About a year ago, I wrote about wanting to reduce our electrical usage as compared to the previous owners of our house. As it turns out, they averaged $165/month for electricity during the year before we bought the house, and my goal was to reduce our usage as far below theirs as possible. There’s nothing particularly significant about this number – I just thought it would be a useful exercise to try and beat it. Unfortunately, I only have information on the average amount of their bill, and not on the actual energy usage. Thus, increased energy prices will obscure at least a portion of our improvements.
For background, our house is roughly 3, 000 square feet, fully electric (including the hot water heater and furnace), and located relatively deep in the southeastern United States. Anyway, we now have a year of electrical bills to look back on, and guess what? We’re dead even with the previous owners at $165/month. A few thoughts on this…
First of all, we also have a larger family (four vs. two kids) which makes cutting our usage relative to the previous owners somewhat of an uphill battle. Second, I don’t have good data on average temperatures over the periods under consideration, but the majority of our winter and summer electric usage is heating and cooling. Thus, a particularly hot summer or cold winter during one year or the other would make this a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. We’d really need to have data over a longer time period to make a truly accurate comparison. Finally, while we’ve done a lot in the way of cutting corners, including bumping up the thermostat in the summer and installing compact fluorescent bulbs throughout the house, we’ve also increased our electrical usage in two notable areas. First, we got a bearded dragon last fall and have thus been running a 100W basking bulb plus a UV bulb for roughly 13 hours per day. We also installed a dehumidifier in our crawl space last fall, and it runs pretty steadily during the warmer months.
All in all, I’m reasonably pleased with our performance so far — holding even with the previous owners in the face of increased energy costs constitutes a small moral victory if nothing else. We’ve made a couple of additional changes recently that will hopefully help with energy efficiency in the coming months/years. First, I finally got around to insulating our garage door (more on this in the future). We also recently replaced our front door with one that not only looks much better, but is also far more energy efficient (by which I mean it doesn’t have huge gaps for air intrusion all the way around it). And now that I have a year’s worth of data on actual usage as opposed to cost, I’ll be better able to keep track of things going forward.