This blog post can also be seen at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s blog section
Starting November 1, National Grid increased their electricity supply rates, which means a typical customer might see a 37% increase on their monthly bill. This is a serious cause for concern for many customers, especially those with electric heat. This increase applies to the “supply” portion of your bill and is due to increasingly higher demands for natural gas for home heating and for the region’s electricity generators, which is in turn stressing the natural gas pipelines supplying the area. During peak demand times, generators are forced to buy natural gas at high spot market prices and that has caused the supply portion of your bill to skyrocket.
So, what can we do to save electricity and money this winter?
1. Enroll in the Smart Energy Solutions Program
Worcester is the home to National Grid’s Smart Energy Solutions Program that aims to give customers better visibility and knowledge of how much electricity they’re using in their homes through access to electricity usage information, home technologies such as digital picture frames, smart thermostats and smart plugs at no cost to the customer, and new supply rates that offer cost savings nights and weekends. To see if you’re in the program check your electricity meter for a blue stripe. And if you are, go online to nationalgrid.com/smartenergy or visit the Sustainability Hub at 912 Main St. in Worcester.
2. Get a free ride to visit the Worcester Sustainability Hub
Come visit National Grid’s Sustainability Hub at 912 Main St for a tour of our new Smart Energy Solutions program! Learn about energy efficient appliances, smart devices, in-home devices that are available at no cost to you, and how you can enroll in the Smart Energy Solutions Program and its new, lower electric rates.
To get to the Sustainability Hub, sign up for Uber and get a free round-trip ride using code SUSHUB!
Uber is an iPhone/Android/Blackberry app that allows you to request a ride at the tap of a button and summons a professional driver to your side within minutes. Track your driver’s arrival on a map and receive a notification when they arrive. There’s no need to worry about handling cash – your fare is automatically billed to your credit card on file.
Uber not only looks to connect you with your city reliably and efficiently, but we’ve always been about reducing our environmental impact, too. From paperless receipts, to increasing the number of eco-friendly vehicle options, to encouraging people to leave their cars at home, Uber has a sustainable future in mind.
3. Sign up for a free home energy audits
MassSave offers home energy audits free of charge to you. A trained professional performs an assessment of your home and gives recommendations on how your energy efficiency can be improved. They will replace old light bulbs, install programmable thermostats, and give faucet aerators as well as use a thermal imaging gun to check for areas where heat is escaping from your home and insulation or weathering can be improved. To make an appointment visit their website at http://www.masssave.com/residential/home-energy-assessments or give them a call at 866-527-7283.
4. Replace old appliances
Old appliances, especially refrigerators and freezers, can suck large amounts of electricity as they begin to die, MassSave offers rebates for EnergySTAR appliances, as well as a $50 rebate to pick up any old refrigerators or freezers. There is also a $100 rebate for qualifying smart thermostats that allow you to control your thermostat from your smart phone. Visit www.masssave.com for more information.
5. Apply for income-eligible programs
National Grid in conjunction with MassSave offer rates for income eligible customers called the R2 rate. They also offer fuel assistance programs, energy efficiency services and payment plans for any customers that qualify. To see if you qualify call National Grid’s customer service line 1-800-322-3223 or MassSave at 866-527-7283. Worcester Community Action Council also offers fuel assistance and weatherization programs to qualifying customers. To find out more information call 508.754.7281 or visit http://www.wcac.net/fe_fuelassistance.html.
6. Explore Competitive Suppliers
The electric “supply cost” from National Grid does not include any markup and will remain at this price for 6 months. The supply cost for residential customers changes twice a year, November 1st and May 1st. There is an option for customers to get their electricity supply from a competitive supplier, but it is important for you to carefully examine these alternative suppliers and do your homework to compare prices available in the market and be sure to fully understand the terms and conditions of any supply contract that you sign.
7. Find ways to conserve energy in your home
There are many small ways you can conserve energy in your home:
- Turn your thermostat down at night or when you’re not home
- Throw on a sweater and keep your thermostat a few degree lower when you are home
- Add a draft stopper below doors
- Use window film to insulate drafty windows (kits can be purchased on Amazon for less than $15)
- Replace light bulbs in frequently used areas with LEDs, they last more than 20 years and save you money
- Buy a hot water bottle to put under your comforter at night; not only does it save money by allowing you to keep your house cooler at night, but it makes for a cozy bed (can be purchased on Amazon for less than $10)
- Buy a drying rack or install a clothes line in your bathroom or laundry room, dryers are a huge electricity user (drying racks around $25 on Amazon)
- Unplug appliances when not in use
- Turn your fan on winter mode; it seems counter-intuitive, but hot air rises so the fan will push warm air towards the ground. There is usually a switch on the fan that allows you to switch the direction of rotation.
Even though electricity prices are going up there are plenty of programs to take advantage of to stay warm this winter and put more money in your pocket for the holidays.