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There is so much to learn about energy. Below we've included some helpful hints we think are important for all American families to be aware of. Energy is one of our most precious resources and educating ourselves about how to conserve and use it wisely will only serve us and future generations well in the future.

While these tips are not directly connected with what we regulate here at FERC, we still feel they are important for everyone to know about energy.

Things your children can do with you to help save energy and reduce the costs of your energy bill in your home:

  • Test your refrigerator and freezer door seals to make sure they are airtight. To do this, close the door on a dollar bill. If the bill pulls out easily, it's time to replace your gaskets.
  • Keep your energy costs to a minimum by making sure your refrigerator isn't too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment and 5 degrees for the freezer. Place a thermometer in a glass of water and read it after 24 hours. Place the thermometer between frozen packages in the freezer. Defrost manual defrost refrigerators and freezers regularly because frost build-up decreases energy efficiency.
  • Periodically check for leaky faucets. A drip can waste up to 48 gallons of water per week.
  • Make sure dishes are scraped, not rinsed, with cold water before putting them in the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher only when it is full. Using the "rinse hold" on your machine uses three to seven gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Cut your cooking costs by matching the size of the pan to the burner. If you use electricity, turn off the oven and stove top several minutes prior to the allotted cooking time. The heating elements stay hot long enough to finish the cooking process without using more electricity. Microwaves and pressure cookers save energy by reducing cooking time.
  • Approximately 80-85% of the energy used for washing clothes is used to heat the water. Use less water by washing full loads instead of more small loads and use cooler water to help reduce costs. You can cut a load's energy in half by changing the temperature setting from hot to warm. Clean the lint filter after every load to improve air circulation after drying. Use the cool-down cycle to allow clothes to finish drying with left over heat.
  • Get into the habit of turning out the lights when leaving a room.
  • Plant a tree! Carefully placed trees can save up to 25% of a typical household's energy used for heating and cooling. Deciduous trees are especially effective in providing protection from the summer sun but allow winter sunlight to reach and warm the house. Consider growth rate, branch spread, shape and height when choosing a tree. Strategically placed evergreens and shrubs can deflect north and west winds in the winter and south and west winds in the summer.

Did You Know...
When natural gas is burned it produces mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor. These are the same substances emitted when people breathe.

Being Prepared

Power interruptions are almost always an inconvenience. If you plan ahead of time, you can reduce the inconvenience of a prolonged outage by having an emergency kit which contains a few items on hand:

Your kit should include:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • Battery-powered radio and fresh batteries
  • Drinking and cooking water
  • Portable heater (kerosene or LP gas)
  • Sleeping bags, camp stove, portable lamp/lantern
  • A telephone that doesn't require electricity to operate

Extra Caution Required:

  • Make sure candles, oil lamps, stoves and portable heaters are properly ventilated
  • Refuel lamps and heaters outside and away from sparks or flames
  • Never store fuel in your house
  • Use caution using oil lamps or candles, especially around children

Exactly how much does it cost to operate my electrical appliances?

It's important to remember that many factors need to be considered, such as the age and efficiency of appliances, seasonal or climatic conditions, thermostat settings, family size, the number and kinds of appliances you use, and the company that supplies your electricity. It's also important to remember that adding new appliances or an increase in the size of your family may also increase your use of electricity.

The running costs of a specific appliance can be calculated if you know its wattage, the number of hours you use the appliance, and the cost you pay your provider for one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. (For instance, a 1000 watt radiator would use 1000 watts, or 1 kilowatt, of electricity each hour it runs).

Water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, clothes dryers and stoves/ranges typically cost the most to operate because they require the greatest amount of electricity to heat or cool.

Did You Know...
Natural gas provides about 25 percent of the energy consumed in the United States.

Wattage is usually printed on the appliance or its packaging. Multiply the wattage by the approximate number of hours you operate the appliance, then divide by 1,000 to get the number of kWh the appliance uses. Next, multiply the kWh use by your cost per kWh as identified on your electric bill. This gives you the cost of operating the appliance.

Example: A television set is rated at 300 watts and operated for 7 hours a day. Multiply 300 watts times 7 hours (300 x 7 = 2,100 watt-hours). Next, divide by 1,000 (2,100 divided by 1,000 = 2.1 kWh). Then, multiply the kilowatt-hours by the price of electricity. For purposes of this example, use 10 cents per kWh. (2.1 kWh x 10 cents) = 21 cents a day to operate.

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