Where does your electricity dollar go?
Knowing the answer to this question will help you understand why your electric bill is the amount that it is. Many of us do not realize what we receive for the money we spend on electricity each month. Too often, we see only the bottom line (the dollars) and not what we are paying for.
Most of us wouldn’t think of buying any commodity without knowing exactly what we were getting for that money. Whether it’s pounds of oranges, the number of pork chops, or gallons of gas, we consciously compare prices and are very aware of what our food or gasoline dollar is buying. Why isn’t it that way with electricity?
Maybe it’s because electricity is an invisible commodity – we don’t think about what it does for us.
When you pay your electric bill, you are paying for the kilowatt-hours that are consumed by your appliances, electronics, lighting and more in your home. Knowing how these items affect your electric bill will help you determine where your electricity dollar is going.
Understand Your Usage
It’s time to get a grasp on how you use electricity in your home. Examine this list of typical electric appliances and equipment. Fill in the information for the appliances you use each month. Add up the kilowatt-hours and you’ll have a very good idea of where your electricity dollar goes.
The average monthly kilowatt-hour consumption figures shown on this chart are based on normal usage. Your electrical consumption may be higher or lower depending on how you or other people in your home use the various appliances.
For example, the chart states that a 32’ LCD TV uses 13 kilowatt-hours per month if used four hours every day. If you have a similar TV that’s on more than four hours per day, adjust the kilowatt-hour consumption figure accordingly.
The energy experts at your local electric cooperative can assist you if you have further questions about your electricity consumption.
You can calculate your own appliance usage and cost of operations:
- Find the wattage of your appliance, usually on the serial plate. If wattage is not listed, look for the amperage and voltage ratings on the serial plate and multiply amperage (amps) by voltage (volts) to get the wattage (watts).
- Multiply the wattage by the hours you use the appliance each month, and then divide by 1,000. For example: if you have a 19’ LCD TV that is used eight hours every day every month: 8X30= 240 hours. The wattage on the TV is 46: 240X 46= 11,040 watt-hours. Divide that by 1,000. 11.04 Kilowatt-hours per month are used to operate the TV.
You can translate this or any of the other kilowatt-hour amounts from the chart to dollars and cents:
- Divide the number of kilowatt-hours you purchased on your last bill into the amount of the total bill. This will give you the average cost per kilowatt-hour. For example: if you purchased 1,000 kilowatt-hours last month and your bill was $80: 80/100 = $0.08 per kilowatt-hour.
- Multiply this figure times the kilowatt-hours used by any single appliance or all your appliances.
Now you know where your ELECTRICITY DOLLAR goes.
Saving Energy = Saving Money
If you want to lower your utility bill by being more energy-efficient, take an energy tour of your home, paying special attention to the following areas of interest.
Windows and Doors. Use caulking and weather-stripping to plug cracks and air leaks around doors and windows. Consider storm doors and windows or double-paned glass to help keep indoor air inside and outdoor air outside. Use the sun to your advantage. Use draperies, shutters and awnings to keep sunlight out in summer, but let it in during the winter to help warm your home and lighten the burden on your heating system.
Heating and Cooling System. Regularly inspect and clean or replace filters and close vents to unused rooms. Insulate ducts and pipes in unfinished spaces. When it comes to replacing your heating and cooling system, do your research and carefully consider the most energy-efficient options.
Water Heater. As a major energy user in your home, this appliance bears special consideration. Try a lower thermostat setting and an insulated water heater jacket. Install water-flow restrictors in showers and faucets. They cut hot water use without discomfort to the user.
Attic, Floors, Foundation and Exterior Walls. These are the areas where insulation can help you the most. Installing a “weather barrier” in your attic, under floors, around interior basement walls, in crawl spaces and around foundation walls can be a relatively simple, do-it-yourself operation. When it comes to exterior walls, however; you may need the aid of an expert.
When you’ve completed the “energy tour,” decide exactly where you and your family can and will save money. Remember, caulking, weather-stripping and insulation are tax-deductible. You not only save money on your utility bill with these energy-saving measures but money on your taxes as well.