The Efficiency Award Goes To…

Touchstone Energy was pleased to be a part of the 2014 Midwest Residential Energy Conference in Lexington, KY, a conference promoting energy efficiency through the education of building science. As a education track sponsor, Touchstone Energy had six sessions focusing on national programs, Geothermal application, mobile-home weatherization and more.

While there, we were able to hear from well known speakers in the general sessions and attend the East Kentucky Power Cooperative’s annual award ceremony for energy programs. And here are the results:

1) Most Touchstone Energy Homes
Congratulations to Blue Grass Energy for building the most Touchstone Energy New Homes on its system in 2013. Blue Grass Energy certified and HERS rated 106 new homes during 2013. Thank you, Blue Grass Energy, for your dedication to high efficiency new homes. (Pictured: Barry Drury)

2) Most Button Ups
Congratulations to Farmers RECC for weatherizing 137 homes during 2013. Thank you, Farmers RECC, for your dedication to improving energy efficiency in existing homes.

3) Dedication to Affordable Housing
Fleming-Mason Energy would like to honor Dave Kreher of People’s Self Help Housing of Vanceburg, KY. Since 1982 Dave and his staff have been dedicated to affordable energy efficiency housing and have helped hundreds of families realize the dream of home ownership.

4) Smith Family Homes for 100% Touchstone Energy New Homes
Nolin RECC recognizes Clay Smith with Smith Family Homes for certifying 100% of his homes as Touchstone Energy Homes. On average. Clay’s homes have a HERS index score in the 40′s.
Brantingham Builder for “Lowest HERS Index”
Nolin RECC also recognizes Paul Brantingham with Brantingham Builders for building the home with the lowest HERS index score, 46, in Nolin’s service territory.

5) 100% ENERGY STAR New Homes
South Kentucky RECC honors KY Highlands Investment Corporation for certifying 100% of their homes in 2013 as ENERGY STAR New Homes.

6) Meritorious Conduct
Blue Grass Energy recognizes Jeff Gale of Gale Property Management for his commitment to the community. Jeff is building a home that all proceeds will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

7) Most Touchstone Energy New Homes (Builder)
Partnership Housing has built 13 news homes with a policy of all homes being built to have a HERS Index score of 55 or less. 2014 goals include building 10 or more homes with these standards.

Touchstone Energy is proud of our cooperative systems and their commitment to energy efficiency in our communities and around the nation. To learn more about our programs visit TouchstoneEnergy.com or visit TogetherWeSave.com

Joshua McGhee
Project Coordinator, Energy Programs
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives

 

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Together We Save App: Is Your Fridge Running?

You better go catch it then, and while you are at it, get your entertainment and gaming systems, too. These and many more devices may use more energy than you think. Touchstone Energy has created a powerful tool to show the amount energy that is consumed by appliances, devices, and anything around the home or office.

The Together We Save, Save Energy Save Money Smartphone app is one of the easiest steps toward knowing how to lower your energy bill. How much energy does your small space heater use? Or what about your television? Find out with the app’s energy calculators for items used on a hourly, daily and weekly base. When you enter your zip code, your cooperative’s energy cost rates will populate the results for each calculator.

Don’t know where to start? Our energy savings tips will give quick pointers on where to look for energy savings around your home. Just download the app on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. It is compatible with iOS6 and iOS7 devices like iPhone 4 and newer and iPads, as well as Android devices using a 2.2 or higher operating system.

Search “Touchstone Energy” in your smartphone’s application store, download and let us know what you think at TogetherWeSave@nreca.coop. If you already have the Save Energy Save Money app, be sure to have the latest update by updating your app from your phone’s application store. Contact TogetherWeSave@nreca.coop if you have any questions and for troubleshooting.

 

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Alert: Dangerous Icy Weather Ahead

A major winter storm is hitting parts of the East Coast with dangerous ice and snow and is expected to intensify Wednesday evening as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard. More than one inch of ice accumulation is possible from central Georgia into South Carolina through Thursday morning.

There are many dangers with large snow accumulation, but the biggest threat to our power lines is ice. Ice accumulation on power lines is problematic, but ice on trees is even worse. Falling limbs and trees can quickly take out power lines. If you see a problem with fallen trees or power lines, stay away. Do not touch the power lines. Call your local emergency services and notify your co-op.

Our cooperatives prepare and dispatch brave and experienced linemen to work around the clock to maintain and restore power, even in the most dangerous and frigid scenarios. Winter conditions can make if difficult to get equipment and crews to the site, and the restoration process can be complicated. Our skilled linemen crews are working hard in difficult conditions. They are truly the people power that electrifies our communities.

Here are a few preparation and safety tips for an outage.

1) Heating. When preparing to have an alternative heat source, there are a few things to keep in mind. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a real danger. Do not use a generator or unvented fuel-burning heat source indoors. When using stoves and fireplaces, be sure that there is proper ventilation. To be sure, a battery powered Carbon Monoxide detector should be installed.

2) Lighting, Weather Alerts, and Appliances. Have plenty of batteries, flashlights, and a battery operated radio or TV for weather alerts. If the power goes out, unplug major appliances and entertainment devices to protect them when the power is restored.

3) Supplies. For your safety, be sure to charge your cell phone so you can report an outage. Bookmark emergency services contact information and have a first-aid kit in reach. Stock up on blankets and sleeping bags, non-perishable foods and have a hand operated can opener.

During an outage, your Touchstone Energy Cooperative will do whatever it takes to restore power as soon as possible. Please be patient and thank a lineman for keeping us all warm.

 

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The New LED

This year brings a lot of changes to the world of lighting. With less incandescent light bulbs on the shelves, see here, and energy saving bulbs becoming popular, purchasing the best option for you may seem intimidating.

The watt usage among bulbs is so polarized that shopping by watts is no longer wise. So what is there to consider? Comparing lumens is one of the best ways to choose the right bulb. Lumens is the measurement of light produced. For instance, an energy saving bulb can create the same amount of lumens as a traditional bulb but will use 75% less energy. Read more about lumens, here.

The most efficient light bulb application is the LED. The US Department of Energy’s LED Lighting Facts Products page is a quick tool to learn the different types of this new style of light bulb. Not sure what you are looking for? Here is a list of qualified bulbs and fixtures for consumers, covering both LEDs and compact fluorescent lamps.

For more daily updates visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Together We Save. Want more information or have a question? Contact us at TogetherWeSave@nreca.coop.

 

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Record Temperatures Blast the Nation

This may be vacation weather for polar bears, but not for us. Subzero temperatures are freezing many parts of the nation and creating high heating bills. Here are some DIY tips on how to stay warm and safe.

Doors and windows can allow heat to escape your home and create drafts. Air sealing your exterior doors may seem like a difficult task, but applying weather-stripping can quickly create a barrier that will keep the warmth inside.

1) Install New Weather-Stripping. Assess the existing weather-stripping to see if it needs to be replaced. It is important to remove the old before applying the new weather-stripping. Layering weather-stripping may prohibit the door from closing completely and the material from working as intended.

2) Install a Door Sweep. One of the biggest gaps to allow warm air to escape is the threshold between the door and the floor. Have you noticed the temperature difference of the floor as you approach the door? Typically this is more noticeable with hard surface flooring. A door guard will block the air flow, and certain styles of door sweeps are compatible with carpet.

Take a look at our winter weather-stripping video below on how to air seal your home.

For more daily updates from Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and more winter energy savings tips, visit us on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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The End of an Era

The drop of the ball in New York’s Times Square at midnight on December 31, 2013 signals the end of 2013 and start of a new year. It is appropriate that the ball is now lit by 32,256 LED’s that use 88% less energy than the halogen lamps they replace. Why, you ask? Because midnight also marks the end of the manufacture of conventional 60-Watt and 40-Watt incandescent lamps that have been the lighting mainstay in houses for more than a century.

Signed into law by President Bush in 2007, the bi-partisan Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) set a schedule for the phase out of conventional incandescent lamps. 100-Watt lamps were first to go in 2012, followed by 75-Watt lamps in 2013 and now 60- and 40-Watt lamps. There are similar provisions affecting commercial fluorescent lighting.

To be clear, the EISA doesn’t “ban” anything. It simply says that manufacturers must develop light bulbs that produce the same amount of light (lumens) with less power (watts). A conventional 60-Watt lamp produces about 820 lumens. The new standard requires the lamp to produce the same light but only use 43 Watts. CFL and LED lamps have been available for years that meet the requirement and last much longer. More efficient halogen lamps are being developed too. Want more information? Click here.

Why not make a new year’s resolution to change out your lights and save some money at the same time.

Happy New Year,

Alan C. Shedd, P.E., CEM
Director of Energy Programs
and the Together We Save Team

 

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Day 12: Twelve Plugs for Plugging

Thanks for counting our “12 Days of Holiday Savings” with us! You’d be surprised how the little changes toward energy efficiency can really add up over the year. We’d love to hear your success stories in making your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Here is “Day 12: Twelve Plugs for Plugging.”

‘Tis the Season for plugs and more plugs. With holidays guests, decorations, and a lack of extension cords, power strips can help organize and manage your plugs.

How can power strips save energy? There are a number of options, including smart power strips that help assist in saving power. However, regular power strips can prevent Phantom power.

Phantom power is the amount of energy a device uses while off yet still plugged in. Phantom loads are big energy hogs, representing as much as 15 percent of the electricity consumed in US homes, and that number will rise as devices become more complicated, such as the cable box with recording/playback options for example.

Plugging your devices into power strips can eliminate phantom power once the strip is turned off. Smart power strips can have customizable automated features that will turn off the power going to a device.

Read more about Phantom Power here.
For more daily updates visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or go to TogetherWeSave.com.

 

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Day 11: Eleven Degrees of Warmth

Baby, it’s cold outside! Stay inside and warm those cold areas of your home with a space heater. Take a look at the video below to see options when purchasing space heaters.

Click here to read more about space heaters, and if you missed our other winter videos, see Day 5, Day 7, and Day 8  of our “12 Days of Holiday Savings.”

 

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Day 10: Ten Gifts for Giving

Need any last minute gifts? TopTenUSA compiles great products into lists that meet energy savings standards, including ENERGY STAR ratings. Here are ten gift ideas that are number 1 in energy savings in the category.

1. Televisions. Westinghouse LCD Model TV’s have the lowest average energy costs.

2. Laptop Computers. Hewlett-Packard Company ENVY 2-in-1 tablet will only use 4.3 kWh/year for recharging.

3. Refrigerators. Whirlpool WRT771RWY 21-cubic-foot model can save up to $315 in energy costs per year.

4. Clothes Washers. Samsung WF455AGS 4.5 cubic foot washer will save up to $346 per year.

5. Furnaces. Carrier Infinity 98:59MN7 model is the most efficient option in energy consumption.

6. Freezers. Danby DCFM246 freezer model will save up to $67 per year.

7. Dishwashers. Bosch SHX98MO*UC dishwasher only uses 2.9 gallons of water per cycle and can save $100-$226 in energy costs.

8. Larger Gaming Monitors. ASUS VE278H can save up to $16 in yearly operating costs.

9. Electric Water Heaters. Stiebel Eltron ACCELERA 300 can save $4,882 in lifetime operating costs.

10. LED Lighting. Satco/Nuvo products have the warmest LED color temperatures and most energy savings.

Find more information on Top Ten USA’s website.
For more daily updates visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or go to TogetherWeSave.com.

 

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Day 9: Nine Tips for Holiday Guests

‘Tis the Season for hot cocoa, Christmas sweaters, caroling out in the snow and, of course, holiday guests! Are you ready? While preparing for the holiday, keep energy savings in mind as you host and entertain. Here are “Nine Tips for Holiday Guests.”

1. Cooking. Opening the oven door for just a second can decrease the oven’s temperature by 30 degrees causing the elements to continually replenish the heat. Using the oven light instead of opening the door can save energy this holiday season.

2. Laundry. Using cold water for washer machine loads can decrease water heating costs. Be sure to empty the dryer’s lint trap before every cycle and check that the dryer vent is unblocked. If you’re considering purchasing new appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR rating to save significant energy costs.

3. Water Heater. Adjust the temperature of the water heater to 120 degrees F. This will ensure that your water is plenty hot and your water heater isn’t working overtime to maintain too high of a temperature.

4. Shower. With added guests comes added utility use. To help maintain your energy costs, you may want to install a water-saving shower head, sometimes known as a low-flow shower head. Water-saving shower heads can still produce the water pressure that may be desired, but saves water and water heating costs.

5. Dishwasher. The dishwasher will get a good workout through the holidays. Save energy by running a cycle only when full, and, if drying time permits, choosing air dry over heat dry.

6. Door. With the extra traffic in and out of the home, it is easy for doors to be left open or not fully latched. Consider installing self closing hinges or maintaining/installing door closers on storm doors.

7. Lighting. Replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy savings bulbs can reduce your lighting costs by over 75% with CFL and LED options. Click here to learn more.

8. Refrigerator Seals. The refrigerator will also be a highly used appliance. Check your seals to ensure they are airtight. One trick is to place a dollar bill between the seals and close the door. If you can pull the bill out with ease, the seals are not tight.

9. Fireplace. With the importance of comfort around the holidays, a fireplace can ensure a warm guest experience and will greatly supplement heating costs. To learn how to maintain a fireplace, click here.

For more daily updates visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or go to TogetherWeSave.com.

 

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