BALTIMORE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As summer starts to heat up, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) provides important energy efficiency and conservation tips, tools and programs to help customers manage energy and save money on their bills, even on extremely hot days. Rising temperatures outside results in higher energy use as customers are using more energy to cool their homes. BGE reminds customers to keep safety in mind during periods of extreme heat. Customers should only take energy-saving measures as health permits.
“During the summer, a home’s cooling system typically accounts for approximately half of a customer’s energy use,” said Stephen J. Woerner, president and chief operating officer for BGE. “Even customers who leave their thermostats at a set temperature will experience an increase in use when the temperature outside is extremely hot because cooling systems must work harder to maintain the set temperature. To help customers better manage energy bills and alleviate the impact of extreme temperatures on bills, BGE offers a variety of programs, billing options and energy-saving tips.”
Through BGE’s annual SummerReady program, the company completed a wide-range of investments and preparations for the summer, including installing new transmission and distribution wires and equipment, to position BGE to better manage increased demand customers place on the electric system to keep their homes and businesses cool in the hotter summer months.
BGE has several initiatives and programs to empower customers with tools to better manage and reduce their energy bills. The BGE Smart Energy Savers Program® initiatives help contain the cost of energy and improve reliability, as well as help to reduce peak demand and slow the growth in energy consumption to lessen the need for more power plants. BGE offers energy-saving solutions for renters, homeowners, large and small business customers, nonprofits and institutional customers. These programs support the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act. Currently, through BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®, the following initiatives are available:
- Quick Home Energy Check-up
- Home Performance with ENERGY STAR rebates for home audits and energy efficient home improvements
- Energy-efficient lighting discounts and appliance rebates
- Rebates for efficient heating and cooling equipment
The BGE Smart Energy Rewards program rewards customers for voluntarily reducing their electricity consumption on designated days and is automatically available to all BGE residential customers with a smart meter. Eligible customers can participate in the program by taking action to reduce electricity usage from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Energy Savings Days. BGE will notify customers in advance of an Energy Savings Day via phone, email, or text and provide them with tips to reduce their energy usage. Customers can earn a bill credit of $1.25 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity saved. Last summer, participating customers saved $6 - $10 on average per Energy Savings Day. BGE anticipates that there will be 5-10 Energy Savings Days in the summer of 2014.
Customers with smart meters are also encouraged to login to their BGE.com account and view the BGE Smart Energy Manager tool to learn even more about how to reduce their energy usage during hot summer months. Through the BGE Smart Energy Manager, customers have access to a suite of energy management tools to set a target budget for energy bills per month and track performance on a daily basis, well before the bill arrives. Customers can also compare energy usage to average households that are a similar size and determine how and when they use the most electricity. BGE Smart Energy Manager also provides customers with personalized cost-saving tips based on their energy usage data.
“Customers who participate in BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Programs, PeakRewards and the BGE Smart Energy Rewards program help to reduce the demand on the system, enhance reliability, reduce the carbon footprint in central Maryland, while saving energy and money on their own energy bills,” said Woerner.
Higher outdoor temperatures can lead to increased energy usage associated with air conditioning and other cooling devices, resulting in higher bills. Customers can save energy and money this summer by following a few simple, low to no-cost tips:
- Manage your thermostat: For customers with central air conditioning or heat pumps, keep thermostats at a constant, comfortable level (74 to 76 degrees, or even higher) when at home. Raise the thermostat setting a few degrees for days with extreme heat (90 degrees or higher) to save even more. Lowering the thermostat setting below the desired temperature will not cool your home faster; it will just waste energy and money.
- Check air conditioner size and placement: For those with room air conditioners, ensure that the appliance is sized properly for the room and turn the unit off if someone is not going to be in the room for an extended period of time. Place window air conditioners on the north or shady side of the house to avoid overworking the unit in the hot daytime sun.
- Use fans to circulate air: For those without air conditioning, BGE recommends ceiling fans or portable fans operating with the windows partially open to circulate fresh air into your home. For those with air conditioning, fans can be used to evenly distribute cool air and reduce your air conditioners “on” time.
- Minimize appliance use during peak hours: Appliances can account for up to 25 percent of your home's energy use and produce heat that warms up your home. Wait until after peak afternoon hours (between 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.) to run your run your dishwasher, clothes washer, dryer and other electric appliances. This will help reduce interior heat during the warmest part of the day and save money on energy bills.
- Use appliances wisely: To reduce interior heat during the warmest part of the day, run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers in the early morning or evening hours when it’s generally cooler outside. Also, use a microwave to cook, or barbecue outside, if possible, during the hottest days.
- Keep shades, blinds and curtains closed: About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows. Simply drawing blinds and curtains, which act as a layer of insulation, can reduce heat gain to your home. Awnings are even better and can dramatically reduce heat from the sun. Window coatings and window film can reject as much as 80 percent of the heat from the sun.
- Keep the hot air out: Turn off all unnecessary lighting and appliances, which add heat to the home. Keep doors to the outside, garage or attic firmly closed to keep cool air in and hot air out.
- Look for energy-efficient appliances: When shopping for appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners, look for the ENERGY STAR® label, and purchase the most affordable energy-efficient unit. Newer more energy-efficient models lower monthly operating costs. Through the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program, customers can receive $25 mail-in rebates for new ENERGY STAR certified room air conditioning units and a $50 reward for recycling old working refrigerators or freezers. To participate, customers can contact BGE to schedule a pickup, and BGE will haul away the old refrigerator or freezer at no additional cost.
- Replace inefficient lighting: Replace your old standard incandescent bulbs with new compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. CFLs and LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and can last up to 30 times longer, depending on which technology you choose.
Summer also brings the potential for severe weather such as thunderstorms, tropical storms and hurricanes, which can result in power outages. BGE has been taking steps to ensure it is ready to respond if severe weather arrives by reviewing its emergency response plan and working to ensure all employees clearly understand and can execute their storm assignments. Every day, BGE closely monitors approaching weather systems, assesses the potential impacts on its service area and ensures the appropriate resources are in place before those storms arrive.
BGE encourages customers to be prepared for severe weather and the possibility of power outages, and to ensure the safety of their families and property during electric service interruptions. BGE advised customers to have essential items and information available, including BGE’s outage reporting number, 877.778.2222.
BGE provides customers with the ability to report power outages online via BGE’s Facebook or Twitter page and on the company’s website, bge.com, which can also be accessed via mobile devices using the mobile-enabled version of bge.com. Customers can also visit bge.com to view the company’s outage map and find information about storm preparedness and service restoration. BGE keeps customers informed throughout severe weather events using a variety of channels, including traditional news media, bge.com and its social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr).
For more information, visit bge.com.
BGE, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 655,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,400 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with 2013 revenues of approximately $24.9 billion. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.