Prepare for Summer Storms

Summer storms can swirl up quickly, causing thunder, lightning, strong winds, hail and even flooding. These conditions can be inconvenient – and also dangerous. When severe weather hits, a reliable plan is your best defense. Make sure your family is ready:

  • Create a family disaster supply kit with non-perishable food, water, a battery-operated radio, flashlights, a first aid kit, a non-electric can opener, medicines and cash.
  • Add portable, rechargeable cell phone power banks to your emergency preparedness kit, and charge them before a storm hits.
  • Locate the safest areas in your home for each kind of severe weather threat, often a first-floor interior hallway, room or closet with no windows. If you live in a mobile home, the safest areas may not be inside your home; please designate an accessible safe place.
  • Develop an evacuation plan, identifying the safest routes and closest shelters, while also considering areas that are flood-prone and may be impassible during a severe weather event.
  • Plan how to contact relatives in an emergency, and remember your pets when planning for possible evacuation. Not all emergency shelters allow pets.
  • Make trees and shrubbery more wind resistant by keeping them trimmed and removing damaged branches. Stay far away from power lines while trimming.

Take action now to make sure your family is prepared to weather the storm. To obtain forecasted electric costs as well as the weekly forecast, check out our weather insights app on our website homepage at union-power.com.

At Union Power Cooperative, we’re preparing, too. We work hard to minimize service disruptions all year round, but from time to time, severe weather can lead to power outages. Keep our outage reporting number, 1-800-794-4423, handy just in case, and remember you can view real-time outage information anytime on Facebook and Twitter as well as on union-power.com.

Pump Up Your Pool’s Efficiency

After a low-impact workout in the backyard, a swimming pool provides the perfect summer retreat. But who wants it to be a wallet drain? Soak up these pool efficiency tips to save money while maintaining your personal, pristine oasis.

Each pool is equipped with an energy guzzler: the pump. The bigger the pump, the higher the power bill. Make sure your pool uses the smallest pump possible. New products like variable-speed pumps offer a good way to save. A knowledgeable pool supply or service firm can help choose a proper pump for your pool, taking into consideration its size, filter, and piping.

Greater savings can come from decreasing pump operation time, no matter the pump size. Keep drains clear of debris, or your pump will work harder to circulate water. Also, find a proper balance for backwashing the filter. Too much backwashing—the process of filtering and disposing of dirty water—wastes water, while too little strains the pump.

Here are some common myths that lead to extra pump time (and wasted energy):

  • I need to run my pump to keep chemicals mixed FALSE. Circulate while adding chemicals, and they will stay mixed. There is no need to recirculate the water each day to “re-mix” the water.
  • My pool will be dirty if I don’t run my pump to constantly clean debris – Try running your pump for six hours or less a day, as suggested by the U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergySavers.gov. If the cleanliness is not to your liking, increase filtration time by 30-minute increments until you are satisfied. If six hours works well, try decreasing filtration time to find a balance with energy efficiency. To keep debris down without running your pump overtime, use a skimmer to manually clean the water. Also, try using a timer to run your filter for several short periods during the day rather than allowing debris to pile up after one long continuous filteration.
  • I need my pump to run continuously to keep algae at bayFALSE. Proper chemical balance and brushing down pool walls are the best algae fighters.

Make sure your pool isn’t draining energy dollars needlessly by adjusting pump time and investing a little legwork. You’ll have a prime poolside spot to relax in afterward, and the relief you’ll see on your power bill will be well worth the effort.

If you’re thinking about installing a pool but don’t know how it will affect your power bill, check out our pool pump calculator along with more tools to help you save energy around your house, by visiting us at union-power.com/energysavingcalculators.

The Path to Energy Independence

 While fireworks and Independence Day parades are synonymous with the Fourth of July, no such fanfare comes to mind when discussing energy efficiency. Perhaps it should. If you think about it, energy efficiency not only benefits individuals and families, but the country as a whole. Energy efficiency combined with energy conservation and advances in technology in the utility industry, ultimately help our country on a path toward greater energy independence. And that’s worth celebrating.

Benefits of efficiency

At its essence, greater efficiency means less energy is used for the production of goods and services. For individual consumers, a reduction in energy use usually translates to a tangible financial benefit – more money in your wallet at the end of the month. If your co-op neighbors are also using less energy, collectively, it means the overall cost of providing that electricity could be lower and may result in reduced costs for co-op members. For many, this is reason enough to strive for greater energy efficiency. On a national level, energy efficiency, sometimes called the “fifth fuel,” has a more profound impact. It can potentially boost the economy by allowing consumers and businesses to investment in other areas. As importantly, greater energy efficiency may slow the rate at which domestic energy is depleted, and therefore reduce or diminish the need for foreign energy.

Strike up the band

There’s no need to wait for the first exploding burst of fireworks in the night sky to start your energy efficiency efforts. Every American can take charge of their own energy use, regardless of the date on the calendar. Small steps can lead to a big difference for you and your neighbors, whether across the road or across the country.

Energy efficiency can generally be achieved two ways. The first is with mechanical change, such as replacing an older HVAC unit or less efficient appliance or with a new ENERGY STAR model or upgrading to new, insulated windows. Less expensive actions include improving the seal of your home’s “envelope” by caulking exterior windows and doors and sealing openings where pipes and ductwork meet the outside. Swapping out the last incandescent bulbs (inside and outside) with LEDs also makes a noticeable difference.

Smart control

The second way to realize energy efficiency is through smarter management of your energy use. Leveraging smart thermostat technology is a good place to start. Most smart thermostats contain an app allowing remote control by mobile phone or tablet. Program your thermostat to reflect your family’s schedule. Many thermostat programs allow you to view and edit your thermostat schedule and monitor the amount of energy used. Sometimes, however, energy efficiency is simply a matter of changing old habits such as washing clothes in cold water instead of hot or running the dishwasher during off-peak times.

Regardless of the path you take on the road to energy efficiency and independence, Union Power Cooperative can help you on the journey. View our energy savings calculators at union-power.com/energysavingscalculators/ to help you find ways to save.

How to be Energy Efficient in Humid Climates

 

Why does a 95°F day in North Carolina feel hotter than the same temperature in the Southwest? Why do dry heat and humid heat feel so different, and how does this affect your strategy for home energy efficiency? While there are many common ways to achieve energy efficiency across all warmer climates, there are some important differences that vary by geography.

Heat and humidity vs dry heat
Generally speaking, when there is more moisture in the air, the temperature feels hotter than it actually is because moist air is closer to saturation than dry air. On a humid day, when the air is saturated with water, evaporation is much slower. Simply put, high humidity will make the air feel hotter while low humidity will make the temperature feel cooler.

Heat reduction is priority one
In warm climates, the majority of energy used to make the home feel comfortable is spent on home air conditioning and cooling. The first priority is heat reduction. However, in humid areas, moisture reduction is nearly as important as lowering the indoor air temperature. If a home has too much moisture, indoor air quality can be comprised and mold and mildew problems can develop.

Energy efficiency for hot and humid climates
The first line of energy defense is to ensure that your home is properly insulated and sealed in order to keep the heat and humidity that surround the house from getting inside. Leaky ducts, windows and doors can cause energy loss, making the HVAC system work much harder to wring the moisture out of the air and exacerbate potential indoor air quality issues. Homes that are “sealed tight” are easier to keep cool and dry.

Next, make sure your HVAC system is the right size. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that most current residential systems are oversized. If your unit is too big, you will pay higher energy bills, and you won’t get the efficiency level or comfort you want and expect. It is also likely that the unit is “short cycling,” constantly turning off and on, never achieving optimum efficiency. When the unit runs in short bursts, it will not operate long enough to eliminate all of the humidity in your home. Damp, cool indoor air creates a muggy atmosphere that can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. This can be a particular concern for those who suffer from allergies, as many allergens thrive in damp conditions.

If you are considering a new HVAC system, consult a Union Power Energy Specialist to help you choose equipment that is the correct size and meets or exceeds the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) for the capacity requirement, such as Energy Star-rated systems.

DIY humidity reduction
There are some basic steps you can take to lower the humidity in your home to help make it feel cooler and more comfortable. Start by reducing the humidity you are already producing.  The kitchen and bathrooms are the biggest contributors to higher humidity levels. Check to ensure that your range hood is ducted to the outside, as re-circulating range hoods are not effective in controlling moisture (or odors). When cooking, and especially when boiling water, run the vent fan. In the bathroom, run the vent fan when bathing or showering. Keep the fan on up to 30 minutes after you have finished in order to eliminate the residual moisture in the air.

If you can reduce the indoor humidity level, you may be able to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature with a higher thermostat setting and ceiling fans. The air movement from the ceiling fan will create a “wind chill” effect, lowering the temperature and increasing comfort. Finally, check gutters and downspouts for leaks or blockage. If rainwater leaks out and saturates the ground surrounding your home, some of the moisture can eventually migrate into your house. If you would like more information about how to save energy, contact our energy specialists at 704-289-3145.

 

Touchstone Energy Scholarship Winners Attend Basketball Camp

A pair of middle-school students attended basketball camp on college campuses this summer, thanks to Union Power Cooperative’s Touchstone Energy Sports Camp scholarships.

Caydance Garmon of Monroe hit the hardwoods at the Wolfpack Women’s Basketball Camp June 11-14 at N.C. State University in Raleigh. Marcus Montgomery of Waxhaw ran drills at the Roy Williams Carolina Basketball Camp June 17-21 at UNC in Chapel Hill.

At both camps, coaches and student-athletes worked directly with students to develop basketball skills and practice working as a team. Campers stayed in dorms, ate meals and experienced life as a college student. From handling skills, to shooting, to working together, the student athletes developed fundamental skills that will help them excel on and off the court.

 “Caydance & Marcus are outstanding students, athletes and community members,” said Carrie Stroud, Vice President of Communications for Union Power. “We are proud to continue our tradition of providing local kids, our future leaders, this excellent opportunity to learn and grow in a college setting.”

Touchstone Energy Sports Camp Scholarships are available to middle-school students every year and are part of Union Power’s commitment to community. Scholarship winners were selected based on an application that included academics, extracurricular activities and an essay, and more than 50 students earned scholarships statewide.

2017 Basketball Camp Winners