When was the last time you looked at your electric bill beyond the total due? By taking a closer look at the numbers, you may identify details to help you understand your energy usage or get clues of why one month’s total differs from another. Get your past year’s electric bills together to see if you can discover ways to become more efficient with your home energy use.
Understanding the Cost
Primarily, the total of your electric bill comes from your monthly usage of kilowatt hours (kWh). Typically, kilowatt hours are determined by subtracting your previous month’s kWh meter reading from your current month’s, and the difference is then multiplied by the company’s energy rate.
But what exactly is a kilowatt hour? Each home appliance or electrical device draws wattage. Kilowatt hours are figured by multiplying an item’s wattage by the total hours it draws energy, with 1,000 watt hours of energy equating to one kilowatt hour. For example, if a 100-watt light bulb burns for 10 hours, it consumes 1,000 watt hours of energy or one kilowatt hour.
For many of us, summer and winter temperatures force your cooling and heating systems to work overtime to keep you comfortable. Because of this, most people expect to see a temporary bill increase, but check if your company’s energy rate is higher at these times as well. Investing in a programmable thermostat and setting the temperature 15 degrees off of your comfort zone while you are at work or asleep can help you decrease your energy usage in the extreme seasons no matter what the rate.
Some electric companies employ a time-of-use rate structure, which can mean your rate is higher during daily peak hours. Generally, peak hours occur on weekdays from morning until mid-evening, with all other hours and weekends as off-peak times. Can you save your laundry time or heavier cooking sessions for the weekend? During the week, does every light, television, and electronic device need to be on the moment everyone gets home for the day? Could you run the dishwasher right before you head to bed?
Energy Usage Trends
Most electric bills include your daily average energy use and electric cost. Additionally, you may see a graph showing month-to-month usage or even usage comparables from the previous year. Think about what energy increases you incurred during higher cost months because some companies charge a higher rate after you go above a set amount of monthly kilowatt hours. Did you purchase new electronics or a second refrigerator? Perhaps one month you entertained out-of-town guests, worked remotely, or had the kids home on break. Or, if the total has increased steadily, it may be time to purchase more efficient appliances or seal air leaks around older windows and doors.
Start using your monthly electric bill to help you pinpoint how to be more efficient with your home energy usage. Additionally, your electric company’s website will often provide you with more assistance through bill calculators, rate and meter options, and summaries with even further analysis.