Thursday, December 01, 2011

Electric Utility Rates Increasing In North Carolina & South Carolina

Utility Rate Increases In North Carolina & South Carolina
How Homeowners and Businesses Can Lower Utility Usage

As most homeowners and business owners in North Carolina and South Carolina are probably aware, many of the electric companies are raising their utility rates to consumers.  Duke Power, Santee Cooper, and other major electricity providers in the Carolina's are already in discussion with state lawmakers about the rate increases, citing the cost of doing business and making the move to more renewable energy sources as the need for rate increases.  Most people in the Carolina's will agree that the power companies should be looking for greener and more environmentally friendly ways of generating electricity, however it comes at an economically challenging time for most Carolinians.  Duke Power recently agreed with South Carolina lawmakers about a 7% rate increase to consumers of their power in South Carolina.  See the link below for more information.

As you can read from this article it seems almost inevitable that the power companies will succeed in getting some kind of rate increase, so that means power bills for most homeowners are going to rise.  The purpose of this blog post is to educate homeowners and business owners on how they can fight the rate increases with a more energy efficient home, leading to less power consumption from the major sources of electricity usage.  What we will discuss in this blog post is the appliances and biggest users of electricity in your home, ways to cut down on electricity usage of these appliances, and long term sustainable home improvements that will lower utility usage in the home.

First lets start with the biggest villains of power consumption in your home.  Number one is your HVAC system, especially if you have an electric furnace or heat pump. Homeowners with gas powered furnaces may not have to worry about electricity bills in the winter, however we all know in the Carolina's that our A/C's run a lot more then our heaters.  Gas prices are also on the rise and fluctuate with the markets, so even homeowners with gas furnaces and appliances may also see a rise in their utility bills.  Heating and Air Conditioning is one expense that homeowners really don't want to cut out, and is vital to healthy living in extreme temperatures.  New HVAC systems have helped to cut down on the energy usage required to power them, however if your home isn't insulated properly then your not seeing the maximum savings that new technology in the HVAC world has to offer.  Heating and cooling cost make up anywhere from 60% to 80% of utility bills for most home and business owners, so it plays a major factor in what your utility bills are going to be.  Simply cutting the temperature of the thermostat up or down will not make up for the increases in utility prices that the power companies are seeking.

The next major consumer of electricity in your home or business is your kitchen and home appliances. Even if you don't fix a lot of meals at home, wash your clothes at the laundromat, most homeowners have a refrigerator and it will run all day, and this is an appliance that is hard to lower energy usage unless you buy a newer model refrigerator that has a higher energy star rating.  Even after purchasing a new refrigerator, it is still going to run all day to operate correctly.  The hot water heater also requires a lot of energy to heat water to the desired temperatures for a healthy temperature needed for washing and bathing.  Again newer models of hot water heaters require less energy, however the bigger your family or office is, the more your going to use this appliances in your home or business. Washers and dryers also use a lot of energy as well, however homeowners can somewhat use these appliances less by wearing clothes for longer periods, using towels more than once, etc. Stoves, ovens, microwaves and other cooking appliances require electricity as well, but generally their uses are limited to cooking times only.  Regardless of what you have in your home or business, your going to be using one of these appliances during the day.

Another major consumer of electricity in the home or business are your electronic devices. In the rapidly growing technological age, most homeowners and businesses have numerous devices that need power to function, or to charge battery operated devices.  Obviously the more devices a homeowner or business has, the more power usage their going to need to make these devices functional.  A lot of electronic devices also require the use of cable or wifi capabilities to function correctly, requiring another device that uses power to push the signal to all the gadgets that require a signal.  So obviously the more devices you have, the more electricity your are going to consume in your home or business.  These devices can be limited on their uses, however a lot of professionals are dependent upon these devices for their job, so it may not be a sustainable solution to power off these devices in order to save money on a utility bill.  The savings from unplugging or limiting uses on these devices are minimal at best, however every little bit helps when trying to save money in economically challenging times.

Last but not least, lighting inside and outside your home or business also consume signifigant amounts of electricity.  Most people don't like sitting in the dark at night, so its almost inevitable to see some energy consumption directly related to lighting in your home or office.  A lot of homeowners also like to leave outdoor lighting on throughout the night for security reasons, in addition to aesthetically pleasing lighting devices that improve the appearance of your home or building.  The reason we have listed lighting as the lowest consumer of power in your home is because it can be easily regulated, in addition to most people sleeping at night limiting the amount of required usage as well.  There are also some creative ways some homeowners have gone to, that can eliminate the use of lighting at all, such as opening blinds during the day for sunlight, using candles at night, installing sky lights, and also using new energy saving light bulbs that require less wattage to put off sufficient light for the home.  Even businesses have gone to including skylights and energy saving lighting systems to help reduce the amount of lighting needed to operate a business, so in our opinion this is one of the easiest ways to save on electricity without making significant improvement to the home or building.

By now, you can see that once all these appliances, electronics, and lighting devices are put together into one power bill, there are numerous ways that homeowners and business owners can reduce their power bills.  Cutting back on using electronics, energy star rated appliances, recycling clothing use, etc. can all help to lower a power bill, however these changes are minimal in comparison to more long term sustainable improvements homeowners and businesses can make to drastically cut their power bills.  What we want to discuss now are new technological advances in insulation, hot water heating, solar power, and other long term sustainable improvements that pay homeowners and businesses back over the long run in the form of energy savings.  Even though it is free to keep a light off, this really isn't very enjoyable, and still does not protect the homeowner or business against another rate increase from the power company in the future.  What we intend to do is list ways to improve the home or businesses sustainability plan, against rising energy cost in the long term.  As with any long term investment it is going to require a little bit of capital up front to see energy savings over the long run. 

One of the best ways homeowners and business owners can improve the long term sustainability of lowering utility cost, is by re-insulating their homes with a more durable product then fiberglass insulation.  The life span of fiberglass insulation and a lower rated r-value also makes it an inferior product to some of the new insulation products on the market.  Therefore it would only make sense to use a more sustainable insulation product to see better results over the long term, and thanks to the growth in popularity the prices of these products have fallen drastically in price in the last few years.  Spray foam insulation, wall foam insulation, crawl space encapsulation, and rock wool insulation are the highest rated insulation products on the market right now.  Spray foam manufacturers guarantee 33% savings or more after installation, giving the pay back for initial cost of installing, a quick return on investment. Other foam insulation products have high returns on investment as well, making it the most sustainable improvement a homeowner or business owner can make in regards to lowering energy consumption.  Being lifetime products, it eliminates the cost of re-insulating again in 10-15 years as required with fiberglass to maintain the r-value ratings of the products.  Retro Solutions Construction offers these products to our customers and we have received top rated feedback from customers, especially with our customers in older structures, seeing savings over 50% in some cases.  These higher rated insulation products are also a more practical investment for homeowners and building owners across the board, as even new home and buildings will see a dramatic decrease in energy usage with these products versus traditional fiberglass insulation.  Therefore, you can see why we think re-insulating the home or business is the number one way to improve sustainability against rising energy cost. 

Some other ways that homeowners and businesses are improving long term sustainable energy savings is through the installation of new windows, energy efficient roofing, solar powered hot water heaters, buying energy star rated appliances, using home energy monitoring systems, and changing light bulbs to the new energy efficient models.  Even though changing light bulbs may seem like a cheap way to improve energy efficiency in the home, most homeowners still don't replace a light bulb until the old one burns out.  This is why we have listed these solutions secondary in our list, in addition to grouping them together.  The major problem we see with our customers looking to save money on energy bills, is that they really not looking to replace a roof 5 years into a 30 year warranty to see a lower rated energy savings plan versus the energy saving they will see when using higher r-rated, more sustainable insulation products.  Just as with the light bulbs, customers simply don't want to replace these items that are still functional until the timing is right.  This makes sense as re-roofing a home or building can be very costly even with traditional shingles, and it doesn't make much sense to replace a roof until you have achieved maximum return on investment on what is already installed.  However if you are at the end of the lifespan of any of these products, we recommend replacing them with a more sustainable product like the items listed above. 

In conclusion, improving long term, sustainable energy savings is the right way to go when making a home improvement.  Not only are you fighting back against rate increases being made by utility providers, your also making a difference in saving the environment by decreasing your carbon footprint.  The improvements we have listed in this blog post also have been eligible for some big tax credits to homeowners and business owners in the past, so make sure to check into seeing what the government, and power companies in your area are offering to make the switch to these more sustainable living products.  You may be surprised how little some of these improvements cost after tax credits and energy savings are calculated into the initial cost of installation.  Business owners are also using going green as a way to market their company and improve their brand among enviromentally concerned customers as well. As always, we hope this blog post has been informative to our readers, and if your live in North Carolina or South Carolina looking into making one of these energy saving improvements we welcome you to give us a call for a free home or business energy audit and estimate.  Thanks for reading and be sure to check in for new blog post on energy saving product reviews, tax credit information, and other useful information in helping to improve the environment and long term sustainability.

Myrtle Beach Services & Construction Company
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Phone: 706-951-0158

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