the approachable architect podcast

energy audit: a look at your electric bill

my electric bill

my electric bill

let’s talk about your electric bill. an average size home in america consumes between 600 to 900 kWh per month. this will obviously vary depending on what part of the country you live in (and what is considered average), but it’s a good starting point. let’s break that down even further because i believe when we have an understanding we can relate to, we’re more apt to make small changes that can have big impacts, both on the environment and in your wallet.

i’m going to work with the 600 kWh usage per month and use that as a basis for our understanding. if we divide 600 kWh by # days in a month, 30, that would mean we are consuming 20 kWh of electricity per day. let’s assume we’re paying .14 cents per kilowatt hour (the rate will vary by area but generally will be between .10 and .14) so we’re spending $2.80 per day on electricity for our home. that will give us a bill of about $84 per month. if you’re consuming 900 kWh per month, your bill will more likely be $126 per month.

one note: make sure you read your electric bill correctly. it will be either based on one month or two months, just make sure you know which one and adjust your figures accordingly.

SO, you’re now looking at your electric bill and you say, “oh yeah, i see, my bill is about $100 per month and that fits within the average so that must mean i’m doing good and can keep doing what i’ve been doing all along.”  does this sound like you? let me clear up one thing here, AVERAGE DOES NOT EQUAL GOOD. just because everyone else in the country is averaging $100 a month electric bill, doesn’t mean you should too. there are simple ways to get that down. and we’ve all heard them, turn off lights when not in the room, replace bulbs with compact flourescents (which i’m not a fan of, that’s another article), run the air conditioner set at 78, to name a few.  even if you knock it down $10 a month, you’ll save $120 per year.

let’s put all of this in perspective. i live with my wife and two young boys in a modest, 1 story 1500 s.f. older home. we moved in this past january and i’ve been looking at our bills since we moved in. our power is supplied by los angeles department of water and power. we get a bill from them every two months and it covers solid resources fee, water servce, and energy service (electric). our electric bill averages about 650 kWh per billing cycle, that’s for two months. SO we are consuming 325 kWh per month, well below the national average. we aren’t doing anything special either. we have a mixture of incadescent bulbs and compact flourescents. the most important thing we do is to not leave lights on around the house and turn off lights when we leave the room. we also haven’t run the air conditioner yet and rely on opening doors and windows instead. i’m sure at some point we will turn it on this summer, which may push us into the 400+ Kwh range, but we’ll see. one important note here is that our stove, dryer (electric dryers do cost more to operate than gas dryers), and furnace are heated via natural gas.

assuming you pulled out your electric bill for this exercise, you should have been able to locate how much you are using per month, then how much you use per day, and finally how much you are spending on electricity per day. just having an understanding of this will prove beneficial to you. i have found that once we have an understanding of something, we tend to pay better attention to it. the less we understand something, the more likely we will pay less attention or ignore it altogether. did i mention my wife is a psychotherapist?

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