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How to keep your food safe during a power outage

Food in the refrigerator will be safe for up to 4 hours without power. Any longer than that and perishables such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and any leftovers should be discarded. Along with the perishables, toss anything that has been above 40 degrees for over 2 hours, according to federal food safety guidelines.

food-safety

Freezers will stay cold for up to 48 hours if it is full and 24 hours if half full (just another reason to get that extra ice cream!) As long as the temperature does not go above 40 degrees for more than two hours food should be useable; even partially thawed food can be refrozen.

The key things to keep in mind:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed – each time you open the door precious cold air is lost.
  • NEVER taste food to tell if it is still good – it is safer to just toss it.
  • Discard anything that has come in contact with raw meat or its juices.
  • 40 degrees is the magic number – if it is 40 degrees discard it.

Sources:

FoodSafety.gov, Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out

FoodSafety.gov, Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out

CDC, What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly

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5 energy-saving tips that cost $10 or less

There are plenty of very expensive ways to save energy and reduce your utility bills, but if you’re on a budget or don’t want to spend unnecessary money on home improvements, Realgy Energy Services has a list of 5 energy-saving ideas that will cost $10 or less.

1. Turning off your lights when you’re not in the room will cost $0 but will save you money!

Lighting accounts for about 10 percent of a typical household’s electricity bill, so turning off your lights when you’re not in the room is a great way to save some money off lighting costs, whether or not you upgrade to CFL light bulbs.

light-switch

To find out how much money you can save simply by turning off lights when you’re not using them, head over to energy.gov

 

2. Installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators for under $10 each can help reduce the amount of hot water you use in your home.

This improvement can be a significant source of energy savings since about 73 percent of the water used in a typical shower is hot water. Using low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators can reduce your home’s water heating costs by as much as 50 percent.

fresh shower

 

3. Replacing an old incandescent light bulb with a CFL will cost less than $10.

Incandescent light bulbs may be cheaper than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) but they also waste a lot of energy, Ninety percent of the energy used by a traditional incandescent bulb is given off as heat. In addition, incandescent bulbs burn out much faster than CFLs which last at least 6 times longer and use about 75 percent less energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, upgrading 15 inefficient incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED bulbs could save about $50 per year.green light

Still confused about the difference between watts and lumens? Check out this Realgy Energy Services blog post: Watt vs Lumens: How bright is that light?

 

4. Use a $10 power strip to slay energy vampires.

Just plug your devices into it and flip the strip’s power switch on when you want to use your devices and off when you don’t. Make sure not to use power strips with devices that have to run in standby mode to operate, like DVRs

Standby or vampire power as it is most commonly referred to, wastes $10 billion of electricity annually in the United States alone. The average US household has about 40 electronic devices that constantly draw small amounts of power.

power strip

 

5. Depending on how much you need, most homeowners can weather strip their windows and doors for under $10.

More than 20 percent of all the heated and cooled air that escapes your home sneaks out through gaps around windows and doors. When installing weather stripping, it is a good idea to measure the perimeters of the doors and windows needing weather stripping, total them up, and add about 10 percent to that number to make sure you have enough weather stripping.

weatherstripping

Learn how to select and apply weather stripping at energy.gov

If you are still looking for ways to reduce your energy bills, enroll with a registered energy supplier like Realgy Energy Services. Check out Realgy Energy Services rates and see how much you could be saving www.realgyenergyservices.com

 

Sources:

ENERGY STAR, “Light Bulbs
Energy.Gov, “Lighting Choices to Save You Money
Energy.Gov, “Reduce Hot Water Use for Energy Savings
ENERGY STAR, “Standby Power and Energy Vampires
Energy.Gov, “Weather Stripping
Energy.Gov, “When to Turn Off Your Lights

 

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Business Energy Saving Tips

Check out this great infographic from The Hub, which highlights easy ways for businesses to reduce energy bills. Print it out and share with everyone in the office; the more people aware of  the energy savings possibilities, the more effective it will be.

Simple changes can significantly reduce business electricity costs.

If you are looking for an even larger reduction in your commercial electricity costs, consider enrolling with Realgy Energy Services as your electricity provider. Our customers have realized cost reductions up to 9.6% as compared to the local utility. Find us online www.realgyenergyservices.com or call 877-300-6747 to speak with an account representative today.

Source:

Utility Exchange Online, Business Energy Saving Tips – An infographic

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Space Heater Safety

Space heaters can be a convenient way to temporarily heat a room or a small space, but if used improperly, space heaters can cause nasty burns or worse, create a fire hazard.

Waterproof_Electric_Heater-300x300

According to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters are associated with an estimated 25,000 residential fires and nearly 300 deaths each year. More than 6,000 people receive ER care for non-lethal burns resulting from contact with the heating elements or hot surfaces of space heaters.

Here are a few tips to use your space heater safely:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing, operating, and maintaining your space heater.
  • Keep anything that may be flammable at least three feet away from space heaters.
  • Place your space heater on a level, hard, non-flammable surface. Do not ever place on rugs or carpets.
  • Avoid using extensions cords, but if absolutely necessary, use a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger.
  • Never use your space heater near water because of the possibility of shock or electrocution.
  • Always turn off your space heater when leaving the room or going to bed.

Source:

energy.gov, Portable Heaters

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Why you should toss those old incandescent holiday lights

For most people the holidays mean time-honored traditions. But this year toss out some of those traditions by tossing out those old incandescent lights in favor of newer LEDs which consume less energy and cost even less to operate.

LED lights 1

Older strings of incandescent lights can use up to 99% more energy than new LED light strings. In addition, LEDs are much cooler than their traditional incandescent counterparts, reducing the risk of combustion.

A string of new LED lights could last up to 40 seasons and since they are made with epoxy lenses instead of glass as are most traditional incandescent light strings, they are more resilient to damage.

As an extra bonus you can connect up to 25 strings of LED lights together end-to-end and not worry about overloading a wall socket.

If you are still not convinced that it is time to upgrade your holiday lights, check out these figures from energy.gov.

Estimated cost* of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights $10.00
LED C-9 lights $0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights $2.74
LED Mini-lights $0.82

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights $122.19
LED C-9 lights $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights $55.62
LED Mini-lights $33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

Source:

Energy.gov, LED Lighting

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What should you do during a Winter Storm?

The number one tip from ready.gov on winter weather and how to stay safe is to stay indoors during the storm! However this may not be possible or feasible, so if you must venture out during a winter storm please take these precautions:

winter storm pic

Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.

Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.

Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms of frostbite are detected, get medical help immediately.

Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first, and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help immediately.

Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel in the day—don’t travel alone, keep others informed of your schedule, stay on main roads, and avoid back road shortcuts.

Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent using your stated travel plans.

Source:

ready.gov, Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

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Are you ready for the cold weather?

Now is the time to start winterizing your home. Here are a few tips brought to you by Realgy Energy Services to help you prepare for the colder weather and increase your energy efficiency.

Just like your air conditioner, your furnace should also get an annual check-up from a certified HVAC technician before the heating season. Keeping your furnace and ducts clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use and save you money.

At the very least, make sure to clean or replace the air filter on your furnace before starting it for the first time and check it every month. A dirty filter will restrict airflow and increase energy use and even possibly lead to premature failure of the unit.

While you are checking on your furnace, don’t overlook the hot water heater; if it is warm to the touch, it needs more insulation. Consider installing a water heater blanket or jacket insulation around the tank which will help prevent heat loss; be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered. You should also insulate hot water pipes to further reduce heat loss.

Insulating your hot water heater and pipes will decrease your energy consumption and increase your savings; as a bonus this will even allow you to turn down the water temperature to around 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have a fireplace always keep the damper closed when not in use to prevent heat loss. Ensure the chimney is clean and soot free; you should also cover the top of the chimney with a protective cap or screen to keep out unwanted debris and small animals.

Take the time now to seal cracks and crevices around windows and doors using caulk or weather-stripping. If you have old windows and are not planning on replacing them before the cold weather, consider using a shrink plastic kit to keep hot air in and cold air out.

Use these simple tips to get your home ready for the winter chill and increase your energy savings.

Sources:

EnergySavers.org, Stay Warm, Save Money
U.S. Department of Energy; Energy Efficiency and Renewable energy, Thermostats and Control Systems
Energy Star, Winter Energy Savers

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Are you ready for the summer heat?

On top of our low competitive energy rates, Realgy Energy Services also provides our customers with even more ways to save money and energy. Here are some helpful tips towards lowering your utility bills this summer.

Take advantage of the sun and turn off the lights to enjoy the “day lighting”. If you must use the lights this summer, replace those used most often with CFL or LED bulbs. Incandescent lights give off more heat than the newer energy efficient models. If you replace one traditional 100W incandescent bulb with an Energy Star CFL light bulb you could save up to $6 a year in energy costs In just two years, these bulbs will pay for themselves.

Heating and cooling accounts for up to 40% of energy consumption in commercial buildings and almost 56% in residential buildings. Make sure your AC is equipped to run efficiently. If you have not already, schedule an AC tune up with a certified HVAC contractor. The contractor can point out and repair minor issues before they become huge problems and ensure it is running at its most efficient.  You should plan to have your AC tuned up every two years, or every year if it is used frequently.

Air conditioners will run at their optimal performance level when set at 78 degrees. Making it even 5 degrees lower will result in your AC using up to 40% more energy. Keep that thermostat at 78 degrees during the day and turn it down at night, to conserve the most energy.

78 degrees is the magic number with ACs

Ceiling fans create a wind chill effect that will allow you to raise the thermostat about 4 degrees without any reduction in comfort. Just remember to turn off the fans if nobody is in the room.

Avoid using electronics or anything that generate lots of heat such as computers, ovens, even incandescent lighting. By reducing the amount of heat that is generated you can reduce the cost of cooling that area.

These simple tricks can drastically reduce your energy consumption and costs.

Sources:

U.S Department of Energy, Energy Savers, Thermostats and Control Systems

Edison Electric Institute, Energy-Efficient Tips and Products for Commercial Use

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Spring Cleaning Tips to Increase Energy Efficiency

Spring cleaning usually involves making sure all the nooks and crannies are clean after the long winter months. This year why not use these helpful tips to increase the energy efficiency of your home or office. Not only will your energy usage decrease so will your energy bills!

Refrigerators account for up to eleven percent of the total energy used, which has a major impact on your energy bill. Make sure you clean the condenser coils to ensure that air can circulate freely, if dust builds up clogging the coils the motor must work harder and use more electricity. You should also check the door seals to ensure they are air tight. You can do this by placing a piece of paper in-between the door, if you can pull it out without difficulty you may need to adjust the latch or consider replacing the seals.

Don’t forget about your Air conditioner call to schedule a checkup to make sure it is operating at peak efficiency. If you have central air conditioning, keep your thermostat at 78 degrees. You can save approximately six to seven percent off your cooling costs for each degree above 78. If you are in the market to replace your old central air conditioner, make sure to look for a new ENERGY STAR qualified model. These energy-efficient models can reduce your cooling costs by 20 percent.

If you do not have an AC, proper ventilation of your home or office can provide the same level of comfort at a much lower cost. A whole house ventilation system will draw cool air through the house. Ceiling fans are another option to create a cool breeze and keep the air circulating in your home, ensure that all fans are working properly and are dust-free.

Last but not least, if your home or office has a sliding glass door, make sure to keep its track clean. A dirty track can ruin the door’s seal, resulting in gaps where cold air can escape.

Now that your home and or office is clean and energy-efficient, why not save even more money by checking out Realgy Energy Services low monthly rates on Natural Gas and Electricity. Our customers have saved upwards of 19% on their energy costs over a twelve month period as compared to their local utility. Check out our website www.RealgyEnergyServices.com, or call one of our Energy Brokers at (877) 300-6747 to learn how you can save on your energy usage.

Sources:
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Energy Savers Tips on Saving Money & Energy at Home”

Home Energy Team, “Energy Efficient Solutions

Money Crashers “House Spring Cleaning Tips & Checklist – How to Spring Clean

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How to protect your natural gas and electric meter this winter

Outdoor natural gas and electric meters are designed to withstand winter weather conditions, but heavy or hard-packed snow and ice can present a safety hazard.

Accumulated snow can place unnecessary stress and strain on your gas meter piping which can increase the chance of a gas leak.

Blocked regulator vents, which allow your system to “breath”, can affect operation and interrupt service.

To avoid problems, follow some basic meter protection tips:

Meter Protection Tips:

Keep you meter clear of snow and ice.
Do not shovel snow up against your meter.
Take care in using a snow blower or plow near your meter.
NEVER kick or hit a meter to break away built-up snow or ice.
Remove icicles from overhangs.
Protect your meter from dripping water which could freeze.

If you find your meter or pressure regulator covered in frozen ice or snow, do not attempt to remove the ice or use de-icer, contact your Utility.

It is always a good idea to keep a clear path to your meter to avoid estimated meter readings. If you can’t get to your meter, the individual who reads your meter will not be able to either.

These helpful tips provided by Realgy Energy Services

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