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  • Energy-Saving Residential Refrigeration

    Keys to kitchen efficiency

    Making your kitchen more energy-efficient requires a careful look at all the appliances you use to store food, keep it fresh, and prepare it for meals.

    Even though you can take steps to make most of your appliances more efficient, the single biggest energy-consuming appliance in most kitchens is the refrigerator.

    To increase energy efficiency, you might consider replacing an older refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR-qualified model, which by definition must be at least 20% more efficient than the federal minimum energy standard. ENERGY STAR is a government program designed to help protect the environment by promoting energy efficiency.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which administrate the program, estimate that replacing a refrigerator bought in 1990 with a new ENERGY STAR qualified model would save enough energy to light the average household for nearly four months.

    Ways to start saving now

    Whether with a standard unit or an ENERGY STAR-qualified model, you can decrease energy use for your refrigerator or freezer by taking a few simple steps:

    • Keep the refrigerator away from sources of heat, including the oven, dishwasher, or direct sunlight.
    • Leave enough space between the wall or cabinets and the refrigerator or freezer to allow air to circulate around the condenser coils.
    • Clean coils regularly. Just unplug the appliance, remove the trim plate, and use a long, narrow vacuum-cleaner nozzle or coil brush to clean gently around the coils, removing dust and debris. Replace the trim plate or cover and then plug the cord back in. 3
    • Check door seals to be sure they’re airtight.
    • Buy a small refrigerator thermometer and adjust the temperature between 35˚F and 38˚F. Set your freezer’s temperature at 0˚F.
    • Minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open.
    • Recycle an older or “second” refrigerator, especially if it’s not being used efficiently (e.g., located in an unconditioned space such as a garage, not being kept full, not being defrosted, etc.). Details on how to recycle old refrigerators are listed on the reverse of this page.

    How to shop for an efficient refrigerator or freezer 

    The easiest way to be sure you're buying an energy-efficient refrigerator or freezer is to ask for an ENERGY STAR-qualified model. Here are some more ways you can determine the best energy-efficient appliances for your home:

    • Check the EnergyGuide label. This is a yellow sticker attached to the appliance showing how much energy it uses, how its efficiency compares to similar models, and approximately how much it would cost to operate it on an annual basis.
    • Get the right size. In most cases, bigger models use more energy; refrigerators of 16-20 cubic feet are usually most efficient, and chest freezers typically use less energy than other configurations.
    • Look at top-freezer refrigerators, which use 10-25% less energy than side-by-sides.
    • Forego the ice-maker and dispenser, which increase energy use by 14--20% and can cost an extra$75-250 at the time of purchase.
    • Select a model with automatic moisture control, which prevents moisture from building up on the outside of the appliance without using a heater. ("Anti-sweat" heaters actually use 5-10% more energy than other models.)
    • Consider a manual-defrost model, which uses about half as much energy as an automatic-defrost model.
    • But remember, manual-defrost refrigerators won't save energy unless they are defrosted whenever frost build-up approaches one-quarter of an inch.

    Recycle your old fridge 

    As part of the ENERGY STAR program, the DOE has created a campaign to help you get rid of your old refrigerators, lower your energy bills, and help protect the environment by recycling those obsolete appliances. It's called "Make A Cool Change: Recycle Your Old Fridge (Or Freezer)," and it's a big project. More than 47 million refrigerators more than ten years old are estimated to be in use in the U.S.-and all of these older models are using more energy than necessary to do the job. The DOE encourages anyone who owns an old refrigerator or freezer to participate in this unique recycling program, which can even help save money when you buy a new ENERGY STAR-qualified model.

    Learn More About Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives 
    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • The Truth About Tankless Water Heaters

    The tankless water heater claim

    Many homeowners have seen advertisements for tankless water heaters that promise great features and big savings. An unlimited supply of hot water definitely sounds like a sweet deal. So do reduced water heating costs and instantaneous hot water on demand. But are these claims accurate?

    Instant hot water?

    A tankless water heater is really no better at producing hot water “instantly” than a traditional tank water heater. If a tankless unit is installed in a basement the same distance from a shower as a tank water heater, it may take more time for hot water to reach the shower from the tankless unit. Tank water heaters send hot water to the plumbing lines as soon as the faucet is turned to hot. But tankless units require a little more time to start sending hot water into the lines because they have to produce it first.

    They may not work well for families

    Even the largest whole-house tankless unit may not supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses. Such a unit may be able to supply only two showers simultaneously or perhaps one shower, a dishwasher and a sink. If the users demand too much water, the temperature will drop. A tankless system probably won’t meet the needs of a large family.

    In an emergency situation, a tankless water heater doesn’t provide stored potable water like a tank water heater would provide.

    The initial investment is higher

    Tankless electric water heaters are often more expensive to purchase than tank water heaters, and installation costs are normally higher as well. The higher costs are because the construction of tankless units are more complex and thus require a contractor who is highly experienced in installing the units.

    Hidden costs

    True, tankless water heaters do not require a lot of space, but they do often require an upgrade in electrical service. This means members who want to replace an existing tank water heater with a tankless unit, or add one as part of a home-remodeling project, will incur additional costs.

    If a tankless water heater is installed without upgrading the electrical service, low voltage or sudden voltage drops are likely. This will cause dimming and blinking lights, and other problems.

    The extra load also necessitates a larger and more expensive meter loop and main breaker panel for the house. In some cases, members also must pay for new wiring between the distribution transformer and electric meter. Check with a licensed electrician or your local electric cooperative to determine if you must upgrade your electric service connections to support a tankless water heater.

    Gas tankless vs. electric tankless

    Gas tankless water heaters generally do not require upgrades to a home’s basic services like an electric tankless water heater does. However, the same considerations must be made when determining how many hot water faucets will be turned on at any given time and how far away the tankless heater is from sinks and showers that will be using the water. In addition, a study done by Consumer Reports states that the payback for the higher cost of a gas tankless unit is up to 22 years; longer than the 20-year projected life of many models.1

    Finding the right water heater

    Members looking for an efficient water heater should consider a tank electric water heater that is heavily insulated. Look for an energy factor of .9 or higher. These water heaters are often the most cost effective option over the life of the water heater. In addition, your local electric cooperative may offer rebates on these models.

    Did you know? A tank water heater provides a settling point for hard water build-up. With no tank, your appliances become the settling point. This may result in a decreased life span for shower heads, faucets, clothes washers and dishwashers.

    Tips to lower your water heating use and costs

    * Use less, pay less. Fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures, and purchase an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer to conserve hot water.

    * Lower the thermostat setting on your water heater. Each 10 degree reduction in water temperature can save three to five percent in energy costs.

    * Insulate your tank. Unless your water heater’s storage tank already has a high insulation value, adding insulation to it can reduce standby heat losses by 25 to 45 percent. This will save you about four to nine percent in water heating costs.

    If you don’t know the insulation value of your water heater tank, touch it. A tank that’s warm to the touch needs additional insulation.

    * Insulate your hot water pipes. This reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature two to four degrees more than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing for a lower water temperature setting.

    You also won’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or shower head, which helps conserve water.

    Source: U.S. Department of Energy

    Inside a tankless water heater

    Unlike a traditional tank water heater, a wall-mounted tankless model does not store hot water. It heats water only as it is used, with heating elements that are activated when a hot water faucet or valve is opened.

    Consumers can generally save more on energy costs by using traditional tank water heaters efficiently.

  • Electric Cooperatives Continue Mission to Light Up Bolivia

    Volunteers from electric cooperatives in Missouri will continue the effort to light up Bolivia this winter through a project called Brighter Bolivia. The electrification project is made possible through a partnership between the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s International Program.

    The project will take place Dec. 3-15 in a mountainous region of Bolivia in the state of Cochabamba at Chapisirca. The region has a poverty rate of 60 percent and it is estimated that 285,000 people here do not have electricity.

    Recently the Brighter Bolivia team from Missouri was selected from among 14 volunteers at electric cooperative systems. Those selected for the project are:

    • Casey Schwartze, Three Rivers Electric Cooperative, Linn
    • Danny Derry, Grundy Electric Cooperative, Trenton
    • Eric Peeper, NW Electric Power Cooperative, Cameron
    • Jared Kelley, SEMO Electric Cooperative, Sikeston
    • Jonathan Schussler, Osage Valley Electric Cooperative, Butler
    • Tim Gilbert, Boone Electric Cooperative, Columbia

    Two alternates have been selected to step in if someone is unable to go unexpectedly. They are Brian Robbins, Barry Electric Cooperative, Cassville, and Jacob Fain, Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Kearney

    Electric cooperatives in Missouri have sent volunteers to other countries in the past. This is the second time the state has made a coordinated group effort to bring electricity to unserved areas. In August 2016, a team traveled to Riberalta in the Amazon region of Bolivia to build power lines that now bring electricity to two small villages.

    Other electric co-op linemen have volunteered to work in Haiti, Guatemala and South Sudan. Those who have volunteered in the past call it a “life-changing experience.”

    A local electric cooperative, Cooperativa Rural De Electrificación, will assist the volunteer linemen from Missouri on this project by setting the 70 poles. Six volunteer electric cooperative linemen, along with team leader Craig Moeller from the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, will build 3.5 miles of power lines to serve Bolivians who currently live without electricity.

    Much of the work will be done at 13,000 feet, presenting a challenge for the Missouri linemen.

    Worldwide, more than 1.6 billion people live without electricity. The International Program seeks to brighten the lives of people in these developing nations by building power lines and donating equipment and materials that are no longer needed by U.S. electric cooperatives.

    Past experience with these projects shows that electricity lets children attend school on a regular basis. It raises the standard of living for the entire family by lightening the burden for adults and providing running water, refrigeration and sanitation previously unavailable.

    It also saves money for families that relied on expensive generators for just a few hours of power.

    The original purpose of the International Program when it started in 1962 was to share lessons learned by U.S. electric cooperatives with those in developing nations. Over more than 50 years, the program has brought a better life to 110 million people.

    You can learn more about the NRECA International Program at www.electric.coop/our-mission/international-electrification/.

    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • Hot Tub and Pool Costs

    Having a pool or hot tub offers a refreshing way to either cool off or warm up! Despite the many advantages, they most likely utilize electricity at your home. Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives wanted to shed some light on what would having a pool or hot tub would do for Member-Owners.

    Your energy bills will go up

    Who wouldn’t love the convenience of having a hot tub or pool in their back yard? But if you are considering purchasing one, be sure to thoroughly educate yourself before ‘jumping in.’ The simple fact is, if you purchase a pool or hot tub, your energy use and costs will increase. How much will depend on how efficient your equipment is, how often you use it, how you maintain it and a variety of other factors.

    Before you buy a hot tub

    Do your research! Not all hot tubs are created equal. Look at multiple brands at a variety of stores before making your decision. When considering the energy efficiency of a hot tub, the key elements to look at are the cover, tub wall insulation and pump system efficiency. Look at energy use guides to compare the use of each model. Check the assumptions for average outdoor temperature, hot tub set temperature, cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh), amount of use and size of motor on the guides. If a vendor cannot show you this information, it may not be wise to buy their hot tub!

    In addition to energy considerations, check your home insurance policy to determine if you need a separate policy for your hot tub or pool.

    Older hot tubs are big energy hogs

    Hot tubs can also use a significant amount of electricity to heat, circulate and filter the water. That’s especially true of older hot tubs. Many newer hot tubs are designed to be more energy-efficient, with excellent insulation and more efficient pumps and controls. Some of these newer hot tubs use only half as much electricity as models that were sold just a decade ago. Given this information, if you purchase a used hot tub, it may cost you much more to operate versus purchasing a new, energy-efficient one.

    How can I reduce my hot tub energy costs?

    There are several things you can do to ensure your hot tub operates as efficiently as possible. The higher the water temperature on your tub, the more electricity it will use, so set it no higher than you need it. When you’re not using the hot tub, make sure it’s tightly covered with a good, insulated cover. You can even go the extra step and add a hot tub blanket.

    It lays on top of the water when you aren’t using it and adds another layer of insulation. Finally, most people run their filter pumps more often than needed to keep the water clear and sanitary. If your pump has a timer, set it to run for a shorter period a couple of times a day.

    Pools cost money too

    Pools not only cost a significant money to purchase and install, they may cost a lot of money in energy use. The two biggest costs associated with pools are the pool heater, and the pump to circulate water. If you’re preparing to install a pool or want to improve an existing one, consider an energy-efficient approach to save you money over time.

    Pool heaters

    You will pay less in energy costs by not heating your pool; but if you choose to heat it, consider a heat pump or solar pool heater.

    Like home heat pumps, heat pump pool heaters use proven technology to transfer heat from one place to another. Although a higher initial cost, heat pump pool heaters may pay for themselves in energy savings over time.

    Solar pool heaters are another option. Depending upon the amount of sunlight your pool receives, a solar heater could be your most economical choice. In a typical system, the water circulates through a solar collector which heats the water before it returns back to the pool.

    However you choose to heat your pool, keeping it covered when not in use will lower energy costs by reducing heat and evaporation loss.

    Pool pumps

    Circulating your pool’s water keeps the chemicals mixed and removes debris, but pool pumps often run much longer than necessary. This includes portable above ground pools, so limit the time your pool pump is on! If the water circulates while chemicals are added, they should remain mixed; and most debris can be removed using a skimmer or vacuum. You can also save by getting the smallest size pump your pool requires, since larger pumps use more energy.

    For more energy efficient ideas for pools, visit www.energy.gov and search “swimming pool heating.”

    Take Control & Save!

    To find out more about how to save energy and money in your home, visit www.TakeControlAndSave.coop.

    Running a one horsepower pool pump for12 hours a day costs about $43 a month![1]

    [1]Based on a 1,200 watt pump and energy cost of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.

    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • Eight Surefire Ways for Summer Savings on Your Electric Bill

    When the dog days of summer are in full swing, Missourians normally experience some of the hottest weather of the year. It’s only natural to crank down the thermostat of your air conditioning unit to create a cooler home or business.

    However, keeping your air conditioning unit on high during the summer months can also cost a pretty penny.

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives want to help offset these costs, so we’ve rounded up tips and tricks that can keep your home or business comfortable without breaking the bank. By balancing air conditioning usage and our suggestions below, our Member-Owners have the potential to save on your electric bill!

    Change Air Filters Regularly

    Keeping up with the maintenance of your air conditioner, like changing the air filters regularly, will ensure that your unit is running efficiently. If the air filters are dirty your unit will work extra to run, adding to electric usage. According to Engery.gov, replacing a dirty air filter can reduce energy usage by 5% to 15%. Also, it’s recommended to replace (or clean depending on the type of unit you have) every month during the summer months (source).

    Use Blinds and Curtains

    Keeping blinds and curtains up when the sun is shining will heat up your room. Therefore, it will cause your air conditioning unit to work overtime adding unnecessary electric usage to your bill. Keep your blinds and curtains drawn to maintain the temperature in your house. If you’re wanting to bask in the beautiful Missouri sunshine, be sure you do it outside, so you can cool off quickly when coming back home!

    Keep Doors Tightly Closed.

    In addition to insulating your home with blinds and curtains, make sure your entryways are tightly closed to avoid cool air from leaving your house and hot air from entering. Not only will proper insulation keep the inside cool, it will help in the colder months when you don’t want freezing air to invade your space. No matter what the temperature is like outside, it’s beneficial to make sure the door behind you is secure and make sure the kids don’t leave the door open when it’s time to play outside.

    Use Fans to Help Circulate Air.

    Give your air conditioning unit a break and turn on the fans in your home. With your home properly insulated, the fans in your home, whether they are on the ceiling, table top, or standing fans, can keep you and your family comfortable in the various rooms of your home without using too much electricity. Fans are a cost-effective way to keep cool in the summer. However, you should turn them off when you leave a room!

    Use Natural Ventilation. 

    Not all Missouri evenings are too hot to handle! For those nights when the temperature drops, open your windows for the nice natural ventilation. The breeze will feel refreshing and since the sun is already down, it won’t heat up the inside of your home. This is a perfect tactic to save on electricity for the end of summer as we welcome fall especially.

    Make Sure Unused Electric Items are OFF.

    Did you know that you’re still using electricity when some of your appliances are plugged in despite them being turned off? Think about the items in your home that has lights on constantly or digital clocks on them (we’re looking at you microwave!). Instead of constantly unplugging and replugging, utilize a surge protector to turn off those draining appliances to save on the power sucks.

    Disconnect During Peak Hours.

    Not only will limiting your electric usage during peak hours save the money in your wallet, it’s also a chance to disconnect and come together as a family. Turn off the widescreen TV. Save that extra load of laundry for the late night or early morning. While you’re at it, use cold water because that will keep you from using the water heater in addition to your cleaning appliances. Small steps like these to disconnecting and strategic usage can save you money.

    Invest in Energy Efficient Additions.

    Programmable thermostats, new HVAC units, new water heaters, LED lighting, and more updated technologies will allow you more efficiency and control (sometimes from your mobile device!) of the cooling of your home or business. Your Cooperatives are here to help and might even be able to offer rebates!


    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

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