Monday, September 15, 2008

Challenge #19: Beat your own electric-record

I just received my electric bill for the month of August. I was quite pleased with the low dollar amount (under $50), but I am not sure how 'good' I am really doing.

I found that the average US household supposedly uses over 10,000Use less energy than average kWh per year of electricity. I saw various estimates that the average US household uses 600-900 kWh per month. Well, I am competitive in nature, so I want to see if I'm "below average" in my electricity use!

I pulled out my electric bills from this year:

date ending.... kWh
1/9/08............ 361
2/10/08.......... 448
3/10/08.......... 549
4/9/08............ 479
5/8/08............ 380
6/10/08.......... 510
7/13/08........... 746
8/10/08 .......... 724
9/8/08............ 483

That averages out to 520 kWh per month and adds up to 4680 kWh for 3/4 of the year. I am doing better than the average household.

This summer, two things changed. Starting in June, I began working full-time from the house (thus, using my computer mostly all-day) and I started trying to be a bit more green. I wanted to evaluate if my new green habits were paying off, so I compared August's bill to the last 4 years:

year...... kWh...... $
8/08..... 724....... $67.28
8/07...... 737....... $68.32
8/06...... 1309...... $111.73 (our highest electric bill in five years)
8/05...... 1241....... $106.31

I don't see a big difference between last year and this year. I guess that's ok, since I am home all day using my electricity instead of my employer's.

I do know what the difference is between 2006 and 2007, when our electric bill cut nearly in half. The first three years we lived in this house, we generally kept the thermostat at ~72 F in the summer. In 2007 we decided to crank it up to 80 F. We also stopped using the window unit in the finished attic (the ceiling follows the roof line, so it is basically a sun-baked oven). Additionally, over the last three years we have added insulation to the attic, sealed around the foundation, and added weather stripping to doors and windows.

Now, what other factors go into our house: we live in the Midwest, where we enjoy the weather extremes of all seasons: the winter is cold, windy, and sometimes snowy or icy (usually a few weeks in the low 20s); the summers are hot and humid (100 F is really freakin hot); our house is modest, approx 1300 sq ft, with a half-story converted attic; our heat and hot water are gas; our clothes dryer is electric; I work from home using a 400 Mhz PowerPC G4 with the flat screen monitor. There's two adults, 1 dog and 1 pet in this household. I can see that more people make a big difference, as we had family here February through April, and our bills at that time are a bit high (see above- and compare to January and May).

So, compare yourself to me and the US averages, and see how much electricity we are using - leave your brags or your new-found motivation in the comments!

I'll also be posting some other energy-saving ideas over the next few weeks.


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