Back in 1991, President George Bush established October as National Energy Awareness Month. Originally, the idea was to bring attention to how the federal government was working to improve the nation’s energy resilience and encourage federal agencies to help promote conservation efforts. To this day, the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) ramps up efforts in October to help federal agencies meet energy efficiency requirements.
Spark Energy is doing the same for our customers this October. We’re sharing some of our best energy saving advice and insights so you can make every day count during National Energy Awareness Month.
Know How Much Energy You Use
Check your utility bill to figure out how much electricity and gas is used by your household each month. It’s going to vary during the different seasons, which is normal. Compare this year to last year to determine if you’re using more or less energy. Your provider may also have tools that tell you the average energy use in your immediate area and how your usage compares.
Know Your Energy Rates
Utility expenses aren’t just about how much energy you use. The rate you pay per kilowatt hour for electricity and per therm for gas is also a big factor. In addition to checking your bill for the current rate, it’s important to know what affects the cost to get a better idea of whether electric rates are going up or falling. For instance, did you know 35% of electricity is generated by natural gas? Because of this, the cost of natural gas will influence electricity rates.
Compare Energy Suppliers
Who supplies your electric and gas service doesn’t change how much energy you use, but it does influence where your energy comes from and how your plan is managed. Some suppliers offer energy plans that are powered fully or partially by renewable resources. Many suppliers also offer time-of-use plans in addition to standard flat rate plans. Knowing what options are available gives you more control over your energy use.
Get to Know Your Public Utilities Commission
Every state has a public utilities commission (PUC) or department that regulates the energy sector. The commission makes decisions about energy rates, delivery, safety protocols and much more. Check to see if they have an email list or newsletter you can join to stay informed.
Take Part in Local Energy Awareness Events
National Energy Awareness Month has become more prominent in the last decade as concern over clean energy and grid reliability has taken center stage. Today, there are energy awareness events across the country to inform the public, encourage activism and share ideas on how we can improve energy use. Check with your state PUC, local schools and your city’s energy office to see what events are happening in your area.
Find Out What Uses the Most Energy in Your Home
How much energy does your TV use? Are there electronics that use energy even when they’re turned off? Energy.gov’s appliance energy calculator can give you a rough idea of how much energy each appliance or device uses, but it’s an estimate that doesn’t factor in things like age. A more accurate way to measure energy use of individual devices, electronics and appliances is with an electricity usage monitor. Some are what’s known as “plug load” monitors. Plug the monitor into an outlet then plug in appliance or device into the monitor and you’ll see how many kWh is used.
When you’re inside you’re most likely using energy. Spending time outdoors during the fall not only saves energy, it also gives you a deeper appreciation for the environment. And one of the goals of National Energy Awareness Month is promoting environmental well-being.
Create a Solar Power Station at Home
Not everyone is in a position to invest in a solar panel system, but there’s another way to harness free, clean energy from the sun. Chances are you and your family members charge phones and devices every day. A solar battery charging station is a simple solution for keeping devices powered up without increasing your utility bill. All you need is a sunny spot next to a window where the charging pad can lay flat and absorb direct sunlight.
See If You Have a Smart Meter
Does your power meter produce a digital reading? If so, you probably have a smart meter that can track energy usage in real time and generate reports. If not, you may still have an older analog meter. Check with your local utility to find out if a smart meter can be installed or if there are plans to convert to smart meters in the near future.
Discover Where Energy Comes From
How is your energy generated? Does it come from renewable energy sources or from a coal-fired plant? It’s easy to take electricity and gas power for granted since it’s so readily accessible. Knowing how much work and resources goes into powering American homes can give everyone a newfound appreciation for the energy we consume on a daily basis. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has a breakdown of electricity generation sources, but they vary by location.
Have a Family Energy Discussion
Conserving energy at home is a group effort. Every family member has to do their part to see the biggest improvement. Have a family meeting to discuss your current energy use and ways you can work together to reduce it.
At Spark Energy we offer fixed electric and gas rates along with tools that help you track energy use every month. We’re proud to serve markets across the country with a variety of energy plans to meet your needs. Check to see if energy plans are available in your area.