3 Simple Ways O&R Utility Residents Can Put Money Back in Their Pockets

Lowering your utility charges is easier than you think with these 3 simple steps

17 Apr 2020 | 03:07

Everyone in our local region is home, and across families, that means adjusting to new routines. You certainly may be using more energy between managing work and kids, but you can bet your home itself is using more energy. Whether it’s charging your computer for work or an iPad for the kids, somewhere, somehow, your electricity use has likely gone up. Locals across Orange and Rockland Counties will probably receive a utility bill that is higher than expected, which is never ideal, but especially inconvenient during this time.

As New York State expands social distancing policies through mid-May, and with the possibility of further extensions, you might be wondering, how do I manage my energy bill? And better yet, how could I actually save on energy and end up with some money back in my pocket?

Here are some simple, practical, and locally minded ideas on how you can find the opportunity to save at a time that it really matters.

1. Support Renewable Power, Get Bill Credits on Your Utility Bill

The simplest way to reduce your electricity costs is to get a credit on your utility bill. You can get a credit on your utility bill simply by supporting renewable power. And you can support renewable power simply by joining a local Community Solar farm. Clearway Community Solar offers a savings guarantee, and for a limited time, you can join the program with a $0 cancellation fee. Here’s how it works:

First, you subscribe to a Clearway Community Solar farm. These are local solar arrays that are managed and maintained offsite – there’s no sign-up fee and there are no maintenance fees. Clearway will subscribe your home to a portion of the Community Solar farm based on your historical energy usage and will determine the right size by assessing your usage with a copy of your utility bill.

Thanks to your subscription, 100% renewable solar energy will go to the local power grid, reducing the dependence on polluted energy sources like fossil fuels. And that’s where you get the savings benefit. For the solar energy generated by your subscription, you receive solar bill credits that are automatically applied to your Orange & Rockland utility bill. These bill credits reduce your utility bill and depending on the amount of solar production and your home’s energy consumption that month, could even offset your bill entirely.

As your Community Solar provider, you would pay Clearway for the solar power, and thus the solar bill credits, that were generated. But rather than paying the monthly utility rate, you will pay for those solar bill credits at a guaranteed 10% discount every month.* To break it down: for every $1.00 you receive in solar bill credits that reduce your utility bill, you only pay Clearway $.90. You can get a savings estimate by visiting this helpful solar calculator.

Currently, Clearway has launched a promotion for Earth month where you can cancel with no fee.** While Clearway’s contract includes convenient cancellation terms, it typically include a $0-$200 cancellation fee depending on the customer’s billing cycle and other factors. But for those customers that sign up now through August 1, 2020, the cancellation fee will be waived for the duration of the contract.

With a guaranteed savings offer and $0 cancellation fee, it makes sense to try out Clearway’s program and enjoy some savings every month that can add up, without long-term risk. Visit Clearway’s website to start your enrollment or call 1.866.520.0748 to speak to one of their energy consultants. A home visit is not required, and enrollment can be completed online or over the phone.

2. Do Home Audits and Handy Home Projects that Help You Save

While you are home, there are simply DIY steps you can take to ensure that your home is as energy efficient as possible. Firstly, do a light bulb audit. Are you exclusively using LED’s? If not, make the switch. LED bulbs outperform the lifetime of incandescent light bulbs and use far less power. So, if the lights are on more often, particularly during the daytime, the impact on your bill will be far less meaningful.

Next, do an audit on your power strips. You likely have more devices plugged in than before, and just because they are off doesn’t mean they aren’t consuming power. They are! You can either elect to unplug power strips in key hours, or additionally explore smart power strips, which eliminate the issue by shutting off power supply to electronics when they are not in use.

Lastly, be sure to weatherize. If you’re wondering what that means, and if it requires a handy man, the answer is no! Weatherizing your home means to seal any leaks around doors or windows so that heating and cooling isn’t lost to the outdoors. You can choose to weather strip or caulk, and depending on the degree of work needed, the materials are available online and the steps are easier than you’d imagine.

3. Adjust Energy Habits in a Manageable Way that Can Mean Savings

You’ll want to ensure your comfort while being confined to you living space. But there are simple, small adjustments you can make that can become habits and result in savings.

First, let’s talk about the laundry. You’re doing more, and more often, perhaps. Make sure you are only washing full loads so that your appliances run with the most efficiency. Then, as when possible, do the wash in cold water, and save the hot water loads for when you need to disinfect.

Next, onto the kitchen. Going to the refrigerator without a purpose can mean mindless snacking and meaningless staring. Being at home more may mean you’ve gotten more creative in the kitchen, or by now you’re burned out on recipes. But standing in front of open refrigerator doors, hoping for a moment of inspiration will only waste energy. Make sure you know what ingredients you need first. And when it comes time to cooking, opt for the microwave. Not only will you save time, if you are tired of trying out new recipes, give yourself a break and kick back with the simple microwavable cooking options that save your home’s energy and your personal energy. And if you do opt for the oven, avoid opening the door to check on your food by using a timer and the oven light. Opening the door releases heat, which means your oven will use more energy to get back to its set temperature.

Finally, one of the biggest adjustments you can make is to your thermostat. Whether you need a light sweater or blanket for cooler times, or opt for a fan during warmer times, be mindful of your temperature settings and how often you are running the heat or the A/C. You may be surprised at the temperature settings you can find comfortable, and how a difference of just 2-3 degrees could really help you reduce your usage and save.

It’s not the easiest of times to try new services, do chores, or adjust habits. For many, this period has been a time of reflection where you consider how you can do things differently. These are simple recommendations, and basic ways to get started. When you try them out, you may find a healthier planet, mindset, and habits that simply result in a healthier you.

* Savings guarantee applies to the monthly credited utility rate of the solar bill credits generated. Actual savings can vary month to month and would not apply in the event the customer does not receive credits or receives a reduced credit amount due to utility errors or delays or cancellation. Refer to the community solar contract for agreement terms. Subject to credit approval and a 20-year agreement term.
** Offer valid through August 1, 2020. Customers may cancel their Clearway Community Solar subscription with a minimum of 90 days’ notice. Customers on active farms who receive invoices from Clearway Community Solar will be required to pay their invoices for the periods through the 90-day notice period. Subject to the terms of the Community Solar Agreement, the cancellation fee ranges from $0-$200 in the Clearway Community Solar Agreement. This promotion will waive the cancellation fee if you execute the Clearway Community Solar Agreement by August 1, 2020.