Energy-saving tips from Georgia Power

Consumers can save money and energy by implementing simple energy-saving tips, according to a new customer information campaign launched by Georgia Power. The efficiency education campaign is designed to provide practical energy saving tips that will help consumers stay comfortable -- and lower summer energy bills.

"Summer is right around the corner and temperatures outside will began heating up. Now is a good time for consumers to start thinking about ways to save on their energy bills," said Georgia Power's Doug Jones, senior vice president of customer service and sales. "Understanding how to use energy wisely is important for all customers, and these tips will be useful for all customers looking for ways to save money and energy."

The campaign was developed in cooperation with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) after the PSC asked Georgia Power to increase its consumer energy efficiency education efforts. As a part of the PSC's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), Georgia Power worked with the PSC and other stakeholders in developing this energy efficiency awareness program. The IRP is a long-term strategic plan that provides an energy demand forecast for the next 20 years, and a strategy to provide the resources to meet that demand over the same time frame at the lowest cost possible.

"This awareness program helps consumers understand inexpensive ways that they can control their energy bills each month," stated Cynthia Johnson, director of consumer affairs for the Georgia PSC. "Some consumers feel they can't control energy rates or prices, but with these tips, they can control their use of energy, which will save them money."

Tips

During the summer, your air conditioner is the biggest user of electricity. For many homes, it accounts for more than half of the summer electric bill.

Keep your cool:

  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees F in the summer and 68 degrees F in the winter and leave it there. You can immediately realize a 3 percent to 5 percent decrease in energy use for every degree you adjust the thermostat above or below your normal setting.
  • Set the thermostat even higher when at work or away from home for long periods of time, but no more than five degrees higher.
  • Change or clean your air conditioner filter regularly to maximize the unit's cooling potential. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.
  • Adjust your ceiling fan to turn clockwise in the summer.
  • Check your windows and doors for a tight fit. Apply weather stripping or caulking if needed.
  • Clear outside units of plants or brush so they can "breathe."

Proper insulation:

  • Increase attic insulation, which can save up to 30 percent on cooling and heating costs.
  • Insulation is measured in R-value, which is a measure of resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation value.
  • Experts recommend you use an R-value of R-30 in ceiling areas.
  • Use fans whenever possible. Install ceiling fans (clockwise rotation) in the rooms you use most.
  • Purchase a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) rated unit when replacing cooling equipment or a heat pump. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit. Currently, experts recommend a 12 SEER or higher.

Cool kitchen tips:

  • Whenever possible, cook a lot of dishes at the same time. This uses less energy than when you cook each item separately.
  • If you're baking, avoid opening the oven door. This lets out 20 percent of the heat. Use a cooking timer instead.
  • Use pots and pans that match the size of the burners on your stove. This allows more heat to the pan and less heat will be lost to surrounding air.
  • Try to use the range instead of the oven. Or better yet, turn on the microwave or use a pressure cooker. Both use less power than a standard electric oven.

Using the refrigerator:

  • Refrigerators run all the time. But if you don't watch how you use and maintain them, you could increase your power bill.
  • Choose the right size refrigerator for your needs. Larger models use more energy. Open and close the refrigerator door quickly. Know what you want before opening the door.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Check it by closing a piece of paper in the door, half in and half out. If you can pull the paper out easily, you may need to make some adjustments or replace the seal.
  • Keep your food covered. Moisture buildup in the refrigerator makes the air inside harder to cool.

Dishwasher use:

  • It's convenient and quick, but running the dishwasher all the time can add up on the power bill.
  • Run the dishwasher, dryer and the stove after the sun goes down to avoid adding heat to your house during the hottest part of the day.
  • When using the dishwasher, turn off the drying cycle if you don't need dishes right away.
  • Wait until the dishwasher is full before running it. Partial loads use just as much water and power as a full load.
  • Scrape dishes before loading them into the dishwasher so you don't have to rinse them. If they need rinsing, use cold water.

Lighting:

  • You've heard it before, but one of the best ways to save energy is to turn off lights when you're not using them. Never leave too many on when you're away from home.
  • Use fluorescent lighting when possible. They last about five times longer than incandescent lamps. And they can produce four times more light than standard incandescent, for the same amount of energy.
  • Use one large bulb instead of several small ones in areas where bright light is needed.
  • Use smaller lamps in works areas, like sewing areas, computer desks, so you don't light the entire room.
  • Do some decorating. Lighter colored walls, drapes, blinds and upholstery reflect light. Dark colors absorb heat and require more artificial light.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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