Do you turn your printer off when you’re not using it? You might be wasting electricity…and ink. Our watt-measuring colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports Electronics note that letting your printer enter standby mode often uses less power than turning it off or on. For inkjet printers, the toll also includes ink: some models slorp a bit more ink when priming the jets to print when you turn the printer on rather than letting it wake up from standby mode. [Consumer Reports Electronics]
One home was paying for both their power and their neighbor’s after their meters got crossed. Over seven years they overpaid by $11,000 despite making costly upgrades to reduce power consumption.
It’s a common theme in “above and beyond” posts: a customer contacts a company asking where he or she can buy a certain small part for their widget, and the company sends the part for free–or a new widget entirely. Today, we honor Seagate, which sent globe-trotting academic Donna a new power cord and international plug thingies for her external hard drive when her American plug began to misbehave.
Think fast: if a utility offered you $5,000 not to complain about the noise from their wind turbines, would you accept? What if the noise was so loud that it caused headaches and nausea? It’s a choice Caithness Energy is asking some Oregon residents to make as the utility tries to build one of the largest wind farms in the country.
Despite the record-breaking heat in some parts of the country, total U.S. energy consumption this summer has actually fallen compared to 2009, and peak demand levels–when electricity consumption is at its highest–have dropped as well.
53-year-old New Hampshire grandmother Kay Phaneuf died this weekend after National Grid cut her power over an unpaid bill. Phaneuf suffered from a heart condition that required her to sleep in an oxygen tent and use a plug-in oxygen machine. The worker who disconnected the power after ringing Phaneuf’s bell and waiting several minutes at the door apparently didn’t notice a big red sign that warned people not to smoke because of the oxygen machine. National Grid is claiming they followed proper procedures, but that isn’t stopping New Hampshire’s Public Utilities Commission from opening an investigation.
As soon as next month, California may become the first state to implement energy consumption rule for big screen TV sets similar to the ones for refrigerators and air conditioners. A trade group has been adamantly opposing it, reports the Los Angeles Times, but hasn’t found much sympathy from the California Energy Commission, which may be able to avoid building a $600 million natural gas power plant if they can cut back on energy guzzling sets.
Westerners are stuck paying $3 billion to energy companies that colluded to gang-rape the free market. California, Washington, and Nevada were planning to return the money to customers, but the Supreme Court recently ruled that the industry manipulated the market, fair and square.
One great way to get good customer service is to wear fire department gear. Usually my relationship with local merchants is pretty neutral. I give them money, they give me goods and services, and we both go on our ways without too much in the way of exchanging of pleasantries. But recently my EMT buddy gave me a super-comfortable official FDNY sweatjacket (it’s got a zipper, my name on the pocket, a FDNY badge on the left shoulder, an (empty) station badge on the left breast and FDNY stitched in outline on the back) for my birthday and when I wore it to get breakfast, both the bagel guy and the coffee guy were much friendlier than they’ve ever been. I do not in any way condone impersonating emergency workers or law enforcement personnel, I just thought it was interesting to see in person the difference in how stores treated me just based on the jacket I wore. Though, I couldn’t help thinking about wearing it and going back to Commerce Bank and see if they’ve changed their mind about waiving that account inactivity fee…
No doubt “taking” the backlash “seriously,” the Maryland power company that sent customers unsolicited CFL lightbulbs, and then silently charged them $.96/month for it, has apologized. The company will appear before the Maryland Public Service Commission tomorrow for a hearing. “We stand ready to take whatever corrective actions are deemed necessary by the commission,” Allegheny Power President said. Yes, they’re probably going to tell you to refund people’s money, you jackasses.
An electric company in Maryland, Allegheny Power, sent its customers some CFL light bulbs as part of a consumer education program. Sounds nice until you find out that they customers were charged $0.96 a month (about $12 a year) for the two light bulbs.
In New York, residents can choose to buy their energy from competing energy supply companies, or ESCOs. The idea is you can end up saving money by choosing from a field of competitors. In reality, says the New York Times, your energy bills frequently increase, and when you try to switch again you might be charged a contract termination fee.
The folks at BoingBoing are rightly angered by the trend in airports to feature pay-per-use electric charging stations. It’s bad enough that you’re stuck in the terminal, waiting for your delayed flight to finally start boarding, only to sit and wait some more while seated in 25B. Now, more and more airports are renting out their power sockets, so you can’t even recharge that laptop, cellphone, or DVD player while you’re killing time.
Consumers who switch to Verizon’s new FiOS TV or Internet services will find a change to their existing Verizon phone service: Their copper-wire phone line will be replaced with a fiber-optic line.
Many states offer a choice of energy suppliers. Some of these energy resellers actually can offer savings, but before you sign, be sure to ask a few questions, especially if they come to your door.