In February of 2009, we received a $642 electric bill. Based on this, I declared WAR on the electric bill. The first major action I took was the installation of a geothermal heat pump. A complete list of actions taken are shown in the chart near the bottom of the page.
After the geothermal heat pump was installed I went straight over to my electric company, Baldwin EMC, and asked for a three year history of my electrical usage.
Here is a graph showing the average three years before the installation as well as the first year after. The geothermal heat pump was installed in April of 2010. The graph of "After Geothermal" begins June of 2010. The effect of the geothermal heat pump seems significant, but not dramatic (although February of 2011 was a nice bill). It is noteworthy that July and August of 2010, for which the bills were received August and September, were the hottest ones anyone around here can remember. For what it is worth, the geothermal heat pump seems to save the most money and perform the best relative to the old heat pump in extreme hot and extreme cold. It absolutely works like a champ even if it does not save all that much money.
Here is our monthly bill for the past five years. As you can see, the geothermal heat pump in April 2010 had a significant effect, especially in the peak usage months - both winter and summer.
This is a graph of our home's average kilowatt hour usage per day.
Here is a graph of the average daily KWH usage by year. The reason 2010 is so high is it had the monster bill.
Our price for electricity varies a bit. Here is a graph of what our electric company, Baldwin EMC, has charged us for residential service in South Alabama over the past five years.
You may be wondering if we have changed any of our usage habits. We have not. If we are hot, we run the A/C so the house is perfectly comfortable. If we are cold, we run the heat just as hard. I leave the lights on too much. We have three refrigerators because we want three refrigerators. I understand that there are additional savings available if I would simply change my behavior but I have not done that and I don't plan to. The difference in the usage graphs is solely a result of hardware changes.
Our 2014 usage is higher than 2013. We added a freezer and a wine cooler. Additionally we used the floor heater (electrical resistance) more in 2013 than we had been previously. Hopefully we will be able to convert this to geothermal as well but right now we can't afford it.
Payback: I get questions about whether it was worth it. As of January, 2014, we've spent about $17,000 so far on the energy saving improvements. It was offset by about $3,900 in tax credits. It is a little early to tell for sure, but after finding a few tax calculators online, we seem to be averaging about $1,200 in annual savings. That computes to an 11 year payback, not a particularly good ROI.
Diary of the Electric Bill War
Started replacing light bulbs with compact
florescents when they burned out.
Previous CFs didn't seem to last long but
the new ones I was getting at Sam's Club were GE
brand and they seemed to last much longer.
best estimate, assuming each light is on three
hours per day is that each incandescent bulb
replaced with a CF will save $5.80 per year or
48 cents per month.
May 2012 - We replaced a small refrigerator (that was using $4 per month) on our back porch with an alleged, "Energy Star" wine cooler. It is one of those cutesy ones with a glass front door. Condensation says on the glass day and night so there is no doubt that thing is wasting electricity. According to the Kill-A-Watt meter it is using about $4 per month so I guess it isn't worth replacing it. Frustrating though.
June 2012 - The refrigerator we have in the garage that we use for cokes and beer was showing $10 per month on the Kill-A-Watt. The coils were dirty again. I blew them off as best I could with compressed air and a leaf blower. Now it is reading $6 per month.
August 2012 - the garage refrigerator peaked at $6.90 per month.
December 2012 to February 2013 - We have pex in our slab but currently no way to heat it except with an electric resistance heater. The plan is to eventually heat them with a geothermal heat pump water heater. I got tired of cold floors and decided to heat them with expensive resistance heat even though it costs more. And it did.