Posted on: 09-10-2012 at 5:17pm
By Marketing Communications Editor Brian Hale
As the calendar switches to September, exciting events return to the horizon. Stadiums welcome the return of frenzied fans, parkways of summer green evolve to autumn auras, flashing school zones emerge from summer hibernation and Mother Nature ushers in relief from summer’s grasp.
Whatever your preferred part of autumn’s arrival, the fall feels refreshing. As cooler breezes blow and temperatures begin to drop, Stream Energy is refreshing our rates.
Effective last week, Stream Energy dropped rates in most of our service areas across Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. The perfect beginning to fall is already in full force.
In Texas, fall is still in its infancy as many cities saw temperatures topping 100º for much of last week. As a cold front arrived, so did lower Texas rates. Lower rates were also seen in the Northeast territories, as well as in Georgia.
So as September succulence begins to sink in, Stream Energy customers can keep focused on pigskin players, pumpkins and helping with homework.
As your best friend’s energy company, we know your time is precious because we’re husbands and mothers, too. So, get back to what’s important and we’ll take care of your energy needs with great rates that you don’t have to think twice about and customer service you’ll want to brag about.
From our family to yours, enjoy the upcoming autumn and don’t forget to start off your September succulence with a great new low rate from Stream Energy—your best friend’s energy company.
Posted on: 06-27-2012 at 9:20pm
Summer is officially here and much of the nation has already felt the heat. To help you beat the heat, we’ve provided 11 basic energy-saving tips that will help lower your energy costs this summer. Learn about these great tips below and download the printable version when you’re finished to check them off the list!
1. Pick the Stream Energy pricing plan that makes sense for you. <br>
Whether you’re looking for peace of mind and price security or a no-commitment variable rate plan,
choosing the right plan is extremely important and should be the first item you check to ensure you are
taking advantage of the best offers available.
2. Set your thermostat to the highest (or lowest) temperature setting that will
still let you be comfortable.
In the summer, 78-80 degrees should be the goal when you’re at home and 85 degrees or higher when
you’re out. With hot weather, use fans when possible to help you feel more comfortable when you’re in
the room. They can make the room feel up to five degrees cooler and use a fraction of the energy that
your AC does. You can also automate the process by installing an ENERGY STAR® compliant
programmable thermostat. This will allow you to have the perfect temperature whenever you’re home
and save money when you’re out.
3. Replace the five most used incandescent light bulbs with Compact
Fluorescent Lights (CFL).
Identify all the light bulbs (60 – 100W) around your house that are normally used at least 10 minutes at a
time and begin to exchange them out for CFLs. CFL bulbs use 75% less electricity, produce 90% less
heat and will last up to 10 years compared to a standard incandescent bulb.
4. Turn off all lights, fans, TVs, computers and other electronics when not in
Electronic appliances are silent users of electricity, even when they are not being used. Electricity is still being consumed to power all components, even the pilot light. The easiest way to control your
electronics is to purchase and use power strips. They allow you to plug in a number of items and turn
them all off at one time. Depending on the quality, they can also help protect your electronics from
potentially damaging power surges. Don’t forget to unplug cell-phone and other chargers too!
5. Start to weatherize and seal your home.
If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed in the summer so you’re not losing cool air up
the chimney. If there are drafts coming in or around your windows and doors, then consider installing
weather stripping. Seal cracks and places where plumbing or electrical items enter the house or come
through the ceiling. If accessible, look for and seal leaks in your duct work with mastic or the proper UL
rated tape (not duct tape!).
6. Lower (or raise) the energy “load” on your home.
Close curtains and blinds in sunny areas, especially on west or south facing windows in hot weather, and
open them in cold weather. Landscape the outer perimeter of your home so that your air conditioning unit
is shaded but has sufficient air circulation, because it reduces radiant heat. Planting deciduous trees
helps cool the home during the summer from the tree’s shade, and allows light to penetrate through
during the winter.
7. Check the air conditioning filter every month and change if needed.
Dirty air filters prevent efficient airflow throughout your HVAC system, and as such, can cause your AC
unit to run longer and possibly even shorten the lifespan of various parts. Therefore, regularly replacing
your air filters will ensure cleaner air for you and your family to breathe as well as preventing your ducts from clogging and filling up with various dust particles. Also, be sure to check around your outside unit so that grass, leaves and dirt aren’t blocking the air conditioner coils and fins, as well.
8. Set your water heater to “Medium” or a baseline of 130 degrees.
You may be able to set it even lower if your dishwasher has a pre-heater. If you’re used to long showers
(more than 5-10 minutes), save by shortening the time spent showering by setting the heater to run out
of comfortably warm water by the time you’ve finished.
9. Wash clothes in cold water and wash full loads whenever possible.
80-90% of energy costs for washing clothes involve heating water for hot or warm cycles. Cold water
detergents do just as well in almost all cases.
10. Use the automatic drying setting on your dryer rather than timed drying
and dry full loads.
By using the timer setting, you run the risk of over-drying your clothes (potentially damaging them). Don’t forget to clean the lint trap after every load; that leads to airflow efficiency which means longer life on your unit.
11. Turn off the Heated Dry setting on your dishwasher and let the dishes air
Wash full loads here as well.
Make sure you download the printable file to check off these great tips as you complete them!
Posted on: 08-31-2011 at 10:41am
Understanding the correct ways to save on energy in Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas
Myth #1: Turning ON and OFF a light, computer or TV uses more energy than just leaving it ON.
Fact: According to the Department of Energy, incandescent lights should be turned OFF whenever they’re not needed to save on energy. Did you know that 90% of the energy used to power a light bulb is converted to heat, while a dismal 10% is used to generate light? Turning standard incandescent lights OFF will always help you save on energy costs, even if it’s for just a few seconds. The same rule applies to other electronics such as TVs and computers. If not in use, turn them OFF.
A related myth is leaving a ceiling fan ON will cool the room. Not true. Fans cool people (feels up to 5 degrees cooler) by moving the envelope of hot air around them, but they don’t cool rooms, so turn them OFF as well when a room is unoccupied.
For the new Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), it’s a little more complicated. With relatively high prices of electricity, a fairly conservative guideline is that it is cost effective to turn them OFF after about 5 minutes of use. With CFLs (especially the least expensive and older ones), turning them ON and OFF rapidly will shorten their lifespan and may limit your overall savings. Some manufacturers offer models with higher switching cycles; these are ones designated as heavy duty or can typically be found as a standard feature in the newer models. One investigation indicates that a CFL will always provide a savings after 50 hours or so of use.
Myth #2: It takes more energy to cool a house if the air conditioner has been OFF all day rather than keeping it running at a higher temperature (85 degrees, for example).
Fact: Cooling a hot house down at the end of the day always takes less energy than leaving the air conditioner running all day, even if it’s running on a high setting. Your air conditioner runs more efficiently when it operates for longer periods compared to short cycles of ON and OFF. One long cycle at the end of the day will save more on your energy than a number of short cycles during the whole time away. Using a programmable thermostat will allow you to turn the unit OFF and still cool the house down before you arrive home from work or your extended time away and help save on energy.
Myth #3: Turning my thermostat way down will make my home cooler a lot faster.
Fact: It doesn’t help speed up the process at all, and if you forget to reset the thermostat to the desired temperature, then you’ll just be wasting energy and money. Setting the temperature lower than the desired end temperature won’t get it there any faster (just like pressing an elevator button a lot of times won’t get you there any faster). Your thermostat is more like a light switch (ON or OFF) than a water hose (opening up the spigot to allow more water to come out). A programmable thermostat will let you plan in advance if you’d like to cool things down by the time you get home.
Myth #4: Buying a highly efficient air conditioner will automatically save me a lot of money on my energy bill.
Fact: Although not completely a myth, if things aren’t done right by the right people, then you could spend more up front than you need to and not save as much as you could over the life of the new unit. A big mistake is automatically replacing your current unit with one of the same size or larger without having an energy audit or other professional analysis done first. Bigger is not always better, especially in this case. The rule of thumb is to have one ton of refrigeration per 500 square feet, and both the inside air handler and the outside condenser unit must have the same tonnage.
If your duct system is leaking, then it needs to be fixed first. More than 60% of all homes experience leaks in their duct system; leaks can often times account for roughly 20 – 30% air loss (either heated or cooled air). Improper installation of a unit also can produce large amounts of energy being wasted due to leakage. Once the leaks are fixed and with the proper design by a quality company, it wouldn’t be surprising if they’re able to recommend a smaller unit than what is currently installed. The same design and installation concerns are apparent in the replacement of windows, adding insulation and/or a radiant barrier, and the purchase of other energy efficient items.
Myth #5: Using duct tape for sealing ducts is the right solution.
Fact: Through experience and laboratory testing, it has been clearly shown that duct tape is not the right solution. Unless it is just for a temporary, very short-term fix that you intend to replace, do not use duct tape. Contrary to its name, duct tape is great for hundreds of uses, but definitely not for repairing leaky ducts! In laboratory testing with 31 other sealants, duct tape was the only one that failed and failed consistently. In the typical hot attic, duct tape has very low durability and will dry out and separate from the ductwork the tape is being applied to. The best choice is mastic, a gooey glue-like substance that is painted on and hardens. A second choice would be a tape that is certified as UL 181A compliant for rigid ducts, or 181B for flexible duct work.
Myth #6: The largest source of air leakage in the home is around windows and doors. Therefore, replacing older windows will save on energy and money.
Fact: Although air leakage is one of the largest sources of energy loss in your home, the amount around windows and doors accounts for about 15% of the total loss. The largest amount is usually found in air duct leaks and holes in your ceiling and attic. Installing weather-stripping and caulking around doors and windows is always a good idea to save you money on your home energy. This will save you money, but replacing old windows with energy efficient ones is an expensive proposition and is very hard to justify on energy savings alone. If you have other reasons to replace your windows, besides to save on energy, then definitely replace them with Energy Star rated ones. You’ll see some savings in addition to having a new look and feel around your house.
Myth #7: Closing air ventilation registers and doors in unused rooms will save on energy usage and cost.
Fact: With today’s air-forced central cooling systems, closing too many air registers completely and closing the doors to those rooms increases the air pressure in your ducts. It can also cause or increase leaks or otherwise damage the system (freeze the coils, for example). According to a 2003 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, “The reduction in building thermal loads due to conditioning only a part of the house was offset by increased duct system losses, mostly due to increased duct leakage.”
Another potential problem from air pressure imbalance is the buildup of mold. For example, if the attic entrance isn’t well sealed, the increased air pressure can draw hot, humid air from the attic which can then condense on a cool surface where mold can grow. Partially closing some registers, especially those closest to the unit is fine, but depending on the size and design of the house and ducting system, completely closing more than one or two will not be helpful to save you money on your home energy and could be harmful.
Myth #8: Using an electric dishwasher always uses more energy than washing dishes by hand.
Fact: Unless there are only a few dishes, then this is one case where the appliance wins out: washing by hand usually uses more hot water than using a dishwasher. According to a recent study at a university in Bonn, Germany, it was found that the dishwasher will use only one-half the energy and one-sixth of the water (and less soap, too)! Just follow some good practices with your dishwasher, and you’ll save those hands as well as some money on your energy bills. Most modern dishwashers do not require pre-rinsing; this saves water and energy, and you also need not bother with the Rinse & Hold cycle. Wait to wash a full load, and don’t use the heat cycle to dry the dishes. If your dishwasher has a pre-heater, then you can also set your water heater temperature lower.
Information researched and gathered for this publication came from a number of web sites:
- Iowa Energy Policy Council at http://www.coloradoenergy.org/tips/homeowner/hec/
- Department of Energy’s Energy Star site at http://www.energystar.gov/
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at http://www.lbl.gov/
- U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy site at http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/
Posted on: 08-23-2011 at 3:45pm
By Stream Energy Copywriter Katherine Lopez
We all know that this summer’s heat wave has been hard to deal with. The last thing anyone wants to do is be outside for more than 10 minutes because once you experience the scorching heat, the first thing that pops in your head is to get inside and adjust the AC similar to that of an igloo. It is no secret that staying cool means using energy, and at times we use an unnecessary amount. However, we have a responsibility to conserve our natural energy sources. Not only will we be doing the earth a huge favor but our pockets will be thankful as well!
So, the question is why should we conserve energy? Is it really that important? What is conserving energy? Well, the answers are simple. Conserving means to use or manage wisely, and to prevent loss. The act of conserving energy is important and the reasons as to why one should are just as significant. First of all, being conscious of how you use energy will help you save money on your energy bill. Using energy sources at a minimum and replacing energy equipment with more environmentally friendly technologies can help you get started on the right track.
Many commentators believe we are running out of our natural energy suppliers, such as oil. To go one step further, the fossil fuels that are used to make energy are typically used for cars and electricity used in our homes. These fuels produce carbon dioxide into the air, which in turn pollutes the air. These are definite red flags that need immediate attention. We should take steps to changing our habits to help our world.
Here are just a few tips on how you can conserve energy at home:
- Take short showers instead of baths
- Air dry your dishes instead of using the dishwashers drying cycle
- Plug home electronics into a power strips and turn the strips off when the equipment is not in use
I am a strong believer in conserving energy; it is not something that should be put aside. We shouldn’t be careless, but rather think ahead and plan for our children’s children to have the opportunity to experience the wonders of energy. In order to replace one behavior, you must substitute it with another learned behavior. It’s easy!
Here are a few websites to visit for more information:
Posted on: 08-17-2011 at 4:58pm
By Stream Energy Internal Communications Editor Brian Hale
With the peak of summer’s heat upon us, the welcomed relief of cooler temperatures is on the horizon. The summer of 2011 will go down as one of the hottest summers on record in the US. Temperatures soared into the triple digits multiple times for much of the nation, with Texas suffering from more than 50 days of the triple-digit heat.
The welcomed heat relief will bring with it a reduction in the amount of electricity used for powering air conditioners across the nation. A reduction in electricity usage provides some relief for consumers’ pocketbooks. But with summer still holding on for the time being, there are additional ways to keep some extra green in your pockets for the final weeks of summer and the colder winter months.
Energy Tax Credits and Rebates
Depending on where you live and how “green” the appliances are in your home, you might be eligible for tax credits and rebates. Check with your local poles and wires company to see what, if any, rebates or credits they offer and if you are eligible. The Department of Energy provides a detailed list of providers around the country who offer rebates and credits.
Reduce Your Footprint
In 2009, the average energy consumption per person in the United States was more than 7,400 kwh each month. In Texas, the average was sixth worst in the nation at almost 11,000 kwh per person per month. You can help reduce the usage by unplugging all devices when not in use. This includes everything from home computers and televisions to electric toothbrushes and iPods. Even if a device is off, if it is plugged into an outlet, the device still draws a current.
Unplugging your electronics doesn’t have to be a daunting task. A power strip is an easy way to unplug multiple devices at one time. Reducing the number of devices drawing a current not only reduces the amount of electricity being drawn to your home, it relieves strain on the power grid that can quickly become overloaded during peak times. If too much strain is placed on the electric grid, states may be forced into rolling blackouts to reduce the strain—something Texas was on the verge of multiple times this summer.
Another way to increase your pocketbook while decreasing the strain on the environment is in your daily commute. Public transportation is an inexpensive way to get to your destination while reducing your carbon footprint. Many public transportation departments across the nation have busses and trains that run on alternative fuels such as ethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), biodiesel liquefied natural gas (LNG) or electricity.
If public transportation isn’t an option for you, consider trading in your current high-emissions vehicle for a cleaner and greener vehicle. Soon, “green” vehicles may be your only option. President Obama recently announced a new policy that requires U.S. automakers to produce vehicles that achieve an average of 35.5 mpg by 2016—just five short years from now. Furthermore, an agreement with 13 automakers will increase the average fuel economy of vehicles they produce in 2025 to 54.5 mpg. According to the Department of Transportation, the agreement is with manufacturers that produce 90 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States today.
A vehicle that runs on alternative fuel is something good for the environment and will save you money over your current vehicle. Locations for filling up on gasoline are much more prevalent than alternative fuels, but alternative fueling stations are located plentifully around the nation.
Keep What You’re Paying For
It’s no secret that heat rises. It also sinks. If you live in a multi-story home, the problem of how to keep the top floor comfortable is perplexing. Caused by a combination of the heat inside the home rising and the summer heat pounding your roof, the top floor of your home gets warmed from above and beneath. Ensure that your attic or roof has updated and adequate insulation or barrier. There are many new, inexpensive products available at your local hardware or home improvement store that can help reduce the amount of heat on the top floor of your home. When the weather eventually starts turning colder, you’ll be able to reduce the heat lost through the attic or roof, reducing the workload on your heating system.
You most likely have a rent or mortgage due every month. You also have an energy bill due every month. But could the home you’re paying for be costing you extra money? According to BBC News, the majority of heat lost is mainly through the roof, windows and gaps around doors. A radiant barrier is a great addition to your roof in the summer time (to keep your home cooler) and in the winter time (to reduce the amount of heat lost). Exchange single-paned windows for double-paned windows and hang curtains. Add weather stripping around doorways and window panes.
You’re paying for your home and your energy. By taking these simple steps, you can help reduce your monthly utility bill while increasing the value and efficiency of your home.
Summer is getting close to finally fading into Fall, and with smarter decisions, you can make your home and life more efficient. Save some green by going green, and enjoy the autumn weather.