Ever since I moved into my condo (almost two years ago!), I have had a love/hate relationship with my electricity bill. My July and September 2012 bills don’t really contribute much data-wise and I should probably just throw out the 2012 data points from my spreadsheet completely. The electricity usage was truly mine starting with the January 2013 bill. As you can see below, I used about 5 kWh/day less this year than I did in 2013 on the January and March bills. I also basically cut my usage in half from March to May, May to July, and July to September.
I still think I can improve my electricity usage, so I’m going to take a look at all of the items that use electricity in my home.
TiVo – my boyfriend has a different system for watching TV that uses a lot less electricity, so I’ve unplugged the TiVo. That should save about 0.7 kWh/day from what I’ve seen online.
Heating - this is the killer of my winter electricity bills. I can’t really do anything about the fact that I have electric heating, but I can make that a bit more efficient. I figured out in March that my programmable thermostats were from the 80s, so I decided to replace them. That cost about $100 for the two of them, but it has been so worth it for the annoyance factor with the old ones. They also seem to interpret the temperature better, so maybe it will save a small amount on heating. I won’t really see much difference until next November/January on this though.
Hot water heater - my hot water heater is incredibly inefficient according to the label on it. Its about 8 years old, so it’ll probably be replaced in the next five years. It says that it uses 4,881 kWh/year. If that’s true, that would account for about 55% of my electricity usage in 2013.
Lights - there are a TON of lights in my place. I have fifteen 65 watt incandescents (8 in the kitchen, 4 in the hallway, 1 in the second bedroom, and 2 in the master bedroom/bathroom), a 72 watt incandescent on the balcony, and twelve 60 watt incandescents throughout the apartment. I do have about 5 CFLs as well. That’s over 30 lights throughout the condo. The kitchen lights probably spend the most amount of time on, so once I run through my current supply of the flood lights (four spares left), I’m going to look at CFLs and LEDs.
I found a 10.5 watt LED light for $20 on Amazon and a 15 watt CFL for $6. They’re actually about the same overall cost since the LED one lasts 3x as long. I doubt I will still be living in my condo in 20 years though! The LED one would cost me $0.54 less per year in electricity per light bulb over the CFL, assuming 3 hours per day and 11 cents per kWh. The CFL would save me $6/year per light bulb and it would be cost effective within a year ($6 in electricity savings and $6 cost per CFL light bulb). If I replaced all 15 of the indoor flood lights with CFLs, it would save $90 in electricity per year or an average of $15 per bill, though it would take until after the first year to see any level of savings. That’s a pretty decent chunk of change. My estimate is that I will use up the remaining four flood lights in the next 6-12 months and then I’ll buy a LED and a CFL and give them a try.
Fridge – my fridge is about 18 years old. It would probably cost less in electricity to run a newer one, but that’s not worth buying a new fridge for. I am sure that once I do replace it (which will probably be in the next five years), I will save a bit on the electricity bill from it.
I’ve made pretty minor improvements on my electricity bill in the last two years, but I’ve been happy with the progress and it’s kind of interesting to see. I just wish I had more data on this!
Sometimes it makes me feel like analyzing costs like this doesn’t mean much or isn’t particularly worthwhile when my employer’s stock price can drop enough that my bonus is several thousand dollars smaller than expected and that has a far bigger impact on my finances than saving $6 per lightbulb per year on my electricity bill.
Hope you all have a wonderful long weekend!