Archive for the 'Proving the Worth of Green' Category
Electric Bill Update

greenmountain logoJust got my electric bill for October 5th through November 5th.  The bill was $142.29.  Keep in mind, though, that the average high was 72 and the average low was 55 in October.  But this bill for my 3500 square foot house is still lower than it was for my 1400 square foot house!

Proving the Worth of Green – Solar Panels?

Solar PanelsOur electric bills over the past couple of months (see this post) have validated our economic decision to not immediately install solar panels.  If we assume that our usage this past month is probably peak in Dallas (month of Aug/Sept), and even if we assume that we can eliminate this bill completely by installing solar panels, that gives us a best-case return of $3,480 per year.  That would allow us to get a 9 year payback on the $30,000 it would take to install the solar panels.  So…realistically if we assume that our electricity will actually cost us somewhere around $2,000 per year, and that we’ll only be able to eliminate 1/2 to 3/4 of that cost, the payback becomes something more like 20-25 years. 

Admittedly, I don’t know the ins and outs of the new federal tax implications of installing solar panels, but even if I get a break of 50% of the cost of the panels, a 10-12 year payback still seems a little long for us.

BUT!  We did have all of the conduit installed in the guts of the house to accommodate solar panels if/when we do decide to install them.

PS:  We use Green Mountain Electric, so even without solar panels we’re contributing to the promotion of green energy.

Proving the Worth of Green – Electricity

Kilowatt ImageWe received our electric bill today for the period of 8/5 to 9/4.  We used 2,384 kilowatt hours during this time period.  Our house is 3,501 square feet, which calculates to .68 kilowatt hours per square foot.  This is the most fair calculation I could think of to compare electricity usage in my own informal poll.  During this time period, the average high and low in Dallas were 96 and 76 degrees, respectively.

When I compared our usage to that of some of our friends, the typical non-Green home came in at about 1.3 kilowatt hours per square foot, just about twice our Green home.  It’s also important to note that the other homes I’m comparing to do not have a pool or electronics as extensive as we have…so our home is coming in even more efficient than the raw calculation shows.

Facts about our house:

  • We keep the air conditioner between 73 and 75. 
  • The main house uses two 21 SEER Carrier HVAC units
  • The studio has a highly-efficient Daiken HVAC unit.
  • We have the whole house ventilation system (ERV) on “intermittent”.
  • The pool filtration system is on a timer, and runs 2 hours per day.
  • We keep all of our entertainment electronics plugged in, but we turn off the Blu-Ray, speaker controllers, secondary DVR box, and printer when not specifically being used.
  • Per an earlier post, we have a charging station (for iPhones, iPods, electric toothbrushes, razors, house phones, etc) that is switched on only when specifically needed.
  • Because of all of our windows, we rarely turn on lights during the day.
  • The house has approximately 17% fluorescent lighting, including the primary lights for the kitchen and most task lighting.
  • The outdoor “moon lights” are compact fluorescent lamps.
  • Appliances are Energy Star certified.
  • Washer/Dryer are high efficient Bosch Axxis models.

On a related note, our actual bill this month was $290.62.  We use Green Mountain’s “Pollution Free” plan which charges us 11.7239 cents/kWh.  This per kWh pricing is a bit higher than traditional plans, but we believe it’s worth a slightly higher charge given that it’s supporting 100% Pollution Free energy generation.

Proving the Worth of Green – Gas Bill

AtmoslogoI just got our gas bill for the month that straddles August/September.  It is $21.29.  We used 700 Cubic Feet of gas.  If you’ll review my post from a couple of weeks ago, you’ll see how we keep our gas bill down.

I also wanted to note that the charge for our actual gas usage was only 43 cents of the $21.29.  The rest of the charge is made up of a Utility District Charge (25 cents), Taxes ($1.45), a Rider Charge ($4.69), and a “Customer Charge” ($14.47).

Amazing how 43 cents worth of natural gas costs me $21.29!