How much do you spend on electricity each year? If you spend around $2,000, then you’re on par with the rest of the nation according to data from the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). Yesterday, the EIA published national data as well as specific consumption information for 16 different states.

While this may sound like yet another boring data set, it is actually helpful to consumers. Arizona was one of the 16 states with specific data available and so I decided to look through it to see how my energy consumption and expenditure use stacked up.

Arizona energy use overview:

  • Average annual expenditure – 3 percent less than national average, or about $1,940 per year
  • Average annual energy consumption – 66 million BTUs, which is 26 percent less than the national average
  • Average residential square footage – 1,798; the national average is 1,971 square feet
I spend about $3,500 a year on electricity and natural gas, which is more than both the Arizona and national averages. However, at 2,735 square feet, my home is about 1.5 times larger than the state average. To keep with these averages, my annual energy bill should be around $2,910. Obviously, I’m not average.

Here are a few things that lead to my family’s higher than average energy consumption and expenditures:

  • My husband and I both work-from-home, so there is no quiet time during the day where the air conditioner is set to 85 and all the lights and electronics are turned off.
  • We have two air conditioning units, one unit cools the main area of the house and the other unit cools the bedrooms so we can’t just turn one off to save money.
  • We have a freezer in the garage – it is an energy efficient freezer and we only open it a few times per week but it is in the garage, which is far from the ideal location.
So, why am I sharing this information? As I mentioned earlier, it is helpful to see how you stack up to the averages so that you can determine how to reduce your energy consumption and expenditures.

My plan of action is to slowly work on increasing the temperature on our thermostat. I’ve managed to creep up from 76 to 78 during the daytime this summer, so I still have some room to improve. I also need to get the freezer out of the garage. These two money-saving steps won’t reduce my bill by $50 per month to bring me back to the average range, but it will certainly help. 

I need to figure out what other steps to take. I know that going solar would bring these figures down, but I can’t swing the $15,000 in up-front fees at this time. I already have programmable thermostats, triple-pane windows with dark wood blinds, screen shades on the exterior windows, LED or CFL lighting and we always turn off unused electronics. While I don’t usually mind being above average, this is one area that I’d rather be below the curve. 

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