Two hundred thousand Duke Energy customers are voluntarily allowing their air conditioning use to be reduced during the hottest days of the year. Why? To save money! While programs vary by state and climate, Duke Energy customers who participate in the Power Manager program receive bill credits each year.
That’s not enough, you say?
By participating in Power Manager, you will help keep electricity costs low by reducing demand for electricity and delaying the need to build additional power plants in your region.
I know that got your interest. Am I right?
You’re eligible for Power Manager if you’re a Duke Energy customer, own your single-family home, and have a functional central air conditioning unit with an outside compressor.
Now that we’ve confirmed your eligibility, here’s how the program works:
- Duke Energy installs a small device near your outside air conditioning unit.
- Using this device, your air conditioner may be temporarily interrupted for a few minutes each half hour during the few times a summer when demand for electricity reaches critical levels.
- During these infrequent “cycling events,” your air conditioner will be turned off and on in coordination with other Power Manager customers to reduce the overall demand for electricity.
- Your indoor fan is not affected and will continue to circulate air to help keep your home comfortable.
- Power Manager will not be used on nights, weekends or holidays (except in a system emergency).
Cycling events may occur a few times per month during the months of June through September. In some years, cycling events have occurred on six to ten days. The number of events depends on the type of summer we’re experiencing. If the summer is mild, cycling may not occur at all.
Please visit our website for a full FAQ on the Power Manager program or call us at 1-888-463-5022 to enroll by phone. Details vary by state, so be sure to read up on the specifics for your area.
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One of the great things about Father’s Day is that it comes after Mother’s Day, so, really, there’s no excuse for missing it. You received all the warning you needed in May. For something to go along with the greeting card that will undoubtedly tout a father’s love of beer, couch surfing, or gaseousness (really, those seem to be the only options for Father’s Day cards) look no further for some great gifts that are also great for the environment.
The days of falling asleep in a hammock, with a book splayed across your chest, may be gone. But that just means they’ve made way for lazy afternoons spent lounging around in a hammock with an e-reader, right? As technology is becoming more advanced every day, an e-reader is the perfect way to update Dad’s library to a portable, all-in-one device. Consider loading some of Dad’s favorite books before he even opens the gift.
If you’re looking for a gift that fits Dad like a glove, why not try a recycled oven mitt? Kitchen activities are gender neutral, and those old potholders and trivets made in elementary school art class have lived noble lives. It’s time to upgrade, and the environment (and Dad’s hands) will thank you.
If it’s a dirty job, and someone’s got to do it, doesn’t it usually fall to Dad? No one likes cleaning up after the dog, and using a shovel to secretly flick it over into a neighbor’s yard when no one is looking (or so you hope) doesn’t exactly do much to further neighborhood goodwill. That’s where flushable dog bags come in “handy.” Found in most pet stores, flushable, biodegradable bags make it easy for Dad to dispose of the mess.
The sun may not provide enough power to cook a good steak, but it can at least help light the way there. With a solar-powered grill light, Dad can keep the home fires – charcoal or gas – burning well into the night. And, the best part of cooking on the grill, besides the food, is that no one has to clean up the mess and your kitchen stays cool!
Does your dad constantly grumble about the cost of running the A/C in the summer? Then maybe it’s time to look into Duke Energy’s Smart $aver incentives. Depending on where you live, you can get rebates for upgrading your HVAC, getting your current HVAC serviced, and even having the house insulated and sealed.
Who doesn’t sound good singing in the shower, at least to themselves? To help Dad release his inner Sinatra and fly himself to the moon, check out a water-powered shower stereo—no batteries required! Earplugs for everyone else are a good idea. You’re welcome.
What you getting for dear old dad for Father’s Day? Share you inspiring ideas in the comment section.
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Summer time is nearing and that means higher bills as temperatures soar and A/Cs struggle to keep your house cool. To help here are three quick and easy summertime energy-saving tips you can implement in your home for less than $100. We even threw in a couple of freebies too.
Out of sight, out of mind. With a programmable thermostat, you can set up your house to maximize efficiency, particularly when no one is home to argue about whether it’s too warm or too cold. Programmable thermostats can be set to automatically adjust and control the temperature inside your home, increasing the temperature when no one is home and automatically beginning a cool-down cycle when people are likely to come home from school or work.
Go west, young man. Or south. Then plant a tree. Planting a deciduous tree on the west or south side of your house can provide shade that will help keep it cool in the summer. And, when the leaves fall, it will let more light and warmth through in the colder months, helping keep the house warmer and brighter to help fight off those winter doldrums. Don’t forget to plant away from power lines and call before you dig by dialing 811.
Take a look at your weather stripping. Energy efficient windows and all the insulation in the world won’t do much good if conditioned air is running wild through the gaps and and cracks around improperly sealed doors. According to the Family Handyman for less than $20 per doorway, you can easily upgrade that existing weather stripping that has fallen victim to a) time; b) an impatient cat or dog; c) bored fingers attached to growing children; d) all of the above.
Something for nothing:
Air your (clean) laundry – Air-drying clothing and dishes is a quick, easy way to keep energy costs low. By many accounts, water heating and laundry can account for as much as 40 percent of monthly electricity costs. By drying laundry on an outdoor line, you can save a ton of energy and, some would argue, the clothes smell much better. They make candles that smell like line-dried clothes; isn’t the real thing better?
Check refrigerator and freezer temps – place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator and check it after 24 hours. The ideal refrigerator temperature is between 37 and 40 degrees. For the freezer, place the appliance thermometer between two frozen packages check the reading in 24 hours. The ideal reading for the freezer is about 5 degrees.
Have you tried any of these? If so, what other tips do you have to share?
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Summer is finally here—and that means it’s time for sun, fun and food with friends! Forget hot ovens and complex recipes. Here are four delicious and quick dishes that will keep the party going without adding a single cent to your energy bill.
Zesty Avocado Salsa
Coarse chop 2 -3 ripe but still firm Hass avocados, 2-3 Roma tomatoes and ½ of a medium red onion. Combine together in a bowl and add 1 tbsp garlic powder, juice of one lime and salt and pepper to taste. Chopped fresh cilantro is a great touch, but optional. Stir gently to combine flavors, serve with tortilla chips or crusty fresh bread and enjoy.
Refreshing Sun Tea
In a large pitcher (preferably one with a lid, but plastic wrap will do) add 3 cups of ice and fill with water. Select 6 – 8 single serving bags of your favorite tea (I prefer Jasmine) submerge them in the water and secure strings firmly to a handle or a straw so you don’t have to go fishing for them later on. Select any favorite herbs you have growing at home—mint, lemon balm, stevia and even basil all add a unique twist—and add a few sprigs to the water. Cover securely and place the pitcher outdoors in direct sunlight for 30 minutes to an hour to brew. Shake gently every few minutes to help mix. To serve, pour over glasses filled with ice and a lemon wedge and enjoy.
Healthy & Delicious Spinach Salad
Slice ripe, sweet in-season pears in ¼ inch thick sections and toss with 3-4 cups of rinsed baby spinach, a handful of crumbled gorgonzola cheese, ¾ cup of dried cranberries and ½ cup of walnuts together in a large serving bowl. When individual plates are being made, drizzle the salad with fresh local honey and a light, tart vinaigrette of your choice.
Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad
Chop 2 – 3 stalks of celery, 3 Roma tomatoes, and ½ medium red onion into small sections and combine in a serving bowl with one can of rinsed garbanzo beans, aka chick peas. Add 2 oz of extra virgin olive oil, 4 oz of unfiltered kosher apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Stir mixture gently to combine flavors. Makes a great crunchy and tart compliment to richer items off the grill, like ribs or chicken.
Do you have a favorite no-appliance summer recipe? Share it in the comments and we’ll pick our favorites to post on our Facebook page!
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“It’s too hot!”
“It’s too cold!”
“No… it’s just right!”
When it comes to the thermostat setting, the conversation in my house sounds a little too much like an all-too-familiar children’s story. For years, it’s seemed like we could never agree on one temperature to set our thermostat—so it was adjusted daily, depending on what we were doing or cooking or wearing. Luckily, experts are agreeing on a number to cool your house to during the summer so we can stop bickering: 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since heating and cooling your home can account for more than half of your home’s total energy usage each month, it’s important to keep your thermostat as close to this guideline as possible if you want to save energy and money. In fact, a study in the state of Florida found a 12% average increase in energy use with every single degree drop in the thermostat setting. Think about that: you probably won’t notice the difference between 75 degrees and 78 degrees. But those 3 degrees can save you a whopping 36% more energy! Granted every home is different, and depending on a lot of factors, you might see more or less savings.
The next time you’re near your thermostat, check the dial to see where you stand. If you air condition your home like a walk-in cooler, try increasing your setting by just one degree each day instead of changing it all at once. If you find your family still at odds, try making a compromise. At my house, we can live with 78 on the first floor, but set the second level at 75 so it’s more comfortable to sleep. Do you have a different strategy? Why? I’d like to hear about it on the Youtility Facebook page! And for a more personalized calculation, you can try the Duke Energy thermostat calculator form.
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You know you need one: a serious vacation. But for many of us, the bill for the days spent unwinding can be more stressful than getting stuck in rush hour traffic. With flights and high gas prices, hotel, food and activity costs, a few days in paradise can easily cost $2,000 or more. I recently considered a four day trip to Florida, but the costs began to add up quickly. At first, staying at home seemed out of the question—until I considered all of the things I’d love to do but never have time for.
After looking at the budget, I realized that a trip to Florida would cost about $2,160 while packing in four days of activities and top restaurants in my own city would cost $700—way less than half! Think about where you live and the places you’ve heard friends or family mention—like restaurants, museums, stores and other attractions—that you’re just too busy to see or try during a normal, hectic work week. Plan your days off the same way you’d plan to be far from home: buy a new outfit, swear off any unnecessary chores and charge up the camera.
Start to brainstorm your staycation with these ideas:
- Talk to friends about new restaurants in town. What are people recommending?
- Many museums rotate or update exhibits—so even if you’ve been before, they can be worth another look.
- When is the last time you bought tickets to cheer on your home sports team? Pack a big tailgate for a pre-game picnic.
- Pitch a tent and go camping—at a local campground or in your own backyard.
- Rent a kayak and go for a paddle on your local lake or river.
- Many cities offer free or low cost walking or bicycle tours, where you can learn exciting things about your area’s history.
- Visit a nearby fair or festival for great rides, games and food.
For way less than half of what it would cost to travel out of state, you and your family can enjoy some exciting activities and try fun new restaurants—all while learning to appreciate the place where you live. Save energy and money and enjoy being a tourist in your own backyard with a great staycation this summer.
Do you have any smart staycation tips? Let us know on the Duke Energy Youtility Facebook page!
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It’s July, and it’s HOT. In this heat, it can be a challenge to park the car, walk to the mailbox and then back to the front door without feeling like your clothes are beginning to stick. So I’ll admit—it’s tempting to want to run inside the house, lock the door, crank the A/C, and plop right down in front of the TV.
Really, though, we shouldn’t sweat some sweat or try too hard to beat the heat. With a little bit of planning, it can be fun to unplug the electronics and take yourself, family and pets outside – and keep your electric bill from skyrocketing!
Dress for Success: formal clothes you wore to the office or church are going to make the heat even more oppressive. Exchange those clothes for lightweight, breathable cotton and avoid dark colors. It’s amazing how a simple wardrobe change can make you feel!
Set a Timeline: be realistic. Is it over 85 degrees Fahrenheit today? Plan a hike or a picnic with a start time and end time, so you can enjoy the outdoors without risking your health.
Pack Refreshments: your outdoor trip can be extra fun when a snack is in your future! Old-fashioned baskets or newer thermal backpacks give ample room for a comfy blanket, thermos of your favorite cold beverage and a snack or meal. Bonus: bring a camera to capture some favorite scenes.
Be Fido Friendly: Bringing your four legged friend along? Plan for your breed. My 185 lb Great Dane, Winston, will happily snooze under a tree after a short walk. Smaller breeds can be very high energy, but can entertain themselves with toys or a swim in a pond. Pack extra water and plan for your dog’s preferences, and you’ll find the entire family enjoying the afternoon.
So why not pick a convenient night in the next week and set a date? Pack dinner, games and a camera, and head to your local park, playground or nature area. One family in my neighborhood, weather permitting, has family picnic night once every week—and they find themselves looking forward to it all day long. Give it a try! It can be surprisingly easy to re-charge when you un-plug.
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Summer 2011 is just getting started, but for most of the United States, the heat has already arrived! Did you know that the hotter it is outside, the harder your air conditioner needs to work to keep the inside of your house cool? While it might be tempting to drop the temperature to combat the outdoors, turn your thermostat up by a few degrees and try some of the tips below. You’ll beat the heat and your energy bill, and hopefully have some fun in the process.
Break out the bathing suit.
Who said you can’t have a beach party in the middle of your living room? Slip on some swimwear while you watch a movie or do your chores.
Set up the sprinkler.
Kids and pets can be at a greater risk for overheating than healthy adults, but they can also feel cooped up indoors during a beautiful summer day. Set up a sprinkler, fill up the squirt guns and invite the neighbors’ kids over. At the end of the day, you’ll have a cooled off, tired out and happy bunch.
Take a mini ice bath.
If you’re looking for indoor options, try a mini ice bath. Fill one large or two medium, shallow containers with cold water and add a few ice cubes, place them on a hard-surfaced floor. Carefully step into them for 20 seconds to one minute – and keep a towel handy! We naturally radiate most of our body heat through the head, arms and feet, so just a little cold soak can quickly lower your body temperature.
Let Mother Nature help.
During the evening, open your windows and use ceiling or box fans to create a cross breeze. Circulate cooler evening air through all of your rooms, and make sure to close windows early in the morning. Night air will keep your home cool for most of the morning, and your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard when it does turn back on later the next afternoon.
Close your blinds.
Solar gain – the heat caused by sunlight entering through windows – can cause a significant rise in temperature in your home. Make sure to close blinds and curtains during the day to block out the sun.
Make a smoothie.
Keep a few bags of your favorite fruits in the freezer. A few handfuls of fruit, a scoop of ice and a splash of milk or yogurt, and you have a healthy, cool treat the whole family will love. For grown-ups, add a splash of a favorite tequila for an instant stay-cool party!
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Summertime! The season often conjures up images of relaxing weekends by the pool or vacations with friends and family. While you’re taking a much needed break, there is at least one thing working much harder this season: your air conditioner.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the warmer it is outside, the harder your air conditioner has to work to keep the inside cool—so it can be frustrating that we can’t adjust the weather (and seemingly, our bill). Luckily, we’re not at the complete mercy of Mother Nature, because there’s a lot we can do inside to help keep our homes cool. And the daily actions we take can add up to make a big difference.
One of biggest culprits that can zap precious cool air from your home during hot days is the oven. To see just how big an impact it would make, I decided to run a little experiment at home. So last Tuesday night, I chopped some sausage with onions and peppers, tossed it together with diced tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, and popped that Pyrex full of love into the oven for 1 hour at 400 degrees.
Using an indoor thermometer, I tracked the temperature of my kitchen about every 20 minutes until dinner was ready. As you’ll notice, the change was dramatic: the temperature in my kitchen rose by 5 degrees in just one hour and did not return to the original temperature until we were heading up to bed much later that night.
So my personal verdict is in: during the next few warm months, I’m going to let my oven take a long vacation. Instead, I plan to use my grill to cook meats or veggies that I might ordinarily roast, or opt for a no-cook recipe like a fresh salad. I might even opt for the ultimate “energy saving” solution… and head straight to my favorite restaurant.
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