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A snappy guide to a healthy heat-pump filter


July 22, 2015   By Willard Strong in Reduce The Use
Raise your hand if it seems your heat pump's been staying on more this summer.

Yeah, my hand's up too.

Since it's too hot to go anywhere, this latest heat wave is a good time to check the indoor air filter on your heat pump. (Your system may have more than one.) If your heat pump's running more than normal, it means the filter is clogging up quicker, which means the heat pump is working harder, which means it isn't working as efficiently, which means increased power usage.

No one needs that.

Deciding on the type of filter for your heat pump isn't easy — another example of life presenting so many product choices. Allergy sufferers may opt to spend a little more on a filter that removes allergens like dust and pet dander from the air, while there are plenty of consumers who are perfectly fine with spending the bare minimum.

It's important to remember that the more effective a filter is, the likelier it... Continue Reading >>

Beat the Heat on the Cheap


July 01, 2015   By Jessica Yourko in Reduce The Use
I keep talking about the heat, but when my weather app tells me every morning that the high temp for the day is going to be "FIRE," it makes it a little difficult to talk about anything else.

In February, I promised if winter would ever end I would never complain again. But it feels like the Earth has stopped rotating with South Carolina facing the sun, and we are inching closer and closer to it every single day.

Check with my husband and he will tell you our house goes on lockdown in summer. Our blinds are tightly closed, and our blackout curtains are drawn to keep the sun and its heat outside. Our ceiling fans rotate on full speed while we're home, and everyone in the house has been commanded to keep the lights off.

Because using the stove generates more heat, we use the grill as often as we can. I use the slow cooker for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I do break my own rules and turn on the stove,... Continue Reading >>

Summer Energy Savings Are No Sweat


June 24, 2015   By Susan Mungo in Reduce The Use
Get a bunch of Southern women together in the summer, and they will eventually get around to talking about how dang hot and humid it is!

My friends and family are a perfect example: I had some of them over this weekend for dinner, and as we sat inside enjoying our meal we talked about how nice it would've been to enjoy it on the patio. But it was just too dang hot!

After supper, I got up to turn on the ceiling fan rather than lowering the thermostat. One of my friends told us she ran her fan all of the time, but I suggested it was better to turn it off when the room was empty because the fan only cools our skin and not the room. She was surprised to hear she'd been wasting energy.

This sparked a conversation about other ways to stay cool and save energy during these hot summer months. Other ideas we discussed were cooking meals on the grill, like we had done that evening. Grilling keeps the heat out of the kitchen and the house. Someone... Continue Reading >>

When convenience is costly


April 29, 2015   By Willard Strong in Reduce The Use
Santee Cooper routinely communicates to customers how to use electricity more efficiently.

There are so many ways to conserve energy, from buying energy-efficient appliances to installing CFL or LED light bulbs, or by simply telling your kids to turn off the lights when leaving a room.

Then there are the more subtle ways that may require you to drill down a little deeper to realize savings. For example, unplugging electronic devices when not in regular use is an effective way to attack "phantom power" robbers — things that are in "stand-by" mode but still use electricity. Usage can add up over the year, costing you in the pocketbook.

One example I've run across is the now widespread popularity of single-serve coffee or hot-beverage makers. They're all the rage, but as is the case with many things in modern life, convenience comes with a price that may be a lot more than you think.

The single server is like the... Continue Reading >>

A comfortable home may need an ally


March 25, 2015   By Susan Mungo in Reduce The Use
Spring has finally arrived! While I love the idea that summer is just around the corner, I cannot seem to get comfortable. Are you like me and having trouble figuring out what to wear? The mornings and evenings still say sweater or even coat, yet there have been days lately when I have reached for my car's air conditioner.

Our wardrobe may be creating hot and cold issues for us, but did you know this can also be a time when your HVAC system struggles to keep you comfortable?  This can become a serious problem if you have neglected it over the winter.

 Proper maintenance can help keep your system running smoothly so you stay comfortable, no matter the season. Comfort aside, if your system is not running optimally, it can also cost you a pretty penny. The difference between the energy consumption of a well-maintained heat pump and a severely neglected one ranges from 10% to 25%.

As you check off your spring cleaning duties this... Continue Reading >>