Expert Q&A

 
  • Energy Audit

    Start here for personalized tips to help you save money by lowering your energy bill.
     
    Learn More about Energy Audits

  • Smart Meters

    The state-of-the-art technology behind the Smart Meter system will help provide all our customers with a host of new and future benefits.
     

    Learn More about Smart Meters

Information for Renters
 

76 Expert Q&A

 
 

A. One of the first principals of insulation is, if your home already has some insulation, adding more does not have the same impact as installing some in a home that has none. This is known as the diminishing return on investment in insulation. However, the addition of five inches of fiberglass saves 80% of the insulating potential. Additional inches don’t save as much because most of the savings has already been achieved. The concept is easier to understand if you think about dressing for cold weather. The first coat you put on makes a big difference in your comfort, but if you put on more coats, each subsequent coat makes less difference.

 

A. People are generally comfortable in homes when relative humidity ranges between 30-60%. Below 30%, some people experience dryness in their nose and throat; over 60%, the air begins to feel uncomfortably sticky. Human comfort is one consideration for indoor humidity levels; the other major consideration is keeping condensation from occurring on interior surfaces and within structural cavities like exterior walls. Excess moisture in these areas can cause problems from peeling paint, cracking of siding, deterioration of building materials and insulation. On the home’s interior, moisture can promote mildew formation and contribute to health problems.

Other disadvantages of high humidity include the growth of mold, odors becoming more noticeable, and staining when condensation occurs on windows and around nails or screws in walls and ceilings. In addition, high humidity can worsen respiratory problems for people with asthma or allergies.

 

A. Before purchasing surge protectors, you should conduct an inventory of your sensitive equipment. This inventory is simply a walk through your home to determine where and what type of sensitive equipment you have. Go room by room listing each piece of electrical equipment. Note whether or not the device is connected to the outside world in any other way besides the power line, like telephone lines, modems or antennas.

You’ll also want to note whether items can be grouped to share a multiple outlet device. Then sit down with your list and determine which of the items you want to protect, and make a corresponding surge protector shopping list. Pay special attention to the units that will require cable or phone protection in addition to power protection.

Surge suppressors are available at electronics stores, home stores, discount stores, department stores, computer stores or by mail order. You’re most likely to find educated sales help in computer and electronics stores.

Consider only those products that are UL listed as transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS). Any number of products will have UL labels listing them as multiple outlet devices. This does not mean the product is a UL-listed surge suppressor.

One of the most important performance characteristics of a surge protector is its “clamping voltage.” This is the voltage the surge suppressor passes through to your equipment before diverting to ground. The lowest clamping voltage recognized by UL is 330 volts or .33 kilovolts. The product’s clamping voltage will be listed on the product next to the UL label if it is UL listed. Select only those plug-in protection devices with a 330-volt clamping voltage. Some manufacturers list very low clamping voltages on their label or in their product literature. View this information for what it really is—marketing hype. Always use the UL number as your purchasing guide.

Over time all surge suppressors will wear out. Most will provide years of service under normal conditions. However, it’s important to know when the product fails. Look for products with indicator lights, audible alarms or power disconnect as a failure warning. Without one of these you could be unprotected without knowing it.

 

A. Electric. Conduction is the best form of heat transfer, and electric has quicker heat transfer than gas, so electric is faster to preheat.

 

A. Most people make energy investment decisions based on installed cost and expected savings. Unfortunately, these are not as simple to predict as they might first appear. Cost estimates depend on the caliber of materials, quality of the contractor selected, and many design details. Savings for a combination of energy efficiency usually measures less than for each measure taken individually. And certain decisions require a fairly elaborate consideration of local weather and weather variability. Therefore, always check cost and savings estimates from several sources before making your final decision. For example, you might contact a Georgia Power representative, your service technician and equipment suppliers or contractors to estimate the likely costs and savings associated with making energy improvements to your home. Consider having a BPI Assessment done on your home by a Georgia Power Program Participating Contractor.  Taking advantage of Georgia Power’s free in-home energy audit can help you determine where and how you can make the most cost-effective, energy-saving and improvements.

 

Find out more about conducting a Free In-Home Energy Audit or Online Energy Checkup.

 
Q. Where can I recycle my used CFLs?

Posted on August 2012

A. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and should be disposed of properly, ideally by recycling. Georgia Power has partnered with The Home Depot to offer recycling for compact fluorescent light bulbs at the retailer’s stores in Georgia. For more information about the CFL recycling program, visit www.ecooptions.homedepot.com.

Georgia Power sponsors in-store bins at all 88 The Home Depot locations in the state, which creates the state’s most widespread recycling program for CFLs. To find a The Home Depot location near you, visit www.homedepot.com/StoreFinder, or search for other locations to recycle your CFLs on www.lamprecycle.org.

 

A. Unless you’re using an open burner range or a wok range, electric cooking is faster.

 
Q. Whit is life cost analysis?

Posted on August 2012

A. Life cost analysis is a way of looking at the total cost of ownership of an appliance or home upgrade, as opposed to the initial investment or purchase price. Life costs include the impacts of inflation, the time-value of money and operating costs, such as fuel, in addition to the purchase price. For example, in selecting between two similar new refrigerators, one costing $600 and another costing $550, your initial reaction might be to purchase the less expensive model and save $50. However, by reading the EnergyGuide label, you notice that the first refrigerator costs $68 per year to operate, and the less expensive one costs $80—or $12 more per year. So, is it worth $50 initially to save $12 per year in operating costs? Earning $12 per year on an investment of $50 equates to a return-on-investment of 24% ($12/$50), much better than banks would offer.

Sometimes calculating life costs is not so easy. You may not know exactly how much a measure will cost or save and will therefore have to make estimates. To calculate the life cost of an electric appliance, you need the initial cost, the cost of energy, the annual operating costs, estimated lifetime of the appliance in years and the discount factor.

Discount factors adjust for inflation and the fact that a dollar today has more value than a dollar spent in the future because it could be invested earning interest over time. This information is entered into the following equation to estimate life cost:

LCC = price + (annual energy cost x estimated life x discount factor)

 

A. The most advanced and efficient heating and cooling system available today, a heat pump is the most economical way to keep your home comfortable year-round. The technologically advanced heat pump keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer—with one amazing piece of equipment. It’s also a wise energy investment that can result in major savings on monthly energy bills for many homeowners.

You also can’t beat a heat pump for durability. In fact, heat pumps last an average of 20 years in the Southeast United States.

Heat pumps also provide added design flexibility when building a home. Since there are no flames or fumes, you won’t have to add flues or vent pipes that waste valuable closet and storage space. And because there are no flues, you’ll have more choices in where to locate the indoor part of your heat pump system.

 

A. Low-E or “low-emissivity” glazing improves home energy efficiency year-round. During warm weather, long-wave infrared radiation from outside is blocked from passing through the glass. This reduces the interior cooling load. During cold months, long-wave infrared radiation from inside the home is reflected back into the conditioned space. This lowers heat loss through the glass.

 

76 Expert Q&A