I knew it couldn’t last, was too good to be true. But alas, a long streak has ended.
This is probably going to shatter some stereotypes, but I’ve been on a mission to make my house as energy efficient as possible, and keeping a close eye on electric, gas, and water usage. I’ve got a pretty cool Excel spreadsheet where I track from month to month, and year to year, wattage, therms, and gallons.
As I’d written before in ” Blinded By The Light“, I’d looked into solar water heating and electricity generation. Before seriously considering something that drastic, and expensive, one needs to get a good reading on actual usage and try first to whittle it down to something manageable. I’m still not completely there yet, I believe a whole-house fan will go a long way in cutting wattage during the summer, and as long as three other people live with me (and kids are not always so cost/energy conscious) there may be limits to how successful I can be.
But the streak was 13 straight months that my total utility costs were lower than the same month in the previous year. I wasn’t going to compare August with December, I’d compare January of 2008 to January of 2007, etc. Over a 13 month period I saved $443, or about $34 a month. And in reality it was 17 out of the last 19 months, not bad.
One thing I learned that surprised me was that gas usage in the winter was much more costly than electricity usage in the summer. To combat this, we sealed our doors better, and better insulated the biggest culprit, the north facing fireplace that feels like a freezer when it’s off. We also added a blower to the fireplace which makes a huge difference as it blows out warm air long after the flame has been turned off.
On the water front (get it?), we added a couple of zones and lots of new landscaping in the last year, yet total gallons actually went down! This was done with smarter scheduling and shorter run times. Next spring a garden’s being added, I don’t foresee it causing much of a problem though.
The culprit in breaking the string? Electricity, in winter no less. We started using the basement more, like every day, and I’m not pointing any fingers, but I think someone left a floor heater on overnight more than once. I also point to an electric dryer that dries the same load repeatedly, again, not pointing fingers.
One way I wish the city would make it easier to save money is the trash pickup schedule. We could probably get away with one of their small “volume buster” containers every 2 weeks, and a larger recyclable container. We have a trash compactor ( Sears for around $400) and recycle everything else. Other than for grass clippings, we don’t need weekly service, but there are no discounts for that. Imagine how much time the trucks could save skipping quite a few houses around town that don’t need to be serviced. City of Longmont, consider that a suggestion.