Glacial Energy Blog

Game Night!

GThe idea of having a game night isn’t a new concept but over the years, it’s evolved into many different types of games – many of them using gaming consoles.  Some include pretending you’re playing guitar in the hottest band on the planet or a dancing in the finals on “So You Think You Can Dance.”  There are certainly several options…but how about a classic game night?  The kind where blackouts (under extreme circumstances, of course) couldn’t put a damper on your fun?  It’s time for some good old-fashioned laughs and bonding with your dearest friends playing some of these tried and true games.

Monopoly: Who doesn’t like a competitive game of Monopoly?  It’s family friendly – in case kids are a part of your game night crowd – and you get to send people to jail, collect $200 just for passing “Go”, and buy up all the properties you want!  Win/win!

Scrabble: Have you heard of the smartphone app, “Words with Friends”?  It’s Scrabble on the go so how about pulling out the original game and putting your brain to work!  You’ll be amazed at the words you can discover.

Clue: How good are your investigating skills? And who doesn’t love a good murder mystery?  Put your detective hat on, solve the crime, and have fun!

Battleship: “Don’t sink my battleship!”  This may not be the best game for the most competitive of people (though that idea probably applies to most games).

Pictionary: Not an artist?  That’s part of the fun!

Cranium: Built on the concept of Ludo, this game is a perfect workout for your entire brain. From creativity to grammar and knowledge of facts to acting out clues, this game will make your guests happy no matter which category they like as there is something for everyone.

So, what’s so great about having a “classic” game night?  You get to give your television a break (which will save you some energy) and you get to focus on a fun night of interacting with friends and family – what could be better?  And remember – no game night is complete without the snacks!  Have fun!

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.

Load Shedding and Why It’s Important

electricity plantWhenever there is a great demand for electrical power, such as during a hot day when everyone is running air conditioning, load shedding can help. Load shedding is a way to save money, and it can be quite useful to reduce pollution as well. If load shedding were not a possibility, the result would be a brownout, where the amount of available voltage drops. What is load shedding though, and how could it help in this type of situation?

How Does Load Shedding Work?

The cost of having extra generators would be very high, and this would drive up the cost of electricity for all consumers. It makes far more sense to have some companies that use a large amount of electricity reduce or eliminate their usage for those peak periods when it seems as though a brownout or blackout is inevitable. Load shedding is a preferred method of saving energy for the grid. During certain times of the day, or during emergencies, large consumers of electricity will reduce their electrical usage, thus reducing the load on the grid.

Energy companies and utility companies who do business with these manufacturers, factories, and other businesses involved will contact them to let them know to reduce their energy. When the company complies, the stress on the electrical grid drops a bit. With enough companies complying with this request, it is possible to avoid the brownout and prevent a possible blackout. It makes sense for all involved.

Of course, many might be wondering about the financial losses that the company would incur from shutting down. When a company agrees to load shedding though, they will receive financial incentives. These incentives are often enough to help them cover the costs of not operating for a few hours.

While it is often the larger companies that do this (simply because they are using more power than the normal consumer), average consumers are actually doing this as well. The utility companies will often have days where you can “reduce your use” and lower your energy consumption. They can receive their own incentives and discounts on their bills.

Heating, air conditioning, and ventilation are often the areas where companies will choose to reduce their usage. However, lighting can play a role as well. Those companies that agree to load shedding should consider all of the non-essentials first when they reduce their power. The load shedding companies must also be able to reduce their usage quickly, which is something that could take an energy management system or specialist to make feasible.

Why is Load Shedding Important?

Without companies agreeing to load shedding, there would often be a much greater demand on the grid in different parts of the country. This would mean that the possibility of brownouts and other energy issues would be much greater than they already are. Brownouts would reduce the efficiency for many companies and affect the lives of countless residents.  Fortunately, there are companies out there who are doing this, and when more start to see the incentives, they will likely want to take part as well. The good news is that it is getting easier to do.

Automation Makes it Easier

With automated demand response, it will be much easier and faster for load shedding to occur. Currently, the programs will generally rely on phone calls and email to let companies know when they should reduce their usage. They might provide companies with a full day’s notice, or the company might have only a few hours to prepare. With automation, the system will be able to turn off the lights, air conditioning, and other devices remotely and automatically.

Any participating company would be able to choose the different areas that they would be able to shut off without affecting their daily activity, and it would automatically happen when a load shed was necessary. The company would still receive their incentives making it a win-win for everyone.  More and more companies are looking into the possibility of load shedding because of the financial and environmental advantages.

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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.

Become a FANatic

Electrician Installing Ceiling FanWith temperatures on the rise and the official start of summer not that far away, it’s time to start preparing for how to stay cool this summer.  Of course, if you have an air conditioning unit, it’s just a matter of setting it to a temperature you’re comfortable with but also making sure you’re comfortable with how it will affect your electricity bill.  There is something that can help: the ceiling fan.  But not just any ceiling fan – SUPER CEILING FAN!  Okay, there’s no such thing.  What we’re really talking about is ENERGY STAR rated ceiling fans.

Let’s start with a statistic that’s hard to ignore: ENERGY STAR rated ceiling fans are 50% more energy efficient than conventional ones.  If you’re wondering just how they do this, it has to do with a couple of things: better motors and better blade designs.  And speaking of the blades, did you know that there are recommendations for blade size based on the size of the room?  For more on that, click here.

In the summertime, the best way to run your ceiling fan is with the blades running downward; this creates a cool breeze.  If you have your air conditioning unit running at the same time, lower it by two degrees – this change alone can save you 14% over the course of the summer!  But remember this – ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, so make sure to turn them off when you leave to save energy.

The Motor

There are two types of ceiling fan motors:  those with ball bearings that are sealed and lubricated and those with bearings that rotate in an oil bath.  The first option requires little to no maintenance while the second may need the occasional oil refill (learned something new, didn’t you?).

There are three types of motor grades:  performance, medium, and economy.  Performance grade fans are usually the most expensive kind because they’re designed for continuous and quiet operation.  Medium grade fans can run for approximately 12 hours per day and, lastly, economy grade fans work best in a room with 8-foot ceilings for no more than 8 hours per day.  As you can guess, these are usually the least expensive fans.

The Blades

Did you know that high quality blades are weighed and measured to be put into matched sets?  In other words, you can’t just switch out a blade from one box with a blade in another.  The blades that come in the box of the fan that you bought are literally a perfect complement to each other and help your ceiling fan be the best that it can be.

You probably never thought you’d know this much about ceiling fans or that there was even this much to learn.   Being an informed shopper benefits you and, in time, your pocketbook.  You can’t beat that…but you can beat the heat with a better and more energy efficient ceiling fan.

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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.

Green Energy Efforts Around the World

environmentThe green movement involves various countries around the world working toward a more sustainable future and offsetting the damage and depletion of the earth’s resources. In recent years, the global demand for energy has increased dramatically due to increases in population, industrialization, and technology use. As a result, several areas around the globe have chosen to promote environmentally friendly alternatives.  Here are just a few of the places and just what they’re doing to help save our natural resources.

United States

Under Obama’s Energy Agenda, the United States has opted to take an “all-of-the-above” approach that focuses on reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by leasing new acres of land for domestic oil exploration, manufacturing vehicles with better fuel efficiency, improving the electric grid, and increasing production of natural gas. In addition, the administration’s Clean Energy Standard aims to double the generation of renewable energy by 2035.

China

Due to an immense population, China has the largest oil consumption of any other country. Noticing the adverse effects of its strain on carbon-based fossil energy sources, China has taken a necessarily vigorous stance on its own energy use and production. Its energy conservation measures – now in its 12th five-year plan of China’s Comprehensive Work Plan on Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction – have implemented energy-saving improvements in industrial equipment and materials, in public transportation systems, and in electrically-powered homes and buildings. In their shift from non-fossil resources, the country has reached remarkable feats with renewable energy production, becoming the world’s leading hydro- and wind power generators. China also aims to harness more nuclear power by 2015, currently working to further improve safety measures and supervision of radiation levels.

Europe

The European Union has created an energy policy that aims to cut down on the continent’s total energy consumption to four-fifths of its current use by 2020. Starting with an investment of 1 trillion Euros, they seek to improve the energy grid by connecting to power stations with renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power. Within that same time frame, the combined countries plan to introduce new regulations concerning end-use consumer information, impose stricter nuclear safety regulations, and implement low-carbon technologies for energy generation and management.

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.

Types of Commercial Businesses that Can Benefit from Energy Efficiency

Office BuildingIt’s safe to say that all businesses want to save money whenever possible without a reduction in the quality of service and/or products they offer.  With this idea in mind, it is easy to see why energy efficiency platforms are popular. Many different types of commercial businesses can benefit from these measures. Here are some of the different types of businesses starting to look into measures for energy efficiency. Those who have similar businesses should start looking for ways that they will be able to reduce their costs as well.

Who Can Benefit?

Commercial office buildings are taking steps to curb their energy expenditure. Whether it is a commercial real estate office, a department store or a bookstore, energy efficiency will reduce operational costs. Large chain stores, such as grocery stores, are finding that they can gather quite a bit of data that is quite helpful. They can look at the data from several different stores and see the difference in energy expenditure, which will be able to show them which stores are using less energy. They can then look closely into the reasons as to why some stores are using more energy. This can offer better efficiency across the board as they start to implement different practices and devices to reduce energy consumption.

As you can see, just about any type of commercial business, no matter the size, will be able to benefit from some sort of energy efficiency plan. Look at your own business to find some ways that you might be able to reduce your usage.

Steps Needed?

Different options are available, so it is important for commercial companies to make sure that they are working with the best businesses and the best software or web-based platforms out there. The tools chosen should be able to offer tracking for energy consumption, optimization for energy efficiency, and automated demand response solutions for commercial buildings.

Some of the best solutions on the market today are able to help solve complex issues for commercial buildings. They let businesses gather data on usage and find ways to save. This can be very helpful for commercial businesses, and it can help to show a pattern of energy usage over time. Knowing when you are using more energy is going to help you find ways that you can reduce the usage.

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 Jargon Made Easy!

Open bookHave you ever come across some electricity terms that you didn’t know? With all the acronyms and jargon in the electrical industry, it can be hard to keep track. We’ve looked for the most common terms people will come across and listed them here in simple terms.

Deregulation: Simply put, it means you have the power to choose your electricity or natural gas provider.  Companies, like Glacial Energy, compete for your business.  The power to choose gives consumers a choice.

Distribution: This is the act of transmitting electricity over high voltage wires, transformers, and low voltage wires between a power plant and your home or business.

Grid: The actual wires, telephone poles, relay stations, and transformers that are operated by a Transmission and Distribution Service Provider (see TDSP).

kWh: Kilowatt hour. This is the unit in which electricity consumption is measured. Your energy provider charges you a specific rate per kilowatt hour of energy consumed. One kilowatt hour is equal to a 100 watt bulb running for 10 hours.

Phantom Load: The energy used when an electronic device is off, but still plugged in. This consumption is also known as “standby power” or “vampire electronics”.

Power plant: The industrial facility where electric power is generated.

Renewable Energy: Energy created from renewable sources which create less gas emissions.  Examples include hydroelectricity, solar, biomass, geothermal, and wind.

REP: Retail Energy Provider: A company which bills, sells, and provides customer service to people for their electricity service.

Smart Meter: This electronic meter calculates the kWh consumed and transmits that data directly to the REP for monitoring and billing. (See also kWh and REP.)

TDSP: Transmission and Distribution Service Provider. The TDSP maintains the telephone poles, transformers, substations, and high voltage lines that transmit electricity to your home or business.

Transformers: Transformers increase the voltage of electricity so that it can be transmitted over long distances via high voltage power lines and decrease the voltage so that it can be transmitted to a home or business

This is just a few of the several terms used in the industry, but likely the ones you’ll come across the most.

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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.

Greener Greenhouses

On the surface, a greenhouse can be considered an environmentally-friendly architectural structure as it stands due to the protective environment it provides for various types of plants.  They serve to optimize plant growth by trapping heat and providing light in winter months, stabilizing unreliable water supplies, preventing withering with controlled cooling in summer months, and minimizing exposure to pests and harmful bacteria. However, depending on the location of the greenhouse and the types of plants being grown within, maintaining a suitable environment can consume a lot of energy. Electricity-fueled ventilation fans, grow lights, heaters, and pumps run up energy bills significantly and rather unnecessarily.

There are many different ways a greenhouse can be constructed and maintained efficiently. Listed below are just a few options greenhouse growers should consider to lower utility bills and reduce the infrastructure’s overall carbon footprint:

  • Ventilation – Natural ventilation systems – like those used by West Virginia University’s Department of Agricultural Engineering – consist of multiple vents placed strategically around the greenhouse, such as the roof and perimeter of the building. Be sure to invest in larger exhaust fans if needed, as they tend to be more energy-efficient than smaller ones.
  • Heating – Solar panels, although an expensive investment, work to convert sunlight into natural heating for your greenhouse, which can save a lot on your energy bill in the long run. Cheaper options include placing hay bales around the building, installing a thermal curtain to trap heat, and running hot water or steam pipes under the floor, all of which use less energy than heaters.
  • Lighting – High-output lights, such as straight-tube fluorescents and cool white LEDs, produce more light, and use less electricity than low-output lights.  LEDs also have a longer lifetime than other types of lighting, which helps to reduce material waste.
  • Irrigation – Drip irrigation systems send water directly to roots at set times preventing overwatering of plants and excessive water waste. Install a rainwater collection tank and water plants early in the morning, so your plants have a chance to take in the water before it evaporates.
  • Insulation – Adding additional layers of insulated covering, like polyethylene over glass, improves insulation by reducing fuel use as much as 30%. When installing insulation boards in walls choose reflective boards over foam boards and thoroughly cover the north wall to reduce heat loss.

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.

Energy Efficiency and the Technology Behind It

In today’s world, energy efficiency and technology go hand in hand. With technological advances becoming more and more user friendly, it’s easier for businesses to incorporate them and to use them to manage their energy resources. From hardware to software, quite a few different types of energy efficiency technology are playing vital roles in businesses today. Here are some of those different types of technology that businesses will often find as they start to incorporate an energy efficiency platform into their processes.

Energy Management Software

When you think about software, chances are that you don’t often think about how it might be able to relate to your business’s energy efficiency. However, it is possible to integrate some types of software right into your business so that you can have more control over your electrical usage. Have you ever wondered what times of day your energy usage peaks?  You can use software to determine just that.

The software systems are generally very easy to use, and the training necessary to use them isn’t painful in order for you to start using the program correctly. As we mentioned earlier, technology today keeps the user in mind by making the experience as quick and efficient as possible.

Efficient Appliances and Units

Of course, digital technology is just one of the tools used to create a truly energy efficient business today. Other tools can be anything from efficient water heaters and heating systems in your building to changing the light bulbs or light fixtures (and installing timers so you don’t have to worry about manually turning fixtures off and on throughout the day). Today’s advances are making all of the appliances that you would use in your business more energy efficient, and every little bit will help when it comes to reducing your energy usage.

Are all companies making use of all of the different types of technology out there today? It’s not likely. Some solutions are going to work far better for companies than others will, and that means it’s a good idea to have the help and guidance of professionals when it comes to developing and implementing an energy efficiency plan.

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.

Energy Saving Tips for Handheld Devices

The presence of electronics in the consumer world continues to grow with the release of new and upgraded versions of devices every few months. It’s quite common for people to own multiple electronics, interchanging devices throughout the day and draining the battery life in each. These electronics and their corresponding chargers do not seem to consume a significant amount of kWh on paper, but they do waste energy by transferring it as heat (which becomes apparent when chargers become hot to the touch) and getting lost en route from the original energy source. Below are a few tips to help you save energy with your smartphone, tablet, e-reader, and MP3 player.

Smartphones

Although you may have gotten into the habit of charging your phone overnight while you sleep, this practice may actually be harming your smartphone. According to Cellutips.com’s cellphone battery guide, lithium-ion batteries that stay plugged in past 100% could damage the battery’s health over the long run in addition to using up unnecessary energy. Unplug your phone from its charger as soon as it is fully charged and be sure to unplug the charger from the wall when it is not in use. An alternative to unplugging is using a socket timer that you can program to automatically turn off when your device is done charging.  You can see an example of a socket timer here. Be sure to also turn off the Bluetooth feature when it is not in use as it eats up energy while it tries to connect to other devices.

Tablets and e-readers

Tablets and e-readers such as the Kindle or Nook are powerful devices that save a lot of space and paper on their own. It’s advisable to adjust light settings by lowering the brightness in order to protect your vision, but it will also reduce the amount of times you need to charge your device.

MP3 Players

Because MP3 players use the same batteries as most smartphones, the same limitations to charging times apply. Close applications that are not being used and try to save downloading for when you are connected to Wi-Fi rather than 3G or 4G to minimize the impact on your battery. Socket timers can be used for these devices as well and much more.

If you own any handheld electronic devices such as the ones listed above, you can reduce phantom loads and save money on your utility bill by investing in a power strip and shutting it off when all devices have finished charging.

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.

Save Green by Going Green

Owning a home is the “American Dream” but it doesn’t always feel that way, does it?  Besides your mortgage and insurance, you have to worry about all the other bills a house comes with, like water and electricity.  Saving money in this day and age has become even more of a priority.  If you’ve been looking for ways that you can put more money back in your pocket, read on for a few tips on how you make some easy, energy efficient changes to your home while being a little more green.

1)      Seal leaks and drafts.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing off drafts can save you 5 – 30 percent off your energy bill!  One easy way you can test for a draft in a room is to hold a lit incense stick close to a window frame and watch the smoke.  If there is a leak, get the right kind of weatherstripping material for a quick do-it-yourself project.

2)      Get a programmable thermostat.  We live in a technology-filled world and that world now holds programmable, or what we like to call “smart”, thermostats.  With this type of technology, there’s no need to worry about constantly changing the temperature manually.  These types of thermostats will “learn” your temperature control behavior and keep your home at a comfortable level year-round.  These thermostats can range in price but you’re likely to recoup your money in one season!

3)      Fix water leaks.  The U.S. Geological Survey reports that one leaky faucet can waste 3 gallons of water per day.  So, besides the constant “drip drip drip” that’s driving you crazy, it can also drive up your water bill if left unrepaired.  It can be as simple as a quick tightening , but if it proves to more than that, call your plumber.

4)      Go low-flow.  Do you have older model toilets?  If you do, they’re likely using more water than they need to.  The toilets of today (never thought we’d write a sentence like that) come with a low-flow feature to reduce your water usage with every flush.  The same feature is available on showerheads.  You don’t have to worry about a loss of quality by going low-flow.  Just sit back and enjoy the savings.

5)      Look for the blue label.  You know the one because we’ve mentioned it so many times before.  ENERGY STAR rated appliances are meticulously reviewed to ensure their energy efficiency and energy efficient products save you money and use less energy (with an added bonus of being kinder to the environment).  If you’re wondering what products are rated, visit the ENERGY STAR website.

The tips above aren’t just about saving you money and being nicer to our planet.  They also have the potential to increase the value of your home.  Not a bad deal!

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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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