Ways to Conserve Energy

ways to save energy
Energy is a vital resource which is often taken for granted. Without it, our lives would be entirely different. We would be without lights and lamps, gas and electric, air conditioning and heat. It is a necessary commodity for us day in and day out. With such high demand, it is no surprise that energy comes at a cost- to our ecosystem and our checkbooks. Fortunately, within our own household there are many simple ways to conserve energy, as well as time, money and the environment.

First and foremost, it is important to begin monitoring your energy expenses. Knowing where the majority of your energy is being spent will help you know how to more efficiently cut back.  To better track your usage, you might also consider purchasing a plug load monitor. This device can be plugged into an outlet and will display how much energy is being consumed and when. Some are even programmable to automatically cut power.

Next, turn your attention to your house’s lights. If you are not willing to let go of any lamps or radiant bulbs, then you may want to think about a dimming switch. Dimming a light by just 10 percent will more than double a bulb’s life. Another option would be motion sensors for outdoor fixtures or indoor rooms that are not used as frequently or purchasing LED or fluorescent bulbs.

During the brisk winters, it can be difficult to manage the heating bill. To help these costs, you should lower your thermostat when you leave the home or during the night, minimize the use of expensive portable heaters, be sure not to block any air vents and utilize the sun’s heat by leaving shades and blinds open during the daytime. Similarly, much can be done to keep a home cool in the summer. Make use of ceiling fans, close exterior doors and windows when the air conditioning is on, block the sun by pulling blinds and shades, clean the AC’s air filters and set the thermostat to “auto” rather than “on” when air is constantly running.

These quick and effective tricks will keep your home running in tip-top shape while keeping your energy costs and usage down.

Walton EMC Natural Gas Donates $36,000 to Local Charities

walton emc checks
Last month, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Tennessee Vols. The Bulldogs were not the only victors in this football game. A few Georgia charities also won big thanks to $36,000 in donations made by Walton EMC Natural Gas. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta received $17,000, Camp Twin Lakes received $10,000 and $9,000 went to The Salvation Army. These donations were funded by Walton’s 2013 Kickin’ It for Charity and Big Gift campaigns.

In this year’s Kickin’ It For Charity campaign, Walton EMC Natural Gas will continue to donate $500 towards these three charities every time the Bulldogs scores a field goal. At the end of the season, the money is divided between the organizations based on the number of votes cast. Take part in the Kickin’ It for Charity campaign by voting for your favorite charity here: http://770gasheat.com/bulldogs/?q=h.

Walton EMC is also simultaneously running the Big Gift campaign. All new customers who sign up for natural gas services will be able to choose between a $25 bill credit or a $50 donation to their choice of the three charities.

“At Walton Natural Gas, we are focused on giving back. The Big Gift campaign demonstrates just how generous our customers can be,” said Savannah Chandler, Walton EMC Natural Gas communications representative. “We hope to have even larger checks for the charities next year.”

Walton EMC Natural Gas currently serves more than 70,000 customers throughout Georgia. Walton EMC also received the highest numerical score among residential natural gas service providers in Georgia in the proprietary J.D. Power & Associates 2011-2013 Georgia Natural Gas Retailer Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. Learn how you can get better service and pay it forward with your “Big Gift” by making the switch to Walton EMC Natural Gas today.

Fixed vs Variable Rate Natural Gas

If you’ve recently looked into switching natural gas providers or just ways to save more money on your utility bill, you may have uncovered that there is more than one kind of natural gas plan available. Which natural gas plan is right for you: fixed or variable rate? What is the difference between the two anyway?

The biggest difference between these two plans is that variable rate will fluctuate each month in relation to market conditions like demand, seasonal conditions and more. In contrast, a fixed rate plan allows you to lock in a particular rate for several months.

natural gas flameSo which plan Is a better deal for you? It’s hard to say with absolute certainty because there is no way to predict how much variable prices will fluctuate each month. Pricing history can be used to help you anticipate how much you’ll pay for natural gas, but it is merely a tool for estimation and can change on a yearly basis. Last year, a customer on the variable rate plan paid $1.02 per therm while a customer in a ­fixed rate agreement paid 66 cents per therm. For this year in particular, a fixed rate plan ended up being a better deal.

If you decide to sign up for a fixed rate plan, the price you pay each month will be locked in for the length of the contract, which usually ranges from six months to a year. When you sign up for a fixed rate, Walton EMC Natural Gas will purchase the gas that you will use in the future at the current rate. This is how we are able to provide you with a constant rate. This is the biggest advantage of a fixed rate plan- you already know how much you are going to pay.

Still not sure which natural gas plan is right for you? For more information about fixed or variable rate plans, contact Walton EMC Natural Gas.

Walton EMC Earns Third Consecutive J.D. Power Award

jd power natural gasWhen it comes to power and energy, Walton EMC is unrivaled. For a third consecutive year in a row, the company has garnered the J.D. Power Award for natural gas retail and customer satisfaction.

The J.D. Power Awards are a prominent ranking of companies within a variety of industries, including energy and natural gas. The organization has been conducting worldwide quality and customer satisfaction research for over 45 years. J.D. Power is one of the top U.S. and global research companies.

For this particular award, six factors are taken into consideration: corporate citizenship, communications, price, billing and payment, enrollment/renewal and customer service.  The study is based on responses from customers who have used the services of nine different natural gas retailers across the state of Georgia. This assures that the responses are indicative of a typical buying experience. 2,944 customers responded in the 2013 study and the results found a clear winner: Walton EMC.

“Walton EMC has the largest percentage of customers (58) who report having heard from their gas provider with an average frequency of three times in the last three months. It is no surprise that communication is a key factor in overall customer satisfaction, but it’s not just communicating for the sake of communication, it’s the message and delivery mode that matter,” says J.D. Power.

Although the industry average score was 692, Walton EMC earned the highest score of 731, 39 points above the average. Additionally, Walton EMC secured a JDPower.com Power Circle Rating of five, making it the only Georgia marketer to do so.

The consecutive wins motivate Walton EMC to better their services. “The fact that we rank highest doesn’t mean we stop improving. Our next goal is four years in a row,” said CEO Ronnie Lee. “Receiving this prestigious award for the third time has been just as exciting as the first,” adds Allen Powers, the Natural Gas Director. “J.D. Power is a recognized and respected name that we are glad to be a part of.”

With the future in mind, Walton EMC strives to improve year after year. As the leading natural gas provider in Georgia, they have and will continue to meet consumers’ natural gas needs throughout the state.

Spring Energy Saving Tips

spring energy savingSpring cleaning is about to commence and energy saving opportunities will unveil themselves in the process. Washing windows, stowing away winter clothes and blankets and even updating home décor can be contributing factors to saving on an energy bill. Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to pull the house together and get it ready for a change in seasons and a change in budget.

Acknowledging the tedious flaws that the winter reaped upon your home over the past three months can really pay off. The task of painting the shutters and trim, washing the windows and planting flowers around your foundation are a good time for homeowners to take notice of any heat-seeping cracks. These will require caulk to preserve the insulation of the structure which provides more control over comfort in temperature of the home.

Also in the early days of spring, we begin to prep our winter clothes and bedding for storage. Allowing for comfort for all who dwell in your home will help to resist the urge to crank the AC unit for some relief. Taking advantage of lighter clothing and blankets is an unexpected yet sensible way to relieve the heat of a high energy bill.

Learning how to utilize the changing daylight and nighttime temperatures will help find that comfort-zone. Updating home décor, especially drapes and shades, can help moderate the amount of direct sunlight getting in. If you’re fortunate enough to have a cooler evening, the open windows will help cool the house for the day ahead. Capturing the cold air and keeping out the warm sun is a definite way to keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature for your budget.

With a few quick fixes, there are sure ways to find relief from a soaring energy bill. It’s pleasant to know that spring cleaning comes with the perks of savings.

Benefits of Cooking with Natural Gas

natural gas cooking
One of the most versatile and valuable of all energy resources is natural gas. From heating and electric to fertilizers and clean transportation, natural gas can be used in numerous ways. Chefs and cooks are particularly fond of the energy source in their range cooktops. There are many benefits to cooking with natural gas stoves rather than electric stoves.

Why You Should be Cooking with Natural Gas

Precision and Speed
Control is obviously an important aspect of cooking.  Something that is too hot or too cold or on the stove for too long or too short can mean the difference between a delicious entrée and a tasteless disaster. Fortunately, cooking on gas stoves makes heat much more controllable. Natural gas stoves change heat immediately and precisely, whereas the heat change is gradual on an electric. The gas stove heats up faster as well.

Choosing to cook with natural gas is also a safer alternative because gas stoves create less heat than electric ones. Your kitchen and stovetop will be cooler, making you less subject to accidental burns. Fortunately, the food will still keep the higher temperatures and will cook just as fast.

In the past igniting a gas stove was a burden and could often be dangerous because a match would be used to light the pilot light. However, modern gas cooking stoves have electronic ignitions which require far less work and are hazard-free. Additionally, without a constantly burning pilot light, there are neither fumes nor gas waste.

Lastly, natural gas range cooktops can be advantageous in a power outage. You would not be able to cook on an electric range if the power goes out, but if you have enough natural gas or propane, cooking in the dark will be no problem.

Overall, natural gas cooking is valuable due to its speed, control, safety and dependability. Whether you are a professional chef or a cook at home, choosing gas over electric has proven to be the most effective means of meal making.

What is Shale Gas?

what is natural gasShale gas is the new topic of discussion in the United States. The findings of composites of this resource have started to strike new and exciting changes in our economy. It has brought about new technologies for drilling as well as provided a lifetime supply of our most valuable resource. Shale gas is sure to generate many conversations well into the future of our society.

Shale is a familiar word that many of us may have come across in our educational background. It is sediment found beneath the earth’s crust. It consists of mud, clay and other organic substances that have been compressed into a rock. While it is not the rock that generates the natural gas it does house it. Within the pores of the shale is where natural gas can be found. This gas is what has come to be referred to as shale gas.

Shale gas is valuable because it an energy source that is expected to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions as its use increases. Just 14 years ago, shale gas was responsible for only 1 percent of the United States natural gas production. By 2010, that number increased to more than 20 percent and the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration predicts that the United States’ natural gas supply from shale gas will only continue to grow and provide us with cleaner, more efficient energy.

As you can imagine the new type of natural gas has generated a link to our future, our economy, and eco-system. With every new journey there comes learning experiences. Shale gas is not expected to be a replacement for natural gas but rather a shift to a new way of life in which we obtain and utilize the resource.

How Natural Gas Pricing Works

natural gas pricesThe process in which natural gas is given a price tag is full of endless influences. However, it has been recognized that there has been a shift in some of the heavier influences affecting the cost of the fossil fuel. At times consumers may wonder exactly where the money is going when these prices take a hike. Regardless of the fluctuation, it appears that there will forever be a supply and demand configuration in matters regarding this particular resource.

As the winter months have proven to be some of the colder months we have seen in a while, it is no mystery that the charges on the utility bill are reflecting displeasing numbers as well. The weather we experience has been an obvious reflection on the supply and demand of the natural gas we need to maintain a comfortable life. That comfort comes at a cost though. Keep in mind that while it is colder outside, we tend to stay indoors more. Being indoors will require the use of more utilities that extract the use of the fossil fuel beyond more than just heating our homes but also in routine activities that take place in our domestic lifestyles.

The process in which charges are associated will reflect in recovery of the fuel, distribution of the natural gas and a fixed customer charge for necessary services to maintain usage of the resource. Understanding how the money is distributed based on the monthly utility bill can give an individual some sound mind about their ongoing uses of natural gas. Charges related to natural gas consist of more than 50% of an average utility bill. It is also beneficial to know that it is typical that companies do not make a profit on natural gas but rather charge the rate they, themselves, are subject to pay.

The amounts in which the population consumes this resource will continue to drive the demand levels and in return the natural gas deposits will be supplied to us at a cost. With the knowledge obtained on different influences there may be ways to manipulate the individual demand one might seek for their own usage. However the cost factor will always remain necessary and influenced by a variety of differing variables.

Rumors of Natural Gas Inventory Decline

natural gas inventory

An unseasonably cold winter has many implications, one being the increased demand for natural gas to heat homes across the country. Due to this drastic demand, it is no surprise that working gas in storage is much lower than last year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported that natural gas totaled 1.44 trillion cubic feet, while the same period last year totaled 2.42 trillion cubic feet. These low storage numbers continue to drop below the EIA’s five-year calculations.

Stocks and natural gas prices have been affected by this inventory decline. Consumers were forced to pay a five-year high of $6.15 per billion BTUs (British thermal units) in late February. In just a week’s time, the prices had increased almost $.50. Large natural gas producers in the United States are seeing the effects as well. Exxon Mobil Corporation was up about 0.8%, Chesapeake Energy Corp. was up 0.2% and EOG Resources Inc. was up 0.9%. Additionally, The U.S. Natural Gas Fun, which tracks spot prices, was down 0.6%, whereas The Market Vector Oil Services ETF, which includes major drillers and service companies, was up 0.4%.

However, the anticipation of warmer temperatures will lessen prices. Stephen Schork, President of Schork Group Inc., a consulting group in Pennsylvania explains, “This is a pretty good sign the run-up has run its course. Demand is going to remain strong, but we are at the end of the season and prices aren’t reacting the way they would have a month ago. At these prices, production is going to be very strong.”  The beginning of March marked the first monthly decline since September and futures dropped 25 percent, one of the biggest one-week price drops since 1996.

Although this winter was one of highs and lows, the spring forecasts look promising and has again led to a decline in natural gas futures.

How Often Should I Have my Furnace Checked?

furnace serviceThere is no better feeling than hurrying in to a warm, cozy home during this blistering cold winter. Without a furnace, our houses would be freezing. That is why maintaining and annually inspecting your furnace is important. This will assure that it is in good working condition and will help save you money on heating costs. Some of the inspection and repairs can be done yourself, while others are more complex and require professional services.

Furnace manufacturers recommend a professional inspection to be done annually. Some of the services completed include checking the ventilation system for leaks or blockage, ensuring that the blower access door is sealed, inspecting for rust and corrosion on the heat exchanger and analyzing the combustion gases to compare them with the unit specifications. They may also check the burners, drainage system and the filters. Hiring a professional may seem unnecessary, but most homeowners are not knowledgeable enough to complete all these tasks confidently. In fact, some technicians claim that 75 percent of homes without heat in the winter are due to lack of maintenance.

A few steps of regular maintenance can be done yourself throughout the year to keep the furnace in tip-top condition. Keeping your furnace clean is most essential. Dirt can potentially cause the furnace to overheat and it decreases its efficiency. The three main areas to clean are the motor, the blower and the filter. The filter can easily be inspected by take it out and holding it up to the light to examine it. If it looks clogged you can simply purchase a new filter of the same size and type. A permanent filter, on the other hand, can be sprayed with a chemical to help it stay clean as well. This chemical spray is available at most hardware stores.

Whether you are doing your own assessment or calling in the professionals, servicing your furnace is a key element in preparing for cold temperatures. Checking it can often be overlooked, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You wouldn’t want to have a breakdown in the dead of winter. Regular inspections can be done at home by cleaning the filter, while more complex services will require annual visits from the experts.