Saving water and energy at home is the right thing to do for the environment — and your wallet. But how can you determine the most effective approach? The clues can be found in your monthly utility bills.
Believe it or not, your local public utilities want to make it easy to live a little greener by taking control of your water and power usage. At first glance, your water and electric bills may seem filled with mysterious numbers, statistics and terms, but tucked in among all the information are motivations for using less and lowering your monthly utility costs.
You can start to decode your utility usage mystery by paying attention to the tiered rate systems that most utilities have in place. Water providers in particular tend to apply these to residential water use, assigning your household a water “budget” based on reasonable use for its size and landscape area. If you stay within that budget, or tier, you’ll pay a base or discounted rate for the water you consume; once you flow outside of that, however, you’ll be paying more not only by volume but also through higher rates. Similarly, electric companies tend to apply an energy usage baseline to you and your property, accompanied by additional fees such as delivery rate per kilowatt hour (kWh) and generation charges.
Also helpful are the “this time last year” graphs included in utility bills, showing patterns and major changes in usage. This information and related data also allow you to calculate your average kWh consumption, which is critical if you’re considering adding solar to your power plan. A solar energy professional will look to this average in order to design a right-sized solar array for your home — one that satisfies home power needs without sending such a huge excess back to the grid that you wind up with few or no credits from your local utility.
Bottom line, information you need to start creating a greener home power and water plan is there in those monthly statements, often accompanied by savings tips and special offers and rebates from the utility. Make the most of these green power hints, and you’ll add yet another element of savings to your increasingly efficient green home.