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News Articles 2018

Choosing the Right Air Filter for the Home

The air filter in your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system has an important job to do: improve the air quality in your home.

The air inside our homes is full of particles originating from inside and outside sources. This junk-laden air flows through a filter before encountering the HVAC equipment. Without a filter, the cooling coils would get clogged and the heating side would burn off whatever was in the air. Ah, the smell of burnt hair in the morning…

Air filters trap a lot of debris that otherwise would end up back in the house, stuck in ductwork, clogging HVAC equipment—or in our lungs. But enough with the HVAC and air quality primer. Let’s tackle types of air filters.

There are more filter choices than you can shake a stick at. Fortunately, they can be broken down into two nicely defined categories, making the selection process manageable. The two are:

  • Permanent or disposable
  • Flat or pleated (with a handy MERV rating)

Disposable filters are the most prevalent. Some in the flat group look like they will stop only particles larger than a golf ball. They have flimsy cardboard frames and a thin, flat mesh you easily can see through. They’re cheap, but don’t waste your money. Your HVAC system and lungs deserve better.

Made of stronger, opaque fibers, pleated filters perform better. While they look impervious, air can move through under pressure, leaving airborne cargo trapped as it should be.

Remember MERV? Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is a rating system that tells you how effective a filter is at trapping particles—a measure of efficiency.

The scale runs 1–16 (higher is better) and is based on trapping particles 3–10 microns in diameter. Research shows that residential filters with a MERV rating of 7–13 are likely to be as effective as true high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters. This class of filter is used in cleanroom manufacturing and, at the extreme end, can trap particles much finer than the diameter of a human hair, as small as 1 micron.

So, should you run out and grab a supply of high-MERV filters? Not without some research.

All filters increase resistance to air flow, but higher MERV values come with greater levels of resistance—making the system work harder. A system working too hard loses efficiency and increases wear on operating components. HVAC systems are designed to operate at a particular pressure and all should support MERV ratings of 1–4.

How do you decide which level of filter to use? If you have your system’s operating manual or can find it online, check forrecommendations.

Otherwise, go with a decent (MERV 3–5) pleated filter, either disposable or permanent, and check it once a month to see how it is performing. Change or clean it whenever it looks dirty. Factors such as pets that shed, the amount of carpeted versus hardwood floors and the presence of cigarette smoke in your home will affect how often filters need to be changed.

Invest a little more and breathe a lot easier with a quality air filter and regular replacement—a simple change that pays big dividends.

The benefit of being a member at Farmers Electric Co-op is that you can utilize the FilterChange.Coop website to get air filters deliver to your door, and when it’s time to replace the air filter, it will send you a reminder to change it.

Making Your Home More Energy Efficient

While most homeowners would like to be more energy efficient and save money, often it feels overwhelming because we don’t know where to start.

How can the average family use less energy, lower its utility bills and still meet daily energy needs? To help jump-start your effort, it’s useful to know the top energy users in your home. With this knowledge, you can choose a path that works best for your family.According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the top five energy users in U.S. homes are:

  • Space cooling
  • Lighting
  • Water heating
  • Space heating
  • Refrigeration

Adjust the Temperature
Together, home heating and cooling use the most energy and take the biggest bite out of your energy budget. On the bright side, there are ways you can achieve at least 10 percent savings on heating and cooling by taking a few, simple low-cost or no-cost steps.

  • During warm weather, the recommended indoor temperature is 78 degrees.
  • During cold weather, set your thermostat to 68 degrees.
  • Clean the filters of your HVAC system to cut costs 5–15 percent.
  • Caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors to prevent conditioned air from escaping to the outdoors.
  • No matter what the climate or time of year, proper use of a programmable thermostat can save you 10 percent on your monthly utility bill.

Shine the Light on Savings
Take a fresh look at the lighting in your home. If you still use incandescent lighting, your lightbulbs are operating at only 25 percent energy efficiency. Replacing your home’s five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star-certified LEDs can save $75 per year. Another easy way to save is to always turn lights off in rooms that are not being used.

Water Heating Efficiency
Just as it is energy-wise to insulate your roof, walls and floors, it also pays to wrap your water heater with an insulating blanket. This is more critical if you have an older unit. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For additional efficiency and savings, insulate exposed hot water lines and drain 1–2 gallons of water from the bottom of your tank annually to prevent sediment buildup.

Put Cash Back in Your Wallet
If your refrigerator was purchased before 2001, chances are it uses 40 percent more energy than a new Energy Star model. If you are considering an appliance update, a new Energy Star rated fridge uses at least 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models and 20 percent less energy than allowed by current federal standards. By understanding how your home uses energy, you can determine the best ways to modify energy use and keep more money in your wallet.

Want to make your home more energy efficient? Start with a FREE in-home energy assessment from Farmers Electric Cooperative. To schedule call: 903 455 1715

Include Home Energy Savings in Vacation Plans

Slipping in a last-minute vacation before school starts? Be sure to give your home’s energy use a vacation as well. Simple tips can save you money while you’re away.

  • Air conditioning: Set the thermostat to 85 degrees. If it’s a programmable thermostat, use the “hold” or the “vacation” setting. For every degree a thermostat is raised during the summer, you can save 2 percent on your electricity bill.
  • Electronics: Computers, CD/DVD players, TVs and chargers—these and other electronic appliances use electricity even when they are not turned on. Unplug them before leaving.
  • Lighting: Improve energy savings, and your home’s security, by using timers to operate lights at night. And by installing LEDs in those lamps, you’ll save more energy—up to 66 percent for each lamp—and the bulbs last about ten times longer than incandescent bulbs.
  • Water heating: Turn the water heater’s temperature to the lowest setting. Many water heaters have a “vacation” setting for this purpose. Leave a reminder to turn it back up when you return home.
  • Pool: Shorten the operating time for the pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep. A pool cover can save energy, too. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 70 percent of pool water loss is by evaporation.
  • Refrigerator: Set the fridge to 42 degrees and the freezer to 5 degrees. This increase is enough to keep everything cold and frozen but still save energy over the vacation period. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to clean out any leftovers and raw vegetables and keep only new foods that won’t spoil while the house is empty. If you’re going on an extended trip, consider emptying the fridge and turning it off. If you do so, remember to leave the doors open to prevent mildew.

Wondering if your home is energy efficient? Farmers Electric Co-op can help you evaluate your home with a FREE in-home energy audit. To schedule an appointment call: 903 455 1715

Energy Efficiency Considerations for Prospective Homebuyers

Summer is one of the busiest seasons for house hunting because families often prefer to relocate when school is out.

If you’re shopping for a new home, be sure to consider energy costs, which can be significant expenses for any home. The average home accumulates about $2,500 in energy expenses per year.

The size of a home is one of the most important factors in determining its energy costs. As square footage increases, lighting requirements increase and, more importantly, the burden on heating and cooling equipment increases.

In general, newer homes have better energy performance due to advancements in building codes but buying a new home does not guarantee efficiency. Building codes are not always enforced, and a minimum-code home is not nearly as efficient as homes built to a higher standard. Look for homes that have Energy Star, Built Green or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifications.

Newer manufactured homes are typically much more efficient than older manufactured homes but do not have to meet the same energy code requirements of site-built homes. Residents of manufactured homes spend about 70 percent more on energy per square foot of living space compared to residents of site-built homes.

Once you are interested in a specific home, consider requesting copies of utility bills from the sellers to gauge how much it will cost to heat and cool annually.

Although many homebuyers focus on energy features that have the greatest aesthetic impact, such as windows and lighting fixtures, it’s the less visible workings of appliances that have the biggest effect on energy performance. Heating and cooling systems account for about half of a home’s energy use and are costly to replace. Here are a couple of questions homebuyers should consider about heating and cooling:

  • How old is the heating system? If it’s more than 10-years-old, it may be necessary to replace it in the near-term.
  • What is the system’s seasonal energy efficiency ratio? Find out the SEER of the home’s air conditioning system. If the air conditioner has a SEER of less than 8, you likely will want to replace it.

Doing your homework on your future home’s energy costs can make a big difference in your new monthly budget.

Do I really Need To Call?

Yes! Don’t make a judgement call; Make an 811 call. Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a phone call—even small projects.

  • I am only planting a small flower bed or bush.
    Did you know that many utilities are buried just a few inches below ground? You can easily hit a line when digging for simple gardening projects, like planting flowers or small shrubs. Make the call to 811 anytime you’re putting a shovel in the ground to keep yourself and your community safe.
  • I am just installing a mailbox.
    Buried utility lines are everywhere. Installing mailboxes and fences are examples of projects that absolutely require a call to 811 to know what’s below before digging. Hitting a line can knock out service to your home and neighborhood or result in fines, damage and serious injury. Don’t make a judgment call—make the call to 811 every time you dig.
  • I am digging in a spot that was previously marked.
    Erosion and root system growth can alter the depth and location of buried lines, or your utility companies might have completed work on their lines since the last time you dug—so you must call 811 before you dig—each and every time.
  • I hired a contractor or landscaper to do the digging project.
    Be sure to check with your contractor or landscaper to make sure the call to 811 gets made before digging begins—whether it means you making the call or your contractor doing so. Never let digging work begin without the call to 811. It’s not worth the risk.
  • I am only digging in a small area and don’t want my entire yard marked.
    If you are planning to dig only in a small portion of your yard, you can outline the area in white paint or white flags available at home improvement stores to ensure that only the utilities in that part of your yard will be located and marked. Be sure to let your 811 operator know about your plans, and he or she will help ensure the proper area is marked by utility locators.

EMBARGO UNTIL MAY 1: Stay Connected by Updating Your Contact Information

In the utility business, we know rough weather will occur, and sometimes power outages simply can’t be avoided. But did you know there are steps you can take to ensure your electricity is restored as quickly and safely as possible?

By keeping your contact information up to date, you can help get the power on faster and take full advantage of the services Farmers Electric Cooperative offers. Not having the correct phone number linked to your home address makes it much more difficult for you to report an outage and for us to find you when you do.

Remember when you had to speak to a customer service representative to report a power outage? Waiting on hold can be frustrating and time consuming. Today, you can easily report an outage by text message. If you text us to report an outage, our automated system instantly recognizes your cell phone number and can determine the particular service address for which you are reporting an outage. But remember—this only works if your cell phone number is linked to your service address. Use our Update Account Form to add your cell number to your account.

Traveling? Let Electricity Keep Your House Safe

If you have resolved to travel more this year, it’s time to get your house ready. Traveling is more fun and relaxing when you don’t have to worry about whether your home is safe and secure. Here are five ways to prevent mishaps—and save some energy—during your absence.

  1. Create the illusion that someone is home. Ask a trusted neighbor to pick up newspapers, mail and deliveries that might arrive while you’re away. A pile of newspapers in the driveway is an invitation to an intruder looking for an empty house to break into.
  2. Connect your outdoor lights to timers. Instead of leaving them on day and night while you’re gone, install a timer that will switch the lights on when it gets dark and off when the sun comes up each day.
  3. Plug indoor lamps into programmable timers set to “random” so the lights turn on and off throughout the day and evening. That will make your home look lived-in. You also can plug a TV or stereo into a timer so your house sounds lived-in, too.
  4. Motion detectors not only light your property when your neighbor stops by to check on it but also serve to deter intruders. They save energy because you won’t have to pay for light that no one is around to benefit.
  5. Unplug electronic devices such as your TV, computer, printer and small kitchen appliances before you leave. Left plugged into a wall socket, those items continue to draw small amounts of electricity that show up on your energy bill.

Insulate To Feel Great

Do you ever feel a chill, crank up the heat, hear the furnace kick on, then feel no warmer? Your home might need better insulation.

Heat flows from a warmer spot to a cooler one until there is no longer a temperature difference. This means that in winter, heat flows directly from heated living spaces in your homes to adjacent garages, unheated attics, and outdoors.

Properly insulating your home decreases this flow by providing resistance. Unless your home was specially constructed for energy efficiency, you probably can reduce your energy bills by adding more insulation.

Inspect and Evaluate

To determine whether you should add insulation, find out:

  • Where your home is, isn’t, and should be insulated
  • What type, R-value and thickness of insulation you already have Check the walls, floors and ceilings in unheated spaces such as the attic and garage. Structural elements usually are exposed in these areas, which makes it easy to see the type and thickness of surrounding insulation.

To inspect exterior wall insulation through an electrical outlet:

  1. Turn off power to the outlet.
  2. Remove the cover and shine a flashlight into the gap around the outlet box. You should be able to see if there is insulation in the wall and possibly how thick it is.
  3. Pull out a small amount of insulation, if needed, to help determine its type. Use this method to check outlets on all floors in old and new parts of your house. Just because you find insulation in one wall doesn’t mean it’s everywhere in the house.
Choose the Right Insulation

Once you’ve figured out the types of existing insulation and their thicknesses, consult the U.S. Department of Energy’s online insulation fact sheet at to determine the corresponding R-values.

Once you find out the R-values of your existing insulation, you then can use the Home Energy Saver tool at to determine how much insulation you need to add and where to add it for maximum energy efficiency.

Select the proper type of insulation for your home once you know where you’ll be installing the new stuff and what R-value you want the new installation to achieve.

Resolve to Save Energy in 2018

Saving energy – and money – should be on everyone’s list. Here are 10 quick tips to help you get started in 2018.

  1. Replace your lightbulbs. Most people have switched from traditional incandescent bulbs by now, but in case you’re still on the fence: An $8 LED lasts up to 25 times longer and costs only $30 to operate over that period.
  2. Beef up the insulation in your attic. Attics can be sources of heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Payback varies by region, but it’s usually within two years, and your home’s comfort will show a difference.
  3. Install programmable thermostats. Up to 20 percent of the average home’s yearly energy bill goes toward heating and cooling. Programmable thermostats save money by adjusting the temperature during unoccupied hours.
  4. Maintain your HVAC system. Heating and cooling system equipment runs best when maintained. Change your filters on a regular basis and have equipment serviced annually to make sure it’s running efficiently.
  5. Unplug. Check around the house to see if devices are unnecessarily plugged in. Cellphones, chargers, TVs, entertainment systems, computers, and appliances still draw power when not in use.
  6. Weatherize. Weatherizing your home means sealing against airflow around doors, windows, and places where pipes enter the home.
  7. Conduct your own energy audit. Do you really need two refrigerators? Is there a fish tank with no fish? Is your house so hot in the winter that you need to wear a Hawaiian shirt? Walk around your house to check for—and eliminate—wasteful energy loads.
  8. Replace your single-pane windows. Upgrading to more energy-efficient windows can help control temperature and air infiltration in your home. It can be costly, but payback can take just a few years.
  9. Upgrade your appliances. Energy Star-rated appliances mean more energy efficiency and can save you hundreds of dollars over their life span.
  10. Contact your electric cooperative for information about energy audits, efficiency rebates, or other programs offered.

News Articles 2017

Deck the Halls With LEDs

Remember old-school Christmas lights? When one went out, they all did. But not anymore, if you use LEDs for holiday decorating. These hardy, energy saving bulbs give you one less thing to worry about during the holidays.

Why are LED holiday lights better than traditional ones?

  • The look of LED lighting is now on par with that of traditional bulbs. LEDs come in warm, inviting colors with a variety of light beam patterns and dimming levels.
  • LEDs have an operational life span of about 20,000 hours—enough to last for 40 holiday seasons.
  • LED bulbs don’t have glass or filaments, making them durable and resistant to breaking.
  • An outage in an individual LED bulb generally doesn’t darken the whole strand.
  • LEDs use less energy. Running LEDs on a 6-foot Christmas tree 12 hours a day for 40 days can save about 90 percent of the cost of using traditional lights.
  • Because they use less energy, it’s safer to connect multiple LED strands end-to- end without overloading the wall socket. Also, they’re cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.

Consider Operating Cost of Giant TV

Picture this: It’s Christmas time and you’re nestled all snug in your bed, with visions of giant TVs dancing in your head. Sounds cozy, right? If you find the TV of your dreams marked down in a holiday sale, take a minute to check how much electricity it uses before you buy it.

It used to be that a huge television would use as much energy in a year as a refrigerator. But manufacturers have done a good job of making models that consume much less electricity and have a minimal effect on your electric bill.

The exception is the plasma TV: That type is still something of an energy hog compared to other models.

If you’re buying a TV during the next big electronics sale, keep these tips in mind: Buy a screen with LED technology. Like the LED light fixtures in your home, this technology lights more brightly and uses less energy than non-LED counterparts.

Study the yellow-and- black EnergyGuide label that the U.S. govern- ment requires on every new TV. It will tell you approximately how much each TV will set you back in operating costs, so you can compare products.

Another label to look for when you shop for a new TV: the Energy Star label. This one’s not required, but TVs that qualify to display it use about 27 percent less energy than others.

If you’re also buying a set-top box, Blu-Ray player or sound bar, look for Energy Star-qualified models. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that with them, you can save nearly $140 over the life of the products.

Once you get the TV home, turn it off when you’re not watching it. Although a TV that’s turned off still uses trace amounts of “vampire” electricity whenever it’s plugged in, one that’s running in an empty room will waste even more energy.

Stuff the turkey, save the energy

Thanksgiving is a great time of year to bring friends and families together. It also means spending time in the kitchen to prepare the traditional feast. Energy costs in the kitchen can total up to 15 percent of a home’s energy use, so it’s worth a bit of effort to learn how to use less energy while cooking.

Here are some tips to help keep your energy costs down during the holiday:

Keep the oven door closed. When you want to check on the progress of a dish cooking in your oven, use the light instead of the door. Every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees, delaying the progress of the dish and, more importantly, costing more money to get that turkey perfectly cooked.

Check your oven temperature. A freestanding oven thermometer is a great way to check how hot your oven really gets. Many ovens’ heat output varies slightly from the numbers on the dial or readout. By testing your oven temperature at several settings— 325, 350, 375 and 400 degrees—you can find out if your oven runs hot or cool, and factor an extra 25 degrees or so into your cooking, if necessary. Always check your freestanding oven thermometer to verify the temperature so that you’re not needlessly cranking up the heat on an already-hot oven!

Turn down the heat. Spending all day in the kitchen? If you’ve got the oven running and soup on the stove, you can probably turn the heat down a bit. The heat from your oven, not to mention dinner guests, should keep your home warmer than usual, and your furnace won’t have to work as hard.

Clean your burners. If you’ve got an electric range, one great way to keep your stovetop cooking efficiently is to keep the reflectors under your burners grime-free. They can be a pain to clean, but regular maintenance can go a long way. You also can invest in better reflectors that decrease stovetop cooking times, which will save you energy (and money!) over time.

Phone scams increasing

Scams preying on electric cooperative members appear to be on the rise again. In several states, electric co-ops and other utilities are joining together to warn the public about phone calls, emails and visits from scammers.

Mechanics of a Scam
Here’s how a typical scam works: Someone impersonating an employee from an electric cooperative’s billing/collections department contacts a co-op member and claims the co-op has not received payment for the member’s bill. The caller threatens to shut off the customer’s electricity if payment is not received immediately.

The member panics and figures out a quick way to pay, whether through a prepaid card, a money transfer, or giving the caller their bank account or debit/credit card information. Any members who fall for such a scam— which can happen to anyone—are still responsible for their electric bills, in addition to having lost the amount they “paid” (and possibly much more, if they provided banking numbers or other personal information that thieves could reuse).

A Flair for Fraud
Scammers are becoming craftier and more tech savvy by making it appear that they’re calling from local area codes or telephone exchanges. Some members have reported that their co-op’s name appeared on the caller ID, prompting them to take the call and believe the caller’s identity claim. It’s even been reported that some scammers have offered rebates for good payment history!

Co-ops around the country are seeing other types of fraud, too. In South Carolina, several co-op members reported a man wearing a co-op badge, claiming to be a solar provider working in partnership with the cooperative. The man, who drives a white unmarked van, solicits members for appointments to discuss solar installations. This is how he gains entry to members’ homes. The co-op warned its members via social media that it has no such partnerships with any solar providers, nor would its employees ask to enter a member’s home.

Where To Turn for Help
Public awareness and protection initiatives started by electric cooperatives and other utilities—such as the national coalition Utilities United Against Scams and Vermont’s new Scam Busters campaign— are using social media, local news and bill inserts to educate and protect members and customers by ensuring that they know what to do when thieves come knocking or calling.

During such a call, if any co-op member is unsure about who is on the other end of the phone, they should neither make a payment nor give out any personal information. Instead, they should hang up on the caller, then call their electric cooperative and the police. To avoid falling for scams, the Texas Attorney General’s office advises member-customers to remember three tips:

  • If someone calls claiming to represent your local electric cooperative and demands immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the member service number listed on your electric bill.
  • Do not give in to high-pressure calls seeking personal information. Never provide Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information to anyone who requests it during an unsolicited phone call or in-home visit.
  • Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you’ve scheduled an appointment or reported a utility problem. Anytime co-op employees arrive at your residence, request that they produce proper identification before transacting any business.

Crews Heading to Georgia

Crews Headed to Georgia

Mother Nature’s worst always seems to bring out the best in the electric utility industry. Utility workers have descended upon the southeast in Hurricane Irma’s wake. Earlier today, nine of Farmers Electric Cooperative’s finest linemen headed to Georgia to help restore power in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The crew will assist Central Georgia EMC, an electric cooperative that serves 14 counties in the area between Atlanta and Macon, Ga. As of Tuesday afternoon, approximately 18,800 of the co-op’s meters were offline. The co-op provides power to 54,000 meters.

The Farmers EC linemen will provide needed manpower and assistance to make repairs and restore electricity as safely and as quickly as possible in central Georgia. News outlets have called Hurricane Irma was the longest-lasting, most powerful hurricane ever recorded with 185-mph sustained winds for 37 hours. Based on initial damage reports, the linemen could be in Georgia for a week and may travel into Florida to assist the Sunshine State where more than 60 percent of the homes and businesses lost power due to Hurricane Irma.

The crew left the Farmers Electric Cooperative Greenville campus at 5:30 a.m. for the 810 mile trip to Jackson, Ga., the headquarters for Central Georgia EMC. The crew received a safety briefing on the working conditions and on the importance of using personal electric safety products like rubber gloves before departing.

Farmers Electric Cooperative’s general manager Mark Stubbs said this is not the only time that Farmers linemen have aided other cooperatives. “This is not the first time our linemen have assisted others in need outside of our service area,” Stubbs said. “Our linemen consistently rise to the occasion when any of our members, another cooperative, or another community needs a helping hand. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Phantom Power Costs on the Rise

If you think you’ve done everything possible to make your house more energy efficient, think again: “Phantom” power is eating our collective lunch. The Natural Resources Defense Council recently found in a study that a whopping 23 percent of the electric power used in 70,000 American households was from phantom power—appliances and equipment that draw power even when they’re not being used.

Think about that for a moment: Nearly one-quarter of the power used by a household is for turned-off stuff that serves no purpose. That translates to about $19 billion worth of electricity, equal to the output of 50 large power plants. How did this become such a problem? One reason is that we have so much stuff. An onsite analysis of 10 houses in the study found that each house had an average of 65 devices in standby mode (such as furnaces and garage door openers); in sleep mode, ready to power up quickly (like game consoles); or left fully on but inactive (like computers).

Another factor is that our appliances and equipment have gone digital. Washers, dryers and fridges now have displays, electronic controls and internet connectivity. Other findings in the study also shed light on this issue: The traditional large electricity users (heating and cooling, lighting and refrigeration) accounted for just 15 percent of always-on consumption. Consumer electronics (TVs, computers, printers and game consoles) accounted for 51 percent, and other miscellaneous items (pumps for fish ponds and aquariums, and protected outlets in bathrooms, kitchens and garages) made up the remaining 34 percent.

So now that we know we have this problem, what can we do about it? Plenty!

The NRDC suggests taking the following actions:

  • Unplug items that are rarely used.
  • Use a smart power strip that automatically turns off devices plugged into it when not in use.
  • Use a digital timer that turns a device on only when you normally use it.
  • Adjust power settings. A TV quick start can use 37 watts when enabled. But that setting can be disabled, as can settings on computers and game consoles. Take some time now to figure out where your phantom power is, and you’ll save money in the process.

Don't Get Burned

Electricity usually makes life easier by powering the kitchen appliances, gadgets and electronics we use for convenience and entertainment. However, that same electricity contains the potential to destroy homes and take lives. Electrical fires are more destructive than any other type of fire, and they are twice as deadly. The following information will help you keep your electrical system safe.

Consider getting an electrical inspection of your home, especially if it is an older home, or you have never had an inspection.

If an electrical fire starts in your home, do not use water to extinguish it. Water conducts electricity, and you could get an electric shock. Buy extinguishers that are approved for use on electrical fires. Make sure to keep them charged and ready, and store them in easy-to- reach places in multiple rooms.

Flickering lights and warm, cracked or sparking outlets all indicate electrical problems. Additionally, if circuits trip, fuses blow or someone gets a shock, your home has an electrical problem. Get an electrical inspection.

Do not overload outlets, use an extension cord as a permanent wiring solution or use lightbulbs that are not rated for the socket they’re going into.

Contact an electrician about installing arc-fault circuit interrupters.

AFCIs monitor the flow of electricity in your home. If the flow of electricity is irregular and creates a fault in the electrical system, it could cause a fire. In these cases, the AFCI shuts off electricity before a fault can develop. An AFCI costs about $35, plus the cost of professional installation. The cost also depends on the size of your home and how many circuit breakers you have.

Inspect electrical plugs and cords annually. If they are frayed or cracked, repair or replace them. Do not place cords under rugs or across walkways or other high-traffic areas, and do not staple or nail them to the wall.

New Address for Payments By Mail

Farmers Electric Cooperative is now processing check payments in our Greenville office. We are printing the new address on the back of your bill stub so the new Farmers EC mailing address will appear in the window of the return envelope.

The new address is: Post Office Box 5800, Greenville TX 75403-5800

Many members use online banking to send payments to us electronically. Please remember to update our mailing address if you pay your energy bill through your online banking platform.

As an alternative, many members use the online payment features in Farmers EC’s SmartHub portal or app. You can make a single payment or set up automatic payments from your checking or credit card accounts.

SmartHub lets you view your monthly bill and monitor your energy usage. Access to the SmartHub portal or app is free. Sign up for SmartHub to take advantage of these services.

Think Outside the Box for Energy Savings

We all know the usual ways to save energy and money on the electric bill, like turning the lights off in an empty room and setting the thermostat back a few degrees before bedtime.

Here are nine not-so-usual ways to cut energy costs around the house:

  1. Paint your roof white. Buildings with white roofs in sunny climates use up to 40 percent less energy, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
  2. Turn off everything, every night. Unused lights aren’t the only energywasters in your house. Before you go to bed at night, check every room and turn off ceiling fans; unplug unused phone chargers and the cable box; and check for small appliances and cords that are turned off but still plugged in. Unplug them, too.
  3. Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees. That’s a temperature that’s hot enough to keep your water clean and bathers comfortable—but it’s low enough to prevent scalding and save you a few bucks on your energy bill.
  4. Replace disposable air-conditioning and heating filters with reusable ones. Doing so will save you money on filters and allow you to clean each filter more often because you won’t have to wait until you buy a new one.
  5. Switch to energy-efficient appliances. If your refrigerator, washer, dryer or dishwasher are more than 10 years old, they’re energy hogs compared with the latest models.
  6. While caulking or weatherstripping around windows and doorframes, also caulk around the top of walls in the basement, if you have one. Look for a small gap or crack between the concrete block wall and the ceiling. Also fill in holes in the wall where wires, cables and pipes enter the home from the outside.
  7. Compare your electric bill with your meter. Your cooperative does a careful, accurate job of billing you only for the energy you use, but it’s prudent to check for yourself each month.
  8. Buy Energy Star products. Whenever you need something new that has anything to do with electricity—a major appliance, fan or lightbulb— check for the Energy Star label. Those products are guaranteed to use less energy than other devices. Those savings add up.
  9. Install a programmable thermostat. The newest smart thermostats do everything from “sense” that nobody’s home—and set themselves back—to keep a record of energy use in case you want to figure out where you’re wasting energy.

Give Your Electric Bill a Vacation, Too

Taking some much-needed time away during spring break can be expensive. A great way to save money is to give your electric bills a vacation, too. There are several steps you can take to trim your electricity usage while you’re away:

  • Unplug some of your household appliances. Your house has many items that always use electricity when they’re plugged in, even when turned off. Unplugging these items not only saves energy, but also in some cases can prevent fires during your absence. Some of the more common items are: TVs, DVD players, cable TV boxes, microwave ovens, toasters and other small kitchen appliances.
  • Adjust the refrigerator control to a warmer setting. The fridge can be set as high as 40 degrees without spoiling food; the freezer can be set at 5 degrees. On these settings, you can conserve up to 40 percent of the refrigerator’s electric usage. If you are going on an extended trip, consider emptying the fridge and turning it off entirely. Remember to leave the door open to prevent mildew.
  • Set the thermostat higher (or lower) than the typical comfort level. You should consider lowering your thermostat but to no lower than 55 degrees. Typically, you can save 10–30 percent on heating costs by doing this.

    In warmer weather, you can shut off the air conditioner during your absence, or at least consider setting it to a higher-than-normal temperature, 80 degrees or above. A programmable thermostat can make these adjustments automatically.
  • Turn down the water heater. A large percentage of the cost of running a water heater comes from just keeping the water at the selected temperature. If you are going on a lengthy trip, turn down the temperature to the lowest setting. This can save you up to $10 a month.
  • Consider using timers to turn lights on and off every night. Timers can save energy and also give an appearance that someone is home. For the lights that will be on the longest—inside and outside—use CFL or LED bulbs. These use at least 75 percent less power than traditional bulbs and last longer.

Follow these tips while you’re away for spring break and put your mind at ease about electric bills. Then you can enjoy that vacation even more!

Can I Seal My House Too Tightly?

How much insulation is too much—or not enough?

Although the refrain among energy efficiency experts is “Seal and insulate, seal and insulate,” occasionally you hear stories about newer houses being too tightly insulated, with restricted flow of fresh air leading to poor indoor air quality, mold growth and other problems.

So how do you know how much is too much?

Although it is possible to seal a house too tightly, it is very unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality, and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house. But most homes built before 2000 have many spots through which air enters or exits the house—usually too many.

A quick way to determine whether you have enough insulation is to look across your attic. If the insulation is level with or below the joists, you probably need to add more. If you can’t see the joists because the insulation is above them, then you probably have enough, and adding more likely will not be cost-effective.

The recommended level for most attics is to insulate to R-38. R-value is a measure of the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the thermal performance. For more information, including recommendations for how much insulation you should have, visit Energy Star Home Sealing or the Department of Energy’s online insulation guide.

Even if you have plenty of insulation, your home might not be performing well due to cold air leaking through other areas. Make sure to look for signs of air leaks and seal them up as you find them. Some air leaks are easy to find because they are easy to feel, including those around windows and doors, and through electrical outlets. Hidden air leaks in attics and basements, and around chimneys are often more significant sources of energy loss. Consider addressing these big leaks first because they will have a greater effect on improving your comfort and reducing your utility bills.

If you are concerned about how tightly your home is insulated, hire an energy specialist to perform leakage tests using diagnostic tools and ensure that all combustion appliances are operating properly. If your home is too tight, the energy specialist might recommend that a fresh-air ventilation system be added to your HVAC system.

Farmers EC accepting 2017 Scholarship Applications

Each year, Farmers awards $1,000 scholarships to outstanding high-school seniors. The scholarships can be applied toward tuition, housing, meal plans, and/or books at a college, university, or technical school of the student's choice.

Learn more about eligibility and downloadable PDF form now.

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Going on a diet to start the New Year? Opening a savings account? Joining a gym? Here’s another one—Do one thing a month that will make your home more energy efficient.

  • January: Get into the habit of turning your thermostat down by about 10 degrees before your family turns in for the night or leaves home in the morning. You can save as much as 1 percent a year on heating for every degree you lower the heat for eight consecutive hours.
  • February: Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum or dust its condenser and coils. Clean coils prevent your fridge’s working parts from overheating.
  • March: Spring for an annual inspection of your air-conditioning system. It can keep your central AC running smoothly and efficiently all summer.
  • April: Hire a licensed electrician to inspect your home’s wiring system— not every year, but at least once a decade.
  • May: Wash your windows—inside and out—and open the drapes. The sun can’t warm and brighten your rooms if it can’t find its way through grimy windowpanes.
  • June: Trim your hedges. Overgrown shrubs and trees can shade your windows too much and keep the sunlight from warming up your home come winter.
  • July: Grill your dinner outside and serve fresh, cold salads as side dishes. Giving your stovetop and oven a rest also gives your air-conditioning system a break on hot days.
  • August: Start running your clothes washer, dryer and dishwasher after dark. That will keep the heat and humidity out of the air—and help out your electric cooperative, too.
  • September: Get that heating and air-conditioning tech back to your house for a heating inspection. A tuneup can save you as much as 5 percent on your heating bill.
  • October: Close off your masonry fireplace and resolve not to use it anymore. Every time you use it, your home’s heated air flies up the chimney.
  • November: Seal air leaks around windows, doors and other such as the place where cables and wires come into the wall from the outside—with caulk and weatherstripping.
  • December: Replace your old holiday lights with LED fixtures, which last years longer and use far less energy.

News Articles 2016

Stay Safe and Warm This Winter

Heating a home typically accounts for about 45 percent of energy bills, making it the largest utility expense for most consumers, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Being aware of potential hazards and using the device that’s most efficient for your needs can make a big difference in safety and comfort. Your electric cooperative offers tips for heating your home in safe and smart ways.

  • Furnace: Check your furnace at least annually. Removing built-up debris can reduce the risk of fire and make your furnace run more efficiently. Also remember to replace your furnace filter regularly during the winter. Replacing a dirty filter will increase the airflow and make your home more energy efficient.
  • Thermostat: Turning the thermostat down a few degrees when you are away from home or sleeping also helps reduce your monthly utility bill. To help you do this automatically, consider investing in a programmable thermostat, which can lead to a 10–15 percent reduction in energy costs.
  • Space heaters: Space heaters are not cost-efficient when used to heat more than one or two small areas. However, they are a smart option when only one room needs to be heated. Make sure that you consider safety first and purchase only certified models that have been tested by an independent laboratory. Always place your space heater on a steady surface away from foot traffic to prevent it from being knocked over, and be on the lookout for units with a tip-over switch.
  • Electric blankets and heating pads: Make yourself aware of manufacturer's instructions, and use the product only as it is intended. Never use an electric blanket that is wet, or folded so that the wires are crimped. Perform regular checks to look for scorch marks or visible damage.
  • Fireplaces: Always make sure that your chimney is clear, and open the damper if there are warm ashes in the hearth that could lead to a dangerous build-up of poisonous gases.
  • Small-scale strategies: Remember not to overlook minor changes to help you stay warm this winter. When possible, dress in layers, with clothes that are tight and close to the skin so that they can trap heat near the body. Switch the rotation of your ceiling fan that so it circles in a clockwise direction, blowing rising warm air downward. Additionally, use curtains to help block out the cold air when closed at night and let in the sun’s heat when parted during the day.

Lower Home Energy Bills When It’s Cold Out

Want to save money on your energy bills this winter—without spending a lot to make it happen? Here are 10 low- or no-cost changes you can make:

  1. Use ceiling fans to make the rooms feel warmer. Most people think fans are just for summer, but ceiling fans running slowly in reverse will circulate the heat that rises toward the ceiling.
  2. Add weatherstripping or caulk around windows and doors. Light a match or a stick of incense and hold it near the window frame. If the smoke sways, the window is leaking air. Caulking can significantly reduce heat loss.
  3. Rearrange furniture. Move sofas and rugs that are blocking vents, which can cause uneven heating. Situate the most frequently used furniture near interior walls; it’s colder to sit near exterior walls, especially those with windows.
  4. Install a “smart” thermostat that lets you program it or adjust the heat even after you’ve left the house. There’s no need to heat your home at the same level when it’s empty as when your family is home. Turning back your thermostat for eight hours a day can save up to 15 percent on your heating bill.
  5. Keep the shades open during daylight hours. The sun heats your home for free all day. Close the curtains at night to keep heat in.
  6. Check the seams and joints of your ductwork for leaks. Repair leaks with a duct-sealing compound.
  7. Pull on a sweater and keep the thermostat at a lower temperature. You could save at least 1 percent per degree on your electric bill.
  8. Run your clothes dryer and dishwasher after dark. They produce heat that can help keep your home warm at the coldest time of the day.
  9. Install compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode lights in the fixtures you use the most. These use far less energy than incandescent.
  10. Limit your hot water use. Wash clothes in cold water and take shorter showers.

Cause of Wylie outage still being investigated

The cause of a power outage in the Wylie area on Wednesday is still being investigated by Farmers Electric Cooperative personnel. The outage caused more than 1,800 cooperative members to be without power for 130 minutes Wednesday evening.

A lineman conducted a quick initial search to determine the cause of the outage. This initial search did not yield any obvious signs of trouble like a tree limb coming into contact with the powerline. A second more thorough search was conducted, but the lineman again was unable to locate an obvious problem.

Unable to determine the cause of the outage, the lineman went to the substation, cleaned a tripped circuit breaker and reset it. Fortunately it held, and power was restored.

In most instances, a lineman is able to determine the cause of an outage during the initial search which results in outage time being minimized. A team of experts is investigating the cause of the outage and thus far has been unable to pinpoint exactly what happened.

Work is underway in this area to minimize the impact of any future power outages.

In the event of a power outage, Farmers EC members can report outages by text message. Members can text keyword OUT to 85700. Members also are able to monitor outages from our online outage center. A link is available on our homepage at

For additional information, please call Farmers EC at 903 455 1715 or 800 541 2662.

Manage energy usage with Advanced Power Strips

When you leave electronics like TVs, computers and game consoles plugged in—even while turned off— they continue to use small amounts of electricity.

The new solution: Instead of plugging devices into a wall socket—or even into a regular power strip—plug them into an “advanced” power strip that blocks unused electronics from drawing electricity. An advanced power strip looks just like your old one, but inside, it does so much more.

In home entertainment centers and home office areas where many consumer electronics typically are plugged into a power strip, it works by preventing electronics from drawing power when they are not being used.

There are a variety of types of advanced power strips to fit people’s needs. If you often fall asleep when watching TV, an advanced power strip with an activity monitor can turn everything off for you.

Or if you are diligent about turning all your electronics off when you aren’t using them but are concerned about the lingering power draw, a masterless advanced power strip can make sure everything is completely off.

By replacing your standard power strip with an advanced model, you can save energy and money.

The Cleanest, Greenest Energy Is the Energy Not Used

Many people are looking for ways to cut energy costs including renewable energy options. But before you invest in a renewable system, first make sure your home or business is as efficient as possible. The cheapest, cleanest and greenest energy is the energy not used, and this comes from energy efficiency.

Let nature do some of the work. Consider leaving your windows open and turning off the air conditioner at night, when temperatures are much more moderate. Then keep the windows shut during daylight hours to help keep that cooler air inside. You can also install window coverings, which can block out sunlight and heat during the day. Also, increase insulation and seal cracks that may let out cooled air.

A programmable thermostat can cut back on costs while you are away from home. Program the thermostat to a warmer temperature while away and to a lower temperature when you expect to return home. By setting the thermostat as high as you can while still remaining comfortable, you will be reducing costs and leading to a smaller cooling bill. Also, fans can make higher temperatures in the home feel more comfortable.

On the warmest days, avoid using the oven. Grill outside or use the stove or a microwave.

Cut back on water heating costs by taking shorter showers and using low-flow showerheads. Run clothes washers and dishwashers only when they have full loads. Additionally, lower the set temperature on the water heater. suggests setting the water heater temperature to no higher than 120 degrees.

Take into account the best times to run your appliances. Avoid using them during typical peak hours, around 4–7 p.m. Also be sure to switch off and unplug appliances when they are not being used. Consider airdrying clothes and dishes. Turn off lights that are not in use, and switch to light-emitting diode bulbs.

If you are still interested in incorporating renewable energy after implementing these conservation tips, the Energy Education Council has developed a checklist, available at, to help you assess your energy use, goals, property and more.

The Benefits of Choosing an Electric Water Heater

As expected, most people don’t think much about water heaters. They take for granted that the appliances make it possible to enjoy hot showers, clean dishes and load upon load of freshly laundered linens. The lonely water heater, tucked away in the basement or a utility closet, is out of sight and out of mind.

There are times, however, when your attention turns to that most essential of appliances: when an existing water heater breaks (“Brrrr! That water is cold!”), or when you’re building or renovating a home.

At those times, a homeowner will make a decision that has consequences that will persist for a decade or two, maybe longer. Your water-heating choice will have long-lasting implications for energy efficiency, cost of use, the environment, safety and reliability. As a trusted energy advisor, your electric cooperative can help you make the right decision.

That’s why Farmers Electric Co-op offers a rebate of up to $300 on the purchase of a new water heater. The water heater must have an energy factor rating of 2.0 or greater to qualify for the rebate. Click here for information on the nine energy efficiency rebates offered by Farmers Electric Co-op.

As a member of the cooperative, you might already know about many of the advantages and benefits of electric water heaters. First, electric water heaters are safe. There is no threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, combustion or explosion. Electric water heaters are environmentally friendly and capable of using electricity generated from solar, wind, hydro and other renewable sources.

Electric water heaters are also easy to install, requiring no expensive gas lines, exhaust flues or on-site fuel tanks. Compared to other fuels, the cost of electricity is stable.

Electric water heaters are emerging as a building block of the future electric grid. These formerly mundane devices are evolving into smart appliances and energy storage units that are helping the grid become more stable and more efficient. By heating water when demand for electricity is low and storing the thermal energy for later use, electric water heaters can save you money.

Transmission line problem

Transmission line problem results in an unprecedented number of Farmers EC members contacting the cooperative.

More than 16,000 Farmers Electric Cooperative members between Terrell and Royse City were left without power just before 1 p.m. Sunday due to a transmission line outage. Line crews with the transmission company that brings bulk power to our area, re-energized the transmission line by 2 p.m. Sunday. Farmers Electric Cooperative crews worked quickly to ensure all its distribution lines and equipment were working properly to restore power to all members.

Due to the event being so sudden and widespread a large number of Farmers EC members in unison reported their outages by calling, using the online outage center, or by text. This unexpected surge slowed the cooperative’s communication network.

Recently, the cooperative introduced text alerts. Members can enroll in the service by texting keyword FEC to 85700. A cell phone number must be on the account to complete the registration process. If a cell phone number is not on the account, members can update their information by calling the co-op at 903 455 1715 or by using this form.

Once a member is enrolled in text alerts, outages can be reported by text message. Members can text keyword OUT to 85700. Reporting outages by text message is preferable because it takes up far less bandwidth than a phone call.

Some members took to social media channels to report outages. While social media is an excellent way to keep up with outages, we encourage members not to use Facebook or Twitter to report an outage. Our social media channels are not tied into our outage management system.

For additional information, please call Farmers EC at 903 455 1715 or 800 541 2662.

Put Your Computer to Sleep

In the same way apps and graphics eat up the battery power on your cellphone, extra features on computers can unnecessarily use energy. That could be costing you extra on your electric bill. If your home has multiple computers, don't let them waste energy. Here's how to start conserving your dollars digitally:

  • Delete extra applications and programs from your computer that you don't need, especially those that run “in the background” even when you're not using them. If you're unsure which ones are safe to uninstall, consult an expert first.
  • Unplug seldom-used computers. Even when they are shut down, they continue to draw small amounts of electricity as long as they are plugged into the wall.
  • Move the computer and printer in each room near the TV and phone charger, and plug all the devices into a power strip. That makes it easy to switch them all off when you leave the house for the day or turn in at night. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that devices that are always turned on use up to 23 percent of a home's electricity - even if the appliances are rarely in use.
  • Set each computer to "sleep" mode. That slows down the processor when it's not in use, so the entire module uses less electricity.
  • Program the "hibernate" function on your computers to turn them off when they're not in use for more than 30 minutes. This setting is especially useful because it shuts the device down but makes it easy to recover everything you were working on, when you switch it back on. a Get rid of screen savers; they turn your computer monitor into an energy hog. It's better to set the monitor to sleep after 10–15 minutes of inactivity.
  • Switch to a laptop or mobile device. Portable devices like tablets and e-readers use up to a third less energy than a big desktop computer and monitor.
  • The next time you're shopping for a new computer, buy an Energy Star-rated machine. This designation guarantees that the machine is energy efficient.

Donation from Farmers EC to Rebuild Wylie Fund

Farmers EC Donation to First Baptist Church Wylie Texas

$25,000 Donation from Farmers Electric Cooperative to Rebuild Wylie Fund

Farmers Electric Cooperative board members Tommy Pulliam and Marvin Fuller, along with general manager Mark Stubbs presented a $25,000 check to the #REBUILDWylie fund today.

First Baptist Wylie established the fund to help meet the needs of those impacted by the severe hailstorms in the Wylie area. One hundred percent of the funds received will assist those in need.

First Baptist Wylie created the fund to help get the city back to normal.

"The #REBUILDwylie fund will help us bring hope and functionality back to people's lives. Our community is a great place to live and our goal is to get the blue tarps off of every home and get our city back to normal. We are thankful to Farmers Electric Co-op for partnering with us to rebuild Wylie," Kris Segrest, FBW lead pastor said.

Make the Most of Ceiling Fans

Make the Most of Ceiling Fans: By turning on the fan, you can turn up the savings

If you are like most Americans, you have at least one ceiling fan in your home. Ceiling fans help our indoor environment feel more comfortable. They are a decorative addition to our homes and, if used properly, can help lower energy costs.

Tips for making the most of your ceiling fans:

  • Flip the switch. Most ceiling fans have a switch near the blades. In warm months, flip the switch so that the blades operate in a counterclockwise direction, effectively producing a “wind chill” effect. This pushes air down into the room, making it feel cooler than it actually is. In winter, move the switch so that the fan blades rotate clockwise, creating a gentle updraft. This circulates warm air from the ceiling out toward the walls and down into occupied areas of the room. Regardless of the season, try operating the fan on its lowest setting.
  • Adjust your thermostat. In the summer, when using a fan in conjunction with an air conditioner—or instead of it—you can turn your thermostat up 3–5 degrees without any reduction in comfort. This saves money because a fan is less costly to run than an air conditioner. In the winter, lower your thermostat's setting point by the same amount. When it's cold out, ceiling fans push the warm, conditioned air that has risen to the ceiling back down toward the living space, which means the furnace won't need to turn on as frequently.
  • Choose the right size. Make sure your ceiling fan is the right size for the room. A fan that is 36–44 inches in diameter will cool rooms up to 225 square feet. A fan that is 52 inches or more should be used to cool a larger space.
  • Turn it off. When the room is unoccupied, turn the fan off. Fans are intended to cool people, not rooms.

Safety essentials for your home

Make sure your family is safe from electrical dangers. Safe Electricity provides a checklist of basic electric safety essentials to help you keep your home safe from electrical fire and shock hazards.

Check outlets for loose-fitting plugs. Replace missing or broken wall plates so wiring and components are not exposed. If you have young children at home, install tamper-resistant outlets or cover unused outlets with plastic safety caps.

Never force plugs into outlets. Do not remove the grounding pin to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet. Avoid overloading outlets with adapters and too many appliance plugs.

Make sure cords are not frayed or cracked, placed under carpets or rugs, or located in high-traffic areas. Do not nail or staple them to walls, floors or other objects.

Use extension cords only on a temporary basis — not as permanent household wiring. Make sure they have safety closures to protect children from shock and mouth burns.

Check wattage to make sure that lightbulbs match the fixture requirements. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage ratings than recommended. Screw bulbs in securely so they do not overheat.

Make sure outlets near water are equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters. Critical areas include the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, basement, garage and outdoors. Test these outlets monthly to ensure that they are working properly.

Make sure fuses are properly sized for the circuit they are protecting. If you do not know the correct rating, have an electrician identify and label the correct size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the same size you are removing.

If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or gives you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. Look for cracks or damage in wiring and connectors. Use surge protectors to protect electronics.

Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, wires or loose lighting fixtures. Listen for popping or sizzling sounds behind walls. Immediately shut off then professionally replace light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that spark or flicker.

Breaker Box Safety Basics

We use electricity in our homes throughout the day, but we rarely think about how it gets to the wall outlets or switches. Distribution lines bring electricity to homes and most commonly connect to a house through a service drop. The electricity goes through the meter box to the service panel, which is typically found in a basement or garage.

The service panel, often called a breaker box, is where breakers and fuses protect the wires inside your house from electrical overload. With so much electricity funneling out of the breaker box through the rest of the home to your outlets and switches, it is important to know how to use a breaker box safely.

Arc-fault circuit interrupters are installed directly in the breaker box and are designed to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in home electrical wiring. Arcing faults can be triggered by overloaded circuits, damaged wires, cracked wire insulation, loose or improper connections, faulty electrical equipment or overheated electrical wires.

An AFCI monitors current flow and can distinguish between normal, working arcs and unwanted, dangerous arcs. When an unwanted arcing condition is detected, it shuts down the circuit immediately. It is important to note that AFCIs do not provide protection against all of the possible circuit faults that can cause fires, but they are a significant step forward in electrical fire safety. Contact a qualified electrician to have them installed.

Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you touch the breaker box while wet or while standing in water, it could cause electric shock or death. If you cannot reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.

Be sure to call a qualified electrician if blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers are a recurring problem. This means there is something wrong with your electrical system, and it needs to be inspected.

Watts vs Lumens

You know by now that energy-efficient lighting can save you a bundle on your energy bill over time. New high-efficiency lightbulbs use up to 75 percent less electricity than standard bulbs, last about 10 times longer and can produce equivalent amounts of light.

But with new packaging and new units of measure, you may be confused about the difference between watts and lumens.

The Difference
The basic difference is this: Watts measure the amount of energy required to light products; lumens measure the amount of light produced. The more lumens a lightbulb produces, the brighter the light will shine.

Lightbulb manufacturers include lumen information and the equivalent standard wattage right on the packaging. Common terms are "soft white 60," "warm light 60" and "60-watt replacement."

Energy Star provides a chart of rough equivalences between traditional bulbs' wattages and energy-efficient bulbs' lumens:

Watts vs Lumens

However, keep in mind that multiple bulbs with the same lumen rating can require varying amounts of wattage.

Choosing a Bulb
To save energy, find a bulb with the brightness—or lumen rating—that you need, and then choose the one with the lowest wattage. You can also look for an Energy Star-certified bulb that is labeled as equivalent to the standard bulb you are replacing.

Color Considerations
The color of light might also affect how bright a bulb appears, even if the lumen levels are the same. Because most people are used to the soft yellowish glow of incandescent lightbulbs, Energy Star-certified bulbs that produce light closer to the color of daylight may appear brighter because the color is "whiter," or less yellow.

Extra Lighting Tips

  • Use bulbs with lower lumens where less light is needed. Higher lumens are appropriate for kitchen, bathroom and hobby areas.
  • Make sure outdoor energy-efficient lights, especially fluorescent types, will work at extreme temperatures, whether high or low.
  • If you need help selecting the right bulb, ask your electric cooperative or lighting dealer. Check with your co-op about rebates or discounts on energy-efficient lighting.


Stop electric shock before it stops you

Electricity seems so easy to use that you probably take it for granted. But you might be surprised to learn that each year, electricity-related incidents in the home cause approximately 200 electrocutions, 4,000 shock injuries and 45,000 fires.

Most people think injuries happen by chance or "accident" — a word that implies an event that can't be foreseen or avoided. But electrical injuries typically can be both foreseen and avoided. Take some time to learn how to avoid electricity's hazards.

How Shock Happens Avoid electric shock by learning how electricity travels — and how to stay out of its path. Electricity always seeks the easiest path to the ground. It tries to find a conductor, such as metal, wet wood, water—or your body. The human body is 60–70 percent water, so if you touch an energized bare wire or faulty appliance while you are grounded, electricity will instantly pass through you to the ground, causing a shock that can be harmful, if not fatal.

Grounding: The Third Wire When you use a plug with three prongs, the third prong connects inside the outlet with a ground wire, which usually connects to a water pipe or a ground rod at the service panel. As a result, in case of a short circuit, electricity should flow through the grounding system instead of through you. To ensure this safeguard, never remove the third prong from a plug.

Use GFCIs for Extra Protection Ground-fault circuit interrupters are found in some outlets and service panels. They monitor the flow of current to and from appliances. If there's an imbalance in the flow, current may travel through you, and the GFCI will immediately cut power to prevent serious injury. Use GFCIs in bathrooms and garages, near kitchen sinks and outdoors.

Appliance Safety Remember the most important rule for appliances: Electricity and water don't mix. Keep appliances, especially hair dryers, away from bathtubs, puddles, sinks and wet hands. Wet skin increases the risk of shock, so unplug an appliance before cleaning it—even if it's off it can shock. If an appliance overheats, unplug it and have it checked. Don't overload outlets. Use only appliances that are approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

News Articles 2015

Clean Filters, Vents in Winter

Even if you're waiting until spring to do a floor-to-ceiling home cleanup, three cold-weather cleaning jobs can't wait.

First, clean your clothes dryer vents. A clogged dryer vent can start a fire—but a clean one helps your dryer use up to 25 percent less energy. Pull the dryer away from the wall, remove the back vent hose and vacuum it out. If it's especially clogged, a handyman with a "snake" tool can help.

Next, do the same thing with bathroom and kitchen vents. In the bathroom, remove the vent cover and suction out whatever is in it. The stove vent is a bit trickier: It's more likely to be clogged with grease than lint, and could need to be soaked and scrubbed. The effort is worth it, as it could prevent a grease fire.

Finally, clean or replace furnace filters at least every three months. Filters get clogged with airborne debris, including dust, dirt and bugs. A dirty filter forces your furnace to work harder to keep your home comfortable. The harder it works, the more energy it uses.

Most filters are disposable, but if yours is not, rinse it with water and brush away the dirt. Avoid using chemical cleaners, as the furnace fan could push residual toxins into the indoor air you breathe.

Pick the Perfect Place to Plant

The right tree planted in the right place can add natural beauty to any landscape, but a tree in the wrong place can become expensive to maintain and even dangerous. Arbor Day presents the perfect opportunity to learn more about the benefits of tree planting and selecting the perfect tree for the right place in your yard.

Arbor Day, first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872, was celebrated April 25 this year in many states, but in Texas, it's celebrated the first Friday in November—this year, Nov. 6. Whichever day Arbor Day is celebrated in your neighborhood, trees are traditionally planted in observance.

When considering tree placement, select a planting location that does not interfere with utility lines either in the air or underground. Tree branches can interfere with overhead power lines, and roots can do the same with underground utilities.

Power outages or interruptions occur when trees and branches come into contact with overhead lines. Electrical arcing and sparking from a wire to a nearby branch can cause fires.

Tall-growing trees with a mature height of greater than 40 feet should be planted at least 50 feet away from lines to avoid the need for future pruning around electrical infrastructure. A mature height of less than 25 feet is recommended if planting nearer to lines. Keep in mind that trees should never be planted directly under—or closer than 20 feet on either side of—power lines, poles or electrical equipment.

Trees growing near power lines must be pruned to maintain a safe distance from the wires. If you have trees that are growing into power lines, contact your electric provider. Never try to prune them yourself.

Also, before any tree planting begins, make sure to call 811. The 811 “Call Before You Dig” service is free and locates and marks your public underground utilities so you can avoid buried lines when you dig.

Make sure to call a few workdays in advance of any digging project to give ample time for a professional to locate these utilities. Electrical, gas, water, cable and telephone lines can all be found beneath the ground.

For more information, visit and

Prepare Now for Winter Storms

It's hard to predict the weather, but it's easy to prepare for it. Here's how to plan ahead for unavoidable power outages that can accompany winter storms.

Listen to weather forecasts often so you'll know when high winds, heavy rains or ice are on their way.

Prepare an outage kit that contains: a battery-powered radio, fresh batteries, a flashlight, candles, matches, a wind-up clock, bottled water, and paper plates and plastic utensils.

Teach children to stay away from fallen or sagging power lines. They could be energized and dangerous, even if the power is out.

Keep a stock of canned food and a manual can opener. Consider buying a camp stove and fuel that you can use (outdoors only, please) if you can't cook on your electric stove.

Tape outage reporting phone numbers for Farmers Electric Cooperative on your refrigerator so they will be handy. Or text your outage to us. Text FEC to 85700 to get started.

Pile a few extra blankets and sweaters together so you can find them easily if the heat goes off.

We all hope that the weather will spare us, and we won't have any outages this winter. If we do, however, you can count on Farmers EC to restore power as quickly as possible.

A new way to report power outages

Farmers Electric Cooperative now offers a new service to keep you better informed during power outages.

Members can now report power outages via text message. Enroll by texting the keyword FEC to 85700. Once you have enrolled, text the keyword OUT to 85700 to report an outage. Text the keyword STATUS to 85700 for outage status information.

Your cell number must be listed on your account to enroll in this service. If your cell phone number is not on your Farmers EC account, please update your information through SmartHub, our online account management tool, or by calling Farmers EC at 903 455 1715.

Low-E Storm Windows Can Boost Efficiency, Comfort

Sealing Cracks

If your primary windows are in fairly good condition, attaching storm windows -- in particular, low-emissivity or “low-e” storm windows -- can boost energy efficiency and comfort at about a quarter of the cost of a total replacement. Whether you are a professional home performance contractor or a do-it-yourself homeowner, follow these simple steps for making your windows more energy efficient.

Step 1: Preparing Your Existing Windows
To determine whether you should add storm windows, check each existing window to ensure there is no missing glass, rotting wood, broken parts, or egregious air and water leakage. If there are obvious leaks around the frame of the window, some weatherization and rehab may be necessary before installing the storm windows.

Step 2: Install High Efficiency Low-E Coating Storm Windows
If your window is in good condition -- but you are still concerned about comfort, heat loss and air leakage -- consider mounting a low-e storm window as an exterior attachment or as an interior panel to your existing window.

Any well-constructed and well-installed storm window can reduce air infiltration through the window, whether it's coated or not. However, low-e coating (a nearly invisible layer on the glass) reduces conduction and radiation heat losses even further and can improve overall energy savings by 10-15 percent more than standard storm windows without the high-performance coating.

In fact, the incremental cost of using low-e glass versus clear glass storm windows is well worth the investment. A recent Energy Department study that examined storm windows in various U.S. climate zones found that low-e storm windows are cost-effective in all climate zones, with an average payback of two to four years.

Step 3: Where to Find Low-E Storm Windows
While some big-box retailers stock standard sizes of storm windows, to ensure a good fit with your existing window, storm windows should typically be custom ordered. Low-e storm windows should also be customized and are available for order from both independent window dealers and big-box retailers.

Step 4: Keep Your Storm Windows Up All Year Round

Although storm windows and panels can always be removed, they also can be mounted as permanent installations. Unlike your grandmother's storm windows, modern storm windows are operable windows that can be left in place year-round, with sashes and insect screens that can be opened in the summer.

When compared to not installing storm windows at all, low-e storm windows can help save 12-33 percent in a year heating and cooling costs -- a finding that is based on Energy Department field tests and case studies. That means if your annual heating and cooling expenses are about $1,000, installing storm windows would likely save $120-$330 each year -- or even more if your existing windows are leaky.

Save energy, money with advanced power strips

When you leave electronics like TVs, computers and game consoles plugged in—even while turned off— they continue to use small amounts of electricity. The new solution: Instead of plugging devices into a wall socket—or even into a regular power strip—plug them into an “advanced” power strip that blocks unused electronics from drawing electricity.

An advanced power strip looks just like your old one, but inside, it does so much more. In home entertainment centers and home office areas where many consumer electronics typically are plugged into a power strip, it works by preventing electronics from drawing power when they are not being used.

There are a variety of types of advanced power strips to fit people's needs. If you often fall asleep when watching TV, an advanced power strip with an activity monitor can turn everything off for you. Or if you are diligent about turning all your electronics off when you aren't using them but are concerned about the lingering power draw, a masterless advanced power strip can make sure everything is completely off.

By replacing your standard power strip with an advanced model, you can save energy and money. Visit the Department of Energy's website for additional information about advanced power strips.

Cool down refrigerator costs

As warm temperatures settle in for the summer, refrigerators are set to get a workout keeping food and drinks cool for hot and thirsty friends and family members. Follow these tips to reduce the amount of energy your refrigerator uses.

Minimize the number of times you open your refrigerator. Plan accordingly so you don't have to leave the door open for prolonged periods of time. An open door allows warm, moist air to enter, which makes the compressor work harder.

Set the appropriate temperature. Keep your refrigerator at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place your fridge in a cool place. Position the refrigerator away from a heat source such as an oven, a dish- washer or direct sunlight from a window.

Allow air circulation behind the fridge. Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator, and keep the condenser coils clean if you have an older model. Read the user's manual to learn how to safely clean coils.

Check the door seals. Make sure the refrigerator seals around the door are air- tight. If not, replace them.

If you buy a new refrigerator, be sure to recycle your old one. Many appliance retailers will pick up and recycle your old refrigerator when you purchase a new one.

Sales tax holiday begins May 23

Texas shoppers get a break from state and local sales and use taxes during Memorial Day weekend on purchases of select energy efficient products.

This weekend is the ENERGY STAR sales tax holiday in Texas. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 23, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day).

Texas is the only state in the nation to do this each year. It can help save energy and hundreds of dollars for Texas residents, especially on things like air conditioners and fans as the summer heat approaches.

The sales tax holiday applies only to the following appliances and household equipment that feature the ENERGY STAR logo:

  • Air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less
  • Refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less
  • Ceiling fans
  • Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs
  • Clothes washers
  • Dishwashers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Programmable thermostats

Even more savings can be achieved when combined with the Farmers EC energy efficiency rebates. Click here for a list of all nine of the co-op's energy efficiency rebates.

For more information, visit the Comptroller's website.

Small measures can result in real savings

No matter the age of your home, it could benefit from an energy audit performed by a professional energy advisor. Farmers Electric Cooperative offers FREE home energy audits. Schedule your appointment today.

In the meantime, you can get started on your own by finding low-cost solutions that could save money on your monthly electric bill.

First, ask yourself a simple question: Does my home feel drafty and cold in the winter, or stuffy and hot in the summer? If the answer is "Yes," then it probably experiences air leakage.

To track down where those spots are, start with the usual suspects, like damaged seals around doors and windows. If you see daylight or feel air, then apply caulk and weatherstripping to keep outdoor air where it's supposed to be.

But don't forget spots you might not immediately think of, like recessed canister lights and electrical outlets. Outlet insulation kits can be purchased for as little as $2, and you can fix up your canister lights with caulk around the edges.

Also, look where walls meet the ceiling: Cobwebs mean you've got drafts.

Next, peek into the attic and inspect the crawlspace or basement for sufficient insulation; how much you need depends on your climate. And keep in mind that insulation won't do its job well if you don't have a proper air barrier working in tandem. That means that all joints and cracks must be sealed between your living space and the insulated space.

Finally, look to your light fixtures. Compact fluorescent lamps are up to 75 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent lightbulbs, and they've come a long way in light quality, design and affordability. You can purchase CFLs in a variety of shapes and hues. They cost more up front, but you'll make your money back in less than nine months—and after that, they start saving money.

Make sure to purchase a CFL that's rated by Energy Star, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's program that denotes products meeting specific energy-efficiency criteria. An Energy Star-rated CFL will typically last 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb producing the same amount of light.

LEDs—light-emitting diodes—are part of the next wave of residential lighting. An Energy Star-rated model is estimated to use only a quarter of the electricity consumed by traditional bulbs, and can last for 25 years. As with many new technologies, the up-front cost for an LED bulb is still much more than even a CFL, but prices continue to drop as new products are developed.

Farmers EC offers a rebate of up to $100 for the purchase of CFL and LED light bulbs. Click here for details.

Check your home's duct system for leaks

our air ducts are one of the most important systems in your home, and if the ducts are poorly sealed or insulated they are likely contributing to higher energy bills.

Your home's duct system is a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings; it carries the air from your home's furnace and central air conditioner to each room. Ducts are made of sheet metal, fiberglass, or other materials.

Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost-effective. If you are installing a new duct system, make sure it comes with insulation.

Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawlspace. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air can be forced out of unsealed joints and lost. In addition, unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints.

Although minor duct repairs are easy to make, qualified professionals should seal and insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces to ensure the use of appropriate sealing materials.

Minor Duct Repair Tips

  • Check your ducts for air leaks. First, look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
  • Duct mastic is the preferred material for sealing ductwork seams and joints. It is more durable than any available tape and generally easier for a do-it-yourself installation. Its only drawback is that it will not bridge gaps over ¼ inch. Such gaps must be first bridged with web-type drywall tape or a good quality heat approved tape.
  • If you use tape to seal your ducts, avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive duct tape -- it tends to fail quickly. Instead, use mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-approved tapes. Look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo.
  • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are not insulated, consider insulating both. Water pipes and drains in unconditioned spaces could freeze and burst if the heat ducts are fully insulated be-cause there would be no heat source to prevent the space from freezing in cold weather. However, using an electric heating tape wrap on the pipes can prevent this. Check with a professional contractor.
  • Hire a professional to install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms after converting your basement to a living area.
  • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture condensation.
  • If you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove, or other appliance or an attached garage, install a carbon monoxide (CO) monitor to alert you to harmful CO levels.
  • Be sure to get professional help when doing ductwork. A qualified professional should always perform changes and repairs to a duct system.

Rebate available for AC tune-up

Heat Pump

Don't forget to include an air conditioner tune-up on your spring cleaning list. A tune up service for your air conditioning system ensures that it will operate efficiently, effectively and safely.

Just as a tune-up for your car can improve gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Plus, an annual tune-up can increase the life of the system.

Plus, Farmers Electric Cooperative has a $50 rebate for a home air conditioner tune-up. Click here to get all of the details and to download a rebate form.

Upgrade your lights from "analog" to digital

LED Comparison

Just as you upgraded your television and phone from an analog system to digital for better sound and picture quality, the lighting industry has been modernizing its options and products in order to offer consumers greater energy efficiency.

For the past several years, traditional incandescent bulbs have been phased out in favor of halogen and compact fluorescent (CFL) lights that offer greater efficiency. Even more recent innovations in technology have focused on Light Emitting Diode light sources, or LED bulbs, which are essentially digital light.

Farmers Electric Cooperative members are eligible for a rebate of up to $100 on the purchase of LED bulbs. Rebate information is available under the My Energy section of

Longevity and efficiency in one
Known for their longevity and efficiency, LED lights have an estimated operational life span of up to 50,000 hours. This equates to 17 years of continuous operation, or 34 years of 50 percent operation. So if you were to use an LED fixture for eight hours per day, it would take approximately 17 years before it would need to be replaced.

LED lights are different from fluorescent and incandescent light sources, as LEDs do not contain a gas or filament of any kind. Instead, the entire LED is made up of a semiconductor, which is solid in nature and makes LEDs more durable. LED lights are small, packed electronic chip devices where two conductive materials are placed together on a chip (a diode).

Electricity passes through the diode, releasing energy in the form of light. Unlike fluorescent lights that require a few minutes to warm up before reaching their full level of brightness, LEDs achieve full illumination immediately.

The cost of “analog” lights
If you are still hanging on to your traditional or “analog” era lighting, your light bulb is operating at only 20 percent energy efficiency. Eighty percent of the electricity from the "analog" bulb is lost as heat. To illustrate how this inefficiency impacts your wallet, consider this.

If you have traditional lighting and your electric bill is $100, then you are spending $80 to heat the room instead of light it. Using LED illumination with 80 percent efficiency, your electricity cost would be approximately $20, saving you about $80.

Ideal for outdoor use
LEDs are ideal for outdoor use because of their durability. LED lights are resistant to vibrations, shock and external impacts such as exposure to weather, wind and rain. In addition, they are temperature resistant and operate in colder outdoor temperatures. In contrast, colder temperatures may affect operation of fluorescent lamps. LEDs can also be dimmed, allowing maximum flexibility in usage.

Smart choice for emergency use
If you have a portable generator or battery-back-up, in the event of a power outage or weather emergency, LED lights are a smart complement to your back-up power system. Because they draw so little power, using LED lights instead of CFL or traditional bulbs will allow you to illuminate more areas or channel the "saved" energy to other needed applications.

Don't be fooled
When purchasing an LED light, look for the Energy Star label to ensure you have a genuine product, as there are poor quality LED products in the marketplace. Some of these products are manufactured outside of the U.S. with components that produce low light levels, don't stand up on long service life, or have exaggerated energy saving claims. So like any other purchase, research before you buy! Visit for more information about Energy Star LED lights.

While it is true that LEDs generally cost more to purchase than fluorescent and incandescent lights, they are much less expensive to operate over time. LEDs are energy efficient so the replacement and maintenance requirements are dramatically lower.

In addition, as with other electronics, prices are expected to come down as more products enter the market. Make the switch from analog to digital, and you will see an increase in your home energy efficiency and a decrease in your energy costs.

Making the digital upgrade
Are you interested in learning more about LEDs and how they can fit with your home and lifestyle? Visit to compare LEDs to new energy-efficient incandescent bulbs and CFLs.

How to buy an energy efficient appliance

You go shopping for a new refrigerator, and you're on a budget. Naturally, the best buy is the fridge with the lowest sales price, right?

Not necessarily. If you buy the lowest-priced refrigerator, you may end up spending more over time than if you buy a more expensive one. The reason? The cost of owning a home appliance has three components: the initial purchase price, the cost of repairs and maintenance, and the cost to operate it.

Suppose you're in the market for a new refrigerator-freezer. Different models with the same capacity can vary dramatically in the amount of electricity they use. For one popular size and configuration, for example, the annual electricity consumption varies from a low of about 600 kWh a year to a high of more than 800 kWh a year. Based on average electricity prices, the annual cost to operate this refrigerator can range from $50 to $70, depending on the model.

A $20 difference in annual operating costs might not sound like much. But remember that you will enjoy these savings year after year for the life of the appliance, while you pay any difference in purchase price only once. As a result, you may save money by buying the more expensive, more energy-efficient model.

You can learn about the energy efficiency of an appliance through the yellow-and-black EnergyGuide label. The labels are required on refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters, furnaces, boilers, central air conditioners, room air conditioners, heat pumps and pool heaters.

Some appliances also may feature the Energy Star logo, which means that the appliance is significantly more energy efficient than the average comparable model.

Shopping Strategy

  1. Select the appliance's size and style. Measure the space the appliance will occupy to be sure your new purchase will fit, with enough room to open the doors or lids fully and enough clearance for ventilation. This may help you narrow your choices as you settle on the best capacity and style.
  2. Know where to shop. Appliance outlets, electronics stores and local retailers carry different brands and models. Dealers also sell appliances through print catalogs and the Internet.
  3. Compare the performance of different brands and models. Ask questions about how the different models operate: Are they noisy? What safety features do they have? What about repair histories? How much water do they use? How energy efficient are they?
  4. Estimate how much the appliance will cost to operate. The more energy an appliance uses, the more it will cost to run. Consult the EnergyGuide label to compare the energy use of various models. The difference on your monthly electric bill can be significant, especially when considered over the 10- to 20-year life span of the appliance.
  5. Ask your salesperson or electric cooperative about special energy-efficiency offers—cash rebates, low-interest loans or other incentive programs in your area for energy-efficient product purchases—and how you can qualify.

Energy Guide

Schedule a free energy audit today

Get your home ready for summer with a free in-home energy audit. A trained expert will visit your home, discuss with you your energy goals and do a thorough energy audit of your home. Click here to visit our energy audit page for more details, then call Farmers Electric Cooperative at 903 455 1715 today to schedule your free in-home energy audit.

Why is my February bill suddenly lower than January?

Some members have asked us why the bill they are receiving in this current billing cycle is lower than their previous bill. Many have told us, “I haven't done anything differently."

Chances are you used much less electricity because temperatures were warmer in this current cycle.

For Jan. 17 – Feb. 16, the average temperature was 50 degrees. One day it even reached 83 degrees as a high.

For the previous billing period of Dec. 17 – Jan. 16, it was much colder. The average temperature was 38 degrees. The lowest temperature was 14 degrees and the highest was 63.

For the prior billing period of Nov. 17 – Dec. 16, the average temperature was 53 degrees with a high of 81 and a low of 20.

You don't have control over the weather, but you can control your monthly budget by signing up for Budget Billing. You may also be able to save money by requesting a FREE in-home energy audit. Call us at 903 455 1715.

Weather Charts

Bills higher than expected? Together we can fix that.

Electric Usage

When it comes to electricity, members have two goals: They want their lights to come on when they turn on the switch and they want to pay as little as possible for that electricity.

The cynics may not believe it, but at Farmers Electric Cooperative, we also want the lights to come on when you flick the switch and we want to deliver electricity to you at the lowest rate possible.

Few things make people angrier than to see a bill that is higher than expected. We've been talking with members who have voiced concern on social media and who have called our office.

We'd like to help you save more money, use less electricity, and take control of your budget so there are no high spikes in your bill.

Here are three things we want to do to help you:

  1. We would like you to call us or contact us online to schedule an energy audit. An expert will visit your home free of charge. He will perform several tests and will be able to tell you on the spot several ways that you can use less electricity and save money.
  2. We would like to offer you the opportunity to request that your bills be put on our bill averaging program. This means there will be no budget surprises from month to month. You will essentially be paying nearly the same amount every month.
  3. We would like you to ask for help if you are having trouble making ends meet and need a little extra time to pay your electric bill.

One thing we've learned is that many angry comments on Facebook are often more a statement of frustration by a member, rather than an accurate picture of that member's billing and usage history. For example, a member may complain that their bill is $100 more this month than last. Yet if we were to study that member's billing history, we would see their bill is almost identical to what it was one year ago, yet higher than last October, when they were neither running their air conditioner nor heater.

Here are some additional truths:

  • Every month there is a portion of the bill that Farmers EC controls
  • A portion of the bill is controlled by the wholesale power suppliers.
  • A portion is controlled by you, the members.

On every bill there is a line that says “base charge.” That amount is $15 and has not changed since 2007. It is one of the items Farmers EC controls.

On every bill there is a line that says “distribution cost.” This cost also has not changed since 2007. It pays for maintaining lines, poles and substations so power reaches your home.

Every bill has a line that says “wholesale power cost.” This amount changes monthly and accounts for a portion of why a bill goes up and down. The price is set by the providers we buy electricity from. Part of the increase in that monthly cost is the result of new rules from the Federal government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as they require the generators to spend more money for devices on the coal powered electric plants that generate 20% of the electricity that you use.

The portion of the bill that the member controls is how much you use. It is a certainty all across America that customers will use more electricity on the coldest days and the hottest days of the year. Following a cold December and January, many of you are seeing the effects of using more electricity in those months. Just think about it – not only are you running the heater more, but with shorter days, the average person is burning more light and using more electricity for entertainment, such as television, computers and video games.

In conclusion, we'd like to work with you, beginning with an energy audit.

You can reach us at 903 455 1715.

Crews restore power

Power has been restored to members in the McClendon-Chisholm area. Outages can be reported and followed online or by phoning
903 455 1715.

Go Green in 2015 promotion begins

It pays to be green in 2015. Every residential member who receives a Paperless Statement from Farmers EC will be entered into a drawing for a month's worth of electricity up to $1,000. A winner will be chosen at the end of each month beginning January through June. Go to and click the green Account Access bar to begin enjoying the benefits of Paperless Statements.

For assistance or more details please call the Farmers EC Service Center at 903 455 1715.

Contest Rules

See official contest rules

News Articles 2014

Farmers Electric to upgrade power lines

Farmers Electric Cooperative is upgrading its electric distribution system in southern Hunt County. Members will experience temporary power outages over the next two weeks as crews complete an upgrade of the electric distribution lines.

The temporary outages will begin the week of Oct. 27 and will affect members north and west of Quinlan. A second round of temporary outages is planned for the week of Nov. 3 and will affect members east of Quinlan. Additionally, Farmers Electric Co-op will notify each member by telephone who will be affected by the outage.

The upgrade will increase the voltage carried through the power lines and is needed to continue reliable service to the members in the area. Tree trimming crews have been working in the area for the past several weeks preparing for the upgrade.

There will be a large number of Farmers Electric Co-op personnel in the area for the duration of the project. Motorists should be aware of Farmers EC crews and trucks in the area, and are urged to use caution when traveling.

"Safety is always our primary concern," said Mark Stubbs, general manager of Farmers Electric Co-op. "We will have all of our available employees and our contractors working to complete this conversion with as little impact on our members as possible. We take every precaution possible to make these jobs safe, and ask that residents and business owners in the area be extra cautious and aware of our crews."

The Quinlan Independent School District schools will not be affected during these planned outages.

Founded in 1937, Farmers Electric Cooperative is a member-owned electric utility serving more than 40,000 homes and businesses in the fast-growing region spanning Dallas, Collin, Rockwall, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Hopkins, Delta, Franklin, Fannin, Van Zandt, and Wood counties. For more information about Farmers Electric Cooperative, go to and follow the co-op on Facebook and Twitter.

Early morning storm causes outages

An early morning storm knocked out power to Farmers Electric Co-op members today. More than 1,800 members were without power before restoration efforts began. Thanks to our crews, as of 6:45 a.m., there are approximately 903 members without power. Our crews will continue working until power has been restored.

At this time, the outages by county include:

  • Rockwall County: 7
  • Franklin County: 1
  • Rains County: 42
  • Hopkins County: 815
  • Hunt County: 38

To report and monitor outages online, visit the Outage Center

Update on outages from Thursday's storm

As of 5:30 a.m. there are 52 outages across the service territory resulting in approximately 915 members without electricity due to the powerful thunderstorm that hit the area Thursday afternoon. Crews have worked throughout the night and into the morning to restore power to the co-op's members.

At this time, outages by county include:

  • Franklin County: 57
  • Rains County: 141
  • Hopkins County: 702
  • Delta County: 10
  • Hunt County: 1

Stay away from any downed power line, tree on the line, or anything touching a line. Notify Farmers Electric Co-op of any downed power lines, trees on the line, or a power outage by calling 903 455 1715. View the Outage Map

Crews continue working to restore power

As of 4:30 a.m. there are 66 outages across the service territory resulting in approximately 1,050 members without power due to the powerful thunderstorm that hit the area Thursday afternoon.

At this time, outages by county include:

  • Franklin County: 57
  • Rains County: 219
  • Hopkins County: 761
  • Delta County: 12
  • Hunt County: 3

Stay away from any downed power line, tree on the line, or anything touching a line. Notify Farmers Electric Co-op of any downed power lines, trees on the line, or a power outage by calling 903 455 1715. View the Outage Map

Power restoration continues

Crews continue working into the early morning hours to restore electricity after a powerful thunderstorm rocked northeast Texas Thursday afternoon.

As of 2:30 a.m. we have 99 outages across the service territory resulting in 1,175 members without power.

Outages by county include:

  • Rockwall County: 11
  • Franklin County: 57
  • Rains County: 269
  • Hopkins County: 777
  • Delta County: 12
  • Hunt County: 42

Stay away from any downed power line, tree on the line, or anything touching a line. Notify Farmers Electric Co-op of any downed power lines, trees on the line, or a power outage by calling 903 455 1715. View the Outage Map

Crews restoring power to co-op members

Crews continue working into the night to restore power after a powerful thunderstorm rocked northeast Texas Thursday afternoon.

As of 1:30 a.m.. there are approximately 1,350 members without power.

Outages by county include:

  • Rockwall County: 43
  • Franklin County: 57
  • Rains County: 268
  • Hopkins County: 874
  • Delta County: 12
  • Hunt County: 87

Stay away from any downed power line, tree on the line, or anything touching a line. Notify Farmers Electric Co-op of any downed power lines, trees on the line, or a power outage by calling 903 455 1715. View the Outage Map

Restoration of power continues

Crews are making progress on the restoration of electric service after a powerful thunderstorm caused damage across the 12 county service area.

As of 10:40 p.m. there are approximately 1,850 members without power.

Outages by county include:

  • Rockwall County: 90
  • Franklin County: 57
  • Dallas County: 24
  • Kaufman County: 24
  • Rains County: 400
  • Hopkins County: 895
  • Collin County: 1
  • Delta County: 12
  • Hunt County: 303

Stay away from any downed power line, tree on the line, or anything touching a line. Notify Farmers Electric Co-op of any downed power lines, trees on the line, or a power outage by calling 903 455 1715. View the Outage Map

Crews working to restore power

This evening a severe thunderstorm ripped through the Farmers Electric Cooperative service area with winds reported to be in excess of 70 mph. As of 9 p.m. there are more than 3,900 members without power. Crews will continue working through the evening to restore power to our members.

At this time, outages by county include:

  • Rockwall County: 113
  • Dallas County: 24
  • Kaufman County: 65
  • Rains County: 656
  • Hopkins County: 2,711
  • Collin County: 1
  • Delta County: 10
  • Hunt County: 367

Stay away from any downed power line, tree on the line, or anything touching a line. Notify Farmers Electric Co-op of any downed power lines, trees on the line, or a power outage by calling 903 455 1715. View the Outage Map

Outages reported across service area

More than 5500 members of Farmers Electric Co-op are currently experiencing an outage due to the power Fall thunderstorm this afternoon. Crews have been dispatched to the affected areas. More information will be provided as it becomes available. Members can report and check the status of outages online. View the Outage Map

Farmers EC Offers Summer Efficiency Tips

(GREENVILLE, TX)—The average home requires hundreds of dollars a year to pay for energy costs. Smart habits can lower your energy bills and help save the environment.

The following energy saving habits could help to lower your electric bill this summer.

  • Turn up your thermostat. Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cools the room. Always take into account health considerations and be sure to drink plenty of fluids in warm weather.
  • To help minimize peak loads for your electric cooperative, avoid running your appliances during peak hours, 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Do your laundry efficiently by using the warm- or cold-water setting for washing your clothes. Always use cold water to rinse clothes.
  • Line-dry clothes whenever you can. When you need to use the dryer, run full loads, use the moisture-sensing setting, and clean the lint trap after each use.
  • Operate swimming pool filters and cleaning sweeps efficiently. Reduce the operating time of your pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep to four to five hours during off-peak time.
  • Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use.
  • Unplug electronic devices and chargers when they aren't in use—most new electronics use electricity even when switched off. Turn computers and printers off at a power strip.
  • Unplug and recycle any spare refrigerator in the garage if you don't really need it.
  • Opt for a microwave. Nothing is more energy efficient for cooking than your microwave. It uses two-thirds less energy than your stove.
  • Push a button to wash your dishes. It may come as a surprise to know that your dishwasher can use less water than washing dishes by hand. But remember to only wash full loads and then let dishes air-dry to save even more.
  • Fill up the fridge. Having lots of food in your fridge keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open, so your fridge doesn't have to work as hard to stay cool. The same is true for the freezer, too.

Farmers Electric Cooperative encourages you to use electricity efficiently and safely this summer. Additional energy efficiency tips can be found on our website.

Founded in 1937, Farmers Electric Cooperative is a member-owned electric utility serving more than 50,000 homes and businesses in the fast-growing region spanning Dallas, Collin, Rockwall, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Hopkins, Delta, Franklin, Fannin, Van Zandt, and Wood counties.

Farmers Offers a Variety of Ways to Pay Your Bill

  1. To pay online, click on the green “Account Access” button in the upper left corner. Login to follow the simple directions to safely and securely pay your bill.
  2. Pay by Phone Payment over the phone can be made by check or credit card 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It only takes a few minutes and there is no charge or processing fee for paying your bill over the phone. To save time, you can use our automated system at 903-455-1715 and press the number 2.
  3. Pay at a Fidelity Express or MoneyGram station. To make paying your electric bill even more convenient, we have authorized two companies, MoneyGram and Fidelity Express, to accept payments. You can now pay your bill while you are out running errands and have it credited to your account the same day. To find a complete list of locations go to My Account/My Bill/Pay My Bill/Locations.
  4. Sign-up for Automatic Bank Draft Save the time of writing and mailing checks each month by signing up for Farmers EC's free automatic bill payment plan and have the amount of your bill is electronically deducted from your checking account or charged to your credit card by the due date each month. Find the form at My Account/My Bill/Pay My Bill/Bank Draft.
  5. Pay by Mail To pay your bill by mail send in your bill stub with your check or money order in the payment envelope included in your monthly bill. To ensure your bill arrives and is posted by your due date, please mail it at least seven business days before the due date listed on the bottom portion of your bill.

National Lineman Appreciation Day

Farmers Electric Co-op is recognizing April 18, 2014, as National Lineman Appreciation Day to honor our hardworking men who work often in challenging conditions to keep the power on. We are recognizing all electric linemen for the services they perform around the clock in dangerous conditions to keep the power on and protect the public's safety. Farmers Electric Co-op invites members to take a moment to thank a lineman for the work they do. Use #ThankaLineman to show your support for the men and women who light our lives.

Advisory from ERCOT

Consumers asked to limit electricity use Monday morning.

National Email Scam Targeting Utility Customers

Utility customers across the country are receiving bogus invoices directing them to a virus-infected site. The fake emails claim to be from PG&E Energy, an electric and gas utility in San Francisco, or from Dallas-based Atmos Energy. The fraudulent message tells customers that their Atmos or PG&E bill is ready and provides a hyperlink to view it. The site is infected with malware and will infect your device. The malware could go after banking information and/or attempt to steal your usernames and passwords.

As far as we know, no Farmers Electric Cooperative member has been bilked by this scam. If you do receive a suspicious e-mail in relation to a Farmers Electric Cooperative bill, please contact one of our customer service representatives at 903 455 1715.

News Articles 2012

Fraud Alert

Green Dot Prepaid Card Scam hits members of Farmers Electric Cooperative.

We have had a few members who have been victims of a scam. They have received a call warning that their electricity is about to be shut off unless they buy a Green Dot prepaid debit card and load it with money. They are given a number with a 972 area code and told togive them the serial number on the card. They may tell you to ask for Katherine Moss or Virginia White.

Green Dot “money pak” cards are available at convenience stores, gas stations and pharmacies. Consumers add money to the cards with cash and then use them to pay bills and add money to online accounts. Because only cash is used, the cards are hard to trace.

This scam has popped up in at least three states - Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.

If you receive a call requesting you to buy a Green Dot card, please contact one of our customer service representatives at:
903 455 1715 or 800 541 2662.

Paperless Billing