David Feldman, the vice president of operations at Discount Power in Shelton, said the best way for people to achieve energy productivity in their homes is to be aware of the ways they use their electricity. This includes shutting game systems and computers down when they are not in use, lowering the air conditioning during the day when no one is home and turning lights off when no one is home.
“These are all things that draw little amounts of electricity,” Feldman said, “but they draw them constantly, so you become much less efficient if you’re not turning those appliances or items off.”
Ed Crowder, spokesman for United Illuminating in New Haven, said a common mistake people often make when it comes to energy efficiency, is assuming their windows need replacing. They should first get confirmation that their home has been reduced of air leaks and that their walls and ceiling have proper insulation.
“If your home is leaky, you will be putting brand new windows in a leaky home,” Crowder said. Both UI and Connecticut Light and Power offers assessments where an expert may come to your home to see where energy is being wasted.
Another contributor to energy productivity is household appliances, Feldman said. Each appliance is labeled with an energy efficiency rating. The highest efficiency rating is found on Energy Star products which include dishwashers, washing machines, televisions, computers and compact florescent light bulbs (CFL.)
Crowder said compact florescent light bulbs consume about 75% less energy than the 60-watt incandescent bulbs and will last approximately 10 times longer.
In addition to monitoring their electricity use and buying energy efficient appliances, Feldman said homeowners should also have an energy audit or assessment done of their home to make sure there are no leaks coming from the windows or doors and to confirm that they have the proper insulation.
According to the Connecticut Light and Power website, the company has a special tool to help homeowners see what appliances are costing them money because the calculator estimates how much electricity each item or system uses.
“Wondering how you can reduce your electric bill? Start with simple changes. For example, you can set your air conditioning temperature up a few degrees and only run the dishwasher when it is full,” according to the website. “You can replace your appliances with energy-efficient models. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than comparable incandescent bulbs. Try entering energy-efficient options from the calculator’s menus and compare the results.”
The calculator — found at www.cl-p.com/energycalculator — is based on average rates of residential use, and is just designed to help consumers become more aware of how they use electricity.
The company’s website also has tips and suggestions about how to make the home more energy-efficient.
Customers of UI can now access information about their household energy usage with the touch of a virtual button.
UI’s Green Button, part of a national effort to create a standardized, consumer-friendly format for energy data, allows customers to securely download the information that’s collected by their advanced meters. They can then view it, analyze it or upload it into applications that can help save energy and money, according to a press release.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to see how they’re using electricity, so that they can make sound decisions that will save them money and benefit the environment,” said Anthony J. Vallillo, executive vice president and chief operating officer of UI’s parent company, UIL Holdings Corporation.
The national Green Button initiative emerged as the result of an industry-led effort launched in response to a governmental challenge for utilities to provide customers with easy ways to access their energy usage data. It’s based on a secure, open technical standard expected to encourage software developers and entrepreneurs to create applications that will help customers make smart, informed choices about their energy use.
The Green Button can provide information on energy usage on a monthly, weekly or daily basis — even at 15-minute increments — so customers can pinpoint how and when they’re using electricity. They can use that information to make smarter choices, whether they’re looking for opportunities to conserve or trying to determine the impact of a new appliance on their monthly bill.