Did you know it’s common for similar homes to have very different utility bills? A variety of factors can cause bills to fluctuate, even for homes that are roughly the same size and have the same number of occupants.
“The weather, the type of energy efficiency technology in your home, and your lifestyle will impact your energy bill more than anything else,” explained Armando Ruiz, Tucson Electric Power Technical Specialist with more than 15 years of experience in energy efficiency.
Adjust for the Weather
There is a direct correlation between the weather outside and energy use, says Ruiz.
“When it’s hotter or colder than usual outside, your heating and cooling system needs to work harder and longer to keep up. When you use more energy, you’ll pay more,” he said. “Having an old, inefficient AC system just compounds the problem.”
When it’s hot outside, set your thermostat at 78°F or as high as comfortable. Use ceiling fans to help circulate cooled air. It’s also helpful to close blinds and curtains on the west and south sides of your home, which get the most sun and heat gain.
If you set your thermostat to 78°F, and your neighbor sets his or hers at 74°, you will see a difference in energy costs – in particular if you take different steps to manage the inside temperature.
While you can’t control the weather, you can control the energy efficiency of your home and modify your lifestyle to better manage energy costs.
Upgrade Your Home’s Efficiency
Investing in efficiency upgrades, such as duct sealing, an AC tune-up, window caulking and a smart programmable thermostat will all help lower your energy bills. Families using ENERGY STAR®-rated lighting and appliances also can save more energy.
To find out just how energy efficient – or inefficient – your home is, use the TEP Home Energy Calculator. By answering questions about your home, the calculator will suggest ways that you could improve its efficiency.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Even the most efficient homes can have higher bills if energy isn’t used wisely.
Saving energy and lowering your bills require behavior modifications, such as taking shorter showers, doing full loads of laundry and grilling outside instead of using the oven. Even simple steps like turning off lights or the television when they’re not in use will help save energy.
Also, TEP offers pricing plans that give residential and small commercial customers the ability to reduce their bills by changing their energy usage habits.
“Comfort and affordability is different for everyone,” Ruiz says. “You need to decide what’s best for you in balancing energy use and cost, based on your priorities. You can take those long, hot showers daily if that is important to you. Just understand that it may increase your energy bill.”