June 22, 2018

Q: I am new to Marshall. How do I start my electric and water service?
A:
Marshall Municipal Utilities provides electric and water services to residential and commercial accounts. You can start these services over the phone in just a few minutes by calling a Customer Service Representative at (507) 537-7005 or you can stop in our office at 113 South 4th Street during the hours of 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. Services can also be started by filling out an Online Service form.

Q: Why is my electric bill so high?
A:
First, it's important to know what makes up your electric bill:

  • Each account has an electric meter. This simple device measures energy or kilowatt hour (kWh) usage. Our larger commercial and industrial customers may have a different type of meter that measures both kWh and kilowatt (kW) demand. Demand is the peak amount of energy consumed by all appliances and equipment during any 15-minute period each month.
  • After the meter is read, we subtract the last meter reading from the current reading to calculate your total kWh usage. Normally, there is a 28 to 34 day interval between meter readings. The kWh's are then multiplied by the correct rate, Residential, Commercial, or Demand Metered.
  • Finally, a service charge and taxes are added to arrive at your total bill. The question is, what exactly is it that makes the meter register so many kWh's? The answers may surprise you.

Q: What are the largest energy users in my home?
A:
Some of the largest energy users are:

  • electric heaters
  • water heaters
  • heat tapes and space heaters
  • stoves
  • ovens
Some other very large energy users in a home are heated water beds and hot tubs. In fact, a hot tub can easily add $50 or more to your monthly electric bill! Refrigerators, TV's, computers, stereos, small appliances and lights also add to the total energy use picture. All of these appliances and equipment take varied amounts of energy to provide their service to you.

For an even better idea of where your energy goes, try reading your meter everyday for a period of time. Read it 24 hours apart at the same time each day. Write down what you did that day (running the A/C, doing laundry, baking, etc). You will notice the difference between days you use your appliances more or less. Remember, the meter is just a simple device that measures the energy that flows through it. The more appliances running, the faster the disk spins and the more kWh's are registered!

Q: What should I do with my air conditioner when I'm on vacation?
A:
Shut the unit off when you are on vacation. If you have plants or pets, set the thermostat to 82 degrees and the fan setting on auto.

Q: When should I replace my air handler filters?
A:
Clean or replace dirty filters monthly during heavy-use months.

Q: I just bought a new air conditioner, where should I place it?
A:
Leave plenty of room for free airflow on all sides of the air conditioner unit, and at least four feet at the top. It should be kept free of debris and shrubbery and placed on the north or east side of the house if possible, out of direct sunlight.

Q: What type of central air conditioner should I buy?
A:
Buy a high efficiency air conditioner. A Central air conditioners efficiency is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Air conditioners manufactured after January 23, 2006 are required by federal law to have a SEER of 13 or higher. Central air conditioners with a SEER rating of 15 or higher will be more energy efficient and may be eligible for a rebate from MMU.

Q: What is the best type of insulation?
A:
All insulation has an "R" value, or "resistance" to heat transfer. Numbers such as R-11 or R-30 are common terms. Attics should have at least R-38 and walls, R-11. The best type for walls is either icynene foam or wet-spray cellulose. This not only impedes heat transfer (R-value), but also greatly reduces air infiltration, which is the most important energy saving factor.

Q: What temperature should I set my thermostat at for heating?
A:
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower, health permitting. Lower the thermostat by 10 degrees at night or when you are not home. Reasonably priced setback thermostats are available to achieve these temperature changes automatically.

Q: Should I use my ceiling fans in the winter
A:
Yes. Heat rises toward the ceiling and cool air settles on the floor. During winter months make sure your ceiling fan is rotated so that it produces an upward airflow. This will circulate the air while reducing cool drafts. Depending on the room size and shape, there could be a 15 degree difference between the floor and the ceiling.

Q: What's the typical life span of a water heater?
A:
Although most water heaters last 10 - 15 years, it's best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than seven years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.

Q: What are the best types of lights to use in my home?
A:
Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs are currently the most energy efficient lamps (bulbs). A 60-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced with a 10-watt LED light bulb. An LED bulb uses about 20% as much energy and will typically last about 20 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb (20,000 hour of life compared to 1,000 hours for an incandescent).

Q: How can I reduce air infiltration (leaks, drafts, etc)?
A:
There are many simple, but effective ways to make your home tighter. Caulking around leaky window frames, weather-stripping doors where the door meets with the frame (as well as under the door) are just two ways. If you can see light around a door looking from the inside out, it needs to be weather-stripped. Weather-strip doors leading into attics also.

Q: Is my water safe to drink?
A:
Yes! Marshall's water supply is very safe to drink directly from the tap. Each year, Marshall Municipal Utilities is required by the US Environmental Protection Agency to send water samples to the Minnesota Department of Health for testing. The results of the testing are issued to MMU and distributed to water customers in an annual water quality report, also referred to as a "Consumer Confidence Report". This report tells you what contaminants have been detected in our drinking water, how these detection levels compare to drinking water standards, and where our water comes from. Marshall's water supply is in compliance with all Minnesota and federal drinking water standards. Click on the above link to see the most current report.

Q: What is hard water?
A:
"Hardness" in drinking water is caused by two harmless chemical (usually called minerals) - calcium and magnesium. Water with little calcium or magnesium is "soft" water.

Q: How hard is Marshall's water?
A:
Marshall's water leaves our treatment facility at approximately 621 milligrams/liter, or 36 grains per gallon expressed as carbonate hardness.

Q: Where does my water come from?
A:
MMU provides drinking water to the residents of Marshall from underground water sources-17 wells ranging from 69 to 255 feet deep, that draw water from the Marshall, Dudley, and Sandnes Artesian aquifers.

Q: What are the largest water users in my home?
A: Possibly, leaky faucets or toilets. Studies show that dripping faucets and leaking toilets account for as much as 30% of all indoor water use, more than any other fixture or appliance. Use your water meter to check for leaks in your home. Start by turning off all faucets and water using appliances and make sure no one uses water during the testing period. Then, take a reading on your meter, wait about 30 minutes, and take a second reading. If the dial has moved, YOU HAVE A LEAK. If you detect a leak, repair it immediately.

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