Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lowering Our Utility Bill by 20%

Back in April, I wrote about our utility bill and peak hours.

Since then, we've lowered our energy usage by over 20%.

Here's what our electricity consumption has been:

May - 693 kwh / 28 days = 24.750 kwh per day
June - 681 kwh / 32 days = 21.281 kwh per day
July - 539 kwh / 30 days = 17.967 kwh per day

How'd we do it?  One simple trick.

We only ran the laundry machines and dish washer on the weekends or after 8pm during the week.


Seriously, that's it.  It's all about the peak hours, man.  Ours run from 7am-8pm, so it doesn't make sense to pay more to do laundry doing those hours when you can do it for cheaper in the evening or on weekends.

Now, this isn't a hard and fast rule.  A handful of loads totally sneak in during the day once in a while, but we still lowered our energy use by a respectable amount.

I'll be interested to see how the next few months go.  With Mike not at home all day and I only run the air for a short period at night on miserably hot days, our kilowatts should continue to fall.

The savings to our actual utility bill, however, are not so straight forward.

Read Date Total Usage
Days Billing
Average Cost
per Day
Average Use
per Day
06/11 539 $87.95 30 $2.93 17.97
05/11 681 $106.94 32 $3.34 21.28
04/11 693 $89.05 28 $3.18 24.75

What happened here is that we voluntarily changed our utility rate to be higher

You've probably picked up on our whole "Go Green" thing.  Well, Alliant (our energy company) just started a renewable energy program called Second Nature.  

You can select to have 20, 50, or 100% of your power come from renewable energy sources.  The catch is that you have to pay a slightly higher rate because harvesting clean energy is more costly (at this point in time).

I was super excited about this opportunity.  For commercial buildings, these are called Renewable Energy Credits and help a business to offset their carbon footprint.  Now it's available to the residential market.

We selected the 100% option.  As renters, we don't have the opportunity to install geothermal or throw up solar panels.  This is the easiest way for us to support clean energy.

The price tag?

A whopping $0.02 cents extra per kilowatt.

Before, we were averaging about 12.7 cents per kilowatt.  Now, it's about 15.7 cents per kilowatt.

That's why you see a jump from the April to May bills, as May was the first month with the new rate structure.

What this means is that from here on out, we'll be paying $20 extra a month to have clean energy.  

End result - we lowered our energy consumption by 20% only to raise our bill by 20%.

To some, this may seem odd to deliberately lower your usage just so you can afford to increase your bill.  But to us, it's all about the kind of impact you can make with a meager dollar.  $20, in this case.   

Would you ever volunteer to raise your energy bill to support renewable energy?


  1. Firstly, I love your blog. So informative! Secondly, I never knew that there were peak hours for utility usage. I'll have to look into this and take it into account when I go back to college next month. Thanks!
    (This is Rachel I, by the way. Blogspot is giving me problems, so I'm not sure if this will post through my account or anonymously.)

  2. Oh thanks! I try :) I'm looking forward to reading yours!