Jimmy Theis

MAR 24, 2013

A Follow-Up on Energy Savings

A couple of months ago, I posted about a few of measures I had taken to try to reduce the utility costs in my apartment. Now that it's been a few months, I think I owe a report (even if it's sort of an inconclusive one).

I started the power-saving measures around January 10, 2013. Since then, I have received my power bills for 12/23 - 1/21 (29 days) and 1/21 - 2/21 (31 days). The first covers 1095 degree days, and the second 1092. This is a surprisingly close comparison (better than I thought I'd get) between two months, even though one month contained the end of a holiday season and the other one is a little longer.

Anyway, here are the results:

So at the very surface level, it seems safe to say that the steps I took did in fact save me money. I honestly expected that, because it would be very hard to believe that:

With that said, the one thing that's really hard to actually quantify is how much power this is saving.

We can look at the number above and say I saved about $10.00 from January to February, and since I implemented the saving measures two-thirds of the way through the January billing cycle, that number should be more like $15.00, but that involves too many assumptions to really say with any confidence.

The problem is that I don't spend a consistent amount of time in my apartment each month, and neither does Emilie. If there's someone in the apartment during the day, that's 8 or more additional hours the heat is turned on, and probably some lights along with it. So the number of vacation days, weekends in Bloomington, visits from Emilie, and pretty much any other disruptions to a "normal" schedule significantly change the amount of power I use day to day. The same is true for water, where I've also seen a $10-$15 savings month-to-month, with a similarly wide variance in usage.

Even with my pretty unscientific findings, I'd like to add some closure to this whole thing, so here goes:

The Nest thermostat is a pretty cool gadget, and I'd recommend it for anyone who thinks it's neat and wants to try it out. If you just want to save money, there are plenty of cheaper options that give you comparable control over your schedule.

Replacing your light bulbs is kind of a no-brainer in my opinion. After just a day or two with the new CFL bulbs, I honestly couldn't tell the difference (the color seemed a little redder initially). The only caveat with the standard issue CFL bulbs is that they tend not to support dimmers, so if you're a fan of dimmers, you'll have a slightly harder choice to make between the more expensive CFL bulbs and standard incandescents (or an even bigger investment in LED bulbs).

Taking shorter showers is another no-brainer. It gives you more time in the morning, saves hot water for others, and saves money. It's not even really worth talking much about.

Anyway, that concludes the update I feel I owed to anyone who read the initial post. If the Nest performs surprisingly well or poorly during the summer months, I may update again with that information, but I imagine the results will be more of the same: a more managed heating and cooling schedule is a little better at keeping costs down.