5 Energy-Saving Tips for March

By Mary Ripley on  March 23, 2018

March InfoGraph Energy Savings Tips

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NOPEC Giving 500,000 Electric Customers $9 Million Break on Utility Bills

By Mary Ripley on  March 8, 2018

Residential and Commercial Customers Will See Reduced Rates on March to May Bills

Nearly 500,000 Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) electric customers will receive reduced rates on the generation portion of their utility bills thanks to a $9 million price reduction program being implemented by NOPEC this spring. The rate reduction will benefit all current NOPEC electric customers served by Ohio Edison and The Illuminating Company (CEI). On average, the rate reduction will equate to nearly $18 for residential customers and about $39 for small business accounts over the 4-month program period. A portion of these funds came from the settlement NOPEC negotiated with its former supplier. NOPEC is giving those proceeds back to our electric customers served by Ohio Edison and The Illuminating Company — and adding to it — to bring the total give back to $9 million! All NOPEC customers who will benefit from this give back will receive a postcard in the mail in the next few weeks notifying them of the rate reduction program.

Want to save even more all year ‘round?

Join myNOPEC to receive money-saving tips, track your energy usage and earn points for great prizes at our online store. It’s free and easy! Join today at mynopec.org

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How much are Phantom Loads REALLY costing you?

By Mary Ripley on  February 28, 2018

You’ve heard that unplugging certain electrical devices when they’re not being used helps to save on energy. Because even though these devices may not be turned on, they can still draw phantom power loads in their standby modes. These phantom loads not only waste energy, but can end up costing you money in the long run. To eliminate phantom loads, plug all alike peripherals for a particular electrical device into a power strip and turn off the power strip when not in use. For example, plug all TV components like the TV, audio system, DVD player, cable box and gaming systems onto one power strip and turn off when done using.

7 Outlet Smart Surge Protector

Or, cash in some of your myNOPEC Rewards Points and get this 7-Outlet Smart Strip Surge Protector.  This power strip has 1 master outlet, 2 always on outlets and 4 automatically switched outlets. This means you can plug all the peripheral devices into the automatically switched outlets, except ones that you want to always leave on like a clock, and plug the master device into the master outlet.  Then whenever you turn off the master device, all the peripherals are shut down automatically.

COST OF PHANTOM LOADS

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive way to know how much money you’re wasting on phantom loads unless you measure your power consumption with all devices disconnected vs. all devices in standby mode. However, assuming an average electrical cost of 12.5 cents per kWh, you can get a rough idea of how much money you’re wasting per year on phantom loads. These phantom loads may not individually seem like you’re wasting a lot of money and energy, but they add up. Just imagine what you could do with that money you’d save on electricity you’re not even using!

AVERAGE PHANTOM LOADS PER YEAR

Family Standing Outside Cinema Together

1) 2 Laptops, 2 Laptop Chargers and 1 Cable Modem = $36.14 – OR – Two Adult and Two Kid’s Evening Movie Tickets
Sometimes, a family movie night out is a luxury. With the cost of tickets and snacks, movies can put a pretty hefty dent in your wallet. But the cost of tickets alone for a family of 4 can be covered by what you’re spending each year on phantom draws from one cable modem and two laptops with their chargers.

2) 1 Game Console, 1 Desktop Computer & Monitor, 1 Inkjet Printer, 1 Cable Modem = $20.04 – OR – Kill A Watt Energy Usage Monitor
With what you’d save by unplugging your desktop computer, printer, modem, and game console, you’d have enough money in one year to buy a Kill A Watt energy monitor. That way, you can find other electrical devices that draw lots of energy throughout your house so you know what items can help you save even more money.

3) 1 Coffee Maker, 1 Microwave = $4.60 – OR – Leaving one 9W LED light bulb burn constantly for one year
Imagine leaving one LED light bulb burning 24/7 for one full year. Crazy, isn’t it? Well, just think that the energy you’d use doing that is the same amount of phantom energy that’s being drawn from your coffee maker and microwave every year.

Couple Watching TV

4) 1 LCD TV, 2 Tube TVs, 1 DVR, 3 cable boxes, 1 Cable Modem, 1 Audio System = $90.89 – OR – 9 Months of Netflix
The average household has 3 TVs with cable and 1 DVR. Assuming at least one of the TVs is the more energy-efficient LCD variety, you are spending nearly $100 a year just for the convenience of not flipping a switch on your TV system at night. That is equivalent to ¾ of a year of a Netflix subscription.

5) 4 Surge Protectors = $12.63 – OR – The average cost of running a coffee maker for a full year
Even though surge protectors are highly recommended to avoid large and potentially dangerous power draws in the event of a power surge, their phantom loads can be costly. Unplug those power surge protector strips if you really want to save even more money throughout the year.

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NOPEC's Natural Gas Enrollment Mailer

By Mary Ripley on  January 22, 2018

Starting January 22, 2018 residents and small businesses in communities that are members of NOPEC's Natural Gas Aggregation will begin receiving enrollment letters for NOPEC’s natural gas aggregation program. NOPEC is required by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), to send opt-out notifications to eligible customers every two years. Customers already enrolled in NOPEC’s Program Price option and those that want to join NOPEC, do not need to take any action. As a resident in a NOPEC community, you will automatically be enrolled in NOPEC’s Program Price option.  NOPEC’s program price is negotiated for customers to deliver consistent, competitive pricing and to reduce severe pricing swings due to market volatility. NOPEC also offers a variable rate program that is a guaranteed savings of $.02/Mcf less than the utility’s standard choice offer. To enroll in NOPEC’s Variable Rate Program, consumers must call NOPEC’s Customer Service Line at 855-NOPEC-01 (855-667-3201). Enrollment in the Variable Rate Program is limited and subject to availability. Current customers already enrolled in the variable rate option, will automatically be re-enrolled into the variable rate plan for the new enrollment period. If you do not wish to participate in NOPEC’s natural gas aggregation, you must notify NOPEC by either a) filling out and mailing back the opt-out post card enclosed in the opt-out mailing or b) faxing the opt-out card to 440-774-4422 by February 23, 2018. For more information, go to nopec.org/gas.

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Combat the Cold with these 5 Tips

By Mary Ripley on  January 19, 2018

Winter weather is here.  It’s time to start thinking about ways to combat the cold, reduce drafts and stay toasty warm this winter without breaking the budget with increased energy usage.

Here at NOPEC, we’ve come up with a list of tips to help you.

    • Set ceiling fans to run clockwise in the winter months: This will cause the warm air near the ceiling to be redistributed to lowers parts of the room.  Make sure to turn off the fan before you leave the room to continue saving money and electricity.
    • Weatherseal doors and windows: Weatherseals will help seal out drafts, dust and moisture around doors and windows.
    • Use a humidifier: When it’s cold outside, humidity will make you feel warmer so you can lower your thermostat temperature.
    • Install door sweeps to exterior doors:  Door sweeps help to reduce uncontrolled air infiltration, moisture, and dust.
    • Insulate outlets and wall switches – Electrical boxes behind wall switches and outlets generally penetrate into the wall cavity, which make them a potential source for air leakage.  Polyethelyn foam gaskets can be installed behind the plate covers to reduce drafts.

Leave a comment and share your tips on how you combat the cold at home.

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Tips to Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

By Mary Ripley on  December 31, 2017

Originally published in January 2017, these are still great tips to sticking to your New Year's Resolutions.

It's that time of year to make your list of resolutions in pursuit of a better 2018! Whether your list is short or long, the most important part is being able to stick to it. Over 75% of resolutions are abandoned within 3 months. So in order to keep you on goal, we've come up with some great tips for successfully sticking to 3 top New Year's resolutions. Here's to a great New Year!

TIPS FOR YOUR WEIGHT LOSS RESOLUTION

Have a plan. 

This sounds fairly simple, but can be harder to implement than it sounds. If your plan is “to lose weight”, you're going to fail. If you make your goal unachievable, you're going to fail. Have a simple and specific goal like “lose 10 pounds before March 1st”. From there, progress on, and make new, attainable goals as you go.

Man and Woman in kitchen cutting up veggies

Eat fresh. 

This seems like a no-brainer, but eating healthy and fresh in today's world can be challenging. Instead of eating prepared from package meals, opt for fresh ingredients that don't necessarily need cooked. Salads, nuts, hummus and gazpacho are great choices for healthy meals and snacks that also help detox your system. And as an added bonus, just imagine how much energy you could save by eating raw, unprocessed foods and not cooking every meal.  Plus, you'll cut down on your energy usage.

Exercise. 

You don't need to run a marathon in order to stay healthy by exercising. All you need to do to burn more calories is to move more. Whether your current activity level is nil or active, you can always step it up. So turn off that TV, get up and get moving!

TIPS FOR YOUR SAVING MONEY RESOLUTION 

Save on your energy bills. 

We all know that cutting down on your energy consumption is one of the best ways to save money. Electric, gas, water … it seems daunting to know where to even start though. Start with one utility and once you've whittled down that bill to where you feel comfortable, move on to the next. For some great tips on how to save on your electricity bill, check here.

Make a budget. Budgeting is the easiest way to stay on track with your saving goals. One important thing to keep in mind when crafting a budget is to try and make cuts across the board, instead of eliminating categories. For instance, if you think your entertainment budget is too high, don't nix it altogether. If you feel like you're depriving yourself of important things like fun, you're more likely to think that staying on budget is too difficult and just abandon it altogether.

TIPS FOR YOUR SPENDING MORE TIME WITH FAMILY RESOLUTION 

Work-life balance.

 America's 21st century family is working more. Whether it's working at one paying job, spending time on side projects or even working multiple paying jobs, Americans have less “free time” than ever. Before you commit to taking on more responsibility in the new year, weigh if and how this will impact your family life.

Father and Son Hiking

Unplug. 

With so many entertainment options for the modern family, it can be overwhelming. There are computers, TVs, video games, movies, streaming services, tablets, smartphones and much more. Add in the new forms of social media being launched every day... We've become a plugged-in nation, depending on technology for our day-to-day lives. If you want to connect with your family more, just unplug. Turn off those TVs and smartphones and go outside. Take a hike, go for a drive, talk to each other and reconnect. You can even end up saving a bunch of money on your energy bills if you designate one night a week to turn off all the devices and have family time where you can play board games, read together or craft.

Make it a team effort. 

Instead of tackling tasks all by yourself, involve your family. You can all cook, clean or do yard work together. Not withstanding the fact that work will be made much easier with more people, it's also a great time to bond, talk about your day and to instruct kids on responsibility and the importance of team work. Do you have a New Year's Resolution we didn't cover?  Let us know in the comments what it is and if you have any tips for sticking to it.

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Is there a phantom in your house?

By Mary Ripley on  December 15, 2017

When I came to work at NOPEC, one of the first things I noticed was that they unplug the coffee machine. I have never worked anyplace where they unplugged the coffee machine. In an effort to make my morning much more efficient, I asked why they just don’t save me a few minutes and just keep it plugged in. That was when the evil phantom load first came into my life.

So, what’s the evil phantom load or standby power–or, better yet, vampire power? Here’s a little “did you know.” Did you know your appliances use power even when they are turned off? Yes, it’s the infamous standby power–the power that keeps your TV settings in place and your microwave and VCR clocks working. But, my friends, that doesn’t come free; standby power costs you money. In a joint study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several other environmental agencies around the globe, they put the cost of standby power at 10% of your monthly energy bill or about $120 per year.

So, how do you stop the vampire sucking phantom? Unplug it! Seem simple? So, dry your hair, turn it off and unplug it. Brush your teeth, turn it off and unplug it. Surf the web, print your coupons, and turn off the whole power strip. Simple brain game–use it, off it, unplug it!

What are the phantoms living in your house adding an extra 10% to your energy bill?

• TVs

• VCRs, DVD players and DVRs

• Cell phone chargers (and any other battery chargers)

• Clock radios

• Computers and printers

• Coffeemakers

• Power strips

• Microwave ovens

• Any device with a remote control

• Any device with a clock

• Any device that is programmable

• Any device with a power light or standby indicator light

So, some simple tips and tricks:

1. Unplug things like chargers, which continue to use energy when not in use but do noting extra.

2. Consider leaving your microwave and VCR unplugged until you need them. It’ll mean a few less clocks in your life, but that might actually be nice.

3. Plug all of your computer components into a power strip. Then, flip the strip off when you’re done using your computer. Do the same for your TV, DVD player and other home entertainment devices. Set your computer to go into sleep mode when it’s not in use.

4. Invest in Smart Strip powerstrips, which will automatically cut power to devices that aren’t being used. If you live in FirstEnergy Territory, it’s not too late to sign up for your free power strip!

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Go from Naughty to Nice: Switch from Traditional Bulbs to LED’s

By Mary Ripley on  December 1, 2017

He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s going to find out who’s using LED lights. As you plan to decorate your home this holiday season, consider using light-emitting diodes. According to Energy.Gov, this energy efficient technology used for lighting uses at least 75 percent less energy and has the potential to last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. But, that’s not all. There are many ways you can benefit from using LED lights this season (and all year round).

  • LED lights are much cooler in temperature than incandescent lights. This reduces the risk of combustion or burning your fingers from the heat produced from the bulb.
  • Along with giving off less warmth, LED bulbs are made with epoxy lenses, instead of glass. As a result, these lights are much more resistant to breakage than incandescent bulbs.
  • They last longer. As stated by Energy.gov, the same LED light strings have the potential to be used for 40 holiday seasons. This is more than double the lifespan of the average incandescent bulbs.
  • Not only will you save money based on how long they’ll last, you’ll also save on your electric bill each year. A study done by Energy.gov examined the cost of lighting a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days. The cost of Incandescent lights came to $10.00, while LED lights came at a low $0.27.

From all of us at NOPEC, happy decorating!

Do you use LED lights? Do you know anyone else who had made the switch? Tell us in the comments below. 

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Affordable Outdoor Light Timers

By Mary Ripley on  November 22, 2017

The Holidays are here which means time to decorate your home. Each year, millions of Americans string holiday lights outside to represent the festive spirit. This year, instead of spending a fortune on electricity to light up your home,  save some money by plugging your holiday lights into outdoor timers that turn on and off when you want. We have taken the guesswork out of choosing the right timer by researching and testing three different outdoor timers. We took 72 hours to put each timer to the test. Each one has similar features and functionality, and all of the ones we tested have a photo sensor, which turns the lights on and off at dawn and dusk. An additional feature includes the ability to set the timer to turn the lights off after time periods of 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours!

ECOPlugs 3 Plug 24-Hour Mechanical Timer

The ECOPlugs Timer succeeded with all of the basic functionality. The photo sensor turned the timer on at dusk, off at dawn, or could be set for 2, 4, 6, or 8 hour time periods.  The shorter cord on this timer can be limiting to where you plug your lights in, so make sure to have a weather-safe extension cord. Retailing for around $16, this is a great device to help you save some money on your electric bill this holiday season!

Woods 24-Hour Photoelectric Timer with Remote

The Woods Timer functioned similarly to the ECOPlugs. The big difference between the two is the addition of the remote control included in the Woods. A big plus is the capability of the remote working from inside the home, so you don't have to walk outside to turn your lights on and off. This timer performed well when it came to turning the lights on and off at dusk and dawn, and of course working within set time periods. Retailing for around $13, this timer is an excellent option!

Westek 3 Outlet Stake Timer 

The Westek timer is functionally similar to the other two timers, however aesthetically appears quite different. Attaching to a stake in the ground, accompanied by a three foot cord, this timer allows greater flexibility in positioning of where you can plug in the lights. We loved the stake feature, so the device is not laying in the ground, however the plastic stake is a little flimsy. Succeeding in turning on and off at dusk and dawn, as well as working on time increments, the Westek performed just as well as the others. Retailing for around $15, this is another great option!

outdoor light test

Dependent on the functionality you are looking for, we recommend any of these three devices. Paired with LED outdoor lights, these timers are sure to help you save money on your electric bill this holiday season! For a limited time, use your myNOPEC rewards points to get a Woods 24-Hour Photoelectric Timer with Remote! Log in to myNOPEC today.  

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How To Efficiently Heat Your Home And Keep The Electric Bill Down

By Mary Ripley on  November 6, 2017

Winter is coming. At what temperature have you set your thermostat? As a recent college graduate, this is a question I find myself asking friends who are purchasing starter homes or renting apartments. I ask this because I, myself, can never be warm enough this time of year, but I also want to think sensibly. With minimal funds and not much experience living on their own, it’s an important factor for young adults to consider.

But it’s not only college students who want to watch their electric bill and energy usage. Everyone benefits from thinking twice about how to fight off the heat this season. Here at NOPEC, we’ve come up with some ways to help you out.

  1. Invest in radiator controls. These allow you to have different rooms set at different temperatures. As a result, you can turn heat down or off in rooms you aren’t using. Additionally, you can close heat vents in rooms these rooms. This way, you’ll save both money and electricity, while remaining warm in the rooms you are vacating.
  2. Draught-proof your doors. By applying brush seals and draught strips to areas like keyholes and front and back doors, you’ll keep the icy winds from entering your home.
  3. Don’t forget the ceiling fan. According to Duke Energy, by setting your ceiling fan to operate in a clockwise direction, you can circulate warm air around the room. This air collects near the ceiling as a result of heat rising. Make sure to turn off the fan before you leave the room to continue saving money and electricity.
  4. Change your filter. The dirtier your filter, the harder it will have to work and the more energy it will use. You can replace it every few months or purchase a washable one, which can last up to five years. Another bonus? A clean filter can cut down on dust within your house.
  5. The magic temperature is … According to Dominion East Ohio, the most efficient temperature to set your thermostat in the winter months is 68 degrees. The electric company advises you to set it back even more when you sleep or are away from home. Fun fact: You can save up to three percent on your electric bill by turning down your thermostat by as little as one degree.
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