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Monday, December 16, 2013

Green Giving

Hosting a “green” holiday takes a little planning and effort, but the payoff can help your budget stay out of the red. So go ahead and deck the halls with energy savings by following these tips for energy-efficient shopping, baking, and decorating.

Green Shopping
Investing in a big gift? ENERGY STAR TVs and appliances save a bundle on power use. They feature a lower standby-mode consumption than an average device and generally use less energy in all functions.

Include a smart power strip as part of your gift. Most electronic devices consume energy, even when turned off.  In fact, such standby power consumption ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent of a household’s total energy consumption.

Smart power strips save energy by shutting off power to plugged-in gadgets when they go into standby mode. Many smart power strips also have one or two unmonitored, always-on outlets. Use these outlets to plug in devices that always need power, like a cordless phone base or alarm system.

Deck the House in Savings
Know a neighbor who gives the fictional Griswold family from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” a run for their money? Give them strings of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A high-quality LED has a life expectancy of 50,000 hours or more. Consider recycling the retired strands at HolidayLeds.com and get a 25 percent off coupon toward the purchase of LED holiday lights.

More isn’t always best. A small, thoughtful display stirs warm holiday feelings and you’ll be grateful when your January power bill doesn’t put a dent in your budget. Consider using timers for holiday lights, too. Set lights to turn on when it gets dark and off once viewers are snug in their beds.  Four to six hours should be plenty of time. And don't forget using ribbons, wreaths, and garland—energy-free decorating traditions still deliver holiday cheer!

Green-Baked Goodies
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates cooking accounts for 4 percent of a home’s total energy use. Add energy costs for refrigeration, hot water heating, and dishwashing and you’ve got a hefty kitchen price tag. As holiday parties and potlucks gear up, keep efficient cooking tips in mind. 

Cut baking temperatures by 25 degrees with a ceramic or glass pan. These pans retain heat better than metal. Use the oven wisely by cooking in large batches, and fit pans into all available oven space. Keep the door closed. Each time you peek into the oven you let out hot air, causing the oven to work overtime to bring the temperature back up.

Get to know how long it takes to preheat your oven and make sure you’re ready to start cooking right away. Insert a stainless steel skewer through meat or baked potatoes to speed the cooking process, or cut food into smaller pieces to shorten cooking time.

Have a convection option on your stove? It helps reduce cooking time and temperature. Turn your electric oven off ten minutes before the end of the cooking time; it maintains the temperature that long. And last but not least, if you’re planning some kitchen time, lower your thermostat. The heat generated in your kitchen can help heat the entire house, especially if you leave the oven door open after you are done.

The holidays are a joyful time, and there's little that feels as good as giving someone you love the perfect gift. Make that gift a positive one and keep the holidays green for both you and your loved ones.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Energy Savings Info, Food, Fun at 5th Annual Energy & Conservation Fairs

Homer Electric is offering its members an opportunity to learn about the latest innovations in energy saving appliances, home improvements, and alternative energy.

Saturday, November 2nd, from 10 am to 4 pom, HEA will be hosting its fifth annual Energy & Conservation Fair at the Kenai Middle School in Kenai. The Fair will be repeated the following Saturday, November 9th, at West Homer Elementary School in Homer.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

HEA's Energy Efficiency & Conservation Student Contest

Tell HEA your thoughts about electric energy efficiency and conservation by answering the prompt for your grade level. 

Deadline for all entries is Friday, October 18, 2013.

Great prizes include Kindle Fires, Kindle e-Readers, and $25 VISA gift cards.

Open to students in kindergarten through 8th grade in HEA's service territory.  Applications and more information can be found HERE.

Contact Tanya Lautaret for more information at (907) 283-2305 or tlautaret@homerelectric.com.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interested in Featuring Your Business at the 2013 HEA Energy & Conservation Fairs?

Homer Electric is taking applications for Event Vendors to participate in the 2013 Energy & Conservation Fairs this November.

The mission of the event is to inform and educate HEA's membership on the latest energy efficient products and services, as well as to see/touch/understand effective conservation tips and techniques within a community "fair" atmosphere.

To learn more about participating as a vendor and an application, click HERE for the Vendor Packet.

To receive special recognition and advertising benefits, partner with Homer Electric as an Energy & Conservation Fair sponsor. Click HERE for the Sponsor Packet.

Friday, July 19, 2013

DIY Electrical Safety

The current economic downturn has inspired more homeowners to tackle do-it-yourself projects than ever before. Faced with declining home values and aging properties, homeowners in some cases may choose not to pay for the services of a licensed electrician.
However, most of us don’t have the training or experience needed to safely perform electrical work, which increases the risk of injury and electrocution and potentially introduces new dangers. Working with electricity requires thorough planning and extreme care—cutting corners can be a costly mistake.
For example, electrical outlets cause nearly 4,000 injuries every year. And each year, more than 19,700 people are hurt by ceiling fans that are improperly mounted or incorrectly sized.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International strongly recommends hiring a qualified, licensed electrician to perform electrical work in your home. However, if you decide to do it yourself, consider the following important safety tips:
  • Make an effort to learn about your home electrical system so that you can safely navigate and maintain it.
  • Never attempt a project that is beyond your skill level. Knowing when to call a professional may help prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities.
  • Always turn off the power to the circuit that you plan to work on by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel.
  • Be sure to unplug any lamp or appliance before working on it.
  • Test the wires before you touch them to make sure that the power has been turned off.
  • Never touch plumbing or gas pipes when performing a do-it-yourself electrical project.
For more tips on treating electricity with care in the home and workplace, visit www.esfi.org.
Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Around-the-Clock Appliances by Magen Howard

In 2013, new appliances don’t just cook your food and keep it cold, wash your clothes and dishes, or offer a few hours of entertainment. These machines boast myriad functions that make our lives easier—but in doing so also consume more energy.

While appliances have become more energy efficient as technology has evolved and federal standards tightened, few ever truly shut down anymore. And as Americans add more and more electronic devices to their households—25 on average, according to the Consumer Electronics Association—much more energy is consumed.

Take a phone charger as an example. Leaving it plugged in without a phone attached doesn’t mean it’s not drawing power—in fact, it uses 0.26 watts of electricity even when a phone isn’t connected, and 2.24 watts when the handset is charging.

Of course, that 0.26 watts by itself might not be a big issue. But if most of your electronic devices are doing that, it can add up to as much as 10 percent of your bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Take a look around your house—how many cords are plugged in? Of those, how many are actually attached to a device? You might be surprised at how much electricity your family consumes, even when you don’t realize it.

Cable boxes are a big culprit of 24/7 energy use. Leaving your cable box plugged in for a year and never turning it off adds, on average, $17.83 to your electric bill. Toss in a DVR function and that total jumps to $43.46, DOE reports.

And electronics aren’t the only problem. Basic “white goods” appliances like clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers are so savvy that you can set them to come on late at night, when the wholesale power your co-op must buy costs less—helping your co-op keep power affordable for you and your neighbors. Here again, the bigger you go with a new appliance, the more energy it will use.

Electric bills don’t have to be held hostage by 24-hour-a-day energy use. For starters, use a power strip to turn several electronics on or off at once. For a bigger investment, look into “smart” power strips. They allow you to cut power to certain appliances—say, your TV—while letting power flow to your cable box because it takes time to reboot after being unplugged.

If you’re in the market for a new appliance, look for an ENERGY STAR model. It generally consumes less power all around and uses less standby energy. But remember that you actually have to use those energy-efficient settings on your appliances to see savings on your electric bill.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, Consumer Electronics Association

Magen Howard 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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

HEA Renewable Energy Project Survey

Homer Electric Association (HEA) is interested in gauging the interest of its members in participating in a commonly owned renewable energy project. 

The concept is still very preliminary, but the basic idea is that a group of interested HEA members would share in the cost of the construction and operation of a renewable energy project. The project would generate power and sell it back to Homer Electric.

The project would most likely either be a wind turbine or solar panel arrays, depending on the wishes of the participants. The revenue from the sale of the renewable energy would be shared among the owners, based on the amount of their investment.

The financial figures are just estimates but for the sake of discussion shares in a renewable energy project could be sold in increments of 500-watts for $5000.00. 

The return on the investment would be based on the number of shares held by the investor, the amount of energy produced by the project and the purchase price for the power. As with net metering, the energy produced would first be used to offset the energy used in your primary residence. Also, as a net metering participant you would not be subject to the minimum customer delivery charge.

Click HERE to participate in a brief survey.  Your feedback is appreciated and valued.  Thank you!