Glacial Energy Blog

From stovetops to central heating systems- what do you know about your home’s natural gas?

Natural gas is one of the most important sources of fuel, and can be seen in our homes on a gas range stovetop, and can generate heat up to 2000°F (1093°C) making it a powerful domestic cooking and heating fuel. In the United States it is supplied to homes via pipes where it is used for many purposes, including natural gas-powered ranges and ovens, natural gas-heated dryers, heating/cooling and central heating. Home or other building heating purposes may include boilers, furnaces, and water heaters.  Natural gas is also supplied by independent natural gas suppliers through Natural Gas Choice programs throughout the United States.

Natural gas is one of the most affordable forms of energy available to a consumer. The Department of Energy estimated in 2011, natural gas was the lowest cost conventional energy source available for residential use. This is the reason why people prefer having some appliances in their home that consume natural gas rather than their electric counterparts.

Natural gas offers residential consumers a great value through its varied uses. The best known use for natural gas around the home is natural gas based heating and cooking. Cooking with a natural gas range or oven can provide many benefits, including easy temperature control and easy cleaning, as well as being approximately one-half the cost of cooking with an electric range. Many of the top chefs prefer natural gas ranges for their quick heating ability and temperature control. Newer generations of natural gas ranges allow for some of the most efficient, economical and responsive cooking appliances in existence.

Natural gas is one of the most popular fuels for residential heating. According to the American Gas Association, 62 million homes in the U.S are heated using natural gas. Being a cheap source of fuel, natural gas is also one of the primary reasons the electricity bill is reduced during winters as heating is usually provided through natural gas and is cheaper than electricity.

After the deregulation of energy in the United States, people now have the power to choose their own natural gas provider giving them the freedom to buy their natural gas from the cheapest and best natural gas provider in their region. If you are looking for natural gas for your home, try Glacial Energy and you will get low natural gas rates.

Source: http://www.naturalgas.org/overview/uses_residential.asp

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

Electric circuits 101

Here’s a little recap of high school chemistry for you: Electricity is formed by charged particles that originate in atoms. An atom consists of protons, electrons and neutrons. Protons are positively charged while electrons are negatively charged. The flow of electrons between two points is known as electricity.

In order for us to safely consume electricity, we need to find a way to safely contain and control the flow of charged particles. This is what we see in a battery cell. A battery cell is a chemical device capable of storing chemical energy and converting it to electric energy. A wire is capable of transferring the electrons from the negative end of the battery to the positive end of the battery. Most metals are good conductors of electricity, but copper is usually used to create wires. When a wire is connected between the negative end to the positive end of a battery, it is called as a circuit. While it is easier to see a circuit on a battery cell, the same idea and theory is used in our homes on a much larger scale.

When a light bulb is connected to a battery wires enable electrons to move from the negative end of the battery to the light bulb and then flow back to the positive end of the battery. This circuit flows the current from the battery to the light bulb, which lights up the bulb as the light bulb converts electric energy into light energy and also creates some resistance. A switch is a device present inside a circuit to turn it off and on. This is done by creating an opening in the circuit and thus we can stop the flow of electrons at our will without breaking the circuit. This is the same mechanism used in a home switch to turn a light off and on.

There are two kinds of circuits most commonly used in our daily lives.

  1. Series Circuit: In a series circuit all the devices are connected on the same path through the same wire. A common example of such a circuit is your Christmas lights. A negative effect of this circuit is when one resistor or bulb fails, the entire circuit collapses.
  2. Parallel Circuit: A Parallel circuit is created by using two different paths for the electrons to light up two separate light bulbs. This is the same kind of circuit commonly used in home fixtures. A benefit of this circuit is when one bulb fuses the other bulb remains lit.

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

You can prevent electrical fires

Christmas is around the corner and now is the perfect time to calculate your electrical usage before plugging in your Christmas lights. It’s also important to take safety precautions to avoid a disastrous electrical fire. Things like faulty wiring, dry winter weather and bad electronic product choices can all act as contributing factors in a holiday fire.

Every year before the holiday season thousands of counterfeit electrical products end up in the stores across the United States. Most of these products are unable to withstand the electric power voltage demands of the extra holiday decorations. Usually, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission gets its hands on these p­roducts they are recalled, but that is not always the case.

Here are some ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from a holiday fire.

  1. Do not buy extension cords and circuit breakers from deep discount stores.
  2. Underwriters Laboratories and Factory Mutual are both certifying bodies that independently test electric products to determine if they flame up when plugged in. If you see their certification on the label, it’s usually a safe bet to buy.
  3. Look for name brands while buying a product. If it’s one you recognize then go for it. Checking labels can also help. Look for spelling errors and bad grammar as it is a sure sign that the product you’re considering to buy was produced by a disreputable company.
  4. Take it easy on your home power supply and do not over crowd the outlet. Devices like space heaters consume much more power than Christmas lights so it is better to use within 80 percent of your amperage safety limit.
  5. Be sure to unplug all your Christmas lights before you go to bed.
  6. If your devices have frayed or worn wiring, it’s time to replace the device and the wiring.
  7. Look for old plugs that don’t fit snugly into an outlet. These can also cause sparking.
  8. Be sure the product cords have proper rubber insulation as it is meant to cut down on heat output and eliminate current arcing, and when it’s missing, the risk of fire increases greatly.
  9. If you feel that any outlet is over loaded, simply unplug one device and plug it into another outlet to reduce the risk of an electrical fire.
  10. Even certified products can cause an overload, so always be careful while using appliances such as hair dryers and space heaters as they tend to use more power than other devices.

Source: http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/fire/outlet-overload1.htm

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

Protection 101: How to detect and conquer a gas leak

As useful as natural gas is in our daily lives, it can also create a gas hazard. You might be using gas in your home through the gas stove, dryer, central heater or even space heater. Here are 3Rs to help you detect and conquer a gas leak in your home.

Recognize:

  • If you see discolored vegetation around your home in an otherwise green area or bubbles in standing water, it might be due to a gas leak.
  • You may hear a hissing, blowing or roaring sound inside your home or a building.
  • You may smell the scent of a rotten egg or any strange or unusual order like the smell of petroleum products.
  • Sometimes the smell can cause irritation or trigger allergies.
  •  Dust or dirt blowing from a hole in the ground may indicate a leak.
  • While cooking the flame should always be blue. If the flame is yellow or red you might have a possible gas leak.

Respond

  • Leave the area immediately on foot
  • Make sure there is no one in the building, including pets
  • Do not use any electronic appliances or products that can create a spark. This includes your cell phone.
  • Do not touch any electrical outlets, switches or the doorbell.
  • Do not start your vehicle or even use your garage door opener.
  • Do not try and find the source of the leak.
  • Do not light a match or a lighter.
  • Inform your neighbors and stay away from the building.
  • Do not re-enter the building.
  • If the gas ignites, do not try to put out the fire.
  • Do not smoke a cigarette or any other substance.

React

  • Call 911 and your local utility. Remember DO NOT email. Instead, make a call.
  • Remember Glacial Energy does not own the power lines so you need to call your local utility to help you in this crisis.
  • Stay in a safe location until the issue is sorted out and there is no longer a danger to enter the building.

Source: http://www.puco.ohio.gov/puco/index.cfm/consumer-information/consumer-topics/natural-gas-safety/

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

Kitchen fires —be prepared to strike back

If you ever are faced with a kitchen fire, you need to strike back quickly and take control before the fire gets out of hand. We all know the drop and roll rule if our clothes are on fire, but many of us might not be prepared to tackle a fire before it spreads. Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen handy and learn to use it beforehand so you are prepared if a kitchen fire strikes. Here are some basic tips to conquer a small kitchen fire.

  • If the fire takes place in the oven or the microwave, close the door or keep it closed. Turn off the oven or remove the plug if it is the microwave. Don’t open the door! The lack of oxygen will suffocate the flames.
  • If your oven still continues to smoke after a few minutes like a fire is going on in there, call 911.
  • If there is a fire in a frying pan or a cooking pot, use an oven mitt to cover the pan with a lid and move the pan. Then turn off the stove. The lack of oxygen will stop the flames in the pot.
  • If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan or you don’t have a lid for the pan, use your fire extinguisher. Do not aim at the flames, instead aim at the base of the fire.
  • Never try to put out grease fires using water. Water repels grease and can spread the fire by splattering the grease.
  • Throw lots of baking soda or salt on it. Do not use flour as it can explode or make the fire worse.
  • Be careful not to get hurt if you plan smother the fire with a wet towel or other large wet cloth.
  • Do not smack at the fire with a towel, apron, or other clothing. This act can fan the flames and spread the fire.
  • For electrical fires, throw baking soda over the flames
  • If the fire reaches out of a contained area, call 911
  • If fat or grease in a pan starts burning, turn off the heat and quickly slide a lid over the pan to cover it completely and cut off the oxygen supply.
  • To prevent future fires, always keep your stove, oven and hood clean, and avoid overloading outlets or circuits with too many appliances.

Source: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-put-out-kitchen-fires.html

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

Electricity Generation 101 Part 2

Here’s a little recap from an earlier post: Energy is generated from a renewable or non-renewable source mined, harvested or collected from the earth. For every energy source, a chemical or mechanical process is required to turn it into electrical energy. The energy source then heats up water in the turbines, which makes the propellers spin and create mechanical energy. It is the generator inside these turbines that converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy or electricity. Transporting electricity to your home is an entirely different process and we will elaborate on this topic today.

Current technology cannot store large amount of electricity, and as a result significant challenges occur transporting energy across long distances. Just enough energy has to be generated to meet the current demand and to be transmitted across the power lines to your home and to your switches. Too much or too little power can crash the transmission system and create a blackout. A proper combination of logistics, management and infrastructure is required to make sure there is a smooth process of electricity generation from power generators and safe delivery to the consumer.

If you have ever driven across the U.S. or even across some state boundaries you may have spotted some electricity grids. The U.S. is divided into four large grid systems—the Eastern Grid, The Western Grid, the Texas Grid and a Grid covering the Canadian Province Quebec. You may be surprised to learn that Texas accounts for 10 percent of the nation’s energy usage, and has its own grid to produce and consume that energy.

The independent regional networks of power plants and transmission lines carry electric energy at high voltage to local utilities. From there, electricity first enters your local power substation where the voltage is reduced through transformers. There are more transformers on the power lines on your street near your home that also reduce the high voltage to 110 volts, which you use in your home. From the power lines the electricity enters your home’s breaker box from where it is distributed to the light sockets and switches. Now, if you flip a light switch, a bulb lights up.

Here is a helpful video that talks about electricity generation

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

Too Expensive to Replace Your Appliances? Follow These Useful Tips to Extend Their Use and Make Them Energy Efficient

Appliances are not cheap, and even though you might have the desire to buy energy efficient appliances for your Texas home, your bank account might not agree. If you have some older appliances that you just can’t afford to replace right now, that does not mean that you will have to give up on the thought of becoming more conservative with your energy. With the tips that follow, you will find some ways that you can make your current appliances a bit more energy friendly, at least until you can afford to start replacing them.

The Refrigerator

Consider the seasons when you are adjusting the temperature settings for the fridge. You might find that you can lower the temperature a bit when you are in the cooler months. Of course, it doesn’t always get too cool in many parts of Texas, but you should still be able to drop the temps a bit and save some energy. Another way to reduce the amount of energy that your fridge is using is by taking out food from the freezer that you want to thaw the night before and placing it in the refrigerator. This cools down the temperature of the fridge so that it does not have to use electricity to maintain that temperature.

The Stove

Saving energy with the stove is just as easy. When you are cooking on the stovetop, make sure that you are using the right sized burner with the right sized pots. If you use too small of a burner, it is going to take more time and energy to heat. If the burner is too large, it will waste energy too. When you use lids on the pots, you can actually cook at lower temperatures because the heat is not escaping. For some foods, consider using the microwave. They use less energy than a traditional stove.

Washer and Dryer

Start washing your clothes in cold water more often. Only do loads when you have a large load. If you wash a small load, you are still using the same amount of water and energy. Make sure that you clean the dryer’s lint catch often. Too much lint will mean it takes longer to dry the clothes.

These are just a smattering of good tips that you can use so you can make your not-so-energy-efficient appliances last a bit longer and still help you save some money on your energy costs.

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

 

Reminder: What a power outage can look like

Every so often we face a natural disaster and it leads into a power outage. The recent Super Storm Sandy gave the East Coast a harsh reminder what life without electricity can look like. This was sadly not the first time that Americans have suffered power outages following a natural disaster. Last year the East Coast was hit by Hurricane Irene. The South suffered from Hurricane Katrina more than five years ago and Hurricane Ike in 2008. Last year part of the West Coast went dark due to a single worker’s error.

Americans take electricity for granted, but there are many around the globe who go through power outages daily. Clark Gellings, of the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute explained:

“Power delivery systems have a lot of parts, wires, transformers, and other components all nicely tied together—which means there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Pieces break down or human errors. A system is designed to tolerate a certain amount of disruption but past a certain point, it’s simply gone too far and it falls apart.”

If you ever find yourself in such a situation here are a few tips and tricks to keep handy.

Don’t wait for the last minute. If you know a hurricane or a storm is coming make sure you are prepared. Remember there might be no power, running water or  a way to get out of your home.

  • Store food that will not spoil quickly. Pastas and canned foods can make quick, fulfilling meals and do not need to be refrigerated.
  • Take a day off. While you are so stressed in your daily life, an unexpected event can mean a day off from work to relax and spend with your family. Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to de-stress and enjoy the simple moments of life. Now you have the perfect opportunity to spend a day with your family.
  • Stash some snacks and games. During bad weather we sometimes call friends and family over so they do not get the brunt of the bad weather. If you end up in such a situation, have some snacks on hand and some games to play by candle light.

As power returns after an outage, people may be at risk of electrical or traumatic injuries as power lines are re-energized and equipment is reactivated. You should be aware of those risks and take protective steps if you are in contact with or in proximity to power lines, electrical components, and the moving parts of heavy machinery.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/08/pictures/120821-world-s-worst-power-outages/

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

Electricity Generation 101- Part 1

We all think we know the answer to this: How many people does it take to turn on a light bulb. One, right? That’s partially true, but the real answer is much more complex because it takes many people to generate and deliver power.

In order for us to learn how electricity is generated we must look at the source. Nature has provided us many sources of electricity generation. The planet provides us with coal and natural gas—types of fossil fuels–to water in the oceans and rivers, the building blocks of hydroelectric power. There are other forms of power too, like wind power generated from windmills. Even uranium, which we use in the process of splitting an atom in a nuclear power reactor. We also have the ability to harness the energy of the sun so we can create solar energy. While the planet provides an abundance of sources of energy, not all of them will last forever. Energy that can be reused repeatedly is known as renewable energy. This includes wind, solar power, hydroelectric power, etc. Energy created from a limited source such as fossil fuel is known as finite energy source.

It is not enough to have the sources of energy available. Power generation requires a chemical or mechanical process to help transform it into useable electric energy. Today most of our energy comes from thermal power plants as coal, natural gas or petroleum can heat up the water in the turbine until it produces steam, which powers a turbine and generates electricity. The generator inside the turbine converts the mechanical energy into electric energy. This way is efficient because the water can be cooled down again and can be reused in this process over and over again.

While this covers the basics of how electricity is generated, transporting this energy to your home is an entirely different process that we will explain later on.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/08/pictures/120821-world-s-worst-power-outages/

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

Power out: Downed power lines during natural disasters

Super storm Sandy may be gone in many areas, but there are still potential hazards to watch for in its aftermath. It could take weeks to restore power to millions of people left in the dark by the super storm.

Hurricanes are often packed with high winds. These winds, combined with flooding rains, can reap chaos on power lines and their target distribution audience throughout the affected area.

Power lines that provide safe and efficient electrical power to your home every day can become highly dangerous if downed during a storm. Whether the power to your house is on and functioning either during or after the hurricane passes, beware of power lines if you venture out. Avoid them because they may still be live and report them to the power company.

In many areas the power poles are shared among utility, cable and telephone companies. Be aware that downed electrical lines in your area can energize other lines as well.  These affected downed lines are wet, even non-conductive materials such as pieces of wood can become a path for electricity. Metal security fences suddenly can be electrified fences and can be deadly. Same goes with metal buildings, fences, poles, mail boxes and standing water. Downed and sagging power lines offer dangers from nearby trees and branches. These wet trees can become the path to the ground through you for electrical current.

If the city is already going through a series of harsh weather or storms, then it’s best to never drive around during or immediately after. If you must drive for some emergency purposes, such as to evacuate, then be watchful for downed power lines, tree limbs and general blockages in the road. Never drive over a downed line with your car. If the car has made contact, your car could become energized. It is better to remain in your car. You can also use a cell phone to dial 911.

Even though the power lines are down and the power is out, don’t think that it is safe to move a downed line. These power lines could become re-energized at any time. Instead, assume that they are live and that electrocution dangers still exist.

After a storm with heavy winds, the area will likely be covered with tree branches and litter. Power lines have a way of getting entangled in these branches and can become a serious hazard for the person trimming the branches. So please watch out for the power lines while clearing debris or litter and take a good look around your surroundings before attempting any clean-up.

Source: http://electrical.about.com/od/electricalsafety/a/downedpowerline.htm

About Glacial Energy- Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com

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