October means fun fall activities, football season, Halloween candy, and pumpkin everything, but there’s something else that’s welcoming about this month as well. The U.S. Department of Energy designates the month of October as Energy Awareness Month. Each year, this national effort serves as an opportunity to educate the public, promote awareness, and lead the charge to change the way individuals manage their energy resources.
There are so many ways that you can conserve energy and make a positive impact on the planet you call home. It starts with understanding the importance of energy sustainability and continues with easy steps that you can take to conserve energy in your daily life. So, why is energy conservation so important?
The Importance of Energy Conservation
You might have heard about the importance of energy conservation, but do you consider it in your daily life? While most people strive to be conservative with their energy consumption, energy is unintentionally wasted every day. Energy Awareness Month shines a light on the importance of conserving energy and equips individuals and agencies across the nation with the tools they need to make a change.
Here are some reasons you might want to consider reducing your energy use:
- Energy is essential to your life in many ways. It’s not just important to sustain the comfort of your lifestyle; it’s also necessary for survival.
- While renewable energy sources are replenished as they are depleted, nonrenewable sources can’t be replaced. The use of nonrenewable sources, like gas, oil, and coal, should be controlled for the well-being of future generations.
- Since the overuse of energy increases pollution in the environment, cutting back improves the water and air quality around you.
- If those reasons aren’t enough, reducing energy consumption saves you money. The less energy you use, the more money you’ll have in your pocket.
In September 1991, President George Bush declared October National Energy Awareness Month. This was the first of many vital steps taken to spark change in the overconsumption of energy across the country. Since then, many government agencies and private organizations have created annual efforts to educate the public on the importance of sustainably managing energy resources.
As October approaches each year, the Department of Energy dedicates the annual campaign to an important topic regarding energy consumption. From energy and water conservation and management to energy resilience and security, there are many ways that you can be mindful of the energy you use to ensure the well-being of the environment for future generations.
Tips for Increased Energy Efficiency
National Energy Awareness Month isn’t just a time to educate and inform the public on the importance of energy conservation; it’s also a time to inspire you, as a consumer, to take proactive steps to save energy in your daily life. There are easy, cost-effective ways to transform the way you use energy this month that will last for years to come. But first, you must understand the different ways that you consume energy in your own life.
Educate Yourself on the Energy You Use
When it comes to the energy you use in your home, there are some important things to understand. Check your utility bills to determine how much gas and electricity you use in your home each month. Keep in mind that energy consumption changes as the seasons change. Take a few minutes to compare your energy use this year to last year’s use. Have you used more or less energy? Consider the reasons for the change.
Look into your energy rates. Utility expenses are calculated per kilowatt-hour for electricity and per therm for gas. Do a little research on whether rates are expected to rise or fall in the near future. Compare energy suppliers. While this doesn’t affect how much energy you use, it can significantly impact energy management. Since some energy suppliers offer plans that are powered by renewable resources, either fully or partially, this can be a great way to cut back.
Finally, use an appliance energy calculator to find out which appliances or devices in your home use the most energy. How much power does your TV use? Do your new electronics continue to use electricity after you turn them off? What areas of your home can you be more conservative with when it comes to energy use? Shedding light on the amount of energy being used by which appliances can give you great insight into where you can make a change at home.
Easy Ways to Reduce Energy Consumption at Home
Now that you understand how much energy you consume and where the majority of your consumption comes from, you can take advantage of these steps to conserve energy and save on your utilities:
- Adjust your daily behaviors. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Shut down appliances when they aren’t in use. Turn down the heat in winter and cut back on air conditioner use in summer. Be conscious of the areas of your energy use that are high and find ways to cut back, even if only slightly. All of these small steps can make a massive impact in the long run.
- Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives. While light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and halogen incandescent bulbs are a bit more expensive to purchase, they use less energy and last longer. This means that they cost less over time.
- Talk to your local utility providers about the possibility of converting to smart meters now or in the future.
- Switch to energy-efficient appliances. Be sure to pick an appliance with the Energy Star label. This gives you a federal guarantee that the appliance will consume less energy. If making a change is not financially reasonable, keep energy-efficient appliances in mind when you need to purchase a replacement.
- Reduce your water heating expenses. One of the most significant contributors to total energy consumption in households is water heating. You can reduce your costs by purchasing an energy-efficient water heater. Use less hot water. Insulate your hot water heater and turn down the internal thermostat.
- Install energy-efficient windows and weatherize your house. This will prevent heat loss and, ultimately, require less heat use. Seal any air leaks around the home. Using caulk, close off any cracks or openings in your vents, windows, or door frames.
- Call for an energy audit. If you’re wondering whether any of these efforts will make a difference and where you should start, a trained professional can help. They will come into your home and identify areas of energy loss, ways you can improve your energy conservation efforts, and tools to transform your home into a more energy-efficient residence. The result of an energy audit doesn’t just equip you with techniques to do your part in energy conservation, but it also provides long-term cost-saving opportunities.
No matter how you choose to celebrate National Energy Awareness Month, be sure to spread the word. Increased awareness, practical tips, and a little inspiration go a long way in reducing energy use and making a change for the well-being of the environment. Be proactive today, and the future generations of your family will thank you.
Opportunity in Deregulation
At one point, all energy markets were regulated, meaning that the utility company owned all electric transmission lines and related infrastructure. In this way, they generated all of the electricity provided and then sold it to customers. However, that began to change in 1992 with the passage of the National Energy Policy Act, which created the structure that would allow for the competitive wholesale electricity generation market to exist. In 1996, Order 888 required that transmission services separate from power plants. This order paved the way for states to begin the process of deregulating. Finally, Order 2000, put into effect in 1999, established the regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) to ensure that the grids stayed safe and reliable.
California, Texas, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts all began the process of at least partially deregulating by 1999, giving customers in those states choices when it came to which company provided their power. Today, over half of the states offer some form of deregulation in natural gas and/or electricity.
Benefits of Deregulation
Initially, a deregulated market can seem more confusing because there are so many options. However, with those options come a wide variety of benefits to the consumer, some of which include:
- lower prices due to the nature of competition: new companies entering the market may offer prices lower than those of more established companies
- choices regarding the source of your energy: choose between companies that offer more natural sources of energy versus those that use more traditional sources
- ease in switching companies: because the infrastructure remains the same, switching companies will only result in a change in your bill, so you will not lose service in the transition
- choices regarding your plan: providers can offer a wide variety of plans aimed at meeting the needs of a wide variety of customers
- improved customer service: providers are not only competing for the best price; they are competing for the best customer service, which is a win for the consumer
Texans were officially able to choose their electricity provider beginning January 1, 2002, and Stream Energy was founded in Texas in 2005. A direct-selling company with independent sales associates, Stream established a firm footing in the Texas electricity market and then expanded to serve the deregulated natural gas market in Georgia in 2008. In 2009, Inc. magazine named Stream Energy one of the fastest-growing private companies, with more than 1,200 percent revenue growth since its inception in 2005. Since 2010, the company has continued to add markets, and today, Stream serves 40 deregulated markets in 9 different states: Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Delaware, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.
Stream Energy works to meet the needs of its customers with a variety of plan offerings. Customers can choose from several different fixed-rate or variable-rate plans.
Stream also understands the impact that traditional energy sources can have on our planet. By using both traditional and renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower, the company can offer even more options to its customers. If customers desire to increase their use of green energy sources, Stream has options for them. Finally, with customer support agents located throughout each of the markets it serves, Stream provides top-notch customer service to its customers.