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Energy savings by the clock

For Falcon residents who don’t use much electricity from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Mountain View Electric Association’s “Time of Day” program can be a money saver.Like other electric utilities, MVEA charges for electricity by the number of kilowatt-hours used.For their standard residential service, MVEA charges a bit more than 11.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 1,500 kilowatt hours used per month and a little more than 9.3 cents for kilowatt-hours used after those first 1,500 kilowatt-hours.Under MVEA’s Time of Day program, the day is broken into four time periods with a different charge for electricity used during each time period.

Time periodRate
5:30 a.m. to noon$0.09156 per kwh
Noon to 4:30 p.m.$0.03943 per kwh
4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.$0.16573 per kwh
10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.$0.03943 per kwh
People who can shift enough of their electricity usage from the high-cost time period from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. to a lower-cost time should be able to save on their electric bills.Darryl Edwards, manager of MVEA’s member services department, said only 25 MVEA customers are on the Time of Day program.”You have to be careful with the Time of Day program because if you do anything between 4:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., you’re going to pay more for using that electricity than the standard residential rate,” Edwards said.The Time of Day program doesn’t work well in homes where an electric furnace, space heater or water heater runs in the peak period from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., he said.Anyone who considers signing up for the Time of Day program should take an inventory of their home. “Look at the wattage rating on the back of each appliance, see what’s going on and try to make some adjustments,” Edwards said.Edwards identified electric ovens, washing machines, clothes dryers and dishwashers as the appliances using the most electricity.Some devices are always on, even when they are “off” like most televisions and cable boxes. Edwards suggested connecting those devices to a power strip that can be turned off.Edwards also offered advice about lighting, which could be responsible for as much as 20 percent of the energy consumed during the peak period.”If you want to reduce your electricity consumption, you should put compact fluorescent bulbs everywhere, but most especially if you go on the Time of Day program,” he said, adding that dimmer switches require a compact fluorescent bulb rated for dimmer switches.Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb reduces electricity consumption to 23 watts. Likewise, a 60-watt incandescent bulb replaced by a compact fluorescent bulb goes to 13 watts, Edwards said.The Time of Day program has one drawback: It requires the installation of a special meter, which increases the monthly facilities charge from $13.95 per month to $20 per month.”Whether you’re on the Time of Day program or the standard residential service, when you become aware of how much electricity you’re using, your kilowatt-hour usage will drop,” Edwards said.A myth bustedPeople who leave lights on when a room is empty sometimes rationalize their behavior by saying they’re actually saving energy by avoiding a power surge that would occur if they were to turn the light off and then on again.Not true, Edwards said. “When you turn an incandescent light off, you’re saving money. I don’t care if it’s just for a second.”Edwards attributed this urban legend to fluorescent bulbs, including the newer compact fluorescent bulbs, which wear out faster when frequently turned off and on. The tradeoff is not energy but the cost of replacing the bulb.”If you’re going to be gone more than 15 minutes, turn a fluorescent light off,” he said.Other energy saving tips
  • Instead of turning on an electric oven to heat a frozen dinner, use a toaster oven, which could use 75 percent less electricity than a regular oven because it has less space to heat.
  • According to the Energy Star Web site, Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use at least 40 percent less energy than conventional refrigerators sold in 2001. Check out the calculator at, which provides information on refrigerators and energy use.
  • Run dishwashers with full loads to get the most from the energy use, and use the air-dry option.
  • Consider an Energy Star-qualified clothes washer, which can save $50 a year on an electric bill and uses 18 gallons less water per load than a non-Energy Star-qualified clothes washer.
  • Frequently change the air filter in the furnace. A dirty filter slows down air flow and makes the system work harder to generate warmth. The same is true of clothes dryers, which run more efficiently when the filter is clean.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. When programmed appropriately, a programmable thermostat can save about $180 a year in energy costs.
Sources: and

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