Summer’s officially here! And so we’ve launched the project to reduce our electrical and water consumption.
This first week is all about electricity measurement, because it’s more difficult (and less fun) to reduce when you don’t know your starting point.
Objective number one: follow the money.
If you are challenging your consumption along with me, find your electricity bills for the last year. Use excel, google spreadsheets or pen and paper to create a chart like this one showing usage, kWh charge, and your total bill. If you are feeling ambitious you could add a column for the average temperature for each month. If you are feeling more ambitious you could turn the data into a chart.
I am fine with a simple table:
A few disclaimers here…
- Unfortunately we didn’t move into this house until the middle of Sept. I called TXU and asked for the data of the previous tenant. They would provide approximatge kWh for those months but that was it.
- Because we moved during Sept. that month is partial, and so I believe that figure is artificially low.
- We were out of the country and pretty much not living in the house Nov.-Jan.
- Because of all these factors, the standard error here is plus-or-minus a LOT, but it still offers a general trend.
What this exercise taught me (other than that I need a better organization system for old bills!) is the following:
- A/C must be by far the largest portion of my electrical usage. Not a surprise. By extension it’s also the greatest opportunity for reduction in consumption.
- Over the course of a year a rough average monthly kWh consumption rate for my house is 670/month.
- Whatever billing plan I am on, the kWh charge fluctuated by a couple cents each month.
- Based on the one month of overlapping data, I can assume that the cooler recent weather has had a direct effect on our electricity bill by reducing our use of the A/C.
- The fridge must be using about 200 kWh / month by itself given that when we were not here, we still used this amount. At 15 cents/kWh that’s $30/month to keep the food cold. Not sure yet if that’s a lot or not compared to others, I will have to see.
So, given all this loose data, what will be my consumption challenge goal? I suppose it’s copping out to say awareness? Then I’ll say to save 10% over the same time last year, just for the sake of comparison. I’ll compare both consumption and total billing. How difficult this will be depends on things like weather and how our consumption pattern compares to the single retired lady who occupied this house before us. Did she keep the thermostat at 68 or 78? I guess I’ll find out.
To kick-start the savings we are setting the thermostat at 78 or higher. I read that for every single degree one adjusts the thermostat, one saves 10% on electrical billing. We shall see.