Housing Size is Just One Factor in Electricity Bills

Weather, inefficiencies have big impacts on total consumption


old window

No matter the size of the house, weather, home and appliance efficiency and personal energy habits can affect total electricity consumption.

Strike up a coffee shop conservation about electricity bills and it won’t take long to hear an iteration or two of this lament, “I live in a small apartment, there’s no way my electricity bill should be this high.”

Square-footage certainly factors into electricity consumption, but so does the apartment’s broken window that goes unmentioned. OK, the window’s not really broken. It just doesn’t close properly, and any nearby candle is doomed to dance in the draft.

In that context, the high bill isn’t just for that small apartment. Particularly in the past few weeks, the resident, as a dad might say, was heating the whole neighborhood.

So some elbow grease, caulking and weather stripping will get that bill back down to where it should be, right? Maybe.

As you’ve probably guessed, more than a couple of factors affect electricity consumption.

Weather

Greater gaps between outdoor temperatures and a targeted indoor temperature mean more energy consumption. (Read about Heating and Cooling Degrees Days for more on that.)

Efficiency

Home and appliance maintenance is critical to managing electricity consumption and to extending the life and value of expensive property.

  • Windows and doors need airtight sealing to prevent heat exchange.
  • Heating and cooling systems need clean filters and regular inspections for leaks and other trouble.

Personal energy habits

These are some of the wildcards that collectively make big differences.

  • Lamps, fans and electronics chargers don’t use incredible amounts of electricity, but leaving them on when they aren’t in use amounts to nothing but waste.
  • Heating and cooling empty living spaces can add significant costs.
  • Each degree above the recommended winter thermostat setting (68) or below the summer recommendation (78) adds about 1 percent to the cost of heating and cooling.
  • Running half-filled clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers creates waste.

At the end of the day, electricity bills are a function of rate multiplied by consumption. Selecting a fixed-rate term contract is the first step in determining total spending. From there, it’s all about understanding and managing consumption, regardless of housing size.

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