• 64°

Coast Electric holds energy fair

Representatives of Coast Electric Power Association were on hand at the Picayune office on Tuesday to inform customers about ways they can save on their energy bills.

Some tips shared during the event included the use of Compact Fluorescent bulbs or of LED bulbs, signing up for Time of Use rates, better insulating an existing home or using the latest in energy saving technology in new construction.

By now, traditional incandescent bulbs are well known for being the least energy efficient way to light a home. Most of the electricity used to produce light with incandescent bulbs is lost as heat. Director of Residential Energy Management Mark Wallace said a 40 watt incandescent bulb uses 40 watts of electricity. However, a Compact Fluorescent Lamp, or CFL, bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 40 watt incandescent bulb uses about 9.4 watts. A Light Emitting Diode, or LED, bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 40 watt incandescent bulb uses about 6.2 watts, but costs significantly more, at $17 a bulb than a similar CFL bulb, which costs an average of $2.

Customers also can see how much electricity is being used by an individual appliance that plugs into an outlet with a device called Kill-A-Watt. Wallace said Coast Electric has donated a number of the devices to the local library, where customers can check them out as they would a book. Using a Kill-A-Watt device can show how much electricity each appliance, such as a TV, DVD player or portable heater, consumes.

Coast Electric also is offering a Time of Use rate to help reduce what customers pay for electricity. Under the Time of Use rate, electricity use during off-peak times would be cheaper, 5.34 cents per kilowatt hour, said Communications Specialist April Lollar. Use during peak times a kilowatt hour would cost 21.8 cents.

Wallace said the price under normal electricity use without the Time of Use rate is about 11 cents per kilowatt hour all day.

Peak hours during the months of May to October are from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, the time when most people come home and begin to cook, clean and use their air-conditioning. During the months of November to April the peak hours are between 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. All day during the weekends and on New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas days will not incur peak usage charges.

Customers who switch to the Time of Use rate are advised to use timers on hot water heaters and programmable thermostats for heating and cooling to avoid using electricity for those high wattage devices during peak hours, Wallace said.

Lollar said by using the Time of Use rate schedule, Coast Electric can avoid having to build more substations and can keep down the cost of electricity.

New Time of Use rate subscribers can take advantage of a six-month trial period, where, if it is determined a customer spent more under the TOU rate plan, the plan can be discontinued and the customer can be credited for extra electricity use expenses. Time of Use rates could help to change customer electricity usage habits by prompting them to turn off lights and appliances that are not being used, Lollar said.

The fair also featured information about how to better insulate a home to save on electrical usage to receive a one-time credit on electricity bills under the Comfort Advantage program. Credits can range from $300 to $500, depending on whether the home is new construction or an existing home and on the types of measures taken to make the home more energy efficient, Wallace said. More information is available on Coast Electric’s web site at http://www.coastepa.com/ca_res.aspx. Other tips and information also can be found at that web site.

Coast Electric members should watch for an updated Co-Op Connections Card to arrive by mail, which now provides discounts at local and national businesses as well as for prescriptions, Lollar said. A smart phone app for iPhone and Android users can point members to business locations that support the Co-Op Connections Card, Lollar said.

Members with smart phones can down load the Coast Electric app that will help them monitor electricity usage, make payments and perform a number of other functions, Lollar said.