Quickies: Congress looks to cut heating assistance program for low-income families

* Congress considers cut to heating-assistance program for low-income families: Congress is considering a $1 billion cut to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which gave $4.7 billion to 9 million households last year. The North Dakota Department of Human Services says more than 16,000 North Dakotans benefit from the program.

* North Dakota cities top the charts of two American Lung Association’s surveys: Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution and Top 25 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Year-Round Particle Pollution. Those charts may be part of the reason the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association is calling new guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency “too hasty.” Co-ops fear they will have to pass the costs from the $10 billion final rule directly onto their consumers.

* Amid recession, consumers look to stretch their wallets by cutting energy. One quick fix? Unplug the gaming device Santa gave you… it’ll save $90+ per year.



How to save more than $400 on electric bills, without even really trying

The answer is super simple: unplug your entertainment center.

Then replug all those cords into one power strip with an on-off switch. (If you’re like me, you have three or four awaiting use in the bottom of a desk drawer.) With the power cord, you and your family can power each machine on and off with one simple click… and save $150 in the process.

Check out a demo at Touchstone Energy’s TogetherWeSave.com here.

See, even when they aren’t on, your TVs, DVRs, Nintendo Wii systems, etc., use power. That wastes resources and hard-earned money… about $150 per year for the average home, according to TogetherWeSave.com. (Here‘s what TogetherWeSave.com assumes is an average family home.)

Tips like these come in handy when the need for energy increases in winter. Plus, Dakota Valley and Northern Plains consumers can expect rate increases beginning in January and April respectively. So implement these tips now, and you won’t notice an increase come 2012 🙂

Other ways to reduce wasted power and to save money:

* Set your thermostat to cheap: for each degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, expect to see a savings of about $180/year. So if you usually keep your house a toasty 70 degrees, reduce that heat to 68 degrees, and invest the $360 you just saved into a pair of wooly slippers. 🙂

* Adjust the blinds: Allowing the sunshine in during winter and keeping it out in summer can save your household about 50 bucks a year. The sunshine naturally warms your home, so in the winter, it gives your heating elements a warming boost…. at no charge! So close the curtains in summer, and open them when the snow falls.

* Beat the (water) heat: Water heaters need not be set for more than 120 degrees. Reduce your settings from 135 degrees to 120 degrees and save the $60 or so you save each year for water skis, water falls or water towers… anything but wasted energy on your water heater.

Check out other tips at TogetherWeSave.com.

So, how do you save money on power bills?

ND electrical rates below U.S. average

Are you curious about what the average American is paying for electricity? Curious about what your brother in Minnesota, or family friend in New York dishes out for their electric service? Curious about electrical rates in general? Maybe just curious?

Whatever your interest, take a good look at this graphic: Continue reading