The Energy Budget

In your search for ways to save on your utility costs, you may have come across the phrase “energy budget.” Scratching your head, you may have wondered how exactly you create a budget for your household energy use. Perhaps the idea of capping your use and turning off every light in the house may have made you dismiss the idea. Residential energy budgets, though, are useful tools that help you conserve energy without making unnecessary and uncomfortable sacrifices.

What Is An Energy Budget For My Home?

An energy budget is simply a plan for how to better manage your energy utilization. The key part of an energy budget is knowledge about how you normally use energy. Once you have this level of insight, you can plan ahead for your energy use and take easy, practical steps to keep your utility costs affordable.

Making an energy budget works by paying close attention to three factors:

  • Monitoring energy use
  • Controlling energy consumption
  • Conserving energy whenever possible

Monitoring Energy Use

Monitoring your energy use may seem like a difficult task because you normally only see how much energy you use when you receive your electric or natural gas bill. Fortunately, you have a tool close-at-hand that will allow you to collect important data each day — your meter. Utility companies read your meter each month on the same day, and you are charged accordingly. To develop a baseline for your energy budget, take the reading from your meter at the same time each day for 30 days. Record the readings on a calendar. Do not make any changes to your energy use during the month. At the end of the month, add the readings to calculate your total energy use. Also, look for any spikes or differences across each week. Do you use more energy during the weekends compared to the weekdays? Do you notice any other patterns in energy use?

Controlling Energy Consumption

During the second month, look for small improvements that you and your family can make to reduce energy use. Do you leave lights on when rooms are not being used? Do you preheat your oven longer than needed? Do you use your clothes dryer for only one or two items? Could you hang some of your clothes to dry rather than running the dryer? As you make these small changes, take note of the reduction in energy use. You can then use the unit cost from your electric or natural gas bill to translate these changes into realized financial savings. Another factor to look for in the second month is any variance in energy use when compared to the previous month. Was a weekend significantly higher than your average weekend energy use in the baseline month? What happened during that weekend that caused your energy consumption to increase?

Conserving Energy Whenever Possible

Once you successfully reduce energy use, integrate the changes into your normal routine and start the cycle again. One of the primary ways that families waste energy is by keeping electronic equipment running when it is not being used. Having a laptop, desktop computer or tablet always available for use is definitely convenient, but when you assign a cost to that convenience, the importance becomes less significant.
If you follow these steps and want to make a greater impact on your energy consumption, contact And Services to learn about our high efficiency HVAC products and maintenance services for your current equipment.