CenterPoint Gets the Stamp of Approval from the U.S. Energy Department

CenterPoint Energy had been granted about $200 million from the federal government in order to improve the infrastructure of their service area, possibly spurring other utilities to follow suit. CenterPoint already had plans to improve the reliability of the electricity grid, but these funds helped make it happen. As a result, “Houston’s grid is more resilient, more efficient, and enhances consumer experience,” according to Franklin Orr of the Department of Energy.

So how did this investment improve the grid? For one thing, over 2.2 million smart meters have been installed between 2009 and 2012, which finished two years ahead of schedule. These meters help consumers monitor how much energy they are using so they can find ways to cut back and reduce their energy bill every month. But CenterPoint didn’t stop there. They continue adding components to the electricity grid to make it an intelligent grid.


more »

Google Believes That the Internet Will Lead to Electricity Savings

The series of tubes, more commonly known as the internet, gets even more tubular as more and more devices become connected to the seemingly infinite digital universe. With all of these devices and their reliance on connectivity, it seems inevitable that they will require larger quantities and more powerful forms of energy to sustain themselves. Google, on the other hand, believes that this interconnectivity will actually reduce the amount of electricity required by the world. That sounds contradictory, but it could very well be true.

Urs Hölzle, the man who oversees Google’s data centers, believes that the interconnected devices will make energy use more efficient. With devices like thermostats being connected to the internet, they have unprecedented control when it comes to self-regulation. They are able to detect temperatures throughout the house and adjust themselves accordingly, match themselves up to your personal schedule, and even allow you

more »

Caulking Your Home to Increase Energy Efficiency

We talk a lot about weatherstripping and sealing windows and doors with rubber gaskets, but there is another crucial part to sealing up your home: caulking. Caulk comes in tall bottles that look similar to some restaurant condiment bottles; you place it into a special caulk gun where a metal rod and plunger push the latex or silicone sealant out. Caulk is relatively inexpensive and can really help reduce the cost of your energy bill. Air leaks in the home are one of the most costly energy expenditures.

Caulk vs Foam

Caulk is best for cracks that are smaller than a quarter inch, while spray foam is better for larger gaps since the foam expands. In some cases, such as the bottom of a door or window frame, it is best to place rubber gaskets or weatherstripping.


Sealing around the frames of doors and windows are

more »

How Smart Meters Could be Smarter

Smart meters bring us a critical light for the path to energy efficiency. Humans are visual creatures; we like to see things and will make decisions based on that. It can be difficult for us to visualize what we don’t readily see. This is especially true in the energy sector. We are often unaware of how much electricity we are using and, by extension, how much money we are spending on it. Smart meters bring us the ability to visualize this energy use so we can better conserve, but like many things in life, they can be improved upon in order to further help the nation as a whole.

About 43% of American homes currently have smart meters and the federal government has invested $3.4 billion into an integrated smart grid. While smart meters have many benefits, the technology isn’t enough to help people become more energy

more »

5 Ways to Increase Your Refrigerator’s Efficiency

The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in your house, but there are some ways to keep it as energy efficient as possible, which will lower your energy usage and prolong its life. Keeping your fridge at optimum efficiency is actually pretty simple and won’t cost you any money. All you’ll need is your fridge (of course), a vacuum cleaner and an appliance thermometer.

1. Cleaning – Cleaning out your fridge and ridding it of expired foods will certainly improve the smell, but if your fridge is a bit overstuffed, it will also improve air circulation, making it more efficient.

2. Stocking – Having an overstuffed fridge means there’s no air circulation, but having an understocked fridge means there’s too much circulation. Keeping your fridge full keeps the temperature low for longer periods of time. If you have some large gaps, you can fill them

more »

10 Ways Renters Can Lower Their Electricity Bills

If you’re renting a home or apartment and pay for your own utilities, there are ways you can lower your electricity usage to reduce your electric bill. Even if your utilities are covered by your rent, it may not be a bad idea to implement some of these tips. Some landlords will reduce the monthly rent for making cost reductions.

1. Thermostat – One of the best ways to reduce electricity usage is to cut back on the heat and AC. That doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable all day, just that it doesn’t need to run while you’re at work or asleep. A programmable thermostat lets you set schedules for the AC and heat to operate throughout the day, saving you quite a bit on energy.

2. Insulate Switches – Air actually can escape through your light switches and wall outlets. By installing a rubber

more »

So You’ve Decided to Ditch that Legacy Provider

Has your electricity plan renewed every year with the same company you’ve had for over a decade? You might be locked into a contract with a legacy provider. Legacy providers are the energy companies that have been around since before deregulation. Once deregulation came to Texas in 2002, if you didn’t choose a new provider, you automatically got rolled into a legacy provider’s plan. But now you’ve seen that prices are better elsewhere and you’re ready to move on, so what’s next?

There are no penalties for choosing a different energy provider unless you are ending a current contract early, known as early termination. If you require a special meter reading other than a regularly scheduled one, this could come up as a separate charge, but it’s not a penalty for switching. You can switch companies at any time and as long as the company operates within

more »

How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Do you wish there was an easier way to keep your home comfortable without using so much electricity? Every summer, we experience high temperatures requiring us to crank up the AC and every winter, we get low temperatures and crank up the heat. Leaving the AC or the heat on all the time can really drive up your energy bill, so how can you be comfortable and reduce your energy use? With a programmable thermostat!

Once you have selected a programmable thermostat for your home (be certain you have the right one; baseboard heating requires a special 240 volt thermostat), you just have to install it. First and foremost, turn off the electricity to your heating and cooling system before attempting to install a programmable thermostat. Remove the old thermostat from the wall and look at the back.

On the back of the old thermostat, you will

more »

The Future of Wind Energy

Critics of the wind energy industry often cite its unreliability (wind doesn’t blow all the time), its cost (turbines are costly to install), and it’s spatial impact (wind farms take up a LOT of space) as reasons against its use. These points are certainly worth noting right now, but what about for the future? By 2020, the Department of Energy expects wind to provide 10% of our nation’s electricity and up to 35% by 2050.

Wind energy has zero emissions and some of the wind farms around the country offset the same amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions of about 10 coal power plants. By the year 2050, wind farms could help prevent 21,700 deaths from diseases related to pollution as well as $108 billion in costs. That’s quite a savings that the coal and gas industry would have trouble keeping up with.

We don’t

more »

How Do Electricity Plans with No Deposit Requirement Work?

When someone enrolls for electric service in Texas, the majority of retail electricity providers perform a soft credit check, which is one that does not impact your credit score. If someone does not meet certain credit requirements, the electric provider will require a deposit to initiate service that will be returned to the customer after their account has been active and in good standing for a specified period of time. But have you seen Texas electricity companies around claim that they have a no deposit requirement?

What is a Prepaid Plan?

Plans that require no deposit are prepaid plans, which means that you pay for an allotment of electricity a month ahead of time. You use that allotment over the next month and refill your account again before the end of the month. These plans are generally targeted at people who have low credit/no credit because there

more »