NSTAR has requested a rate increase of 29% across their service area, which includes the town of Needham. If approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015. As recently reported in The Needham Times,(http://needham.wickedlocal.com/article/20141121/News/141129811), according to an NSTAR source, “The current spike in electricity prices stems from widely-publicized constraints in the existing pipelines that bring natural gas to regional generating companies”. 50% of New England’s electricity is currently generated from natural gas.
So, with your energy bill likely to go up, what actions can you take that will save you money and energy and help reduce global warming? Here are some ideas:
- Get a no-cost energy audit: http://www.greenneedham.org/nsl.php The audit is performed by Next Step Living, (a Mass Save company); there is no cost for the audit – it is paid for with a charge on everyone’s monthly electric bill. During the audit, the auditor will replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, (and one LCD light!), install a programmable thermostat, hook up one free power strip, install low-flow shower heads and/or aerators, and perform any needed on-the-spot work to improve energy efficiency. The auditor will advise the homeowner about additional steps that he can take to increase the energy efficiency of his home, take advantage of state subsidies for follow-up work – 75% of the work, up to $2,000/year – and gives the homeowner information about conservation measures that he can take to save money and energy.
- If you have already had a no-cost energy audit, you can implement conservation measures, and/or do additional work recommended by the no-cost energy assessment auditor to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Here are some energy conservation ideas to reduce your electric usage by taking simple, easy actions around your home:
- Unplug electrical devices that use “vampire” or “phantom” power (use power strips when possible for entertainment units)
- Set your PC/laptop to “sleep/hibernate” after a short period of inactivity (e.g., 5-10 minutes); turn off your PC/laptop at night or during the day when you are away/not using it.
- Use a programmable thermostat to automatically turn down your heat when you aren’t home or when you go to bed
- Wear layers inside during the winter months, and set the thermostat lower during the day
- When replacing an appliance, consider an energy efficient model: http://www.masssave.com/residential/lighting-and-appliances?gclid=CMKzo9nK08ICFfEF7AoduEkAvQ
- Check out this website for some good information/tips on saving money and energy:
- Think about installing solar panels on your roof to generate electricity and/or heat your hot water – with higher electric rates, the payback on solar is faster than ever.
- If you heat your home with electricity or oil, look into installing a mini-split heat pump system – contact Next Step Living to get information about whether you are a good candidate for this type of system: http://www.nextstepliving.com/home-solutions/efficient-heating-cooling/ductless-mini-splits?zip=