Tracking Electricity Usage

It’s time to tackle our electricity bill. Our monthly electricity bill is rather high – $334 per month year round. It’s to be expected during the summer months, when the temperatures are searingly hot and air conditioning makes life bearable – as long as you stay indoors. However, we have never used our heater, so one would hope the cost would go down during the so-called “winter months” here in the desert of Arizona.

When I was a stay at home mother, I could monitor everything and keep the bills lower. In fact, while we lived in the big city, and endured the summers with only evaporate cooling, our bills were always less than $80. It is much more difficult when your time is seriously limited by your job, commute, chores and other interests. We also don’t have an evaporative cooler at this home. We have talked a lot about it, but have concerns that prevent us from having one installed. One of the main ones being the amount of dirt and pollen that is brought inside the home, and two of us have asthma which is worsened by this exposure.

We are on two saving plans with our electrical company. The first allows us to pay the same amount year round, so the summer bills don’t kill our budget. I guess a more financially savvy individual would bank that additional money allowing it to make some interest income, and then pull it out when the time came. I’ll think on that later. The second plan requires us to use the bulk of our electricity during the off-peak hours of 9pm to 9am on weekdays. Weekends are also off-peak.

We do pay less money using the time of day plan, but the amount we’re paying has increased over the years. Something has to be done, and the time is now!

Previous year usage:
2002 $158/month
2003 $178/month
2004 $179/month
2005 $215/month
2006 $251/month
2007 $295/month

November is the settlement month with our electricity company, and they take note of the electricity you’ve used over the past twelve months and adjust your upcoming payment to handle any increase. This past November they raised the payment by $39/month.

So now we’re paying $334 per month for the next year.

This increase is due in part to electricity increases through our electrical company. Only partly though.

When my mom gave me $25 for Christmas, I decided I was getting something that’s been on my Wish List for sometime.

This Electricity Usage Monitor allows a person to find out how much it costs to use the electrical equipment in your home.

That in turn sparked my interest to finally take account of how much it costs to use the air conditioning “fan” during the winter and 24 hours a day during the summer. It is believed by certain members of my family that the fan can be used to circulate the air at the same cost as a floor fan or ceiling fan.

The Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor cannot be used to measure the usage for the air conditioner, I had to take a visit outside to the meter to do that.

I read it, and discovered that with minimal usage of electricity in the house, the a/c fan uses 2 kilowatt hours per hour. During the on-peak hours, our electricity cost is $0.13 per kilowatt hour. That means to run the a/c fan from 9am to 9pm, we are paying $0.26 per HOUR.

$3.12 for the 12 hours. The off-peak hours cost is $0.05 per kilowatt hour, and $0.60 for the 12 hours.

That alone explains the increase in our electricity bill!

I also measured the usage for the dryer. It costs $0.78 for one hour during the on-peak hours, as opposed to $0.30 during off-peak. My husband and I are not here for most of the on-peak hours, and almost always do our laundry on the weekends, or early in the morning.

Now to further my investigation, I will need to hook up the Kill-a-Watt tool to a fan, and see how much electricity it uses in one hour.

I’ll report back on that in another post.

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