Tuesday, January 3

Utilities - Looking Back on My Household Utilities Cost

I am always interested in comparing how much I spend to "operate" my house to what others spend.  The cost of running a home is a fairly large expense, so keeping it under control is key to meeting my financial goals.  I am continuously looking at ways to be more energy efficient.

Background
  • We are currently a household of three, but the 3rd person is only here temporarily.  She moved into my house in November 2011 so the expenses below mostly reflect two people living in the house.  
  • I live in the Birmingham, Alabama area.  We have hot, humid summers and mostly mild winters.  I only turn on my heat a handful of times every year, but I should note that my neighbors use much more heat than I do.
  • I set the thermostat to 60 in winter and 81 in summer.
  • We have some of the highest sewer rates in the nation, which is reflected in my water bill.
Cable TV
2006: $156
2007: $0
2008: $0
2009: $0
2010: $0
2011: $0

Electricity
2006: $755
2007: $679
2008: $1173
2009: $436
2010: $500
2011: $564

Internet
2006: $120
2007: $229
2008: $196
2009: $575
2010: $296
2011: $239

Natural Gas
2006: $205
2007: $0
2008: $132
2009: $529
2010: $485
2011: $447

Telephone
2006: $598
2007: $329
2008: $1323
2009: $1335
2010: $900
2011: $913

Water
2006: $327
2007: $432
2008: $571
2009: $573
2010: $522
2011: $559

Total
2006: $2161
2007: $1669
2008: $3395
2009: $3448
2010: $2703
2011: $2722

There are opportunities to reduce my utilities expenses in 2012.  
  • I am in the process of cancelling my wireless phone service with AT&T and moving to Republic Wireless.  Initially I will incur the early cancellation fees which will increase my costs but after that I should be able to reduce my annual spending from $900 to $300.
  • In December 2011 I tested my faucets for water usage and replaced two sink aerators and one shower head with low flow devices.  With a third person in the house and the rate increase on our sewer service and water, my goal is to keep this expense from rising rather than reducing it.
  • I'm actively looking at ways to reduce energy consumption.  We sold our second TV last year and I replaced the refrigerator with one 40% smaller.  I have mixed feelings here because if we can entertain ourselves at home more (streaming movies via Netflix and surfing the Internet), we can save money on entertainment and fuel for the car.  Of course, we could just start reading books and magazines but I think it's going to be tough to convince the others in this house to do this.

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