Energy Saving Tips

  • Tips to help your AC & power bill

    It’s just plain hot and we all know our AC units are working overtime to keep up. Here’s some other things you can do to help take the load off your AC and your power bill.

    1. Use Fans: Utilize ceiling fans or portable fans to circulate air, which can make the room feel cooler without relying solely on the air conditioner. But only use them when you’re in the room


    1. Close Curtains and Blinds: Keep curtains and blinds closed during the hottest parts of the day to block out direct sunlight and prevent the interior from heating up.


    1. Insulate Windows and Doors: Check for air leaks around windows and doors and seal them with weatherstripping or caulk to prevent cool air from escaping and warm air from entering.


    1. Adjust Thermostat Settings: Set your thermostat to a higher temperature when you’re away from home and lower it when you’re back. Consider investing in a programmable thermostat to automate this process.


    1. Use Appliances Wisely: Avoid using heat-producing appliances (ovens, stoves, dryers) during the hottest hours of the day. Opt for outdoor grilling or cook meals that require minimal heat.


    1. Regular Maintenance: Clean or replace air filters regularly to maintain the efficiency of your air conditioner. Consider having an HVAC professional inspect and service your system annually.
    2. Unplug Devices: Unplug electronics and chargers when they are not in use, as they can still consume power even in standby mode.


    By following these tips, you can improve energy efficiency in your home during the summer months, ease the burden on your air conditioner, and potentially lower your energy bills.

  • Spring into Energy Savings with 3 easy tips

    Winter weather can have a big impact on your energy bills, hitting your pockets a little harder than you would have liked. Now that spring is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to tackle a few DIY efficiency projects for your home. The good news: You don’t have to be an energy expert to do this!

    There are several easy ways to save energy, but if you’re willing to take a hands-on approach, here are three projects you can do now to start saving.

    Make the Most of Your Water Heater.

    Let’s start with one of the easiest projects: insulating your water heater. Insulating a water heater that’s warm to the touch can save 7 to 16 percent annually on your water heating bills. It should also be noted that if your water heater is new, it is likely already insulated. But if your water heater is warm to the touch, it needs additional insulation.

    You can purchase a pre-cut jacket or blanket for about $20. You’ll also need two people for this project. Before you start, turn off the water heater. Wrap the blanket around the water heater and tape it to temporarily keep it in place. If necessary, use a marker to note the areas where the controls are so you can cut them out. Once the blanket is positioned correctly tape it permanently in place, then turn the water heater back on. If you have an electric water heater, do not set the thermostat above 130 degrees, which can cause overheating.

    Seal Air Leaks with Caulk.

    The average American family spends $2,000 annually on energy bills, but unfortunately, much of that money is wasted through air leaks in the home. Applying caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring and plumbing can save energy and money. There are many different types of caulking compounds available, but the most popular choice is silicone. Silicone caulk is waterproof, flexible and won’t shrink or crack.

    Before applying new caulk, clean and remove any old caulk or paint with a putty knife, screwdriver, brush or solvent. The area should be dry before you apply the new caulk.

    Apply the caulk in one continuous stream, and make sure it sticks to both sides of the crack or seam. Afterwards, use a putty knife to smooth out the caulk, then wipe the surface with a dry cloth.

    Weather Strip Exterior Doors.

    One of the best ways to seal air leaks is to weather strip exterior doors, which can keep out drafts and help you control energy costs. Weather stripping materials vary, but you can ask your local hardware or home store for assistance if you’re unsure about the supplies you need.

    When choosing weather stripping materials, make sure it can withstand temperature changes, friction and the general “wear and tear” for the location of the door. Keep in mind, you will need separate materials for the door sweep (at the bottom of the door) and the top and sides.

    Before applying the new weather stripping, clean the moulding with water and soap, then let the area dry completely. Measure each side of the door, then cut the weather stripping to fit each section. Make sure the weather stripping fits snugly against both surfaces so it compresses when the door is closed.

    By completing these simple efficiency projects, you can save energy (and money!) while increasing the comfort level of your home. And you can impress your family and friends with your savvy energy-saving skills.

  • It’s not me, it’s you: When to break up with your water heater

    Love might be in the air this Valentine’s Day, but when you and your water heater no longer have any heat between you and the warm, fuzzy feelings have worn off, it could be time to end the relationship. But how do you know for sure that it’s time to break up with your appliance?

    First, find the age of your water heater. The typical water heater warranty lasts six years, whereas the lifespan of a water heater can range from 10-20 years. If you’re unsure of how old your water heater is, find the description plate, typically located along the bottom of the unit. The first four digits of the listed serial number will indicate the month and date it was manufactured. From there, it’s simple math to determine how long you love birds have been together. If you’ve been with the same water heater for 10 years or more, keep an eye out for a few tell-tale warning signs that there could be trouble in paradise.

    Consistently losing hot water is one of the easiest signs to recognize, as well as fluctuating water temperature after minimal use. Per CAEC’s recommendation, the setting of your water heater’s thermostat should be between 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit. If the size you have should easily accommodate the number of people living in your house and you still find yourself losing hot water quickly, it could be a sign.

    Strange sounds such as popping, crackling or banging could indicate a buildup of scale or sediment in the tank. This type of buildup doesn’t necessarily call for a whole new water heater, but it could mean the tank could be drained or treated. Contact a professional to inspect the water heater before deciding.

    Discolored water, strange smells or strange tastes could also be a sign of bacteria, sulfur, sediment or corrosion in the water, especially for rural homes using well water. Contact a professional to determine the cause; substances in the water can be treated, but tank erosion will surely call for a replacement.

    If you find yourself putting more into the relationship and not getting much in return (like making increased and frequent repairs on small parts), it could be a sign that you need to move on to something new.
    Finally, watch for leaks. These can be sneaky and show up without warning, especially on water heaters located in an attic. Those leaks are hard to find and continue to grow until they go straight through the ceiling.

    It’s never easy to part with something you’ve spent years with, but in the end, you deserve better! If you suspect it’s time to break up with your water heater, call 1-800-545-5735 ext. 2118.

  • Fighting winter chill with efficiency tips

    Alabama weather can be unpredictable, but there are a few ways you can make sure the weather has less of an impact on your budget. Check out a few steps you can take now to help make your home more energy efficient.

    Mind the thermostat. This is one of the easiest ways to manage your home energy use. When heating your home, we recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower) when you’re home. When you’re sleeping or away for an extended period of time, try setting it between 58 and 62 degrees; there’s no need to kick up the heat when you’re away or sleeping and less active.

    Button up your home. The Department of Energy estimates that air leaks account for 24-40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a home. Caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors are simple, cost-effective ways to increase comfort and save energy. If you can feel drafts while standing near a window or door, it likely needs to be sealed.

    Use window coverings wisely. Open blinds, drapes or other window coverings during the day to allow natural sunlight to warm your home. Close them at night to keep the cold, drafty air out. If you feel cold air around windows, consider hanging curtains or drapes in a thicker material; heavier window coverings can make a significant difference in blocking cold outdoor air.

    Consider your approach to appliance use. When combined, appliances and electronics account for a significant chunk of our home energy use, so assess how efficiently you’re using them. For example, if you’re running the dishwasher or clothes washer, only wash full loads. Be aware of electronic devices that consume energy even when they’re not in use, such as phone chargers or game consoles. Every little bit helps, so unplug them to save energy.

    Think outside the box. If you’re still feeling chilly at home, think of other ways to warm up besides dialing up the thermostat. Add layers of clothing, wear thick socks and cuddle up under cozy blankets. You can even add layers to your home! If you have hard-surface flooring, consider purchasing an area rug to block cold air that leaks in through the floor.

    Winter months often bring some of the highest energy bills of the year. By being proactive about saving energy, you can increase the comfort of your home and reduce monthly energy costs.

  • Tech the halls: Smart home efficiency

    With holiday shopping deals right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to talk to friends and family about upgrading a few items around the home to help with energy efficiency. Whether the change is big or small, there’s a way to generate some energy savings!

    Smart plugs

    If you’re trying to convince friends or family to invest in smarter technology around the home but they don’t feel like going all-in just yet, start them off with something simple like a smart plug. These devices plug into your electrical outlets and help manage the energy consumption of whatever you plug into them. The plugs have apps that allow users to program times of use, view energy consumption totals and remotely turn the plugs on and off.

    Smart lightbulbs

    Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs have been around for many years, but today’s models have many new options. Originally priced too high to justify in everyday home use, today they are comparably priced and are a popular household option and the real savings come throughout the lifetime of the bulb. Additionally, companies now offer “connected” or “smart” LEDs that let you use your smartphone/smart device as a switch via a connection hub kit. This not only allows you to change options such as the brightness and even the light color, but also to set timers and turn lights on or off from wherever you are with just a tap on an app.

    Smart thermostats

    With heating and cooling accounting for almost 40-50 percent of energy bills, smart thermostats can be a huge step in energy savings. Smart thermostats are WiFi enabled and may be controlled remotely through an app on a smartphone, tablet or smart speaker system. Through the app, you can access your smart thermostat to raise or lower the temperature any time, anywhere. These gadgets are ideal for users who want a totally hands-off, voice-activated approach to regulating their home’s temperature. These thermostats can also learn your habits, which means they can learn and predict your temperature settings automatically.

    Smart appliances

    For those already on board the technology train with smaller items, the holidays could be the perfect time to snag some deals on larger smart appliances. Washing machines, vacuums, ovens, refrigerators, coffee makers and much more have joined the ranks of items you can now control with your phone, and both the energy saving benefits and convenience factors are keeping users interested. Whether it’s conserving energy by delaying the start time on a load of laundry or having Alexa turn off your oven for you, the possibilities are endless when integrating smart appliances into your everyday life.

  • Expensive home problems and how to fix them

    Finding energy efficient solutions for your household appliances without breaking the bank can seem like an impossible task, but rest assured that your electric cooperative is here to help! Find out what solutions we offer and how you can benefit from them.

    If you’d like for your home to be more energy efficient but are concerned that some of the larger projects seem financially daunting, CAEC offers numerous benefits and services designed to meet your needs. For instance, perhaps you realize your old drafty windows are letting your energy dollars escape or your water heater or heat pump isn’t performing efficiently, what are you to do? CAEC’s loan and rebate programs are here to help our members when it’s time to replace these products with energy efficient options.

    Energy efficiency loan program We realize that sometimes financing can be the biggest drawback to making your home more energy efficient, and this is where our Co-op Energy Efficiency Loan Program comes into play. Through an agreement with PowerSouth, our generation and transmission supplier, and Regions Bank, this loan program is designed to help members finance one or multiple energy efficiency improvements in the home.

    Heat pump rebate By taking advantage of our heat pump rebate, CAEC members can potentially receive refunds on dual fuel systems and mini-split systems for both standard and manufactured homes—even those bought through our loan program! Additionally, we offer rebates for both new and existing manufactured homes that are replacing an electric furnace with a heat pump. To qualify for this rebate, you must have a licensed or certified HVAC dealer install the unit, a load calculation must be performed on the home, and members must provide an invoice to CAEC proving purchase. For manufactured homes, CAEC must complete an inspection of the skirting.

    Water heater rebate With CAEC’s water heater rebate program, members can purchase a new water heater from any store and receive a rebate for meeting a few qualifications. First, only electric water heaters, not tankless, are considered for this rebate, and must have a minimum energy factor of .92. Participation in CAEC’s Peak Shaving Program (PSP) is also required to qualify for a water heater rebate.

    Regardless of what your home may need to become more energy efficient, rest assured that CAEC is always here to lend a helping hand to you, our valued members.

  • Working from home: Cutting your home office energy costs
    Did you know that January 10th is National Cut Your Energy Cost Day? With more people working from home than ever before, it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve to ensure your energy bill doesn’t skyrocket while working remotely.

    Let the sunshine in. When choosing a space for your home office, it’s a good idea to choose a room that has access to natural lighting. Natural light not only helps illuminate a room, but it also can keep you from running your heat throughout the day by regulating the temperature inside your home. During the day, you can also open insulated curtains on your south-facing windows to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. Close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

    Give your equipment a break. There’s no shame in needing to take a short break throughout the day, so while you’re taking a break, turn off any lights or unplug any electronics you’re not using to give them a break as well. Electronics that stay plugged in all the time are sometimes referred to as vampire sources, and electronics found in a home office are notorious for using a small amount of energy consistently. If you’re not using a piece of equipment for the day or if you know you’re finished using it, go ahead and unplug it until it’s time to put it to use.

    Utilize energy efficiency. Purchasing energy efficient office equipment could help you significantly cut down on your energy usage, but many pieces of technology already come with built-in settings for conserving energy. If you have trouble remembering to unplug your computer at the end of the day, switch it to sleep mode as this has also proven effective for conserving energy. Also, remember that using a laptop instead of a desktop computer can use less energy.

    Adjust the temperature. When working from home, it’s tempting to turn the heat up a bit so you can stay nice and cozy, but why not bundle up with warmer clothes or a blanket instead? Bump your thermostat down by one degree while you’re home and help reduce your energy bill by up to three percent! You can also adjust your ceiling fans to low and clockwise – where warm air is pushed down into the room.

    Have your HVAC system checked. Whether in the office or at home, staying on top of the condition of your HVAC system is paramount. Clean filters will reduce strain on your system and use less energy. Be sure to schedule a tune up for the winter season with a heating and cooling company to ensure your HVAC unit is working properly.

  • Smart thermostat options
    It’s happened to all of us. We leave our homes and halfway to our destination, we remember our thermostat was left on a setting that may cause our heating and air unit to keep running even though no one is home to enjoy that climate-controlled air. With heating and cooling costs accounting for approximately 40-50 percent of energy bills, we’re all looking for ways to be more energy efficient, and a great way to do just that is by upgrading your thermostat. The right thermostat settings could yield energy savings of 8-15 percent, and new technology is making it easier than ever to achieve those settings.

    Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled and may be controlled remotely through an app that can be accessed by a tablet, smartphone or voice control using a smart speaker system. If you’re interested in controlling your thermostat with your voice or an app, or want to be totally hands-off with a device that will learn your habits, you should consider a smart thermostat. To narrow your choices, factor in smart features, price and attributes that matter most to you, and make sure the chosen product supports your HVAC system.

    Two of the most popular types are “Wi-Fi enabled” and “Smart” thermostats. Wi-Fi enabled thermostats will look the same on the wall as a traditional thermostat, but with the added benefit of having an app that can control many features, such as changing the temperature when you are away, scheduling a program for the week or monitoring the use away from home. These thermostats allow you to change the temp on your way home or after you leave in case you forgot to set it on your way out. You can also verify that no one has changed the setting while you’re away or even create a schedule of settings based on your weekly routine.

    Smart thermostats, such as the Nest 3rd Generation and the Ecobee4, will learn your habits and predict temperature settings automatically. If you wish to set your own schedule, you can do so with an app, or you can even control them with your voice through a smart speaker, such as those offered from Amazon or Google.

    Whichever fits your lifestyle, preferences and tech savvyness, a Wi-Fi enabled or smart thermostat is a good investment that can help you save energy and money in a more convenient way. If you have questions about which might be best for you, contact one of our Energy Service Representatives at 334-351-2178 and start saving today!

  • High temperatures = higher utility bills
    In Alabama the summer gets hot, really hot. We deal with high temperatures, higher humidity and more often than not, higher electric bills due to our cooling systems working harder to maintain a level of comfort inside of our homes. Many members use heat pumps as a cooling system, so it’s best to understand how they work and the most efficient way to use them.

    Most heat pumps are designed to work most efficiently at 95 degrees and below; they also are intended to hold a maximum 20-degree difference from the outside temperature to the thermostat setting in the home. Once the outside weather exceeds that 95-degree threshold, the heat pump must run almost nonstop in an attempt to maintain that 20-degree difference. For example, if you have your thermostat set to 68 degrees and it’s 95 degrees outside (equaling a 27 degree difference), your unit will continue to work with a goal of maintaining the 20-degree difference for which it was designed. The best way to save on your energy bill during these times is to turn your unit up to 78 degrees, which helps reduce the 20-degree window, and use fans to increase your comfort. Although higher temperatures usually mean higher bills, there are some things you can do to help lower your energy use in other ways.

    A programmable thermostat can make it easy to increase your temperature to a higher setting when you’re not home.

    • Do not close off rooms or vents. By doing so, you’re forcing cooled air back into the unit, which may cause damage to it and the duct work over time and in actuality, doesn’t reduce the amount of cooled air your unit produces. It also causes your unit to run inefficiently and increase your energy use.
    • Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
    • Using a ceiling fan will allow you to increase your thermostat setting by four degrees and you will not notice any change in temperature. Fans that have the ENERGY STAR label move air 20 percent more efficiently than other models. Since they only increase your comfort and do not impact the actual temperature in the home, make sure you turn them off when you’re not using the room to reduce energy use.
    • Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding.
    • When you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from your home. Make sure bathroom fans are vented to the outside (not just to the attic).
    • Wash clothes in cold water and only full loads of clothes, clean the lint filter in the dryer after every use. Wash and run full dishwashers at night, and air-dry dishes and clothing to help add to your energy savings.
    • If you have a pool, consider slowly reducing pool filtration time by 30 minute increments daily. Keep on reducing the time as long as the water appears clean. You may find you only need to run your pool filter six hours a day. Install a timer to control the length of time that the pool pump cycles on. Consult your pool manufacturer if you have any questions or concerns about the amount of time needed to properly filter your pool.

    As always, if you’re looking for more ways to save, contact us to schedule a home energy audit or take a look at our Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit tool.

  • Recipe for efficiency: Dryer lint trap cleaning
    Did you know that the laundry room is one area where you can find energy cost savings? To help increase your dryer’s airflow, make sure the lint trap is properly cleaned out, which means more than just removing the lint. Check out the steps you can take to make your drying process much more efficient.

    Tools: Screwdriver, dish soap, brush or sponge and a towel.

    Step 1: Remove the lint from the trap in the dryer.

    Step 1

    Step 2: To determine if the trap is clogged, run warm water over the mesh area. If the water puddles up, it needs cleaning. Use warm water and dish soap with a brush or sponge, and clean and dry thoroughly.

    Step 2

    Step 3: Check the vent hose both from the dryer and the wall. Use a screwdriver to loosen the clamp connecting the hose to the dryer and the wall. Check the openings of both areas and the ends of the hose to verify there is no blockage. Clean out any excess lint and debris. Replace the hose to the wall and dryer and tighten the clamp back down. Verify the hose is still connected when you need to move the dryer.


    Step 3

    Step 4:

    Clean the exhaust outlet, found either outside low on the wall close to your laundry room or in the attic. If in the attic, verify the hose is leaving the attic. Otherwise, the hot air and lint could fall into your insulation or any material beneath it and cause a fire. If this is the case, contact a professional to extend the hose to the outside.

    Step 4

  • Electrifying appliances for your kitchen
    Whether your oven and stovetop are powered by gas or electricity, it’s no secret that they consume more energy than smaller countertop appliances, like slow cookers and toaster ovens. In addition to improved efficiency, smaller kitchen appliances can also provide faster cooking times and less hassle with cleanup.

    If you’re looking for convenient cooking methods with the added bonus of energy savings, here are three electrifying appliances for your kitchen:

    1. Air fryers are becoming increasingly popular, and consumers have good things to say about these handy little appliances. Air fryers use convection to circulate hot air and cook the food––this means little to no oil is required, resulting in healthier meals than those prepared with traditional fryers. Air fryers are relatively small, so they won’t take up much of your counter space, and with everything cooked in the fryer, cleanup is a breeze. Air fryers are available in a variety of sizes, and prices range from $40 to more than $200.
    2. Electric griddles have certainly been around for a while, and they offer several benefits for any home chef (beyond bacon and eggs!). Griddles are convenient because you can cook everything at once––like a “one-pan” meal, and the menu possibilities are endless. From fajitas to sandwiches to French toast, griddles can help satisfy all taste buds. They consume small amounts of energy and provide quick cooking times, so your energy bill will thank you. Prices and sizes for griddles vary, but you can typically find one for about $30 at local retail stores.
    3. Pizza brings people together, so why not consider a pizza maker for your kitchen? These compact, countertop machines are an inexpensive alternative to a costly brick oven, and they use less energy than your traditional oven. Choose your own fresh ingredients to whip up a faster, healthier pizza at home. Plus, most pizza makers are multifunctional and can be used to cook flatbreads, frittatas, quesadillas and more. You can purchase a pizza maker for about $30 to more than $150 online or at your local retailer.

    These are just a few energy saving appliance options for your kitchen. Remember, when you’re cooking a smaller meal, countertop appliances can save time and energy.

  • Fight the Winter Chills
    Winter means frigid temperatures can cause heating systems to work over time, and since heating and cooling can make up nearly half of your electric bill, you may experience sticker shock when you open that bill. Instead of waiting until a potentially high bill is in your mailbox, there are steps that can be taken to reduce usage.

    These simple steps can help you manage your use:

    • Wrap exposed hot water pipes and water heaters that are in unconditioned spaces.
    • Make sure to change your air filter once a month.

      Setting your thermostat to 68 degrees can help lower your winter energy usage.

    • Keep drapes closed at night and keep those that don’t get direct sunlight closed during the day, too.
    • Keep the fireplace damper closed when it is not in use – leaving it open can bring cold air into the room.
    • Caulk around the fireplace hearth, and caulk or weather strip around doors and windows.
    • Use your ceiling fans to push the warm air from the ceiling back down toward the living space, which means the furnace won’t turn on as frequently. In winter, your ceiling fans should turn clockwise at a low speed.
    • Dress for the weather, even if you are inside. Wearing proper clothing like long sleeves and pants, or wrapping up in a cozy blanket will help combat the temptation to bump up the thermostat.
    • An electric blanket can deliver quick warmth in ways a regular throw or blanket cannot. Electric blankets can include a variety of features, like timers and dual temperature settings. Consider an electric blanket instead of turning up the heat, and your energy bill will thank you.
    • One of the easiest ways to stay cozy at home is to keep your feet warm. Our feet play a critical role in regulating body temperature, so when your feet are warm, your body automatically feels warmer. Try a pair of comfortable wool socks or house slippers to stay toasty.
    • Another way to make your home cozier is to use a humidifier. Cold air doesn’t hold water vapor like warm air, so by adding humidity inside your home, you can feel a little warmer. A favorable level of humidity inside your home can also help clear sinuses, soften skin and improve sleep.
    • Log on to your Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) account to keep up with your usage.
    • For even more tips and do-it-yourself projects, visit our Winter Energy Efficiency page.

    Using the tips above can certainly help you manage your energy use, but your bill may still be higher than normal in winter months. Why?

    • The weather makes a big impact on electric bills, accounting for nearly half of your bill.
    • Even those with the most efficient HVAC systems will see more use in extreme weather.
    • When extreme cold temperatures hit, our heaters work overtime.
    • For example, even if you set your thermostat to our recommended 68 degrees in the winter, when it is 19 degrees outside, your system has to work hard to make up that 49-degree difference.
    • Remember, there is value in comfort. For us to be comfortable in our homes, our heaters are going to work harder during extreme temperatures.

    If you utilize a space heater, please follow these important safety tips.

    Additional tips:

    • Call CAEC and see what kinds of options are available to you. We can offer many programs such as Prepay and Levelized billing to help you manage your energy use.
    • Speak to one of our Energy Services Representatives (ESRs). They can help you understand how weather and your usage patterns affect your bill. And, if you think your usage is abnormal, one of our ESRs can provide energy audits and offer recommendations.