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Take action: How prepared are you for no power?

Power Outage Preparation

Photo by Bidgee/Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_thunderstorm#mediaviewer/File:Cloud_to_ground_lightning_strikes_south-west_of_Wagga_Wagga.jpg]

October — normally associated with spooky fanfare and autumn foliage — was also National Energy Action Month. And for me, it was the perfect time to take a step back and assess not only how my family and friends use energy in our homes and lives, but also how prepared we are for an unexpected power outage.

As a mother, I want to always be prepared to protect and take care of my family, in any situation. And I’m sure you do as well. I’d like to share why I’ve been motivated to get my home and family better prepared to avoid going through a few powerless days and nights and give you tips on how you can do the same.

Make Power Accessible
Our mobile devices keep us connected to the world, and it can definitely be more than a mere inconvenience when their batteries die. When it happens during a power outage, it can quickly escalate into a major problem. Not being able to access up-to-the-minute weather information, reach emergency personnel or check on the safety of loved ones are just a few of the potential challenges that might arise in such a situation.

Goal Zero has made a phenomenal line of portable chargers, flashlights, generators, battery storage and even foldable solar panels.

For me, going through Hurricane Ike and its aftermath a few years ago was a wake-up call. The night it came through, I vividly remember lying awake as the wind and rain beat against the windows and tree limbs fell around my parent’s house. I lay there wondering if we’d be protected through the night. Thankfully, the next morning we were safe, but I felt powerless in the wake of the storm and during the days we were forced to live without electricity.

That’s a feeling I don’t want anyone to experience. It motivated all of us at NRG to develop solutions that made power both personal and portable. In this era of personal power, accessing power whenever you need it is becoming easier and more convenient than ever before. Rentable power packs, like the ones available at NRG Freedom Stations™ in select locations around Texas, are just one example. Now is a great time to explore your options for portable power made for personal use. Just make sure you keep your mobile devices charged so they’re available if the power goes out!

Harness the Power of the Sun
At NRG, we recently welcomed a leading developer of solar-powered products into our family. Goal Zero has made a phenomenal line of portable chargers, flashlights, generators, battery storage and even foldable solar panels that can provide peace of mind while on-the-go and can charge everything from a tablet to home health equipment. And before you think options like these are bulky and cumbersome or even difficult to use — think again.

They are portable, easy-to-use and affordable. And their flashlights and lanterns can be seen at the center of any overnight backyard camping adventure for your family, or, if you are in my house, to help tell a bedtime story!

We want you to be prepared and feel empowered. So here are a few other tips from NRG that can help you and your family stay as prepared as possible should your power go out:

  • Have an emergency weather radio on hand. Look for ones that can be charged with a simple hand crank or with solar power. Some models can even charge cell phones and other small devices.
  • Store flashlights, extra batteries, candles and all of your power accessories in an easy-to-remember place accessible to the whole family.
  • When streetlights go dark during a power outage, installing solar-powered outdoor lighting is an alternative to illuminate outside walkways and entrances to your home.
  • Lucky enough to have an unshaded, south-facing location on your property? Consider installing a solar water heater. They’re environmentally-friendly and can even be installed to blend into your home’s existing architecture.

Now is the time to take action, make a plan and have peace of mind for you and your family before another power outage leaves you in the dark. Have you already taken steps to prepare your home and family for an emergency outage? Share your tips and actions taken in the comments below.

2014 Reliant Energy Retail Holdings, LLC. All rights reserved | 1201 Fannin Street | Houston, TX 77002

National Energy Action Month is always a good reminder to make preparations in case of a power outage.

Photo by Bidgee/Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_thunderstorm#mediaviewer/File:Cloud_to_ground_lightning_strikes_south-west_of_Wagga_Wagga.jpg]
National Energy Action Month is always a good reminder to make preparations in case of a power outage.
Courtesy rendering

NRG Stadium gets an energy makeover: Houston Texans home is now an LED and solar power groundbreaker

Energy Matters

When it comes to the game plan for NRG Stadium — and the entire NRG Park development — progress is the key. Now, visitors at NRG Stadium, as well as those all around the country tuning into games, will have the opportunity to see firsthand the possibilities that can be generated with sustainable energy technology.

One of the most exciting and illuminating innovations at NRG Stadium will be the installation of LED lighting, making it the first professional football stadium in the country with LED lights shining on the field. Another “first” will be the addition of solar panels to power the stadium, making NRG stadium the first professional sports stadium in Texas with a solar installation.

While NRG has spearheaded sustainable energy installations at five stadiums across the country, it’s now with great pride that we bring our expertise to our hometown.

And while the NRG team is beyond excited about what these installations mean for the Houston Texans organization and others who will shine under the stadium’s energy-efficient lights, our hope is that all Houstonians will join us in celebrating this investment in our city.

In addition to the stadium’s LED lights and 700 solar panels, which are a part of NRG Park’s sustainability master plan, six electric vehicle charging stations, located at the corner of Murworth Drive and Kirby, and four mobile-charging stations within the stadium will ensure visitors’ vehicles and phones stay powered-up as well.

While NRG has spearheaded sustainable energy installations at five stadiums across the country, it’s now with great pride that we bring our expertise to our hometown. As a native Houstonian, I’m passionate about introducing new energy technologies to my hometown and our customers, and we will continue our mission to inspire everyone to look at the world around them with new eyes, especially with respect to how they use energy.

NRG is ready to welcome everyone to a more efficient NRG Stadium and can’t wait to share in the excitement of Sunday games, Friday night playoffs, the epic Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and more! It’s time to show the world what Houstonians have inspired us to do as we deliver on our commitment to blazing a Texas-sized clean energy trail for others to follow.

For more of Elizabeth’s thoughts on the changes at NRG Park, click here.

To keep track of the changes at NRG Park, visit www.nrgpark.com, or follow Reliant on Facebook or Twitter.

Elizabeth Killinger is president of NRG Texas Retail and Reliant.

2014 Reliant Energy Retail Holdings, LLC All rights reserved | 1201 Fannin Street | Houston, TX 77002 |

NRG Stadium will become the first professional football stadium in the country equipped with energy-efficient LED lighting on the field and the first professional football stadium in Texas to have a solar installation.

Courtesy rendering
NRG Stadium will become the first professional football stadium in the country equipped with energy-efficient LED lighting on the field and the first professional football stadium in Texas to have a solar installation.
Courtesy photo

Beat the heat and keep your cool with a year of electricity savings

Energy Matters

When it’s 95 degrees in the shade, there’s no space for even one more inner tube at the water park and your iPhone just let you know it’s too hot to update your Facebook feed — welcome! It’s summer in Texas.

But if the fear of higher electricity costs has you sweating even more than the high-noon sun, Reliant has a one-of-a-kind new electricity plan to keep you cool and a few super simple summer energy tips and resources to save you some dollars along the way.

The Reliant Predictable 12 plan can be your first line of defense when it comes to budgeting electricity costs, not only during sweltering Texas summers, but even when unpredictable weather plunges us into freezing temperatures. That’s because this plan keeps your electricity costs the same every month for 12 months. Yes, you read that correctly — an entire 12 months!

Reliant has also set aside nearly $750,000 to assist qualified seniors and low-income residential customers with their bills through CARE.

Knowing the amount you’ll be charged for electricity costs each month will ease any concern that can come with seasonal billing and temperature fluctuations and make it much easier to stick to your budget.

Although Predictable 12 customers won’t have to worry about monthly bill fluctuations, taking even small steps to save energy can go a long way in helping to reduce your environmental impact:

• Automatic Settings: Set your A/C fan to the “auto” position rather than the “on” position.
• Freshen those Filters: Change your air vents monthly. Dirty filters can make your system run harder and longer.
• Calling All Caulkers: Seal your windows with caulk or weather stripping to reduce air leaks.
• Get with The Program: Install a programmable thermostat to save an estimated 10% a year on heating and cooling costs.
• Change the channel: Set your TV to the “home” or “standard” screen setting. The “vivid” or “retail” settings are unnecessarily bright and burn 20% more power.
• Get out of hot water: Lower the temperature settings on your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees.
• Round and Round You Go: Switch your ceiling fan to turn in a counter-clockwise direction in the summer.
• Toast it Up: Use microwave and toaster ovens to warm leftovers. You’ll use less energy than with a conventional oven and generate less heat.
• Fill’er Up: Wash full loads of clothes when possible. When smaller loads are necessary, use less water.
• Get Grill Ready: Grill more often during the summer. Using the oven in summer forces your AC to work harder.
• 4 And 4: Setting your thermostat four degrees higher when you’re away for more than four hours helps reduce electricity usage.

And though Predictable 12 will be a budgeting lifesaver for many, Reliant knows that some of our neighbors tend to struggle during the summer months, especially those with no access to air conditioning or who must budget on tighter lower incomes. So once again, we’ve worked with Houston-city leaders to open seven free Beat the Heat Centers across the city for any and all local residents.

Each center will offer adult and kids’ activities, snacks and bottled water, so hunger and boredom will not be an option! You can go here to find a Beat the Heat Center near you.

Reliant has also set aside nearly $750,000 to assist qualified seniors and low-income residential customers with their bills through CARE (Community Assistance from Reliant Energy). Reliant customer or not, we consider all Texans to be our neighbors, and we’ve happily pledged nearly $8 million since 2005 to support various outreach programs designed to assist Texans with managing summer energy costs.

More energy efficiency tips are available at reliant.com, and our customer service team members can work to find a plan, financial assistance programs or extensions for qualified low-income residential customers. And, anyone who is a Reliant customer can benefit from a personal Home Energy Checkup where a Reliant Home Consultant will provide a free in-home consultation and help identify any energy efficiency opportunities.

When the Texas summer heats up, it’s just another reason to lend a hand and look for ways to help our many customers and community members. Together we can save electricity and stay cool.

Elizabeth Killinger is president of NRG Texas Retail and Reliant.

2014 Reliant Energy Retail Holdings, LLC All rights reserved | 1201 Fannin Street | Houston, TX 77002 | PUC Certificate #10007

A snow cone's always a great way to beat the heat!

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A snow cone's always a great way to beat the heat!
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Be the matching puzzle piece for Shila, a smart foxhound mix at the Houston SPCA

Adoptable Dog

Did you discover a love of puzzles during the pandemic? So did Shila, the three-year-old foxhound mix that's currently at the Houston SPCA.

Thanks to her breed instincts, Shila loves to learn and is happiest solving treat puzzles, playing games, and digging into a challenging bone-type chew. Stuffed toys, however, might not last long.

She also excels at learning new commands, having already mastered "sit" and "back up." Another bonus: She is completely crate-trained.

Shila tends to do best around more mellow dogs, and always wants to be by her humans' side.

Thanks to Houston Texans punter Cameron Johnston and his wife, Tia, who are sponsoring Shila, her adoption fees are completely covered.

That includes Shila's microchip, spay surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, a free sample bag of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and a free post-exam from any VCA Animal Hospital.

You can meet Shila and all the other adoptable pets at the Houston SPCA, which is open every day from 11 am-6 pm.

spca adoptable dog shila

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

She's crate-trained and good at learning commands.

American fashion force and renaissance man Isaac Mizrahi stars in can't-miss Jung Center event

just can't get "enough"

Effortlessly talented and remarkably relatable, renaissance man Isaac Mizrahi has been a walking (or, sashaying) brand since launching his eponymous fashion line in 1987. Once lauded by national media as America's hottest fashion designer, Mizrahi caused collective gasps when he lent his name to both Target and QVC (many collapsed on their fainting sofas for the latter) — a move that actually boosted his profile.

But the man who co-helmed Unzipped, the documentary centered on the making of his Fall 1994 collection that also netted a Sundance Film Festival award, considers himself an artist/performer first, designer second. He'll share his many talents when he stars in The Jung Center's annual fundraising event, appropriately titled I.M. Enough: An evening with Isaac Mizrahi.

The Jung Center's annual dinner will be held at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 2 at River Oaks Country Club (1600 River Oaks Blvd.). Tickets range from virtual ($150–$300) to in-person ($500–$5,000) and table purchase ($5,000–$50,000). More information on tickets and tables can be found at junghouston.org or by calling 713-524-8253.

Mizrahi will also be joined by diversity and inclusivity champion Nicole Nathan Gibson, who works locally and regionally with the Anti-Defamation League, serves on the Congregation Beth Israel board, and on The Kinkaid School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Notably, Gibson serves as a bridge between woman of faith, working regularly with Muslim and Jewish women via the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.

As for Mizrahi, expect a night of surprises, given that he also sings and performs in his Marvelous Mr. Mizrahi tour, which finds him belting out jazzy cabaret tunes with a full band. Look for him to dish on his best-selling memoir I.M. that boasts tidbits like “I stuck out like a chubby gay thumb.”

He's also sure to discuss his TV work, be it his own talk show or judging time on Project Runway: All-Stars — to say nothing of his myriad small and big-screen appearances. Mizrahi has even directed two operas and directs and narrates his version of the children’s classic Peter and The Wolf at The Guggenheim Museum in New York each year.

And expect laughs when he reminisces on growing up gay in a Syrian Orthodox Jewish community. (We can't wait for his Q&A sesh after his discussion.)

Fun as this will all be, the event benefits serious causes. “The money we raise in this special evening funds our vital work improving the mental well-being of those who work directly with suffering and trauma: schoolteachers, public health workers, domestic violence case managers, public defenders, medical personnel, and many others,” Dr. Sean Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Jung Center, notes in a statement. “And it allows us to help everyday Houstonians focus on what matters most in their lives.”

Wish Sam Houston a happy birthday at his Huntsville party this March

#TexasForever

Proud to be a Texan? Ready to celebrate it? Then head to Huntsville, only an hour north of Houston, on March 2 for a day-long bash honoring both Texas Independence Day and the birth of Sam Houston.

Put on by the Walker County Historical Commission, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, and the City of Huntsville Tourism Department, the event commemorates the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836, when we officially severed from Mexico and created the Republic of Texas.

The same day 43 years earlier saw the birth of Sam Houston, a leader in the Texas Revolution who later served as president of the Republic of Texas, and who was instrumental in Texas’s becoming a U.S. state

Here's what's on tap for the day:

Raise a cup
It all starts with a coffee reception at the Walker County Museum: Gibbs-Powell House at 9:15 am.

Cemetery procession
General guests, along with members of the student body, faculty, staff, and administration of Sam Houston State University, then follow the university’s ROTC members in the traditional march to Sam Houston’s grave at Oakwood Cemetery from the Old Main Pit, located near Austin Hall on the campus grounds.

The gravesite ceremony will also include the SHSU ROTC Color Guard and Rifle Team, special musical selections and speakers, and the laying of wreaths by descendants of Sam Houston.

A true Texan
Also at the gravesite is the much-anticipated “Baptized a Texan” ceremony. Participants kneel in front of Sam Houston’s memorial and receive pond water across their forehead, plus receive a commemorative gift bag from the City of Huntsville Tourism Department. You're not official until you're official, y'all.

Let's lunch
The day ends with a luncheon hosted by the Walker County Historical Commission, which includes a “Toast to Texas” and birthday cake sponsored by the City of Huntsville Tourism Department.

Photo courtesy of City of Huntsville Tourism Department

It all happens on March 2.

To receive a letter or email from about how to participate in these events, please contact the staff at the Sam Houston Statue Visitor Center at 936-291-9726 or vcenter@huntsvilletx.gov.