Why Does My Energy Bill Vary So Much?
Most of our homes are billed for energy usage on a meter. This means that at the end of every month of our usage, the electric company reads our meter, determines our usage, does a bit of calculation, and spits our energy bill back to us. This means that your electric bill may vary a little – or a lot – month to month.
Varied use of lights and electrical appliances. When your college student son or daughter is home from school for the summer, you may notice an uptick in energy cost. If you have family over for Thanksgiving and you're tripling the phone chargers and hair dryers being used in a day, your energy might spike. There are so many life-inducing variables to what's plugged in and how many lights are on in your home. Talking with visitors or your immediate family can reduce the burden.
Varied temperature control demands. Heat costs more to operate than air. For this reason, we're a bit lucky here in Texas that we use AC more of the year than heat, typically. However, if your family keeps the home set at 65 in the summer and 75 in the winter, your energy bills are always going to be extra-high. By programming and being considerate to your temperature choices, you can help save yourself some green.
How Can I Lower My Energy Bill?
Bust Your Ghosts. Ghost appliances are all of those electronics that are plugged into your wall but are not in use. You might think of a few obvious ones right away – your TV, coffee maker, or desktop computer for example – but on a closer look, you may find other items that are constantly plugged in and ready for use. If you can reduce that number by half, you will be surprised at how your energy bill goes down over time.
Heat and Cool Efficiently. Your HVAC system is a major user of your energy allotment in your home. By turning air conditioning up one or two degrees and setting heating one or two degrees lower, you can make a difference that is undetectable to your family and completely obvious on your energy bill. By installing a programmable thermostat, you also make sure that you can control usage of your heating and air conditioning systems so that you use less energy during the off-hours. It is also smart to make the best possible use of your system by weatherstripping and insulating your home, so that you keep the conditioned air in, and the weather-dependent air out.
Replace dud appliances. Every appliance has an optimal shelf life. Once a machine is past its prime, energy efficiency is impacted. With HVAC systems, you can assume the efficiency by your system's SEER rating. Systems manufactured today are primarily 13 or 16 SEER. If yours is 10 SEER, you may want to consider whether it is time to to replace in the near future. When you do, your energy bill will show a difference.
So, How Much Should I Be Paying for Energy?
Based on our years of experience, McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning has developed a rule of thumb that works well in most cases. Here it is: If your home has an efficient heating and cooling system and is properly weatherized, your highest Summer electric bill should be about $0.06 times your square footage. For example, if you live in a 2,000 square foot home your highest summer electric bill should be about $120. Be careful to deduct some money, perhaps $50, from your electric bill if you have a swimming pool or other extra electrical demands, and remember that some Austin Energy bills include water, which should be subtracted.
If your highest Summer electric bill is much higher than $0.06 per square foot, it would be worthwhile to have a Home Energy Audit performed by McCullough. As an Austin Energy Registered Contractor, McCullough personnel have been specially trained to perform Home Energy Audits, and we provide this service FREE to homeowners. Contact us today: (512) 280 0011