House-to-house energy consumption varies

    We often hear members say that a neighbor has the same house they do, but their own bill is much higher. That can certainly be the case, and there are a number of factors at work that make it happen.

    Heating and cooling equipment. The age and type of one’s heating and cooling system can have a substantial impact on energy consumption. Electric heat pumps and geothermal heating and cooling systems use a great deal less energy than an electric furnace, baseboard heating and other types of systems. Even among geothermal systems and heat pumps, newer units use less energy than older models.

    Insulation. The amount and type of insulation in a home can also have a significant impact on energy consumption, as can how carefully that insulation was installed. Higher R-values of insulation keep a lot more heated and cooled air in your home, reducing the amount of time your heating and cooling system runs. Cellulose insulation and certain foam insulations can also reduce energy consumption. And don’t forget insulation for your hot water pipes. Pipe wrap increases water heater efficiency, as can caulking and sealing around windows, doors and places where pipes enter your home. Regardless of the insulation you use, sloppy installation can decrease the product’s effectiveness.

    Number and ages of people in household. The number of people living in a home has an impact on energy consumption. Showers, loads of laundry, loads of dishes and cooking all increase with added family members. Many people forget to calculate in visitors as well, not just the number of visitors you have in a month or year, but how frequently you have house guests. This can vary a great deal from one family to the next. And the house where all of the teenage friends hang out is also likely to consume more energy than the neighbor’s house.

    Appliances. The number, type and age of appliances in a home will impact energy consumption as well. That extra refrigerator or freezer in the garage can guzzle far more energy than you might realize. The age of an electric water heater can also impact energy consumption, as can your particular model of washer, dryer and oven. The number of electronics in your home, and how often you use them, can create a big difference in energy consumption. Do you use compact fluorescent light bulbs or traditional bulbs? And how about low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators? Do you change your heating and cooling system’s filter regularly? It all adds up.

    Lifestyle and personal preferences. What setting do you use for your heating and cooling thermostat? Do you set the thermostat back when you’re away from home? What setting do you use for the water heater? Does your family prepare and eat meals at home or eat out more? When you prepare a meal, does it involve long baking time in the oven, or quick preparation in the microwave or on the stovetop? Do you use paper plates that you throw away, or dishes that you wash? Do you wash them by hand or rinse them before you put them in the dishwasher?

    As you can see, the number of variables that affect energy consumption are many. And while two houses may appear to be identical, the way you use electricity can be quite different. And this is just a sample of variables that can be involved.

    If you’d like more information about energy consumption, or if you have a concern you’d like to discuss, please contact us at (317) 745-5473.


    About Steve Hite

    Steve Hite is an Energy Advisor at Hendricks Power. He is a BPI certified Building Analyst that wants to help members use energy in the most efficient way. Steve can help determine what is using energy in a home, recommend energy savings upgrades and help to prioritize home improvement projects. He has been with the cooperative for 3 years. He previously worked in new home construction.

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