Ready Your Home for Winter

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Using energy more efficiently — especially heating — during cold months can cut the amount of money you spend on your utility bill.
Energy.gov reports that heating and cooling accounts for about 48 % of a typical U.S. home’s energy use, making it the largest energy expense for most homes.

Replacing a dirty filter will increase the air flow and make your home more energy efficient (with the added benefit of cleaner air in your home).

Turning the thermostat down a few degrees when you are away from home or sleeping also helps to reduce your monthly utility bill. For an even more hassle-free option, you can install a programmable thermostat that will automatically turn the heat down when you need it to and can begin heating your home before you wake up.

Other money saving steps include: opening your curtains to naturally heat your home, setting your ceiling fan to spin clockwise to blow hot air down, and adding insulation to your walls.

If it is time to replace your old furnace, look for energy-efficient models. Furnaces with an Energy Star rating usually exceed federal standards for energy efficiency, and can make choosing the right model that much easier.

Check your home for air leaks. Depending on the location of the leak, there are a variety of actions you can take to plug the leak.

Are you ready to take the next step in improving your home’s energy efficiency? Contact a local home energy auditor. A home energy audit pinpoints exactly where your home is losing energy and what you can do to stop it, saving you anywhere from 5 to 30 percent on your energy bill.

Watch this video from Energy.gov on how a home energy audit works.

The BLP recommends the following steps:

• Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
• Use foam sealant on larger gaps around windows and baseboards.
• Replace door bottoms and thresholds with pliable sealing gaskets.
• Keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed when not in use.

Source: EnergyEdCouncil.org

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Holiday Safety Checklist!

The holiday season just would not be the same for many people without the bright and colorful light displays that decorate houses and city streets alike. Unfortunately, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that more than 12,500 people are sent to the emergency room every holiday season because of injuries sustained from lighting and decorating.  Safe Electricity provides tips for those who are undertaking holiday lighting and decorating projects to help them do safely.

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Begin by checking that every strand of lights has been tested and approved by an official lab and make sure the cord is rated for where it will be used — whether indoors or outside. Examine each strand for any fraying or damage. To prevent possible electrical shocks or fires, do not use any damaged cords. Typically, one extension cord should only have three strands of lights connected to it at most, but you should also check that the extension cord is rated for its intended use.

Lights and decorations that are outdoors should be plugged into an outlet with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. A GFCI can protect you from electrical shock from damaged or defective decorations, or accidental electrical contact with water. GFCIs can be installed in a circuit breaker box or in an outlet and can be used anywhere you need it with the portable version…Give the gift of safety this holiday season.

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Top Five Energy Efficiency Gift Ideas

Giving gifts during the holiday season has long been a way to show loved ones that you care. However, trying to figure out what to gifts to buy for certain people can be quite a difficult task. One thing everybody seems to like is saving money. The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power suggests giving your friends, family, and the environment a gift that keeps on giving this holiday season with some fun ideas that will help the recipient be more energy efficient.

“While most people might not immediately think about energy efficiency while shopping for gifts, it’s a practical gift idea that helps your loved one save energy and money at the same time,” says Renee Molyneux, Administrative Services Manager from the BLP.

Below are the Energy Education Council’s top five energy efficiency gift ideas for 2015.

        Smart Power Strip with Motion Sensor: Take energy efficiency to the next level with a smart power strip that comes with a motion sensing detector, which automatically turns the power on when you enter the room. It can also automatically turn off peripheral devices after a set amount of time after leaving the area. If you are looking for something a little less pricy, try a single outlet motion sensor for similar results.

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        Thermal Leak Detector: Set your phasors to stun with this point-and-shoot, hand-held device that measures surface temperatures so that you can pinpoint air leaks in your home. Identifying these leaks and then sealing them with weather stripping or caulk and improving insulation can help homeowners save on their energy bills.

       Portable Solar Battery Bank: A portable solar charger is a great gift for travelers, campers, and hikers. The device is able to charge a cell phone on the go, whether a person is in the car or in the wilderness. Device size varies on intended use. Some are the size of a cell phone, while others are the size of a small backpack.

        Smart LED Light Bulb: One of these energy efficient LED lights can be controlled from the palm of your hand with your smartphone device. Control features often include brightness, scheduling, and more. It can provide endless fun for gadget enthusiasts and help them save money at the same time. Choose from a variety of brands with additional features — from various color options to a built-in bluetooth speaker.

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        Whole House Energy Monitor: If you are looking for that one blockbuster gift, look no further. Some of these systems can monitor your entire home’s energy usage in real time and give you unparalleled control over how you use energy. Information can be sent directly to your computer or smartphone and is stored so you can see long-term usage data.

These are just a few of the energy efficient gift options available. Whatever gifts you decide on, if you are shopping for electronic appliances, be sure to look for the yellow Energy Star label. It can help you estimate the operating cost of a specific appliance, as well as similar models. Plus, Energy Star rated appliances are tested and approved to meet or exceed government efficiency standards.

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power wishes you a BRIGHT and safe holiday season. Visit EnergyEdCouncil.org to learn more about the safe and smart use of energy. View more energy savings gift ideas from Energy.gov.

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10-2015EnergyVamps

October is the time to discover where your Energy Vampires are hiding in your home!

You may be surprised to discover that many appliances use energy and cost you money — even after you have turned them off. An array of household appliances often referred to as energy vampires, which include everything from microwave ovens to phone chargers, can continue to leech power from your home even while they are in standby mode. The Energy Education Council shares information to help consumers identify and tame these vampires.

According to J.M. Burgett in the March 2015 issue of theJournal of Energy Research and Social Science, among some of the worst culprits are digital video recorders at 27 watts, cable boxes (with no built-in DVR) at 15 watts, and wireless routers at 6 watts. These numbers represent how much energy is expended in standby wattage per hour. It is easy to see how just a handful of appliances, even on standby mode, can end up costing upwards of around $100 annually.

Some other common household energy vampires include:

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With the average American household owning 25 consumer electronic devices, you can begin to see how these phantom loads can translate into a significant chunk of your energy bill. You don’t have to succumb, though, as there are several simple and convenient strategies that will help you drive a stake through these energy vampires from Energy.gov:

  • Unplug devices you don’t use often. This probably won’t work for your cable box or clock radio, but if you have an extra TV, an old desktop computer or a stereo you only use from time to time, you should consider unplugging them completely until the next time you need to use them.
  • Use power strips. Power strips allow you to toggle the power flow on and off. This will allow you to control the power usage of clusters of devices so that they’re not consuming electricity when you’re not around. Using a light switch that turns power outlets on and off accomplishes the same end, if you have one in your home.
  • Curb idle time in devices such as computers and video game consoles. Simply setting your computer to sleep mode or saving a game and powering down instead of leaving it paused for a prolonged period can actually save more than $100 a year in many cases.
  • Make smart upgrades. When it comes time to send your old devices to the graveyard, you should also consider replacing them with ENERGY STAR devices. They have a lower standby consumption than your average device and generally use less energy in all their functions – a savings you should take into account when comparing similar products. Grand Haven Board of Light & Power customers earn incentives and save on your electric bill with these energy efficient upgrades! To find the rebate application go to mienergysmart.com Want to get rid of an old refrigerator or freezer for a $60 REBATE? Go to mienergysmart.com for the application form. Read Your step-by-step Guide to Energy Smart Savings from the BLP. None of these strategies will eliminate your electric bill entirely says energy.gov, but together these tricks can help you slay energy vampires while saving money, a treat you can appreciate long after Halloween has passed. Read the whole article @ Energy.gov article Are Energy Vampires Sucking You Dry?Source: Electrical Safety Foundation and Energy.gov for these energy savings tips.
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Is renewable energy for you?

Do you know someone being green and saving money by using solar, geothermal, or wind power? Are you thinking you want to get in on the savings by installing renewable energy at your home or office? If so, make sure you look before you leap. A renewable energy system is an investment that should be carefully considered and thoroughly assessed.

To help do that homework about a renewable energy installation for homes and small businesses, the Energy Education Council has developed a list of questions to answer and resources for answering those questions that will help you evaluate if renewable energy sources can help meet your goals, which type of system would be the most cost-effective and efficient, and if a renewable system is even possible for your location.

If saving money is the goal, keep in mind that the cheapest, cleanest, and greenest energy is the energy that you do not use. So the first thing to do is make sure that your home or business is as energy-efficient as possible. Efficiency should always be the first step in quest for saving money on energy.

After making sure the home or business is as efficient as possible, head to the renewable energy installation questions at EnergyEdCouncil.org/checklist.pdf.

Just a few of these questions are: • What are my energy goals? • What is my current energy usage? • What percentage of my energy needs would I like to supply with renewable sources? • Would a geothermal, wind, solar photovoltaic or solar thermal system be possible/logical for my location and intended use? • Do I need to get a permit? • What are the maintenance costs? Can I do them myself, or do I have to hire someone? • How much energy will the system save me annually?

A homeowner or small business owner armed with the knowledge gained from answering the renewable energy installation questions will be vastly better informed and ready to tackle the project and attain his or her goals. Download the renewable energy installation questions at http://EnergyEdCouncil.org/checklist.pdf, and get more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy at EnergyEdCouncil.org.

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