Snapping up a good tariff deal is smart. Even smarter is finding out whether your residential power usage is commensurate with your actual needs. It’s fine to pay less per kilowatt hour, but if you’re using more kilowatt hours of power than is necessary, you’re not realizing any true savings. Review these tips for performing a household energy comparison to see whether you can squeeze any more savings from your utility usage.
Number of Occupants
The number of people residing in a dwelling obviously impacts the amount of power needed to support the home’s operation. A residence with vaulted ceilings and a grand lawn, housing five occupants and several power-draining features, will clearly draw more energy than a smaller dwelling with fewer occupants and simpler amenities. Managing your home’s power needs wisely is smart, regardless of the size of your home and the number of its occupants.
Start with the number of people occupying the dwelling. Find out from your gas, electricity and water suppliers whether they have established standards of expectations for how much of each resource is estimated on a per capita basis. On average, UK electric power consumption runs about 5,733 kilowatt hours per person annually.* Your average might be more or less, depending on your locality within the UK. Of course, a young child’s power requirements are not likely to be the same as an adult’s, and energy earmarked for the overall operation of a household can’t be neatly linked to individuals, per se. But taking all these factors into account, beginning with the number of residents and adding those per capita watt usage numbers up, can give you a start in determining whether your household usage is above or below the grand average.
If you find that your family’s per person usage is significantly over the local average, take some steps to cut back on consumption a bit. It doesn’t have to come down to a drastic rationing exercise, but reasonable management of resources can help place less of a burden on your monthly utility consumption.
Square vs. Cubic Footage
A smaller house heats and cools more quickly than a larger, rambling home, right? Well, to a degree, yes; however, that doesn’t mean a smaller house requires less energy.
The average home in the UK is 915 square feet.** A home with a small footprint might have less square footage, but its cubic footage–that is, the building’s volume–is what needs to be calculated in order to determine how much power is needed for heating and cooling. A room measuring ten square meters may seem relatively small, but if that room has high ceilings (wasted space, from an energy point of view), a wall of low-efficiency windows or an old fireplace with a drafty flue, then the power drain of that “small” room can turn out to be surprisingly big.
Open floor plans are harbingers of wasted energy. On a positive note, open floor plans allow air to circulate more freely, and thus reduce the need for fans or air conditioners. On the downside, however, these same open floor plans won’t allow you to restrict your heating or cooling to just the room you plan to occupy, but diminish your heating or cooling efforts, diverting resources to all the adjoining spaces. As a result, although you might just want to warm up the family room a bit, your energy consumption goes also to heat the kitchen, the living room, the dining room and any other spaces openly connected to the one spot you wanted cozied up.
Review your monthly utility bills to discover what your average energy consumption, to get an actual baseline reading. Next, imagine your home with walls erected in strategic locations, separating areas into individual rooms. Consider where you spend the most time–where the bulk of your heating and cooling takes place. Calculate the costs for heating or cooling only that imagined isolated room instead of your entire residence. Comparing the amount of power required for a single room as opposed to an entire dwelling should quickly reveal how much energy is unnecessarily wasted in open air floor plans.
If your home has an open floor plan, consider whether it’s cost and energy advantageous to bring at least some walls up to the ceiling, creating separate niches for heating and cooling, rather than needlessly overextending your energy consumption into vacant spaces.
Taking the time to perform a household energy comparison can result in huge savings now and in the future.
These energy saving tips for performing a household energy comparison will help to identify areas where your residence is betraying your attempts to save on your energy consumption.