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Check Out My Electric Bill

By Jennifer Taylor

Adjust your thermostat and feel the savings. Replace your bulbs and change out your energy bill. Turn down your water heater and stop burning money. These are just a few ways to reduce energy bills – and thereby save money – according to the Touchstone Energy ® "Together We Save" nationwide energy-efficiency campaign.

I have to admit though, I was skeptical about the buzz. Living in a 1,100 square-foot condominium, I had a hard time imagining how much savings I would actually experience by changing out old light bulbs.

Most of my appliances had been replaced with ENERGY STAR products when I purchased the condo unit, except for the heat pump and water heater. The windows and doors were brand new. But working in the energy industry, I felt obligated to hop on the bandwagon and join the recent efficiency craze.

Last summer, on a steamy July afternoon, my air conditioning unit bit the dust. I knew it was older, installed when the condominiums were built in 1987. But I did not realize how inefficient the heat pump was until I installed a new system.

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) on the old unit was 8. After upgrading to a 14 SEER heat pump, my electric bill plummeted. In July 2010, I used 930 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and was billed $101.89. In August 2010, following installation of the new system, my usage had dropped to 466 kWh, and the electric bill was $54.80.

I thought it was a mistake, but the trends in savings and usage have continued. In March 2010, I was billed $236.17 for 2775 kWh. In March 2011, I was billed $108.12 for 1013 kWh. This month marks the one-year anniversary of my old heat pump’s passing. And my wallet and electric bill are forever grateful.

Jennifer Taylor is an Environmental Policy Representative at National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and a member of the WCEE Current Editorial Team.

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