Thursday, January 24, 2013

Increased Energy Regulations Projected - Are You Protected From Higher Prices?

At Conservice, our top priority is helping our clients save money on their utility expenses. We also like to keep you informed about the energy market so you can know when to expect prices to rise and fall. With our OPTIMyZE solution, we'll help our clients in deregulated markets procure lower rates for gas and electricity. Recent news indicates now would be a great time to lock in low rates:
Renewed focus on climate change | With extreme temperatures and increased storms hitting the globe, climate change has become a renewed focus for the current administration. In President Obama's inauguration address Monday, he stated, "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."
Increased regulation on energy industry | Efforts to combat climate change have come in the form of increased regulation in the energy industry, adding measures and standards intended to improve air quality, reduce emissions, and encourage the production of renewable energy. As a result of these increased regulations, energy experts are forecasting increased energy prices in the years ahead.

Institute of Energy Research projects increased energy costs |After President Obama's reelection in November, the Institute for Energy Research compiled a list of acts, standards, and new regulations that have been or are projected to be implemented during the President's last term. One of the items on the list, fracking regulation, has recently hit the news. 

Fracking regulations in the news | The Interior Department announced last week that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will issue a new draft concerning fracking regulations by March 31 to "make improvements to the draft proposal in order to maximize flexibility, facilitate coordination with state practices, and ensure that operators on public lands implement best practices," said spokesman Blake Androff as quoted in a recent Politico article. While many believe fracking is harmful to the environment, proponents of fracking are concerned that increased regulation could destroy fracking and cause oil and gas prices to rise. The practice of fracking has helped lower oil and gas prices nationwide - but many critics are skeptical and believe the practice is dangerous.

Other policies | Other federal policies that will likely cause oil and gas prices to rise include subsidies to wind, solar, and biomass energy production, and carbon taxes. The Institute for Energy Research is also concerned that limits on where the country can drill for oil and gas will limit supply and drive up costs.

What can you do? | If you are a Conservice customer, contact your account manager or representative.  Conservice provides comprehensive procurement services to help you lock in low rates now. Don't risk higher electricity and/or gas costs in the coming months. Interested in learning more about Conservice? Leave a comment or contact us at

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Six Ways to Minimize Your Winter Heating Costs

1. Turn Down Your Thermostat
When you are not home and at night, turn down your thermostat (preferably under 66 degrees). If you have a digital thermostat with a timer, set it for when you will be home and when you will be gone or asleep. That way, you won’t have to remember to turn it up or down. When you are home, try dropping your thermostat a few degrees. It makes little noticeable difference in how warm you feel, but can make a big difference on your bill!

2. Don’t Let the Heat Escape
Make sure doors and windows are properly sealed. Ask your landlord to help you replace any worn or torn weather stripping. Use blinds and heavy curtains at night. If you have south-facing windows, let the sun shine in and warm your apartment on sunny days.  Heat from the sun is free!

3. Go Rug Shopping
Using rugs on floors that are not carpeted may keep some heat in, but it will also help keep your feet warm so you won’t be tempted to crank up the heat.

4. Turn Down Your Water Heater
As tempting as it is to take a scalding hot shower on a cold winter day, turning down your water heater will definitely help you save on your gas bill. It will also help prevent dry skin.

5. Get a Furnace Tune-Up
If your apartment has its own furnace, it’s a good idea to have maintenance check your furnace to make sure it is running properly and has a clean filter. This will not only save you on your heating bill, but can also prevent fires.

6. Check Your Vents
If possible, close off heat to rooms that you never use and keep the doors shut. That will allow the heat to concentrate in rooms where you spend the most time. Also, move furniture or other items that might block vents. Depending on the location and type of vents you have, you may want to vacuum or clean out your vents (especially if you have small children or pets).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Multifamily Housing to be a Major Focus in Efficiency Standards During 2013

During 2013, we expect significant developments to energy efficiency standards and requirements for multifamily housing.  These changes will come from both governmental and private sources.  The most prominent changes are expected from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American National StandardsInstitute (ANSI).

During 2012, the EPA has gathered substantial amounts of data about multifamily buildings to create an Energy Star Rating system.  They have also been gathering building data, such as year built, what materials were used, square footage, building type (i.e. garden, high-rise, etc.), and more.  The EPA has forecast that a rating system will be available sometime this year, most likely during spring or summer.

On a similar note, ANSI is a private company that sets standards on procedures, safety, efficiency and more.  These standards are often used to set minimum standards throughout an industry.  This year, ANSI has set a plan to develop new standards for multi-family housing.  These standards will include water and energy efficiency rules and verification procedures, along with other unrelated items.  These standards are projected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Another change is that the EPA is planning to release a new version of their Portfolio Manager later this year, which should make the site more dynamic.  This should result in increased tools for users uploading large amounts of data, improving our ability to manage this data for our existing and future customers using this service. 

As Energy Star Partners, and members of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Buildings, we are keeping close watch on the changes in the industry.  Our benchmarking team continues to provide assistance with using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager, especially where required by law.

These standards highlight the trend toward energy efficiency that we are seeing in the multifamily industry.  As the year progresses, we will be watching to see how these changes are expected to impact each of our customers.  Energy efficiency has been and continues to be a growing movement in commercial and governmental circles, and while in many respects, multifamily housing has been insulated from these changes, this year looks to change that and bring the same structure to multifamily housing that has been experienced by standard commercial buildings.