Monitoring power use can help keep bills low during hot monthsWith the arrival of summer comes not only high temperatures and sunny skies, but increased energy use, and in turn, a lighter wallet.
By: Austin Ashlock, Grand Forks Herald
With the arrival of summer comes not only high temperatures and sunny skies, but increased energy use, and in turn, a lighter wallet.
However, people in the Grand Forks area may be able to avoid overspending on energy this season with the help of Xcel Energy and its Power Check program.
In partnership with the Grand Forks Public Library, Xcel Energy is offering free checkouts of Power Check meters, a tool used to measure energy use by home appliances.
Users can plug an appliance into the device and the device into an outlet and the meter will gauge the amount of energy used by the appliance for a given amount of time.
North Dakota principal manager for Xcel Energy Mark Nisbet said the program aims to give power to the people.
“The program puts knowledge in the hand of the customer,” Nisbet said. “Homeowners can use the information from the meter to do the things they need to make their costs lower. We want to let people decide, for themselves, if it’s time to switch over to more energy efficient products.”
Launched in 2010, the program allows people to gauge the dollars they spend on energy by attaching Power Check meters to household appliances.
The Grand Forks Public Library has been offering checkouts since the program’s launch in 2010, and currently has six meters in stock.
Library Director Wendy Wendt said the library is eager to support the Power Check program.
“This project is a terrific partnership and another great way to spread knowledge into the Grand Forks community” Wendt said.
Those interested can check out a Power Check meter with a Grand Forks Public Library card.
The meters work on any standard 120-volt home appliance and record energy use in dollars spent, watts, volts, amps and watts per hour.
Nisbet said the device is especially useful during the summer months.
“With the use of air conditioners, the energy load during summer months tends to be much higher,” Nisbet said. “So, we definitely want to remind people of the importance of keeping an eye on the use of their appliances.”
According to Nisbet, air conditioners, refrigerators, water heaters and furnaces use the most energy inside homes.
Users can also view data gathered by the device on their computers using software provided with the meter.
If an appliance is found to run at a higher cost, Xcel Energy suggests switching to a more efficient appliance.
Nisbet said whether an appliance runs efficiently depends on several factors such as age and proper insulation.
“Products made nowadays tend to run more efficiently,” Nisbet said. “So investing in a newer appliance turns out being more cost-effective in the long haul.”
In addition to the Power Check meter, Nisbet said there are many other useful ways to cut the costs of energy during the hot summer months, which can be as simple as opening a window.
“Instead of running the air conditioner all day people can just open a window in the morning,” Nisbet said. “That allows cool air to circulate inside the home, and once it spreads around the house for awhile, people can just shut the window and the air conditioner can then run more efficiently.”
Running fans, lowering the water heater and keeping windows open throughout the day are also ways to save money on energy costs.
Call Ashlock at (701) 780-1137; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1137; or send email to email@example.com.