible buildings are commercial buildings, including non-profit owned, up to 160,000 square feet. Building tenants are not eligible, but may refer the building owner to the program.

AEA must receive completed applications by 4:30 PM Wednesday, March 28, 2012.
Program guidelines, the application form and related documents can be found at www.akenergyauthority.org/EfficiencyAudits.html. Applicants may also contact Energy Efficiency and Conservation Project Manager Sean Skaling by e-mail at sskaling@aidea.org, or telephone (907) 771-3079.

Alaska Energy Authority is a public corporation of the state whose mission is to reduce the cost of energy in Alaska.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smarter Than Your Average Meter

A popular buzz word in the electric industry is the “smart” meter and “smart” home. The term encompasses different uses for different metering systems.  As a consumer, it is important to be aware and fully informed on the technologies used and the benefits of using an intelligent metering system.

In 2010, Homer Electric successfully completed a system-wide installation of an automated meter reading system which replaced its aged system.  The meters are solid-state electronics with no moveable parts, state-of-the-art.  The use of this automated metering  benefits HEA members by reducing estimated billings and provides real-time meter information such as energy usage (kWh), voltage, demand  (kW) as well as maintains a record of f power interruptions at a location.  Each meter on the system is set to transmit this data to the cooperative at regular intervals during the month or can be requested upon demand from the HEA offices. The system has saved our members the cost of manual meter reading, unnecessary trips to the field, helps to identify power outage locations, and the data is used to size additional load on the system.

However, in other states, such as California, there are heated discussions and controversy over the use of “smart” meters and the health impacts associated with the exposure to radio frequencies (RF).  This is a different technology than what Homer Electric installs.

Homer Electric’s automated metering system uses FCC compliant meters which are no more dangerous than a hardwired telephone or any other piece of electronic equipment in your home.  Homer Electric’s system does not operate on a wireless radio frequency (RF) mesh networks like the ones under controversy.  Rather, the HEA system uses signals that transmit across the power lines in the same way that energy is delivered to a location. 

Feel free to contact our offices for more clarification and we can provide further information so you can be aware of the difference between Homer Electric’s metering system and others’.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

HEA's Kick InCan Energy Conservation Program

As part of its ongoing effort to promote energy conservation, Homer Electric is supplying several of the local social service agencies compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to distribute to families in need.  The “Kick in Can” light bulb exchange program was very successful in 2010, and through one of its’ national affliliations, HEA was able to purchase 5,000 CFL’s at a very reasonable cost to make the donation possible.
The vision is to provide CFLs to those who can benefit the most. “Kick inCan” CFL distribution is being managed by the Salvation Army stores in Homer and Kenai, Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, Seldovia Village Tribe, and Ninilchik Traditional Council.

“We have partnered with a number of social service agencies that are an excellent  channel for this type of  distribution because they touch so many people with all types of needs around the Peninsula. These groups were selected to ensure that the bulbs get into the hands of folks who might benefit the most. We want to help people find ways to manage their electric bill, and changing incandescent bulbs out for CFL’s will do just that,” said HEA Member Relations Manager Sandra Ghormley.

“I think it is a great way to provide energy efficiency resources. We appreciate partnering with Homer Electric in an effort to bring this to everyone in our communities ” said Bob Crosby, Housing Director of Ninilchik Traditional Council.

Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs can be a major source of savings for a household. A 15-watt CFL bulb uses 75 percent less energy than a 60-watt incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light. Over the life of one CFL bulb, savings can be as much as $40 or more. For more information about CFLs and energy savings, please visit http://www.energystar.gov/.