Do you track your household's energy consumption? Here's a look at how we did for 2012 and how this compares to the national average for our household makeup (square feet, number of members in household, etc.).|

Each year I take the time to review our energy consumption from the previous 12 months (electricity and natural gas costs). I originally began this in 2010 after moving into our home. We fell in love with our house, and it made complete financial sense to purchase it except for the purported summertime energy costs of a staggering $500 per month. I wanted to make sure we were not spending that much, and since I have tracked our energy consumption over the last three years I can honestly say we spend nowhere near the amount of money the previous owners spent on electricity. Another reason why I like to track our energy each year is to see if the combination of pricing the lowest energy plans and instituting energy-saving methods in our household is paying off from year to year. Thankfully, we are seeing results:

  • 2010: $1,628.86, 10.8₵ per kWh
  • 2011: $1,587.79, 9.1₵ per kWh
  • 2012: $1,384.32, 9.4₵ per kWh

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2009 energy survey statistics have been released (the numbers in parenthesis below are from the 2005 survey, which is what we previously compared our numbers up against for 2010-2011). Below is a list of the average spent on energy each year by people in our situation:

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  • 2-Person Household: ($1,847) $2,040
  • Single-Family Detached Home: ($2,060) $2,307
  • Year of Construction (1970-1979): ($1,654) $1,842
  • 3,000-3,499 Square Feet: ($2,172) $2,635
  • Texas Household: ($2,051) $2,160      (it’s nice to see this one has only increased by $9)

Not only are our energy costs below average in each category for the third year in a row, but we have managed to continue a downward-sloping curve of costs. A few changes we made this year in order to mitigate energy costs includes holding out for as long as possible before turning on the heat, hanging a clothesline in our garage to decrease dryer costs, and instituting digital-free Wednesdays. Weather definitely plays a part in energy costs as well, and 2012 was certainly milder for us than 2011.

19 replies
  1. Rebekah
    Rebekah says:

    I just printed out the report. Do I need to add my electric and gas usage together or is this for electric? thanks:)

      • Rebekah
        Rebekah says:

        Well, my findings weren’t good. Adding in our yearly gas bills put us over in every category :(. We were between $894 and $139 over in each category that you listed. Wow – that was eye opening since I thought we were conservative as I know that we spend less than our neighbors. Yikes!

        • Rebekah
          Rebekah says:

          We keep the thermostat on 59 at night and 64 during the day. We do turn it up if anyone comes over or they act like it’s freezing:). I line dry everything except towels so run the dryer once maybe twice a week. The dishwasher gets run about 3 times a week and I hand wash pots, knives, school lunch containers that are used everyday. We don’t have tv but have cell phones, laptops, ipod, ps3. Showers, blow dryers and curling irons/rods/straighteners with teenage girls are used often (they do turn them off) but that’s not a hill that I’m willing to die on:). I may shorten the time that our security lights are on if dh thinks it’s ok. I’ll be thinking of other ways to save on energy. Our electricity costs the same no matter when it’s used. Thanks!

  2. Shannon-ReadyForZero
    Shannon-ReadyForZero says:

    Wow, these are really cool ideas! I’ve been living in apartments for years so I don’t feel the burn of the costs to keep a home powered up, heated, and cooled. It’s interesting to see how small changes like one day being digital-free can really make!

  3. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle
    Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle says:

    I have lived in my current home for 6 years but I have no idea what our electric and water bills will be for 2013.

    My city just switched to a new billing system. We have different rates for peak and off peak electricity times and we will now be paying for every drop of water we use.

    All laundry and dishwasher activity has been shifted to non-peak times but our useage of electricy at peak times is still costing me more than I previously paid. My fridge runs when it needs to and I often cook or turn lights on during the peak times. Peak is 7am until 7pm. It is dark and cold here in Canada and I need to turn lights on and plug the kettle in for tea.

    I will not water any grass or plants. They had better be tough of they will be toast.

  4. Julie @ Freedom 48
    Julie @ Freedom 48 says:

    Good job on keeping track of your utility expenses. Being able to see the effect that your energy conservation efforts have on the overall bill is rewarding. We’ve got the time-of-use billing method in place, and I love logging in online to see how much hydro we’re using during low, mid and peak billing periods. Doing laundry and running the dishwasher only during low billing time is now a permanent habit!

  5. Evan
    Evan says:

    Just closed on a new place last week – a much larger place with oil heat. Pretty bummed about the thought of filling it up for the first time at the tune of a couple grand minimum.

    Do you guys participate in any alternative energies?

    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      Hi Evan!

      My father’s farm in PA was run on oil as well, and yes, it did cost a pretty penny to fill it up with oil. However, he converted it to coal this past year. I’m not sure if he has the option of either/or (which would be great in order to take advantage of varying costs between the two).

      I don’t think our electricity plans include alternative energy. I am very interested in solar energy, and am researching ways to introduce it cost effectively into our household. Hopefully more to come on this in future posts.

  6. wd
    wd says:

    Congrats to Amanda for an engaging post.

    It’s encouraging to read about the improvements in energy efficiency that others are making. We live in the Chicago area and have reduced our usage of natural gas and electricity by 50% over the past several years. It’s a 4400ft2 house with lots of windows. We are told by our utility that we now use 69% less electricity than 100 neighbors of like size and gas heat in our area. We have no wind mills or PV or other fuels. (We used to use slightly more than average energy.)

    If we lived in the sunbelt I would have the following on my project list: 1) Seal the living space. It does no good to try cooling the outdoors through leakage. Use an appropriate sealing material. You can feel many leaks by searching on a cold day. Be creative in your search. Any place where the living space is penetrated is a potential leak. Ex: look at where your a/c condenser lines penetrate the outside wall. Follow this inside to an electrical box. Feel any unexpected cool drafts? Get someone experienced with electrical work to address it safely. 2) Insulate. This is a winner in any climate. 3) Reduce heat gain through windows by experimenting with solar screens or solar grates or awnings or shutters. The point is to get outside the window and absorb the infrared in sunlight before it penetrates the window. Once it passes the window glass, the infrared becomes part of the heat load. It’s an AREA game. All of your south, west, and east facing windows plus skylights are passages for solar gain. If you put a grate on one window out of 20 you’ll get about 5% of the potential savings. Set aside whatever windows you want to reserve for aesthetics and view preservation. If it’s me, I’d remove the grates in cold weather. Screens and grates are basically ‘install and forget’ (no operating adjustments necessary). With screens installed, you’ll be in a strong posture to experiment with variable pricing of electricity because you can program your thermostat for the a/c to cool when pricing is low. 4) Install cfl or led lights. (Note: any project that reduces electricity usage in the living space also reduces the a/c load. Two birds, one stone). 5) Do what you can to create a ‘cool roof’. Painting it a little white with water hose sprayer and dilute latex works. Before whiting, a water hose will make the roof steam. After spraying, no steam, cooler roof. 6) If you have an attached garage, consider the above projects applied to the garage. 7) Reduce phantom loads like TV remotes. Use power strip to turn TV off when not in use. 8) Create shade. A large American flag can double as a stealth awning.

    I’ve been reluctant to spend $ on diagnostics. An infrared camera would be terrific but it eats into your savings. The main tool I’ve used is a non-contact temperature gun. It helped me discover that our south-facing wood front door was reaching 130F with direct sun in August and the inside of this door was 100F+. It was like a giant heat plate and it drove the a/c into fits. That door is now protected with a seasonal flag awning and an permanent internal acrylic sheet of insulation.

    Then, when you’ve made substantial improvement, share your ideas with others. It shows conservation can occur without sacrifice to life style or comfort.

    • Amanda
      Amanda says:

      Wow wd, thank you so much for sharing so much great information! You’ve done a stellar job in reducing your energy usage by so much over the last several years. Keep it up! I think the one thing we could do better is to have more shade during the summer; we keep all the curtains open (and many windows do not have them) because I like a lot of light.

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