Friday, January 31, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Ever wonder how electric rates in Minnesota compare to other states around the country? How about which state has the lowest rates and which state has the highest? Or maybe which state uses the most kWh on average and which state uses the least?

According to the website Compare Electricity Rates, the average usage in Minnesota is 832 kWh and the average retail price in our state is 9.18 cents per kWh.

Hawaii is listed as having the most expensive rates with 24.12 cents per kWh and in the lower 48 states, Connecticut's rates are the highest at 19.11 cents. The lowest rates in the country are found in Idaho at 6.36 cents.

Our neighboring Wisconsin is among the lowest at 6.73 cents per kWh. However, Wisconsin's average use is 1,138 kWh so their average electric bill sits at $76.63 which is almost identical to Minnesota with $76.40.

Looking at the average amounts of kWh used by state, Tennessee tops out with 1,344 and Maine is on the bottom of the list with 530 kwh. Hawaii is also on the bottom end with an average of 655 kWh used but with the highest rates, their average electric bill is $158.02.

For the complete listing of all the states and the three statistics (average kWh used, average retail price and average electricity bill) click here. It is interesting to see how the states stack up and how some states are actually higher or lower than you may think they are when it comes to electricity rates and usage.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Last Call for Lights

At the end of January we will have our final pick up of any old or broken holiday light strands you wish to recycle. There is a bin located in the lobby of the Education Service Center. For more information about Recycle Your Holidays or the Recycling Association of Minnesota, click here for a link to their website.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Green Cars

If you look up the words "green car" on a search engine, you come up with quite a variety of options, above are just a few fun images. But how about "green" meaning environmentally friendly automobiles? As fuel prices remain high around the country, more and more "green" cars are coming out on the market these days but how do they stack up? Here is a top 10 list of the best green cars for 2013 according to Kelley Blue Book:

  1. Nissan Leaf
  2. Tesla Model S
  3. Ford Focus
  4. Chevrolet Volt
  5. Toyota Prius Plug-in
  6. Ford C-MAX Energi
  7. Volkswagen Jetta
  8. Honda Fit
  9. Toyota Avalon
  10. Lincoln MKZ

For more information on each model including MPG, click here to go to the detailed list on the Kelley Blue Book website.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the hours of operation in an office or school building are typically only 30 percent of the total hours in a year when you take nights and weekends into consideration.

Shutting off many types of equipment during unoccupied hours can save up to 70 percent of their electrical consumption and potentially more in school buildings that close for the summer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

One more thought on refrigerators and freezers...

Refrigeration usually makes up approximately 8-10% of the typical utility bill. Making sure thermostats are at optimal temperature settings is a free and easy way to save energy.

A freezer should be set between zero and 5 degrees F and a refrigerator compartment should be between 37 and 40 degrees F.

If settings are 10 degrees lower than these, you can increase your energy usage by up to as much as 25%. That is a big jump!

So if you have no idea what the temp is in your fridge or freezer, pop a thermometer inside and check it out, can't hurt, might help.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Fridge Facts:
Don't be deceived. The refrigerators pictured here are actually brand new but made to look retro. And refrigerators now are much more efficient than their 1950's counterparts. In fact, some of the new energy-efficient models manufactured today are so optimized they use less electricity than a single regular light bulb.

Also, did you know, every time you open the refrigerator at home, up to 30% of the cold air escapes? So get in, get out and keep the chilled air inside the fridge where it belongs.

Be sure to check the seals around your refrigerator door. If they’re cracked or you feel cold air leaking out, the seals should be replaced. An easy way to check for leaks is to place a flashlight inside the fridge and close the door. If you can see light with the door closed, replace the seal.

Last thought for today, remember to clean the filter and coils annually: Most Americans rarely, if ever, get around to vacuuming out the filter and coils on the back of the fridge. A dusty coil can increase energy consumption by up to 20 percent. In addition to running more efficiently, cleaning behind the refrigerator will ultimately increase the longevity of the appliance motor.

And those are your fridge facts for today. Have a groovy week-end!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Just when I think I have come across every possible energy saving tip out there, I stumble upon something that makes me say, "gee, why didn't I think of this before?" So if your freezer at home is not perfectly organized and neatly arranged but more like the freezer below,

then this tip is for you...
Food blocking the fan inside the freezer means the unit has to work harder to cool. Simply moving items away from the fan will save energy. To piggyback on this tip, cleaning the grate at the bottom of the refrigerator will help save energy as well so either pull it off and wash it or give it a good swipe with a vacuum attachment. And lastly, when your freezer is well stocked, it will not have to work has hard keeping the contents frozen thus saving energy. Who knew?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Which uses less energy?  Shutting down your computer for an hour or two before turning it back on OR leaving it on for an hour or two set on sleep mode?
It's a common misconception that turning computers on and off adds to the wear and tear of the equipment and uses more energy than leaving the computer on indefinitely.
Computer equipment was made to be turned on and off. You will save energy by shutting it off completely, even if only for an hour or two.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Today's Energy Insight x 2

An easy way to save energy is to turn down the brightness of your computer screen. It takes more energy to run a brighter display. Many computers have shortcut keys or brightness settings. If you use a battery powered lap top you probably turn down the brightness to perserve battery so if you are on a desk top, turn down the brightness to use less energy. It's easier on the eyes too.

Second, unplug printers, scanners, speakers and other hardware when you are not using it. Unless you print regularly, leaving your computer's printer or scanner plugged in is unnecessary; disconnecting it from the power outlet saves energy. Or if it is easier, plug the printer into a power strip and switch it off unless you are printing.

Stay Warm Minnesota!

Stay Warm Minnesota is a website full of useful information regarding energy efficiency and heating assistance programs provided by the federal and state government, private industry, non profits and local energy utilities.

Click here to check it out: Stay Warm Minnesota.

Friday, January 3, 2014

This Year I Will...

Many New Year's resolutions are about being good to yourself or making changes in your life. This year why not resolve to be good to the environment? Ronald Reagan once said, "Every day begins with possibilities. It's up to us to fill it with things that move us toward progress and peace." As 2014 unfolds before us ripe with new and fresh possibilities, consider adopting an attitude of "every little bit helps." Even though a single green effort will not solve the world's environmental problems overnight, there is absolutely no harm in trying to make a small impact by embracing greener habits. Resolve to be more energy efficient this year.