How many of us cringe at the thought of opening our monthly utility bills (either email or snail mail)? It feels like we keep paying bigger bills every month with no chance of relief. Which brings up the question: is there a way to truly cut energy bills? Or, are we forever destined to keep paying more and more just to keep our homes running?
Everyone knows that energy bills keep rising. However, the actual amount they are rising by is shocking. Electricity bills are going through the roof. As record yearly increases jump for the fifth straight year, households now pay an extra $300 a year for their electricity. According to government data, this is the largest sustained increase since the 1970s.
Water bills are no better. The aging US water system will be overhauled over the next 25 years. The cost - approximately $1 trillion according to the American Water Works Association. Who is going to pay for it? We are through increased household water bills. The American Water Works Association says the current average annual household water bill is $335. To pay for this overhaul, everyone will see their bill rise but some will see their water bill triple. For example, in rural areas, a $300 to $550 per year jump in water bills is expected.
The increasing rates for natural gas seem to defy logic. Yes, the price of natural gas is affected by the weather but not as much as the natural gas and oil companies want us to think. Despite the US having natural gas reserves inline with the current demand, prices continue to jump. It appears the prices of natural gas continue to be affected crude oil. However, there is no justifiable reason why the price of foreign crude oil should affect the prices of domestic natural gas.
The base equation for every monthly utility bill is the same - consumption x rate = bill. No surprises there. Makes total sense - you pay for what you use. Since we apparently can't do anything about the rates, the only thing we can do is change our consumption. Therein lies the rub - how can we change the amount we consume if we don't know how we consume it?
Seems simple enough - don't consume as much electricity, water, and natural gas. But, do we really know how each of our energy dollars is spent? I doubt it. Sure, there are plenty of free tools out there to calculate/track our household energy consumption. Unfortunately, these typically just tell us our overall consumption (i.e. total kilowatts per month, total Therms per month, total gallons per month). This doesn't say anything about how that electricity, natural gas, or water was actuallly consumed. Or, they present "average household" statistics that mean nothing since we don't know how they were derived or if they are even remotely applicable to our homes. Also, these tools are trackers - telling us what was already done - instead of showing possible scenarios of what will happen if we change how much energy we consume.
Anyone who has seen my profile knows I'm always on the prowl for new green apps. I found a new app by The Raj Organization - EnergySaver - which seems to answer these problems and shows how to cut energy bills without much effort. Available for both iOS and Android platforms (as shown on its website /), EnergySaver takes a "profile-analyze-save" approach to cutting household energy bills. You create a profile, analyze your profile's rate and consumption data, decide how to change your consumption habits, and save every month on your energy bills by following your energy plan.
What I found that makes EnergySaver stand out from the other apps, tools, gadgets, software, etc. is that it tells you how much energy is consumed by each appliance/device in your home - yes, it is completely customized (hence, valid) for your home. Simply enter the name of your appliance/device, enter its energy consumption (either from the device itself or from the list of device data already in EnergySaver), enter the billing rate (either your specific rate or your state average listed on EnergySaver), and calculate the appliance/device's total monthly consumption and cost.
The app shows results in three different ways - pie chart, bar chart, or list. That itself is nice to see but what is really interesting is the data. It is surprising to see how much TV we watch, how long our showers are, and how much we run our HVAC each month. From how much laundry we do to how much water the dishwasher uses to how often our kids play XBox, Playstation, Wii, etc., our household's energy consumption is revealed in raw numbers - very scary. However, this does allow us to see exactly what we want to change - cut back on TV time, keep gaming until the weekend, cut showers by 5 minutes, use the dishwasher every other day, etc. This allows us to choose what we want to change and see actual results, not just the tired old "cut consumption" tagline.
In the end, we all know we need to cut back on how much energy we consume in order to lower our bills. What we need to know is how to make the changes and make them stick. The challenge - use a tool like EnergySaver to "profile-analyze-save" to see where to cut our consumption. Next, make it stick - it takes about 3 weeks to make any change into a habit. So, for one billing cycle, stick to the changes and see what happens on your bills. I just bet this will be the easiest money you've ever saved.