Powell Valley Electric Cooperative announces Safety Milestone and new ways to save money on your electric bill

Beginning October 1, PVEC will begin offering new incentives as a part of the New Homes Program. Through this program, installation of high efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment or conventional electric water heaters will result in cash rebates.  The New Home Program offers incentives up to $1,000 per home.

For existing homes customers can participate in the E-score program, which provides simple and easy do-it-yourself tips to eliminate energy waste and lower your electric bill. For more extensive needs, the cooperative can assist in scheduling an energy audit. PVEC is pleased to offer these incentives for our members and is committed to always providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to our members.

Additionally, PVEC was recently awarded certificates of achievement by the Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. The award recognizes the cooperative for achieving over 100,000 hours worked by cooperative employees without a lost-time accident.  “Our employees go through extensive and ongoing safety trainings throughout the year,” said Interim CEO Mike Knotts.  “The safety of our lineworkers is our highest priority, and this milestone represents a great accomplishment that they have worked hard to achieve. We are certainly proud of the dedication to safety they demonstrate each day, and the incredible efforts they give to keep the lights on – oftentimes in very difficult circumstances.”

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is a consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric utility that serves more than 30,000 meters in Scott, Lee and Wise counties in Virginia and Claiborne, Hancock, Hawkins, Grainger and Union counties in Tennessee.  Learn more about Powell Valley Electric Cooperative at pve.coop.

Spotting Energy Myths

Eating carrots will greatly improve your eyesight, cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis, watching too much TV will harm your vision. We’ve all heard the old wives’ tales, but did you know there are also many misconceptions about home energy use?

Don’t be fooled by these common energy myths.

Myth: The higher the thermostat setting, the faster the home will heat (or cool).

Many people think that walking into a chilly room and raising the thermostat to 85 degrees will heat the room more quickly. This is not true.

Thermostats direct a home’s HVAC system to heat or cool to a certain temperature. Drastically adjusting the thermostat setting will not make a difference in how quickly you feel warmer. The same is true for cooling. The Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78 degrees during summer months, and 68 degrees during winter months.

Myth: Opening the oven door to check on a dish doesn’t really waste energy.

While it can be tempting to check the progress of that dish you’re cooking in the oven, opening the oven door does waste energy. Every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees, delaying the progress of your dish and, more importantly, costing you additional money. If you need to check the progress of a dish, try using the oven light instead.

Myth: Ceiling fans keep your home cool while you’re away.

Believe it or not, many people think this is true. Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Ceiling fans circulate room air but do not change the temperature. A running ceiling fan in an empty room is only adding to your electricity use. Remember to turn fans off when you’re away and reduce your energy use.

Myth: Reducing my energy use is too expensive.

Many consumers believe that reducing energy use requires expensive up-front costs, like purchasing new, more efficient appliances or construction upgrades to an older home. But the truth is, consumers who make small changes to their energy efficiency habits, such as turning off lights when not in use, sealing air leaks and using a programmable thermostat, can see a reduction in energy consumption.

Remember, energy efficiency doesn’t have to be difficult. Focus on small changes to save big. Learn more about ways to save energy here or by contacting your local PVEC office.

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity

Why does a 95°F day in one of the Gulf Coast states feel hotter than the same temperature in the Southwest? Why do dry heat and humid heat feel so different, and how does this affect your strategy for home energy efficiency? While there are many common ways to achieve energy efficiency across all warmer climates, there are some important differences that vary by geography.

Heat and humidity vs dry heat

Generally speaking, when there is more moisture in the air, the temperature feels hotter than it actually is because moist air is closer to saturation than dry air. On a humid day, when the air is saturated with water, evaporation is much slower. Simply put, high humidity will make the air feel hotter while low humidity will make the temperature feel cooler.

Heat reduction is priority one

In warm climates, the majority of energy used to make the home feel comfortable is spent on home air conditioning and cooling. The first priority is heat reduction. However, in humid areas, moisture reduction is nearly as important as lowering the indoor air temperature. If a home has too much moisture, indoor air quality can be comprised and mold and mildew problems can develop.

Energy efficiency for hot and humid climates

The first line of energy defense is to ensure that your home is properly insulated and sealed in order to keep the heat and humidity that surround the house from getting inside. Leaky ducts, windows and doors can cause energy loss, making the HVAC system work much harder to wring the moisture out of the air and exacerbate potential indoor air quality issues. Homes that are “sealed tight” are easier to keep cool and dry.

Next, make sure your HVAC system is the right size. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that most current residential systems are oversized. If your unit is too big, you will pay higher energy bills, and you won’t get the efficiency level or comfort you want and expect. It is also likely that the unit is “short cycling,” constantly turning off and on, never achieving optimum efficiency. When the unit runs in short bursts, it will not operate long enough to eliminate all of the humidity in your home. Damp, cool indoor air creates a muggy atmosphere that can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. This can be a particular concern for those who suffer from allergies, as many allergens thrive in damp conditions.

If you are considering a new HVAC system, consult your local electric cooperative to help you choose equipment that is the correct size and meets or exceeds the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) for the capacity requirement, such as Energy Star-rated systems.

DIY humidity reduction

There are some basic steps you can take to lower the humidity in your home to help make it feel cooler and more comfortable. Start by reducing the humidity you are already producing.  The kitchen and bathrooms are the biggest contributors to higher humidity levels. Check to ensure that your range hood is ducted to the outside, as recirculating range hoods are not effective in controlling moisture (or odors). When cooking, and especially when boiling water, run the vent fan. In the bathroom, run the vent fan when bathing or showering. Keep the fan on up to 30 minutes after you have finished in order to eliminate the residual moisture in the air.

If you can reduce the indoor humidity level, you may be able to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature with a higher thermostat setting and ceiling fans. The air movement from the ceiling fan will create a “wind chill” effect, lowering the temperature and increasing comfort. Finally, check gutters and downspouts for leaks or blockage. If rainwater leaks out and saturates the ground surrounding your home, some of the moisture can eventually migrate into your house. If you would like more information about how to save energy, contact our energy experts at [insert contact information].

Anne Prince writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nations 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Energy efficiency for the modern family and its many devices

By Anne Prince

If you are struck by the amount of screens, remotes, gaming controls, charging stations and cords that have become fixtures in your home, you are not alone. The typical American family is well connected and owns a variety of electronic devices. According to the PEW Research Institute, 95 percent of U.S. families have a cell phone and 77 percent of Americans own a smart phone. Nearly 80 percent of adults own a laptop or desktop computer, while approximately half own tablets.

Consumer electronics coupled with the growing array of smart home appliances and technology have slowly but steadily changed our homes and lifestyles. The increased reliance on our many devices has new implications for home energy use and efficiency.

Using smart technology to manage energy savings

So how can we save energy when we are using more electronic devices than ever before? The answer may lie with some of those same electronic devices that have become indispensable to modern living. In many cases, energy savings is a touchscreen away as more apps enable you to monitor energy use.

From the convenience of your mobile device, smart technologies can maximize your ability to manage electricity use across several platforms––controlling your thermostat, appliances, water heater, home electronics and other devices. One of the easiest ways to make an impact on energy efficiency is with a smart thermostat, like Nest models. Using your mobile device, you can view and edit your thermostat schedule and monitor how much energy is used and make adjustments accordingly. For example, program your thermostat for weekday and weekend schedules so you are not wasting energy when no one is home. Check and adjust the program periodically to keep pace with changes in household routines

You can also ensure efficiency by purchasing ENERGY STAR-certified appliances. Many new appliances include smart-technology features such as refrigerators that can tell you when maintenance is required or when a door has been left open. New washers, dryers and dishwashers allow you to program when you want the load to start. This means you can program your task for off-peak energy hours––a smart choice if your electric rate is based on time of use.

“Old school” energy savings for new devices

Of course there are the time-tested “old school” methods of energy efficiency that can be applied to the myriad of household electronic devices and screens. Computers, printers, phones and gaming consoles are notorious “vampire power” users, meaning they drain energy (and money) when not in use. If items can be turned off without disrupting your lifestyle, consider plugging them into a power strip that can be turned on and off or placed on a timer.

While modern life involves greater dependence on technology, your best resource for saving energy and money remains your local electric co-op.

Regardless of your level of technical expertise with electronic devices, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative can provide guidance on energy savings based on your account information, energy use, local weather patterns and additional factors unique to your community.