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IN THIS ISSUE Beat The Peak This Summer back to top >>
  1. Beat the Peak
  2. Pool Safety
  3. Cool Roofs
  4. S'mores

  5. Norris Public Power District
    606 Irving Street
    Beatrice, NE 68310

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As temperatures begin to spike, there are steps you can take to save money on energy bills this summer. According to the Department of Energy, a typical home uses 48 percent of energy expenditures on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Although most of that 48 percent is spent on heating expenses, Americans still spend $29 billion every year to power their air conditioners.

Aside from replacing your central air conditioner with a newer, higher-efficiency model, there are some things you can do to increase efficiency, which can help reduce your energy bills.

Besides weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors in your home, Norris offers the following:

  • Close curtains, blinds and shades during the hottest part of the day. Not only is about one-third of a home's energy lost around windows, but about 76 percent of sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows enters the home to become heat, according to energy.gov.
  • If you do not already have one, install a programmable or smart thermostat. You can save up to 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by adjusting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day, according to energy.gov.
  • Clean the filter and get your unit inspected by a HVAC professional.
  • Consider changes to your landscaping. Greenery that includes shade trees and those that insulate the foundation can reduce energy costs.
  • Ventilate the attic and check insulation. Adequately sized vents and an attic fan can help pull the hot air out of the attic and lower the temperature inside. If your attic has less than 6 to 8 inches of insulation, consider adding more. By addressing air leaks around your home and adding insulation, homeowners can save around 10 percent annually on energy bills, according to energystar.gov.
  • Get a pre-season checkup by a professional HVAC technician, which could help your air conditioner run more efficiently.
  • Make sure your outdoor condenser unit is clean and free from debris. Ideally, the unit should be in the shade.
  • Use your clothes dryer and oven during the cooler parts of the day.
  • Consider a professional energy audit to reveal where your home is inefficient, including air leaks and exposed duct work.

Increased summer electric demand not only affects the monthly budget, but it can also seriously strain your home's electrical system, which can create dangerous shock and fire hazards. Flickering or dimming lights or frequent circuit breaker trips are signs of an overloaded electrical system or faulty wiring that should be checked immediately by a qualified electrician.

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  Cool Roofs      back to top >>  

According to the United States Small Business Administration, more than 99% (or more than 180,000) of all registered companies or commercial operations in Nebraska are classified as "small businesses." Anyone living in rural Nebraska knows they are the lifeblood in their local communities. And, with only ten of Nebraska's 529 incorporated cities, towns and villages exceeding populations of 25,000, our small communities are often gauged by the vitality of their downtown business district. Many of these small businesses occupy the historic buildings lining "Main Street" which have stood the test of time for decades, if not more-than a century.

When examining construction design of these buildings, a common roofing approach predominates low-sloped and sealed, flat roofs with composite layers.

Some of these businesses with large air-conditioning loads have taken advantage of the energy savings a "cool roof" provides, but aerial photographs suggest many more have yet to discover this opportunity. A cool roof is light-colored and designed to reflect a majority of the sun’s radiant heat. In contrast, a conventional dark-colored roof absorbs a majority of this solar energy. Conventional roofs can reach temperatures of 150 F or more on a sunny summer afternoon. Under the same conditions, a reflective cool roof will stay more than 50 F cooler.

Recognizing the energy savings a cool roof can provide, the building-materials industry offers several products that increase roof reflectance, such as elastomeric coatings, single-ply membranes, tiles, or reflective metal roofing. Compared to conventional dark-colored roofs, these products keep 60 to 90% of the sun's radiant energy from being absorbed into the business.

However, a cool roof does not necessarily provide savings for every low-slope roof. Some businesses and most Nebraska homes, regardless of their roof slope, may find their cooling energy savings are more than offset by additional heating costs in the winter. Unfortunately, cool roofs continue to reflect the sun's rays, which reduce the building's heating requirements in colder months.

While cool roofs achieve the greatest savings in hot climates when installed on air-conditioned buildings, some Main Street, Nebraska buildings with a high level of occupancy; large amounts of office equipment, manufacturing, food service operations or food retailing; or hospitality venues should investigate how cooling and heating costs compare throughout the year. If the building has high cooling costs, it may be a good candidate for a cool roof. When incorporated with a planned roof installation or improvement, cool roof options often add less than 10% to the total cost. All roofing projects can expensive. Thus, it is difficult to justify converting a standard dark-colored roof that is in good condition for the energy savings alone unless the building is also significantly under-insulated. For buildings with less than 2-inches of insulation or an R12 insulation value in the roof or above conditioned spaces, combined upgrades may yield a much quicker payback.

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