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How to Stop the Energy Vampires

  • 1.  How to Stop the Energy Vampires

    BPA Staff Member
    Posted 29 days ago

    By Jack Deslippe and Lisa Gedigian 

    When we moved into our new house (new for us, at least), we were excited. But that excitement waned a bit when we saw our first power bill. We weren't too happy about the thought of paying over $100 a month for electricity in our small space-1,500 square feet, two floors, and two permanent occupants, excluding somewhat frequent guests. In addition, we had always thought of ourselves as conservationists. But having our usage rated several tiers higher than the minimum by our provider, PG&E, made us feel like we should be doing more. The way our (and we think most other peoples') power bill works is that when your usage exceeds a utility-defined lowest tier, any additional energy you use is charged at a higher rate. Typically, there are several tiers, and the rates increase substantially as you pass from one to the next. Because of this, you can sometimes cut your power bill significantly by cutting only the power you use that falls in the top tier. For example, it is often possible to cut your bill in half by cutting your usage by a lot less than half.

    We, therefore, embarked on a mission to get our power usage within the lowest tier, as defined by our power company. To this end, we made some immediate changes that have been discussed many times by many other people, such as replacing all our incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs. This approach made a major difference in our total monthly consumption, but we wanted to know more about where our electricity was going.

    We ended up using mostly two tools: the Belkin Conserve Insight energy use monitor and the smart meter the power-company installed outside our house.

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    Macie Melendez
    Editor in Chief, Building Performance Journal
    Building Performance Association
    Moon Township PA
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