Friday, October 30, 2009

Will a natural gas tankless water heater really save me money?

If you’re thinking about replacing your electric water heater, you might want to consider a natural gas tankless water heater. Why? These units are 30-40 percent more energy efficient than standard tank-type water heaters, saving money on your energy bill while providing you with a virtually endless supply of hot water.

Benefits:
There are a number of benefits to having a tankless natural gas water heater:

  • Natural gas is clean burning. And, natural gas rates are currently at a five-year low!
  • Tankless water heaters are energy efficient because they only heat water when you need it, rather than storing the water in a tank and keeping it heated around the clock.
  • They take up less space and can be located either indoors or out.
  • The life expectancy is almost double that of electric water heaters. Natural gas tankless models can last up to 20 years, and if there’s a product failure, you replace the broken part, not the whole system.

Savings:
While your exact savings will depend on the number of people living in your household, ENERGY STAR® estimates that converting to an ENERGY STAR®-qualified natural gas tankless water heater can cut your annual water heating costs up to 30 percent. Natural gas tankless water heaters also qualify for energy-efficiency tax credits.

In addition, SCE&G customers with access to natural gas may qualify for a $300 credit on their gas bill* when converting from an electric water heater to a natural gas one.

For more details, give us a call at 1-866-523-8242 or visit www.sceg.com/value.

* Certain restrictions apply. These offers may expire.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Are you ready for winter? Read these weatherization tips

You may be ready for cooler weather and all that it brings – football, holidays, maybe even a vacation – but is your home ready for winter? There are several things you can do to make sure:

1. Know your thermostat settings.
Set your thermostat at 68˚F. For each degree above 68, your heating costs can increase significantly, especially if you have an older home that is less thermal efficient. If you have a heat pump, a constant setting is key – moving the thermostat more than 2-3 degrees at a time can activate the heat strips (auxiliary or emergency heat) and increase your heating costs.

2. Have your heating system serviced.
Annual maintenance, by a professional, can identify possible problems and extend the life of your system while also maintaining optimum efficiency.

3. Visually inspect and insulate your water heater.
Arrange for repairs if you find any leaks. Also, consider an insulation blanket for your water heater. You can install this yourself if you have an electric unit, but if you have a natural gas unit, seek help from a professional to avoid contact with the burner.

4. Visually inspect ductwork, protect your home from drafts.
Check ductwork in your attic or under your home to make sure none of it has fallen. Then, check the supply and return vents, and the air handler for any leaks. These connections should be sealed with Mastic to avoid conditioned air loss. Also, caulk, seal and weather-strip around all seams, cracks and openings, paying special attention to windows and exterior doors.

5. Measure your attic insulation.
If you currently have any insulation less than R-30 (8-10 inches), you might benefit from adding insulation. Upgrading could possibly cut your heating costs by as much as 20 percent.

A little bit of effort can add up to big energy savings!

Friday, October 16, 2009

ENERGY STAR® appliances really do help you save energy

If you’re like me, buying the “right” appliance means researching all of the models and reading reviews on numerous Web sites. But, one key quality I always look for is the yellow ENERGY STAR® tag that tells me how much energy the appliance will use.

Appliances and home electronics account for about 20 percent of your energy bill. So, finding ways to decrease their energy usage can be important.

As a matter of fact, ENERGY STAR® appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models. That’s because ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.

Some ENERGY STAR® appliances may cost more on the front end, but they also can provide substantial savings on your monthly utility bills over the life of the appliance. Last year alone, with the help of ENERGY STAR®, Americans saved enough energy to power 10 million homes and avoid greenhouse gas emissions from 12 million cars – all while saving $6 billion.

So, whether you’re ready to buy new appliances or upgrade some old ones, it may be worth it to check out some ENERGY STAR® options.

For more tips, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy provides information about energy efficient appliances, including tips about buying appliances and electronics, estimating energy use, energy efficiency standards, electronic power controlling devices for appliances and tips about when to power off your computer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Seal your home’s air ducts to minimize the loss of conditioned air

Did you know leaky duct work often accounts for 10-30 percent of total heating and cooling costs? Did you also know that duct leakage lowers the heating and cooling capacity, and can lessen the life of your HVAC unit?

One of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to weatherize your home is to make sure your duct work is properly insulated and sealed. A visual inspection can often help locate any leaks or tears in your duct work, the supply and return vents, or the air handler that may need repair. You can also look for dirt streaks in your duct insulation. This is a sign that air has been leaking from the ducts.

To minimize the loss of conditioned air, make sure that all of the duct joints are well sealed. If you’re like me, your first thought might be to fix leaky ducts with duct tape. However, this should be avoided since the tape has a very short lifespan, does not seal joints properly and tends to dry out, crack and fall off.

Instead, leaks or tears can be sealed with Mastic, a non-toxic adhesive sealant that is used to permanently seal the joints of duct work. Mastic is a paste-like substance that dries solid and can be found in tubs or gallons at your local hardware store, typically for about $10/gallon.

Also be sure to check for any fallen duct work in your attic or under your home. This can lead to the loss of conditioned air and should be repaired as soon as possible.

If it’s not already part of your spring or fall cleaning routine, set aside time for an annual check of your duct work. It could help identify areas that need some TLC, and help you save on your heating and cooling costs.

For more information about heating and cooling efficiently, visit the EnergyStar Web site.

Friday, October 2, 2009

SCE&G’s In-Home Energy Consultations can provide personalized energy savings tips

Have you ever wondered how efficient your home is or what you can do to make it more energy efficient? SCE&G now offers a free In-Home Energy Consultation that can help you do just that!

Home Energy Consultations are provided free to all residential SCE&G customers. All we ask is that you complete a one-page questionnaire with some basic information about your home prior to the visit.

The in-home consultation normally takes about an hour to complete. Upon arrival, an Energy Services Representative conducts a thorough, visual inspection of your home – inspecting windows and doors, caulking, weather stripping, insulation levels, appliances, water heaters, HVAC – and assesses your home's thermal efficiency.

Once completed, the representative can provide you with energy saving tips tailored to your home and lifestyle. At the end of the visit, the representative will discuss all of his or her suggestions and/or observations, and leave you with a copy of written notes for your records.

If you’re interested in learning how to make your home more energy efficient, please complete our one-page questionnaire and return it to the address listed or fax number noted on the page. Once the questionnaire has been received, a member of the SCE&G Energy Team will contact you to schedule an appointment to visit your home.

If you have questions about the In-Home Energy Consultation, please call Customer Service at 1-800-251-7234.
Have an energy efficiency question?

Welcome to the EnergyWise® blog, a place to gain insights into energy efficiency tips and programs offered by South Carolina Electric & Gas. Have a specific question? Ask our Energy Team or comment to one of our posts below.