Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Prepare your home for winter: window insulation

Window insulation. Insulation film. Shrink wrap. Whatever you call it, you’ve no doubt seen windows each winter with added layers of plastic film. That’s because, as thin and transparent as they are, the window insulation kits work. Best of all, they’re easy and inexpensive to install. Many kits sell for around $15 and some for less than $5.

Once you get the kit home:
  • Apply tape around window frame.
  • Peel off tape liner to expose adhesive.
  • Unfold plastic and cut to size, leaving an extra 2 inches on all sides.
  • Press plastic firmly to tape, starting at top of window.
  • Use hairdryer on hottest setting to tighten plastic and remove all wrinkles and creases. Hold hairdryer a few inches away from plastic and move it back and forth. Don’t touch plastic with hairdryer. 

In spring, heat the tape with the hairdryer to loosen the adhesive, then slowly peel off the insulation and adhesive.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Prepare your home for winter: weatherstripping

Spaces around windows and doors can be big culprits of drafty, cold air. That’s where weatherstripping comes in. It fills the gaps and creates a tighter seal. Rolls start at just a few dollars at most home improvement and hardware stores and are easy to install.

Installation tips 

  • Look for gaps and feel for drafts around windows and doors.
  • Clean areas where self-adhesive weatherstripping will be installed.
  • Measure space, then measure weatherstripping and cut to length.
  • Apply weatherstripping along edge.
Once you close the window or door, you should have a nice, tight seal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Saving energy in the kitchen

From roasts browning in the oven to sauces bubbling on the stovetop, homemade dishes feature proudly during the holidays. As the weather grows colder and families gather, you might find yourself spending more time – and using more energy – in the kitchen. These cooking tips will help you enjoy holiday feasts without compromising on energy efficiency.

Be prepared

Slice your vegetables and meats, measure out your spices and mix your ingredients before you turn on the oven or range. If everything is ready to go, you will avoid long gaps between cooking steps and make good use of your heat.

Thawing frozen foods is important. If you cover that Thanksgiving turkey and leave it in the refrigerator for a few days (approximately 24 hours for every 4 pounds), you’ll reduce the work your oven needs to do, and the cold turkey will make the fridge more efficient.

Wasted space means wasted energy

When you fill your refrigerator and freezer, you actually improve efficiency – to an extent. Empty fridges and freezers lose cold air more quickly when opened. If you cram items in without leaving room for circulation, however, their cooling systems will have to work harder.

This tip also applies to the cooking process. When you sear a small portion in a large pan, you’re heating empty surface area. Try to scale your cookware to fit your recipes. On an electric range, match the sizes of your burners and pans to ensure even and efficient heating. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner can waste more than 40 percent of the expended energy. Consider alternatives to full oven use if you only need it to prepare a single dish – toaster ovens, slow cookers and microwaves require less energy and can work well for many types of food.

Make best use of your oven

Dinners often call for the full oven. In those cases, familiarity with its features can save you money. If convection heating is available, use it, as circulating hot air is more efficient than radiating heat. Check your dishes with the oven window and light when possible instead of opening the door, which can cause temperatures to drop as much as 25 degrees.

An oven thermometer is a great tool to improve both your cooking and your energy savings. Many ovens operate at temperatures other than their settings, and this knowledge will help you adjust cooking times to match. Accurate timing will let you turn off the oven several minutes before the food is done, so the remaining heat can finish the job.

Enjoy leftovers

Preparing enough food for future meals is one of the best ways to improve kitchen efficiency. Just make sure to cover the leftovers and let them cool before you put them in the refrigerator.

More ways to save energy and money around the home

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cooking with We Energies: Holiday meals made easier throughout the decades

Making a holiday meal was much more time intensive at the turn of the 20th century. Many ovens were wood- or coal-burning units without knobs to adjust the heat. Refrigeration was handled by an icebox. There were no microwaves. In fact, approximately nine out of 10 American homes didn’t yet have electricity.

But as more homes became wired, the early predecessor of We Energies – The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co. – provided assistance with live electric cooking demonstrations at the Public Service Building in downtown Milwaukee. There, attendees could browse the latest in appliances at the company’s retail store while learning new and easier ways to prepare family favorites. It didn’t matter that the first electric “stoves” were nothing more than six-inch hot plates … they, along with electric toasters and percolators, gave families the flexibility – and novelty – of cooking at their dining room tables.

Mary Modern: In the 1950s, Mary Modern used the airwaves
to help local television viewers in “making home life better 
With the advent of television a few decades later, holiday hosts and hostesses had only to turn the dial to catch a live demonstration from Mary Modern, sponsored by We Energies predecessor Wisconsin Electric on local airwaves. For five minutes each weekday in the mid-1950s, “Electrical Living – with Mary Modern” aired, sharing cooking and entertainment tips “for making home life better electrically.”

“Lecture-demonstrations in cookery” were offered throughout many of those same early- and mid-1900s decades by the Home Services Department of Milwaukee Gas Light Co. (which later became a subsidiary of We Energies as the Wisconsin Gas Co.). In addition to gas cooking and canning demonstrations held each week, on-staff home economists helped plan “attractive party menus” while operators answered hotline calls on all things related to cooking and preserving food. Together, they provided ready resources long before Martha Stewart, Google and Food Network were available to help – and some of their advice holds true today:
  • Determine your menu ahead of time. A simple menu, well prepared and attractively served, is key.
  •  Select familiar recipes. Don’t experiment when you entertain.
  • Above all else (as the company’s “Book of Etiquette and Table Setting” declared), “The secret of success is in careful planning – the trick is in the organization and timing!”
Interested in recipes from decades past? Check out the We Energies Cookie Book archive, with nearly all previous editions of the book dating back to 1932.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Employees give back to students at Junior Achievement's BizTown

On a sunny November morning, 13 We Energies employees headed to BizTown, Junior Achievement’s interactive simulated town. The volunteers helped to educate fourth- through sixth-graders from Franklin Pierce School and O.W. Holmes School, both public elementary schools in Milwaukee.

We Energies employees volunteer at Junior Achievement's 
“We wanted to help give students a good understanding of how the community works,” said Phyllis Koleske, manager – revenue and gas accounting. She has been coordinating We Energies’ involvement at Junior Achievement for the past three years.

In BizTown, students learn about personal finance, jobs and community life. We Energies employees were there for support as students held all BizTown positions including CEO, CFO, mayor, reporter, radio DJ, retail employee, bank teller and even utility worker. They were “paid” for doing their jobs and learned to deposit their paychecks at the two BizTown banks.

The students also learned about the forms of payment the businesses accepted. A scaled-down Culvers, for example, sold popcorn and soda but only accepted cash. Kohl’s and Harley-Davidson provided souvenirs and accepted credit cards, debit cards and checks. Navigating banking and forms of payment and budgeting was part of the experience.

We Energies employees were assigned to these BizTown businesses. Gloria Grabarczyk, manager – gas cost accounting, took on a new role at Biztown’s U.S. Bank. She chose to volunteer with Junior Achievement to get to work with children, “especially in an environment like this where you’re educating them about real life.” She added, “They’re looking forward to it. It’s not a matter of stopping them from talking to the other kids. … They’re into their jobs and they’re so excited.”

Jerri Nash is an office assistant at Valley Power Plant, but in BizTown she was assigned to City Hall. “I think it’s a great program,” she said, “and I appreciate the opportunity to be involved.”

A student named Kevin, who was the CFO at Chase Bank, noted his favorite part of being CFO was signing checks. Fifth graders Miracle and Antonio – both photographers for the BizTown newspaper – learned the importance of teamwork when working with the camera and the clipboard. “We take turns,” Miracle explained. “And it’s fun! We get to be adults.”

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Customers are real winners as We Energies is honored again for outstanding reliability

We’re honored to be recognized once again as the most reliable utility in the Midwest. This is the sixth year in a row We Energies has received the PA Consulting Group’s ReliabilityOneTM Award.

Hearing our customers echo that sentiment makes us even prouder.

For our industrial customers, including Aavid Allcast in Allenton, Wisconsin, reliable electric service is an absolute necessity. As plant manager John Cleary points out, the aluminum die casting company’s production would come to a halt without reliable, continuous power:

PA Consulting Group also recognized We Energies with the Outstanding Customer Reliability Experience Award for our efforts to relay real-time and accurate information during power outages.

PA Consulting announcement

Ensuring safe and reliable service is our top priority. We’re upgrading our infrastructure system-wide to ensure we have modern, efficient facilities. Over the next five years, we plan to rebuild hundreds of miles of electric distribution lines and replace thousands of poles and transformers. We’re committed to delivering the best service possible, and these awards are a testament to our employees’ hard work and dedication.

Our team accepted both honors at a ceremony on Nov. 16.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We Energies Foundation lights up Milwaukee for holidays

While keeping the lights on is everyday business at We Energies, the holidays call for some extra cheer. The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival begins Nov. 17, presents nightly displays through Jan. 1 and includes multiple events that bring holiday lights to the city. The We Energies Foundation has helped sponsor the festival since its inception 18 years ago.

The Holiday Lights Festival begins with the Kick-Off 
Extravaganza at Pere Marquette Park on Nov. 17.
Lighting festivities begin at City Hall with the 103rd annual tree lighting by Mayor Tom Barrett at 5:29 p.m. After the tree is lit, viewers are invited to walk across the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge to Pere Marquette Park for the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza, organized by Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) #21. Here music and dance groups will energize the crowd to help turn on more than 500,000 lights throughout downtown.

The lights and holiday cheer continue after the event with Jingle Bus rides, Santa’s mailbox and other happenings throughout the holiday season. A full list of these events can be found on the Milwaukee Downtown website.

“The support of We Energies has been critical in bringing this free family fun event to downtown Milwaukee,” says Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. She thanks We Energies for its “support and commitment in making downtown Milwaukee a great destination that not only enhances the city but also helps to build a stronger region.”

If you can’t make the event, tune in to WISN 12 Live at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, and catch the fireworks and performances at Pere Marquette Park. Or take a walk during the holiday season through some of the many sites, including the North Pole Power Depot in Zeidler Union Square adjacent to the We Energies offices, where the light animations depict Santa’s elves decorating, shopping, building and shipping as they prepare for the holidays.

Monday, November 14, 2016

From comedy to cookies, famous filmmakers have recipe in Cookie Book

“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious … and don’t call me Shirley.”

You may remember those familiar lines from “Airplane!” Now, the brains behind that classic movie are branching out from comedy to cookies.

Filmmaker David Zucker
David and Jerry Zucker were born in Milwaukee and raised in Shorewood. They submitted a recipe for this year’s We Energies Cookie Book, and it made the cut. David talked about the honor during a recorded segment for WUWM-FM’s “Lake Effect” program. 

The Zuckers’ mandelbread recipe actually comes from Charlotte Zucker, the filmmakers’ mother. She passed away in 2007, but her memory lives on in this delicious recipe, as well as in cameo appearances in her sons’ films. She played the lipstick lady in “Airplane!” 

David recalls coming home from both college and L.A. to freshly-baked mandelbread. His sister now makes the sweet treat and sends it to David and his family, who are spread out across the country. The mandelbread pieces are usually “gone in seconds,” he said during the interview. “They’re addicting. They’re so good.”

“Tens of thousands of people could be out there making your mom’s mandelbread recipe,” Mitch Teich, “Lake Effect” host, added. 

The interview airs Nov. 15 on “Lake Effect,” which begins at 10 a.m. Tune in to 89.7 FM or find the show online after it airs.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Consider a career as an electric or natural gas designer

If you are a high school senior or know a high school senior who is trying to decide a career path, we’re hosting an open house for students interested in becoming utility designers.

As we upgrade and modernize our system, we need skilled electric and natural gas system designers. Learn more during National Apprenticeship Week. Our designers will explain how they’re building the energy grid of the future, show design samples and demonstrate the tools they use for their work.

Apprentice designers have a starting wage in the range of $21 to $29 an hour.

Visit our open house to learn more:
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 3 p.m.
We Energies
500 S. 116th St.
West Allis