6 easy ways to save while on vacation

Hispanic family holding hands at beach

Back to school is right around the corner, but there’s still a few more weeks of summer to kick back, relax and head to your favorite seasonal get-away. Regardless of where you’re going, a vacation should be full of “ahhhs” instead of “oh nos”; so don’t let the stress of high energy bills get in your way.

Follow these simple tips to help save money while you’re away and put some dollars back in your pocket for your return home:

  1. Turn the AC down, or off. Before you hit the road, consider adjusting your central AC to around 84 degrees or turning it off completely.
  2. Adjust the temperature on your water heater. If you have a natural gas water heater, you can set it to “low” or “vacation” mode. If you have an electric water heater, set the temperature as low as possible.
  3. Don’t empty the refrigerator. Did you know a full fridge is more efficient than a half-empty one? You’ll save energy by getting rid of any perishables, and stacking the shelves with water bottles while you’re away. To conserve even more, adjust the thermostats to higher settings: 38 degrees for the refrigerator and 5 degrees for the freezer.
  4. Unplug appliances and power strips. Whenever an appliance is plugged in, it’s using energy. Find anything that has a display screen or light like a TV, cable box, coffee maker or toaster oven and switch it off. Plugging these into a smart strip makes this step even easier.
  5. Close blinds and pull curtains down. This will prevent the sun from warming up your home and lower the amount of heat that’s coming in.
  6. Switch off fans and lights. You can also use an automatic timer for security reasons. Save even more money by switching to LED bulbs.

As a final tip, snap a photo of your stove dial in the ‘off’ position before leaving the house. This will give you peace of mind and allow you to relax worry-free.

For more tips on how to stave money and energy, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Stay safe: Always call 8-1-1 before digging

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8/11 is more than just another hot day in August – it’s National Safe Digging Day, in honor of the country-wide safety hotline, 8-1-1. Whether you’re installing a fence to keep the family pet in the back yard, or getting a head start on some fall landscaping, we want to remind our customers that making a call to 811 beforehand is not only important for safety reasons, but it is also the law.

Calling 811 is free, and you’ll connect automatically to the New York One-Call center, which collects information about your digging project to ensure there’s no interference with underground pipelines, conduits, wires and cables. The one-call center then provides the information to the utility companies, who will send representatives to mark the locations of underground lines in the immediate vicinity of the planned work location with flags, paint or both. Once lines have been properly marked and you receive confirmation, you can begin your project. The process typically takes about two business days.

Use these tips to help yourself, friends and family stay safe:

  • Call 811 at least two business days before each job to have underground facilities located.
  • If you hired a contractor, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Do not allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Large and small projects, such as installing a fence, building a deck and planting a tree, all warrant a call to 811.
  • Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within two feet of marked lines or the area known as the Tolerance Zone.
  • Various colors are used when marking lines, learn what each color represents at www.call811.com.

If an underground facility is struck resulting in an electrical or gas emergency:

  • Leave the area immediately and keep others away.
  • Call 911 to report the incident and the respective utility:
  • If electrical equipment was damaged, call PSEG Long Island’s electric service line at 800-490-0075.
  • If you accidentally damage gas piping or smell gas when excavating, call 911 and National Grid Long Island’s gas emergency line at 800-490-0045 immediately from a safe area.

For more tips on how to stay safe, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Turning the tables on STEM stereotypes

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Two summers ago–nearly to the day–the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer swept the Twitterverse, highlighting the contributions and importance women and minorities have in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). The viral campaign came about after a slew of sexist responses to an ad for the company OneLogin, featuring a female engineer.

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“My team is great. Everyone is smart, creative and hilarious,” reads the copy next to a photo of Isis Wenger, a platform engineer.

Commenters ridiculed Wenger for her appearance and expression, while others debated the validity of the campaign itself. She later took to the Internet to write about her experience.

“This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold,” she wrote.

But we at PSEG Long Island are determined to change that. We’re working hard to defy the stereotypes often associated with STEM professions, starting with some of our youngest customers.

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Thanks to our partnership with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, we recently unveiled the Energy Patch during a special event at the STEM center at Camp Sobaco. Girl Scouts receive the patch upon learning about electric safety, reliability, energy efficiency and community.

Media relations specialist Elizabeth Flagler and graphic designer Carol Mele designed the patch, which is shaped like the iconic Girl Scout Trefoil cookie. The patch comprises four diverse girls joining hands around a hard hat, light bulb, work zone cone and home, and “PSEG orange” stitching along the perimeter.

Our work to encourage and showcase female work in STEM doesn’t stop with the Girl Scouts. We also work closely with Stony Brook University to sponsor a STEM summer program, called Stony Brook University Exploration in STEM Research. In order to participate, students must come up with a research proposal, find a faculty member to act as a mentor throughout the summer, and submit an application, which is reviewed by a faculty selection committee.

The program is geared towards freshmen and sophomores who would not necessarily have the opportunity to do research.  Last year we met with three of the 20 students involved in the program, highlighted in this blog post. Of the 20 participants, eight were women, many of whom were also minorities.

In addition to our foundation work with Stony Brook University, PSEG Long Island hosts an annual supplier diversity fair, catering to businesses classified as New York State Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses (SDVOBs).

The annual fair provides networking opportunities for these companies to meet with PSEG Long Island and other prospective clients. Attendees also learn how to do business with us; meet other businesses that currently work with us; and receive information on New York State’s supplier diversity program.

To see other ways we’re helping women and minorities succeed in STEM, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Making meter reading work for you

Making things work for our 1.1 million customers is one of our top priorities at PSEG Long Island – which is why we pride ourselves on providing accurate, hassle-free energy bills.

In order to do this, we’ve come up with multiple options to help customers ensure their meters are read properly, and on time.

  • Check your bill. It starts with communicating the next scheduled meter read date on every bill our customers receive. We want to make sure it is not a surprise. Be sure to watch the video above, and visit our website to understand where you can find the next meter reading date.
  • Make sure the meter reader has access. If your meter is inside, we encourage you to arrange for someone to be available to let the meter reader in. If your meter is outside, we typically try to locate it ourselves as to cause minimal disruption to our customers’ daily routines. However, we want to remind customers that it is important to clear a safe walkway for our technicians to access the meter. Make sure the area is free of thorn bushes, poison ivy and other potential hazards, and dogs are kept in enclosed areas.If you want to verify that the person looking at your meter is, in fact, a PSEG Long Island employee, here’s what to look for. Meter readers wear our signature orange t-shirts with the PSEG Long Island logo with beige khaki pants, and carry ID for proof of employment.
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A Long Island home with an inaccessible meter.

  • Provide the meter reading by telephone. If your meter is not easily accessible and you know that no one will be home to accommodate the meter reader, we can help. As early as three days before your scheduled meter read, just submit your meter reading via our customer service number. If we are unable to access your meter after eight months, you or your building owner may be subject to a $25 (plus tax) charge on the following bill.
  • Provide the meter reading online. Using My Account, you can enter the reading, or simply upload a photograph of the meter display. Either way, our technicians will enter the data into your account for you.

These choices are important for more than just convenience – if a meter reader isn’t able to access your meter on their scheduled visit date, an estimate of your power consumption based on past data must be used to calculate your next bill. That estimate is typically accurate, but can occasionally result in a positive or negative balance on your account.

Want to call in your meter read? Call us at 1-800-490-0025. Want to submit a meter read? Visit our My Account login. And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more tips like these.

It’s like a heat wave!

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Cue the Supremes! Temperatures are forecast to be in the high ’80s  and low ’90s across Long Island and the Rockaways. While we often casually throw around the term “heat wave,” there are some specific requirements for weather to qualify as such–and the end of this week just might make the cut.

Defining Heat Waves:

Generally, heat waves or extreme heat, are defined by temperatures that hover about 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for a region, and last for prolonged periods of time. More specifically, in the Northeast, heat waves are defined as three or more days with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. Days with temperatures below 90 degrees can still qualify as a heat wave depending on humidity levels, which determine a heat index threshold.

Understanding terminology:

One thing nearly everyone can agree on, though, is that extreme heat can be uncomfortable, and in some instances, dangerous. Familiarize yourself and your family with these important terms to understand the weather’s intensity and make smart choices about spending time outdoors.

  • Heat ADVISORY:
    Issued when the heat index is to exceed 105 degrees (100 degrees for New York City) for less than three hours a day for two consecutive days.
  • Excessive Heat WATCH:
    Issued when it is possible the heat index will exceed 115 degrees for any length of time or when the heat index will exceed 105 degrees for three or more hours for at least two consecutive days.
  • Excessive Heat WARNING:
    Issued when the heat index is expected to exceed 115 degrees for any length of time or when the heat index will exceed 105 degrees for three or more hours for at least two consecutive days.
  • Ozone Health ADVISORY:
    Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.
  • Heat Index:
    A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature.
  • UV Index:
    Forecast of the amount of skin-damaging UV radiation expected to reach the earth’s surface at the time when the sun is highest in the sky (solar noon).

Watch for Signals:

  • Heat exhaustion: Cool, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature may be normal, or is likely to be rising.
  • Heat stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high -sometimes as high as 105 degrees. Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.

Happy friends on lonely beach

Staying safe:

Looking for ways to beat the heat? Try these tips to stay cool and safe all summer long.

  • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Insulating your home will help you conserve electricity and reduce the strain on your home’s power demands. Be sure to weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cool air inside, allowing the inside temperature to stay cooler longer.
  • Use your fan. Setting fans to rotate counter-clockwise to pull warm air up to the ceiling while pushing cooler air down. This will also help you cut down on air conditioning costs.
  • Install window air conditioners snugly. Insulate spaces around air conditioners for a tighter fit. An air conditioner with a tight fit around the windows or wall openings will make less noise and allow less hot air in from the outside.

For more tips to stay cool during this heat wave and all summer long, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

What it means to be LEED-certified and why it’s important

Construction Contractors building a new home

What is LEED?

Being LEED-certified is a phrase we hear often–generally as bragging rights–for businesses, homes, schools, government buildings and others. But what, exactly, does it mean?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998 to assess the environmental performance of a building and encourage a shift towards more sustainable designs. The certification operates on credits, meaning projects earn points for eco-friendly processes during building, such as energy efficiency, water conservation and using sustainable resources, among others. Certification isn’t the same across all businesses and homes, though. Depending on the project and industry sector, LEED credits are earned differently.

How does it work?

As mentioned above, LEED operates on a point system. There are prerequisites to receiving the certification, which do not count towards the 100-point total. After fulfilling these, businesses and homes receive points for green choices. The level of certification is dependent on points accumulated.

Levels of certification:

  • Certified: 40-49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80-100 points

Man in a suit and a worker in overalls

Why is it important?

Becoming LEED certified is important for a number of reasons. Your business or home is helping a larger effort to move the global scale towards a more environmentally friendly and efficient society; but it’s also important for financial reasons. PSEG Long Island makes it easy for local businesses across Long Island and the Rockaways to work towards their LEED certification with these programs:

Prime Efficiency Partners:

This program includes vetted contractors, distributors, suppliers and manufacturers of energy efficient equipment available to work with our customers.

Download the Prime Partner List here. Interested in becoming a Prime Efficiency Partner? Fill out an application here.

Technical Assistance Efficiency Partners:

Our Technical Assistance (TA) partners help businesses minimize their energy usage while maximizing profits. TA partners work with customers to acquire LEED or ENERGY STAR certifications, create energy models, and study new energy efficient technologies. Our program will fund up to 70 percent of study costs in an effort to determine the energy savings potential for a project. These savings can then be further rebated by our Commercial Efficiency Program (CEP) rebates.

Visit here for a list of TA partners. To become a partner, fill out an application here.

Other financial incentives:

Additionally, New York State and the federal government offer some monetary incentives to receiving the certification, largely dependent on how many points a project has accumulated. Depending on the type and location of a project, visit here for important resources to see how LEED can help you and your business save money.

For more information on how to become energy efficient, and save money, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Celebrate July 4 Safely

Black mother and son at family 4th July barbecue,
July 4th is almost here, and what better way to celebrate America than with barbecues, fireworks displays and some quality beach time? But with the holiday weekend approaching, we want to remind our customers to enjoy Independence Day and all its festivities safely and responsibly.

Before firing up the grill or lighting that sparkler, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these tips for a danger-free celebration.

Barbecue Safety:

Every year, about 7,000 people across the United States are inured while using backyard barbecue grills. Do the following for safe grilling during the long weekend and beyond.

  • Keep your grill at least 10 feet from your house, including porches, garages and outdoor carpets. Also ensure grills (charcoal or gas) are not located under wooden overhangs as they could catch fire and ignite the entire structure.
  • Check for gas leaks. Although PSEG Long Island does not supply gas, it’s important our customers know exactly what to do in the event of a gas leak. If you suspect gas is leaking from your grill, call our friends at National Grid.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Be sure you and your family members are familiar and comfortable using the extinguisher in the event of a fire.

Beach Safety:

Heading to the ocean this weekend? Be sure to remember these tips before propping up in the sand.

  • Look out for one of the greatest means of energy–the sun! Apply sunscreen periodically throughout the day to avoid a nasty burn.
  • Swim within the lifeguard flags. Even when the ocean may seem calm, there can be rip tides. If you find yourself caught in a rip tide, swim parallel to the shore until a lifeguard is able to pull you out.
  • Protect your neck. Never dive head-first into any body of water, including swimming pools.

Celebration Safety:

With parties abound this weekend, it’s easy to get carried away. A few important reminders before the celebrations begin:

  • Drink responsibly, and never drink and drive. Ask a friend or call a cab for a safe ride home.
  • Keep electronics away from water. If you’re taking a dip in the pool, be sure to keep your cellphone in a dry place.
  • Don’t leave candles unattended. If you’re lighting citronella or other candles outdoors, be sure to blow out the flame when heading back indoors.

Have a happy and safe July 4th! And for more tips like these, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Beat the heat with these tips!

Smiling girl in swimsuit and straw hat on white beach
Summer officially kicked off this week, and after a rainy spring, we’re hoping to see the sun. But high temperatures can also bring high energy bills from cranking up air conditioners and running pool pumps.

Beat the heat with these money- and energy-saving tips.

  • Smart savers thermostatOur customers can receive $85 from us if they have central air conditioning and install a qualifying smart thermostat. The thermostat allows us to make short-term adjustments to a customer’s AC unit to reduce power during peak demands. This reduces strain on the electric grid, and can help customers save on their bills. Visit us here for more details.
  • Air conditioner upgrades: Customers should ensure their air conditioners–whether central systems or window units–are up-to-date and efficient. Using an ENERGY STAR-certified AC unit uses 15 percent less energy than others, and we offer customers rebates up to $50 for their purchase. As part of our Cool Homes program, customers who upgrade or install a central air conditioner are eligible for up to $600. It’s also important to replace air filters with central air conditioning units, as dirt and dust force the equipment to work harder and use more energy.
  • Pool pump upgradesA dip in the pool can be a great way to cool down without cranking the AC, but antiquated pool pumps can pose a separate stress to your wallet. Upgrade to an ENERGY STAR® pool pump and receive up to $350 in rebates. Because these pumps are energy efficient, customers can save more money over time, since the equipment lasts up to three times longer than a single-speed pump.
  • Don’t cool an empty house. Be sure to set your thermostat at a higher temperature when you’re not home. Setting your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from it’s normal setting can save up to 10 percent on annual heating and cooling costs.
  • Set refrigerators and freezers to efficient temperatures. Refrigerators should typically be set between 36 and 38 degrees, while freezers should range between zero and five degrees.

For more tips on how to save money this season, visit us here, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

New customer tech provides information, resources during Hurricane Season and beyond

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This week’s sunshine and warm temperatures are reminders that summer is on its way. However, the season can also be accompanied by some nasty weather. Hurricane season kicked off June 1, and we’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends our way – are you?

We’ve been working hard over the past few years to help our customers stay connected and informed before, during and after a storm by improving our customer technologies. Familiarize yourself and your family with these resources to stay safe in the event of an emergency.

Online storm center:

Our online storm center is entirely mobile-friendly, and houses all of the important information and resources you may need for a storm. Here, you can report an outage, view safety tips, watch storm prep videos, and more.

MyAlerts:

Our texting service makes it quick and easy for you to report an outage from your mobile phone. Once an outage is reported, you’ll receive periodic status updates on your outage. Or, for immediate updates, see the instructions below.

To register:

  • Text the letters OUT to 773454 (PSEGLI) and press SEND.
  • You will be prompted for type of outage – NO LIGHTS or PARTIAL LIGHTS.
  • Reply/text back your choice.
  • You will be prompted with a confirmation text.

For immediate status updates:

  • Text the letters STAT back to 773454 (PSEGLI) and press SEND.

Please note that your mobile phone number must be registered to your account. By registering for MyAlerts, you’ll also receive the option to pay your bill and manage your account by text. For more information on this service, visit here.

Outage map:

The new, interactive, mobile-friendly outage map allows you to report your outage; see how many customers are affected by a particular outage, and the cause of an outage; view crew statuses; and see estimated restoration times.

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Social media:

Our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels are another great way to stay informed during a storm, and on a daily basis. In addition to our regular messaging about energy efficiency, community events and more, we also post proactively about outages, storm damage and safety tips in the event of an emergency.

We’re also now taking outage reports on social media. Our team of customer service representatives are responding to outage reports, and other questions, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on weekends, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. And of course, we accept outage reports online, and through our our emergency phone line (1-800-490-0075), 24/7.

Sesame Street app

If you have little ones in your family, the Sesame Street Workshop app is another way to prepare for a storm. The app, titled Let’s Get Ready: Planning Together for Emergencies, offers free emergency preparedness and response initiatives in English and Spanish.

visit our all-encompassing hurricane preparedness blog post.

View from the top: A first-hand account of aerial power line inspections

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“Don’t eat a big breakfast,” my co-worker told me the day before my very first helicopter ride. “People tend to get sick.”

With nothing but a half a protein bar and cup of coffee in my stomach, I headed to Republic Airport in Farmingdale to embark on a morning-long trip with our vegetation management specialist, Mike Draws, and pilot, Frans.

IMG_0218Once a year, Mike and his team work with a helicopter service to conduct aerial inspections of the power lines across Long Island and the Rockaways. The overhead survey, Mike explained, is generally performed over the course of three days in late May or early June, prior to hurricane season. The inspection allows our crews to spot any potential interference–usually overgrown branches and decaying trees–with power lines that could cause outages or fires.

Aerial surveillance is no small feat. Before taking off, Mike must notify McArthur Airport, Nassau and Suffolk Police Departments, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and others, for air traffic purposes as well as national security. Weather depending, Mike spends between 8 and 14 hours in flight.

After a briefing on in-flight conduct and safety, we were ready for take-off. Weather that week had been overcast, but winds had died down and clouds made way for sun that Friday morning. I climbed in the back seat as Mike and Frans took the helm, and waited as the propellers spun. I’m not quite sure what I was waiting for–I suppose something similar to when an airplane takes off; the high-pitched humming of engines, or that tingly feeling in your heart when the altitude changes. This was somewhat anti-climactic. The craft gently lifted off it’s wooden launch pad as I watched the ground below me turn from full size homes to postage stamps.

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Still no vomit. Things were looking up–but I was looking down. We coasted over Melville, north into Huntington, occasionally dipping less than 100 feet from the power lines. Mike and Frans chatted over the headset like old friends, giving one another directions as if we were driving to the local grocery store.

“We’re going to make a left up here,” Mike said to Frans, pointing to a highlighted line on a paper map.

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Mike highlights circuits as he and Frans fly overhead to indicate which have been inspected and which still need inspection. Simultaneously, Mike uses a special program created by PSEG Long Island’s IT team to send information on potential dangers in real-time–think Google Maps meets iPhone’s drop-pin feature. The program uses GPS technology to display a map, similar to the paper one, with circuit lines. On the right-hand side is a drop-down menu indicating various issues: obstructing branches, decaying trees, trees leaning on wires, among others. Mike selects whatever the issue may be, and drops a pin on the map in correspondence with the problem. This information is then sent to our transmission and distribution crews in Hicksville. Managers will dispatch their crews to the location of the problem, or potential problem, for immediate resolution.

We continued our journey through Huntington, along the train tracks in Woodbury, to Syosset and Jericho before heading south to Freeport. At this point, I was beginning to understand the small breakfast warning. Trying to focus on a stationary sight in the distance, we headed east along the rail road and circled north again into the town of Brookhaven, doing a fly-by of our substation in Holtsville, before heading south over Fire Island and back to Republic Airport.

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Three hours later, I was happy to be reunited with the pavement. We said our goodbyes and I tried to let my stomach make its way down from my esophagus. But as I pulled out of the airport into bumper-to-bumper traffic onto the Southern State, one spell of nausea seemed like a small price to pay for a speedy ride home.

For more pictures and videos from this adventure and others, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!