Friday, November 27, 2009

Make your holiday decorating EnergyWise

While we all enjoy spending more time at home with our family and friends during the holidays, it’s no time to forget about saving energy! Here are some quick tips to help lower your energy use during this special time of the year:

Use miniature or LED holiday lights
Compared to the old holiday lights, newer miniature lights use 70 percent less energy. And, LED lights are up to 90 percent more efficient than incandescent lights – lasting up to 100,000 hours (that’s 20 years!). Regardless of your preference, new bulbs will cost money initially, but you should see energy savings immediately.

Use timers on your lights
Leaving your lights on for 24 hours/day can significantly increase your energy costs. Program your timer to turn your holiday lights off when you are away and when you go to bed at night. It’s also smart to use that timer on your indoor lights throughout the year.

Give the gift of “light”
Brighten someone’s holiday by giving them a CFL! A compact fluorescent light bulb may seem like a small gift, but it will keep on giving throughout the year. Recipients will reduce their carbon footprint and save money!

Lower your thermostat
About 50 percent of your energy bill goes toward heating your home this time of year. The optimum setting for your thermostat in the winter is 68 degrees. Also, lower your thermostat anytime you’re away from home more than eight hours and at night while you’re snuggled up under those extra blankets on the bed. (See programmable thermostat)

Eliminate frost on the windows
Frost on your windows is a sign that your house is not keeping the heat in. Double check the seals of your exterior doors and windows. Caulk and weatherstrip where needed to keep that warm conditioned air inside your home.

Oh, and check out last week’s blog for some great energy saving holiday cooking tips!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cooking Tips: Save energy while cooking for the holidays

You’ve planned a spectacular meal and are looking forward to your family gathering around the table to celebrate this year's holidays … but how can you save some energy while cooking that turkey, ham, dressing and all the fixings?

1. Match pot size with burner size. A lot of energy is lost when a small pot sits on a large burner. The best way to heat or cook food without wasting energy is to make sure the bottom of the pot matches the size of the burner.

2. Keep the oven door closed. It’s difficult to resist peeking at that delicious dish in the oven, but don’t do it! Opening the oven door releases about 20 percent of the heat; it also causes the oven to work harder and your food to cook unevenly. Instead, use the oven light and peek at your creation through the window.

3. Fire up the grill and use the microwave. Grills and microwaves use a lot less energy than ovens and can drastically reduce cooking time. Another idea is to use your slow-cooker. Your guests will never guess your energy saving secrets!

4. When possible, keep the refrigerator door shut. Your refrigerator is designed to keep things cool. Each time you open its door you’re letting that cool air out. Try making a list of the things you need and minimize the number of times you have to open the fridge.

5. Load up the dishwasher. Did you know that hand-washing all those dishes uses about twice as much hot water as your dishwasher? Load up that dishwasher and use the “light” cycle – it will clean your dishes just as well as the “regular” cycle but uses half the hot water.

Bon app├ętit!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Project Share helps families stay warm this winter

Project Share is a program funded by SCE&G customers and employees that helps low-income customers pay their energy bills during the winter months. Since 1986, Project Share has provided more than $7 million to nearly 41,000 low-income customers in communities served by SCE&G. The best part about the program is that 100 percent of Project Share contributions go to people in need.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, through community action agencies, administers all donations to Project Share. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance from Project Share, please contact the community action agency nearest you. Or, if you would like to share the warmth this holiday season, you can download our contribution form and mail your donation to us.

Additionally, South Carolina’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides assistance to help low-income residents pay their home energy bills. Since the program began in 1980, LIHEAP has provided more than $61 million in assistance to SCE&G customers. For more information about this program, please contact the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.

More information about these programs is available on the SCE&G Web site or by calling Customer Service at 1-800-251-7234.

Monday, November 9, 2009

SCANA’s new Cayce headquarters incorporates green ideas

If you haven’t already heard, SCANA recently moved into its new headquarters in Cayce, just off I-77. The new campus consolidates the work locations of about 1,100 employees from throughout the Midlands.

The architect, engineers and general contractor who worked on the campus are all LEED certified. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Many aspects of the campus are aligned with LEED standards. Here is a summary of some of the energy saving features incorporated into the design of the new campus:

Sunlight and Shade
The buildings were built close together and set at an angle to ensure that no one area gets direct sunlight for more than a few hours per day. This also allows one building to shade the other as the sun moves over, reducing heat and glare. Horizontal and vertical sunshades minimize direct sunlight in the building and allow for better quality indirect light. In addition, the co-location of the buildings allows landscaping to be closer, thereby providing additional shade.

Berms
The berms surrounding the campus not only provide privacy and block noise, but they are made from recycled material. The soil used to create the barrier was not appropriate for the construction project itself. So, rather than hauling it to a landfill the soil was reused to create the berms.

Lagoons
The water features on campus aren’t just for looks. Through a process called bioremediation, storm water runoff will be piped underground into the lagoons, where specially chosen plants will remove as much as 100 percent of pathogens and metals before the water leaves the site. This DHEC-recognized practice is considered “low impact development.”

Recyclable Carpets
In addition to the numerous recycling containers available on site, the carpeting itself is recyclable – meaning it can be used to create new carpet and other products at the end of its lifespan. That’s a big help because according to some studies, roughly five billion pounds of carpet is replaced each year in the United States.

Trees
The campus has been designed and built to wrap around existing hardwood trees, using them for shade and scenery, while preserving their home. Also, a large section of property adjacent to the campus has been set aside for wildlife preserves and wetlands.

Being environmentally friendly was important to us in designing our new campus. What energy saving features are in your work place?
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.