Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Utility Bill Needs Help!

As I was paying my bills this morning, I started digging around my utility bill.  The winter months have averaged $135 while the summer bills were around $100.  I have been questioning lately whether this is an appropriate amount for 2 people in a 900 sqf condo (built in 2008).  I found a great chart online of our energy usage and costs since we moved in.

Read Date Total Usage
Days Billing
Average Cost
per Day
Average Use
per Day
03/11 1,088 $138.29 30 $4.61 36.27
02/11 1,052 $134.83 29 $4.65 36.28
01/11 1,110 $142.70 34 $4.20 32.65
12/10 703 $97.99 32 $3.06 21.97
11/10 620 $86.42 29 $2.98 21.38
10/10 630 $92.92 29 $3.20 21.72
09/10 709 $119.71 30 $3.99 23.63
08/10 827 $141.67 32 $4.43 25.84
07/10 638 $106.56 30 $3.55 21.27
06/10 473 $71.56 32 $2.24 14.78
10 Period Total 7,850 $1,132.65

I found this really informative.  We spend around $4 a day on electricity.  Wow.  What really blew me away is the total.  Over a grand shelled out for energy in 10 months.

I have no idea how these stacks up to other condo/apartment dwellers.  If I were feeling ambitious, I'd dig out our records for our other rentals and compare.  All I know is the year we lived in a Victorian house, we had bills in the winter that were over $500.  Yeah, we cried a lot over that. 

I think what's important here is that our energy usage tends to remain constant for 3 months at a time, correlating to the time of season.  What that means is that there are opportunities to decrease that amount.

Our energy usage in terms of appliances looks like this:
  • Mike is at home all day, so obviously he has to use energy whereas other couples leave for 8 hours and that's it.  However, he's only using the computer and is good about keeping lights off and such.  He also tends to do laundry and run the dishwasher. 
  • At night, I'm kind of a nazi about flipping off light switches.  As foodies, we probably use our oven way more than other people do so that probably makes a difference.  There's also the TV/DVD player for movie watching. 
  • Constants: fridge, water heater, furnace, and for all intents and purposes, the computer.
My job has given me an enhanced understanding of energy and utility rates.  So I decided to look up what are Alliant Energy's peak hours.  Peak hours are a fun rating system by the utility company.  They charge up to 50% higher for energy used during these hours.  It varies around the country, just like utility rates, but these typically cover the afternoon hours / the hottest parts of the day.  Do you know what mine actually are?

7am-8pm. (Alliant Energy)


That's crazy.  Here I was thinking of putting cute signs on the dish washer and washing machine saying "don't use me between 12-4pm."  Just kidding.

This changes things considerably.  Obviously it's impossible to not use any energy during these hours.  And I'm not fond of keeping European eating hours.

To save energy, these is going to require a shift in activities.  I think the easiest and most effective change is to simply not run the dish washer and washing machine/dryer during the week (or before 8pm).  Luckily, off-peak hours include the entire weekend so that's easy enough to just save those tasks for then.  Once the weather is better, I also plan on making our patio a drying rack so that should help too.

I doubt we can adjust our cooking habits and Mike needs the computer during the day for school work and job hunting.  Perhaps we can come up with a plan to decrease the amount of hours the computer is actually on though. 

We'll give this a try starting from here on out and see if it makes a difference.  Will let you know! 

Question of the Day: How does your energy bill/usage compare?  How do you save money on your utility bill?


  1. We struggle with the energy bill too and I had no idea about the peak hours! Thanks for the tip! I'm going to look that up stat!

  2. Utilities are included in my monthly rent, so I don't know what my usage/costs actually are.

  3. Wow-your mom learned something! I had NO idea that we were charged higher rates during certain hours of the day. Unfortunately, if you have someone going to bed at 7pm, it has a tendency to curtail your activities. But it definitely is something to consider. Thanks for the tip!

    Mom M.

  4. @ Mom M: everyone's hours are different. And you coming home during the middle of the day and MM going to bed at 7pm certainly is different. I forgot who your utility provider is, but you should definitely check out their peak hours. You may be able to save a little when you do laundry or run the dehumidifier.