Thursday, January 24, 2013

Utilizing Your Electric Company's Benefits

We all want to save money and reduce costs.  One place is with your utilities.

Consider conducting an energy usage test on your home to see how much energy (translated into money) you are using.  There are a couple of ways to do this.

First, I have my electric company set up online so that I can see my monthly bill.  Fortunately for me, my utility company breaks down my monthly usage into a pie chart of where the electricity is being used as well as my heating costs as I have gas heat.  I can see each month how much of the electricity is going for appliances, lighting, etc.  I can easily see the big pie picture of where the biggest usage is.

Most utility companies offer an energy efficiency package for free.  They will come to your home and do an energy check or mail you a breakdown of your usage, similar to the pie chart.  If they come to your home, they can give you specific examples of what you can do to save energy, show you areas that might need some work such as heat escaping through worn out seals around your windows, wrapping your water heater, etc.  Check with your utility company and see if they offer such a package.

Right now on, under the "Earn" section there is a sub-section titled "Calculate Your Household's Energy Usage."  You simply go through the section and answer the questions and then it calculates your energy usage and tells you how your usage compares to the national average.  Nifty little tool.

Another great thing about getting to know your electric company is they often offer incentives or freebies that they don't advertise.  For example my utility company a few months back offered free energy efficient light bulbs for qualifying residents.  I logged in to pay our bill and saw the offer so of course I had to check it out.  When I put in our address it said we didn't qualify because our account wasn't active.  Weird since I pay a bill to them every month, and I obviously use the computer so I know our account is active.  So I decided to call the customer service number.  On the nice little recording (you never get a live voice first anymore) it said if you were interested in the offer to press 4 and then I had to put in our account number and validation number.  Well, lo and behold when I did that, it said we qualified for 15 free bulbs.  We could get them all at once or request a few at a time.  I requested them all at once.  Two weeks later I received a nice package from the utility company with (12) 60 watt and (13) 75 watt bulbs.  Those suckers last a really really long time.  When we purchased our house we decided every time a bulb burned out that we would replace it with an energy efficient bulb.  Within 6 months we had all of the bulbs replaced.  We have only replaced 5 energy efficient bulbs since then and that was 6.5 years ago.  With the way these bulbs last, I won't have to purchase bulbs for at least 10 years or more.  A nice little freebie that will definitely be used and will save me money by using them.

Another incentive they offer from time to time is a little gadget they hook up to your air conditioner unit outside.  It allows them to control when your air condition cycles on and off during the day.  Typically they cycle off your unit during peak usage hours.  The savings that they receive by doing this, they turn around and give to you by way of a credit on your electric bill.  Generally $20.00 a month or more.  The great thing is the cycle off period is generally no more than 10 minutes.  So the credit you get from this incentive is actually more than it would be if you just turned the unit off yourself for 10 minutes every day.

These are just a couple of the incentives my utility company has offered.  More than likely your company probably has similar offers.  However, if you don't check out their website, odds are you will never find out about them because they don't advertise them.  So go snoop out your utility company website and see what you find.  There just might be some savings waiting patiently for you.

Next time we will talk about how to actually cut down your utility usage.



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