Power Bill: Control Your Power Consumption

Every upgrade you consider for your home can be verified on your Power Bill.

by Don Ames

Whether you realize it or not, you get an up-date on the energy efficiency of your home every month. It comes in the mail and it’s called a Power Bill. Unfortunately, most people seem to look at the amount due, take a deep breath, and then write a check.

( Scroll down to watch my screen cast. I think it’s one of my better ones even if I did have to hurry near the end. )

At some homes that I visit for an energy audit, they cannot even produce one Power Bill. I would like to have at least one Power Bill available so I can see how the home has been performing.

Power Bill and Power Savings

There is a wealth of information on a power bill and I would like to take this article and provide a few tips on how you can use your Power Bill to support your search for energy savings.

Here is a list of some energy users in your home and how much power you can expect them to use.

Cost per Hour:

  • Heat pump or central air,  15,000 watts,   $1.50
  • Water heater or clothes drier,  4,000 watts,   40 cents
  • Water pump,  3,000 watts,   30 cents
  • Space heater,  1,500 watts,   15 cents
  • Hair drier,  1,200 watts,   12 cents
  • Electric range burner,  1,000 watts,   10 cents
  • Refrigerator,  1,000 watts,   10 cents
  • Computer and monitor,  400 watts,   4 cents
  • Light bulb,  60 watts,   0.6 cents

This table assumes that a kilowatt-hour of electricity costs 10 cents, which is an average rate depending on your location.

The Energy Star Website does a great job so I am going to borrow a few paragraphs from them about energy consumption and your Power Bill.

If your house has electric heat, then the middle of winter is a time when you are going to use a lot of power. A heat pump might run 10 to 15 hours a day and really pump up your Power Bill.  At $1.50 an hour, that’s $15 to $22 per day. Over the course of a month, that’s several hundred dollars worth of electricity. The same applies in the summer if you use the air conditioner a lot.

Water heating uses a good bit of power as well. When you take a shower or run a load of clothes in the washer, the electric water heater might run for an hour reheating the water in the tank. That’s 40 cents. A typical household can burn several dollars a day heating water. Because we don’t normally think of it this way, it is funny to consider that every shower you take costs 40 cents! When you add in the cost of washing and drying the towels (every load of clothes that you run might cost $1 to $2 for washing and drying), plus the soap and shampoo, it can cost nearly a buck to take a shower!

Refrigeration is another big power drain and a major boost to your Power Bill because the refrigerator can easily run for 10 hours a day. That’s about $1 per day to keep the milk cold. If you leave the computer or TV on all day, it can add up to $1 per day as well.

Then we get to light bulbs. At 0.6 cents per hour, it doesn’t seem like much. However, many fixtures contain two or more bulbs, and it is easy to leave several fixtures on. If 10 bulbs are burning, that’s 6 cents an hour. If they burn for six hours a day, that’s 36 cents per day for lighting. Multiply that by 30 days in a month, and it’s $10 per month for photons.

Article continues below after this screen cast.

Heat & Cool Efficiently

As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills — and your comfort. Take these steps to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

Change your air filter regularly.

  • Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system — leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.

Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly.

  • Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.

Install a programmable thermostat.

Power Bill Help

  • A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year on your Power bill.

Seal your heating and cooling ducts.

  • Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent — and sometimes much more.

Consider installing Energy Star qualified heating and cooling equipment.

  • If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, have it evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the energy star. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with energy star qualified equipment can cut your annual Power Bill by nearly $200.

Every upgrade you consider for your home can be verified on your Power Bill. Take time to read your Power Bill and let it guide you in your power saving efforts.

Thanks for stopping by Detect Energy, come back soon, but I won’t leave the light on for you…