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Where Does My Money Go? Or, Slaying the Energy Hog

Posted on Thursday, April 18 2013

Once in college I received a power bill for $667. The baffling thing is that only four people lived in the house. I stood at a mighty financial precipice, facing the risk of downgrading my grocery budget to a basket of Ramen Noodles. Thus, I had the meter checked (and rechecked). It turns out that the house we were renting had poor insulation and one of our roommates (without our knowledge) had rolled the thermostat back to 66 degrees for the past month. That was my first encounter with the energy hog.

We’ve all been there: the mysteriously large energy bill shows up in the mail, breaking budgets and stressing wallets. You call the power company and ask them to recheck your meter — to no avail. The real culprit is often the elusive energy hog. As the name suggests, an energy hog is a device or component of your home that’s draining your electricity, and your wallet. Identifying and replacing energy hogs is a quick and easy approach to lowering your electricity bill and saving money.

Source: Typical House memo, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Finding the Energy Hog

The chart above is a breakdown of the average American home’s energy consumption. If you live in Florida, you can probably rename the heating slice to “cooling” as well. Below are the top contributors to your energy bill and what you can do to stop them in their tracks.

The Hog: Heating and Cooling (HVAC) – 46% (about $85 per month)

Heating and cooling your home accounts for almost half of your home’s electric bill. Since the average American family spends $2200 on electricity per year, this amounts to almost $85 per month.

Spearing the HVAC Hog

There are numerous things you can do to increase your home’s heating and cooling efficiency.

  • Upgrading your Central AC System is your best approach. Modern central air units consume far less electricity. Keep in mind that numerous tax credits exist, bringing down the cost of upgrading your home’s central HVAC system.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. If nobody’s home all day, why keep the AC blasting? There are even models that you can control with your Smart Phone — or that use your phone’s GPS to automatically start your home’s AC when you’re on the way home from work.
  • Adding layers of insulation in your attic is a quick way to save on cooling and heating your home.
  • Upgrading doors and windows to more energy-efficient, better sealed models saves you money on your electric bill while adding value to your home.

The Hog: Water Heating – 14% (about $26 per month)

Hot water is an obvious necessity of life for showering, washing dishes, and getting dirt and grime out of your clothes.

Spearing the Water Heating Hog

  • Solar water heaters harness the power of the sun (we all know it’s pretty hot, especially here in Florida) to heat water for your home.
  • Tankless water heaters heat water when you need it, rather than keeping a large tank of water hot around the clock. Bonus: no more waiting for the shower to get hot.

The Best Part

Numerous federal tax credits exist (some expire at the end of this year) that drastically bring down the cost of making energy improvements to your home or business.

Tell us your energy goals and we’ll give you a free quote on making them a reality. There’s no obligation and we won’t hassle or “up-sell” you. That’s no way to run a business.

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