Energy Efficiency & Conservation
For many Nebraska utilities, the cheapest kilowatt-hour of electricity is the one they don’t have to produce because customers have lowered their electric use by installing equipment that is more efficient or changed the way they use energy.
Many of you have installed compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in your homes and businesses. CFLs can last for five years or more, and produce the same lighting effect while using about 66% less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
Even more efficient than CFLs are light-emitting diode (LED) lights, which are quickly gaining popularity in holiday decorations for homes and businesses. LED holiday lights look just as pretty as the more commonly used incandescent lights. More importantly, though, they’re a savvy choice for consumers looking to cut back on energy costs while keeping the holiday spirit alive.
In holiday decorations, LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent mini-lights. They last for more than 50,000 hours. And because they give off virtually no heat, they’re safe to touch and much less of a fire hazard. The dramatically lower power use also means you can string more of them together without worrying about overloading an electrical circuit.
More than 5,000 Nebraskans have taken advantage of refrigerator recycling programs offered in recent years by their utilities, including Nebraska Public Power District, Cornhusker Public Power District, Loup Power District and Omaha Public Power District. You receive $35 and we take away your old fridge at no cost! Getting rid of it could lower your electric bill by as much as $150 per year, because older models use as much as four times the electricity of newer models. For many customers, a second refrigerator often ends up wasting electricity, as it is mostly used only to chill a few soft drinks or pieces of produce.
Many NPA members also offer incentives to help offset the cost of installing new, high efficiency heating and cooling equipment or electric water heaters.
Customers find that small changes in their energy-use behavior can add up to large savings on their electric bills:
- Turning off lights when leaving a room is the fastest and easiest way to lower your monthly electric bill
- Before turning on your heating or air conditioning, have you made sure there are no open windows? You’d be surprised how often customers end up trying to heat or cool their yard because they didn’t make sure all windows were closed first! Heating and cooling accounts for about 50% of your electric bill, so small changes can have a big impact on your monthly electric bill!
- Slay the (Energy) Vampires! Did you know that many consumer electronics continue to use electricity even after you shut them off? It’s true! That’s why those appliances are called “energy vampires” – they’re still alive after you think you’ve shut them down. So, not only is that big-screen television going to increase your electric bill by $50 or $100 per year, the new generation of TVs also drive up your electric use when you’re NOT using them. Plug electronics like TVs, entertainment centers, and gaming systems into a power strip, and then turn that strip off at night, and you’ll be doing your part to shut down your “energy vampires.”
- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees in summer and 68 degrees in winter. For every degree it is set higher in summer or lower in winter, you save between 3% – 5% on your heating and cooling costs.
- Many Nebraska utilities offer free, web-based home energy checkups so you can see where and how you use electricity. Some utilities also have online energy calculators so you can see how replacing certain appliances could affect your electric bill. Check with your local utility.
- Certified ENERGY STAR appliances use 15-40% less electricity than older, non-certified appliances. When it comes to replacing your refrigerator, washer, dryer, or water heater, talk to your utility about how high-efficient appliances could help you lower your electric bill.
Nebraska’s businesses also have embraced energy efficiency and conservation because it makes good business sense. Businesses across our state have changed their lighting, upgraded their equipment, or redesigned their processes in order to use electricity more wisely.
Thousands of agricultural businesses have replaced old, inefficient irrigation equipment with new equipment that saves money, water and electricity.
Businesses have many easy ways to lower their electric usage. Thousands of Nebraska businesses have implemented some or all of these tips:
- Install a heat pump to replace separate heating and cooling units. It’s the most efficient way to heat your facility and quickly pays for itself.
- Upgrade lighting with high-efficiency fluorescent ballasts and lamps. New generation high-efficiency fluorescent lighting can significantly reduce electricity use, increase lamp life and keep dollars in your pocket.
- Install lighting controls. Eliminate costs of leaving the lights on by installing timers or sensors.
- Check and periodically replace caulking and weather-stripping. Air leaks are a costly waste of energy.
- Install thermal or storm windows. These will reduce wasted energy and improve comfort.
- Be sure your building is properly insulated. Insulation increases efficiency and lowers costs.
- Always check and maintain your heating and air conditioning equipment. Cut costs by repairing, rather than replacing.
- Keep thermostats at 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for cooling and at 68 degrees or lower for heating. A 7 degree change can save you 15 percent.
- Reduce light levels. Don’t use more light than needed. You can do this without losing quality.
- Check your refrigerators and freezers. Upgrading to a higher-efficiency appliance will save you more money on your energy bills.