Friday, January 21, 2011

Encountering A High Electric Bill

It is that time of year again! Winter is well under way in East Tennessee, and not only are we feeling it outside in the harsh weather, but also on our electric bills. While it is not uncommon to see an increase in your electric bill this time of year, you may begin to wonder how or why your bill has increased. Many factors play into these increases and the JCPB wants to be able to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have.

This season has already presented us with record low temperatures, snow storms, power outages, and more. Unfortunately, this is out of our control, but we would like to give you some helpful tips in order to lower or better maintain your electric bill.

Factors Affecting Your Electric Bill:
Some factors should be taken into consideration when receiving a high bill. “Do you have an open fireplace? (If so, approximately 25% of heat is escaping your home.) Is your home poorly insulated? Do you have a leaky water heater, which causes the water heater to “run” more often? What type of appliances are you using? What type of heating system do you have? How big is your home? Did you have guests at your home during this billing period?” These are all important questions to consider.

There are some other key points to remember during this season as well. Do take into consideration that the days are shorter during the winter, which means that more lighting is required. Colder weather also tends to force people to stay inside. As a result of this, more entertainment items, such as televisions, computers, and game systems, are being used. People also tend to cook more when forced indoors. Fireplaces are another area for concern. Blower systems on wood heaters, gas, oil, and coal furnaces are apt to run fairly often.

Did you know that about 60% of your electric bill comes from use of the heat pump? A very important rule to remember, especially during this time of the year, is the “SET IT AND FORGET IT” rule. This means set your thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees and leave it. Do not continually adjust your thermostat, as you will see an increase in price on your bill. Just “set it and forget it.” Also make note that for every degree you set your thermostat over 70 degrees it will increase your bill by 3 to 5 percent.

How to Reduce Your Use:
• Change your filter at least once a month
• Keep interior doors open for better circulation of heat
• Do not use auxiliary heat
• Make sure registers are not blocked
• Check your ductwork and insulation for potential air leaks
• Close the damper on your fireplace in order to reduce heat loss
• Adjust your thermostat to somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees
• Use natural light whenever possible

Check out our Home Energy Library at for detailed information.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smart Grid 101: Terminology Overview

Recently the media has been abuzz with hype surrounding the creation of a “smart grid.” As with most technological advancements, the advent of the smart grid has brought with it a host of new acronyms and terminologies. We thought it might be helpful to identify and define several key terms:

Automated Meter Reading (AMR): Meters transmit data via wireless radio frequency to a data collection device; readings must be gathered within a limited range of the meter; one-way communication from meter to a data collection device.

Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI): Utilizes advanced technology to create a communication network between a utility and its meters; two-way communications between utility and meters. The meters we will deploy communicate by relaying information wirelessly from one meter to the next. This allows for real-time data collection, asset monitoring and asset control; forms basis for smart grid.

Time of Use Rates: This describes a new rate structure being implemented by the TVA wherein electricity rates will vary according to its relative cost during a given time of day. This will resemble the cell phone rate structure many of us have come to know which allows for reduced rates on calls made during “off-peak” hours.

Stay connected at where we will offer additional educational resources as we move forward on the deployment of our new smart grid.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Help JCPB Take A Load Off

The Johnson City Power Board (JCPB) is preparing to launch a new program designed to help our utility/community reduce our local demand for electricity during peak usage times. Coined Take A Load Off (TALO), the program utilizes remotely controlled disconnect switches installed on customers' appliances known for their high demand for electricity. TALO will make its debut on JCPB customers' water heaters. Tank water heaters have been chosen for their unique ability to act as energy storage devices; they are able to provide the comfort and convenience of hot water at one time after having used electricity to heat the water at an earlier time.

TALO water heater switches will afford JCPB the ability to send out a command to participant's water heaters which will postpone the reheating of water during peak usage times. For example, let's assume that the majority of JCPB customers use hot water shortly after waking each morning. After sitting idly through the night, their water heater tanks are full of hot water which is readily awaiting the many showers and baths so many of us use to begin our days. Once that water is used, the water heaters refill and begin to heat the influx of cooler water as its heating elements switch on. However, as this water is heating the majority of us will be eating breakfast, getting ready for work/school, and heading out the door. Consequently, most of us will not have a need for hot water again for several more hours. It is during times like this when JCPB hopes to activate TALO water heater switches to postpone the reheating of water for a short time to help reduce electricity demand.

During winter months when our morning routines include the rewarming of our homes, demand for electricity is often very high creating great demand for electricity across the entire Tennessee Valley. These times of highest demand are known as peak demand events. A peak demand event may require Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to bring additional electricity generating plants online or purchase electricity from a third party. These solutions are both costly and inefficient and could easily be avoided by simply shifting some of the associated usage to another time of day.

While the amount of electricity saved by turning off just one water heater's elements is relatively small, thousands of TALO participants would afford JCPB the ability to realize significant reductions in demand during peak usage times. With enough customer participation TALO will help reduce JCPB's wholesale electricity costs, thus reducing our customers' electricity costs. However, the best thing about TALO is that JCPB is offering this opportunity free of charge. In fact, not only will we pay for the equipment and installation of the TALO direct load control switches, but we will even pay a $50 cash incentive to any of our qualifying customers who agree to sign up. All you need to qualify is to be the owner of your property with an electric water heater that has no less than a 40 gallon capacity.

So what's the catch? There isn't one! To get additional information, or to sign up to be a part of our Take A Load Off program, please call JCPB's Marketing and Energy Services department at (423) 952-5142.