Thursday, June 2, 2011

How much is to much for natural gas?

Have you looked at how Centerpoint Energy now charges you for your natural gas? Centerpoint has put in place a new rate structure that charges you more money per therm of gas the more you use. Centerpoint says this is to promote high gas users to find more efficient heating options and conserve gas. What I find strange is usually the more of something you buy the cost goes down. When you buy bulk at Costco you get a discount because the cost per transaction goes down when volume goes up. With the new plan a tier 3-5 customer will pay 25-48% above the cost of gas. Minnesota Attorney General is now investigating this program as they have found 42% of Centerpoint customers in MN top 10 highest poverty communities are paying the max tier 5 rates. These are the people that have old homes and heating systems that they can’t afford to improve the efficiency. So is it fair to charge them an inflated high price because of this? Especially knowing if one customer uses a lot of a product looking at a business side they should be paying the lowest rate. Comfort Matters is a huge supporter of helping our customers save money on energy use and we want people to come to us for answers. But why could a company just raise their rates like Centerpoint when a homeowner has no other option but buy gas from them? You can read the Fox News article about the Attorney General request to suspend the current rate structure here:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why day light savings time? Why not Arizona?

Did you ever wonder why there is daylight savings time?

Energy savings is the root to this all. Thank you to Chris Kline for helping answer some of these questions. So as you will learn below saving energy in America is what started this, but as everything there is always a catch.

The history of daylight saving is tied to energy conservation. Switching to DST in the summer means more sunlight at night, which in turn means homes don't have to turn on lights as early.

According to the U.S. Government , that leads to energy and fuel savings.

Over the course of the last 100 years, the United States (including Arizona) has gone on Daylight Saving time in both World War 1 and World War 2, but then gone off after the wars were over.

In 1973, a more permanent federal law was enacted to help with the oil shortages of that time. But Arizona asked for – and was eventually granted an exemption. Unlike almost everywhere else, Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Saving Time (DST), and hasn't done so for the last 40 years.

According to an Arizona Republic editorial from 1969, the reason was the state's extreme heat. If Arizona were to observe Daylight Saving Time, the sun would stay out until 9 p.m. in the summer (instead of 8 p.m., like it does currently).

"[Data] clearly show that we must wait until about 9 p.m. DST to start any night-time activity such as drive-in movies, moonlight rides, convincing little children it’s bedtime, etc," the editorial stated. "And it’s still hot as blazes!"

Another Arizona Republic editorial from 1968 stated, "Drive-in theaters, the parents of small children, the bars, the farmers and those who do business with California" were against Daylight Saving time while "power companies, the evening golfers, the late risers, and the people with business interests on the Eastern seaboard" were for it.

But don't be fooled by Arizona's DST stance. Not every corner of Arizona is exempt from Daylight Saving Time today.

The Navajo Indian Reservation follows DST, but the reservation stretches across four different states.

If all of Arizona were to re-evaluate its stance and choose to observe DST, here's what would change.

Instead of sunrise at 5:30 a.m. during most of the summer, the sun would come up at 6:30 a.m. And at the end of the day, the sun would set at 9 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. Winter sunrise and sunset times would remain the same.

So what's the catch?

DST has many benefits on sporting, entertainment and other activities after work, but have had questionable effects on farming and other night time entertainment that is tied to sunlight.

A 2009 Michigan State University published by the American Psychological Association study showed that DST has adverse effects on the American workplace.

"Following [the start and end of DST], employees slept 40 min less, had 5.7% more workplace injuries, and lost 67.6% more work days because of injuries than on non phase change days," explained the study, which looked at mining injuries between 1983 and 2006 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

If you are feeling pretty board or just got that geeky urge like I did you can also find a lot of info on DST at Wikipedia.