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Oct 19

Where Is My Energy Going?

energyIf you’re a homeowner, you have probably, at some point, struggled with trying to find a balance between using the amount of energy required to suit your needs and cutting costs wherever possible. You may be asking yourself where your energy is going, as well as how you can make sure to use energy in the most efficient way possible. In this article, we will talk about how energy is used, according to data calculated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (USEIA), as well as how to save money on your power bill.

National Trends

The way in which the EIA organizes the information is simple. They list the most common end use of electricity, followed by the data accompanying it. This is not just nation-wide, but also state-specific as well.

Nationally, Americans use 13% (the greatest portion) of their energy on space cooling (air conditioning). Lighting is next, comprising 11% of energy used. Water heating and space heating are both tied at 9%, with refrigeration at 8%, and clothes dryers/washer, cooking, freezers, and more picking up the rest in miscellaneous categories. Space cooling takes up 4% more than space heating, an interesting trend that should come as no surprise to those of us who live in warmer climates. It takes a lot of energy to cool down the house, particularly when that cooling service is needed for ten months out of the year.

Space cooling uses 190 billion kilowatt hours, with 650 trillion Btu (the British thermal unit that is the equivalent of 1,055 joules—the American measurement). This massive amount of power is astonishing, and, unsurprisingly, costly. The average American homeowner’s electricity bill is $114.03 per month, with an average consumption of 901 kilowatts per hour. There are currently over 129 million electric customers throughout the U.S. These statistics vary from state to state.

Florida-Specific

According to the EIA, Floridian households spend 90% of their site energy on electricity. The annual electric expenditures for the average Florida resident are $1,900, which is 40% higher than that of the average U.S. citizen. Florida is the second-highest electricity generator in America, with Texas being the first. Residential Floridians account for 29.1% of all electricity used in the state. Over a quarter of all energy used in Florida homes is spent on air conditioning.

The vast majority of Florida residents have central air conditioning. Only a tiny sliver of the population has no air conditioning system, and the rest have a window or wall unit. Florida’s central air system count is much higher than that of the rest of the country. Other than that, there is only one area in which Florida differs most strongly from the rest of America. Florida has significantly fewer double/triple-pane windows than the rest of the U.S. While Florida homes are typically newer and smaller than those in the U.S., these homes consume a lot of electricity.

Saving Money on Your Power Bill

After that data dump, the question really comes down to how you can save money on your power bill without sacrificing your comfort and quality of life. While that may seem like an impossible goal, it, thankfully, is not. Here are a few tips to saving some extra cash on your monthly bill:

  • If you have central air, you need to make sure that your air ducts are clean, as well as your vents. While this may not seem like it makes a big difference, it does. Ducts should be cleaned every three to five years, and you should keep an eye out for any potential problems. Air ducts that are trapping dirt or dust and vents that are blocked up will not allow air to flow freely, raising your electric bill as your home struggles to produce the amount of air required to cool down your house. Regular maintenance from a certified HVAC technician (I would recommend Adams AC if you live on the Treasure Coast) will more than pay for itself in savings.
  • Use cold water when washing your laundry. Heating the water in the water drum accounts for an extremely high portion of energy costs, and using cold water to do the wash will really help you save, particularly if you live in a house that uses the laundry machine a lot.
  • Disable your heated-dry method on your dishwasher. While hot water is essential for the dishwasher to wash the dishes thoroughly, drying them does not require that level of heat. By disabling the heating device, you can save money on power.
  • Make sure that your windows are sealed and energy-efficient. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy loss through windows costs around $35 billion per year. Consumers can reduce their energy loss by using windows that are not easily penetrable by solar light. Double pane clear glass with a wood or vinyl frame is a way to make sure your windows are energy efficient.

Energy costs can rise, particularly when you live in Florida and have to keep the air on frequently. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand the data behind how we use our electricity, as well as tips to reducing the costs of this usage.

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