New to this series? Let me explain why I track our energy costs each year.
When we were looking to purchase our home, I asked the previous owners how much they spend in electricity costs per month (granted, we were already sold on the place at this point after viewing 19 houses, no less).
They said, “$500/month in the summertime.” Gulp.
And when someone says “summertime” in Houston, they really mean six months out of the year.
I thought we could beat their electricity costs, so we took the risk and bought our home.
Thankfully, we’ve done loads better than $500/month for six months out of the year.
For some reason, the last time I did an energy spending update was in 2012. So I skipped quite a few years! While I’ve kept up with the information because of taking a tax deduction for my home office, I haven’t talked about it or compared it with previous years. So I’ve known we’re doing okay, just didn’t know how “okay” we were.
Note: We use both electricity and natural gas. The natural gas is for our heat (we don’t need much), and for our water heater. Everything else is powered through electricity.
- 2010: $1,628.86, 10.8₵ per kWh
- 2011: $1,587.79, 9.1₵ per kWh
- 2012: $1,384.32, 9.4₵ per kWh
- 2013: $1,511.79, X.X₵ per kWh (unfortunately I can’t find our contracted cost/kWh)
- 2014: $1,663.86, 10.9₵ per kWh
- 2015: $1,455.94, 9.9₵ per kWh
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2009 energy survey statistics have been released (and not updated since, unfortunately). Below is a list of the average spent on energy each year by people in our situation:
- 2-Person Household (next year I’ll compare with 3-person households!): $2,040
- Single-Family Detached Home: $2,307
- Year of Construction (1970-1979): $1,842
- 3,000-3,499 Square Feet: $2,635
- Texas Household: $2,160
Areas for Improvement
If we look at ourselves compared with others in our situation, then we’re doing pretty well. We’ve managed to use between $387 and $1,180 less each year in energy charges than the averages.
Looking at last year compared with previous years, you can see that we only did better one year 2012). So actually, we’ve optimized our energy usage pretty well.
Things we’ve done over the years include: installing a laundry line in our garage, unplugging electronics when they’re not in use (and making this as simple as possible by plugging multiple cords into a multi-outlet so that we only have to unplug one thing), incorporating digital-free Wednesdays, purchasing a kill-a-watt (what a fun instrument!) and measuring our electricity costs per appliance, shopping around for the best electricity cost using PowertoChoose.org, etc.
How to Decrease Energy Usage
Need some more ideas to get your own costs down? According to Reliant (an NRG Company), you can do the following to improve your stats:
- Lower your thermostat to reduce your energy usage. For every degree above 68° F, your heating costs go up approximately three-to-five percent.
- Switch out your incandescent bulbs for LED or CFL bulbs, which last longer and use less energy. ENERGY STAR® CFLs use approximately 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.
- Rotate your ceiling fan clockwise during the winter to force warm air that rises to the ceiling back down into the living areas.
- Dry two or more loads of laundry in a row to take advantage of the heat that builds up during the previous cycle.
- On sunny days, open the blinds to use the radiant heat of the sun to warm your home. Close them at night to help keep the cold air out.
- Seal your windows with caulk or weather stripping to reduce air leaks and help maintain the desired temperature in your home year-round.
- Keep your ductwork properly insulated and sealed to prevent air loss. Doing so can reduce heating and cooling costs by 40 percent and also decrease humidity and dust in your home – a win-win-win situation.
- If you have a fireplace, have your chimney inspected, and keep the chimney damper closed when not in use.
So, what’s your energy bill like each month or year? What are ways that you’ve managed to curb consumption? I’d love to learn from you!