Are you wired into saving on utilities?
By Adam Groff
If you are feeling the financial pinch every time your utilities bill is due, don't panic.
There are plenty of ways to cut the cost of your electricity and water bill and put the power of power consumption back in your hands, be you a homeowner/renter or business owner.
In order to take the shock out of your electricity bill, here are just a few tips for saving money on both your home and business utilities (tips that your utility provider should also be sharing with you via emails, newsletters, social media etc.):
Use windows wisely
Windows are a make or break deal when it comes to getting your utility bill under control, so it's important that you use them wisely. When the weather is pleasant, opening the windows can have the same effect as running the air conditioner except there's no energy usage involved.
In addition, keeping the shades down when the weather is hot will help control interior heat. Likewise, when it's chilly outside, opening the shades will let the sun radiate through the windows and naturally heat interior spaces. If your windows are particularly drafty, filling exterior cracks and gaps with caulk is also a great energy-efficient step to take.
Get with the program with your thermostat
The main energy eater in any house or business is heating and air conditioning. With that in mind, a programmable thermostat can significantly reduce your utility bill as long as you know how to adjust for optimal performance.
For starters, whether heating or cooling, always keep your thermostat's high and low temperature setting within 5 degrees of one another. When a thermostat has to climb more than a few degrees to reach a specific temperature, it's working too hard and costing you money.
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As for the temperatures themselves, between 74 and 79 degrees is a good summer setting and 64 to 69 degrees is a good winter setting.
And, when it comes to planning for utility costs in your monthly budget, be proactive and set your programmable thermostat on vacation mode when you're away from the home or office.
Shed some energy efficient light
Incandescent bulbs are a thing of the past. If you really want to make a price difference on your next utility bill without spending a lot of money, change your Edison-era bulbs to compact fluorescents.
Compact fluorescent bulbs aren't only an easy energy efficient upgrade, they're also affordable and they can save you around 15 percent on your annual utilities costs. As an added benefit, compact fluorescents also produce less heat, which means good news for your air conditioning usage.
Think low flow
Your water bill makes up a large portion of your overall utilities costs, so it's important to practice water efficiency as well. With one 5-minute shower equaling gallons of water down the drain, low flow showerheads can really help reduce the amount of water you use each month.
When it comes to home and business water usage, installing water aerator screens in faucets can help reduce the amount of water flow as well. Aerator screens increase the water flow without increasing water consumption by adding air to the equation, so you don't have to turn your faucet up to the max to feel the pressure.
How utility companies are helping
Utility companies know how expensive your bill is and with energy costs going nowhere but up, they also know it's only going to get worse.
Luckily, many utility companies are helping their customers save money on energy costs. Here's how:
• Free Energy Audits - Many local utility branches across the country are providing customers with free energy audits, which pinpoint specific energy loss areas in the home or office.
• Energy Reducing Tips - Utility companies are also making it easier to find online energy reducing tips like the ones above.
• Energy Assistance Programs - There are also energy assistance programs in many states across the country that offer financial assistance for both electricity and gas costs depending on customer income levels.
By following the tips above, you can reduce your utility bill and live an energy efficient life.
About the author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including family budgeting and home improvement.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.