In 2012, I consumed an average of about 47 gallons of water per day at an average monthly cost of $20.97. While I am sure my average would compare dismally to a worldwide average, it likely compares quite well on a national basis. According to a 2002 EPA study (available here), the average American spends about $40 per month and consumes about 98 gallons per day. I imagine this number has increased due to inflation over the past ten years. Based on the this inflation calculator, $1 in 2002 is now $1.29 on an inflation adjusted basis. Thus, supposing overall water efficiency has not increased in the intervening years, the average American now spends $52 per month on water. Let’s assume some efficiency improvements and guesstimate the average water bill in the US is now $48 per month. If that is correct, my 2012 water bill was 57% below the national average — a savings of $324 last year alone.
More importantly, think of the water I was able to conserve by simply taking advantage of technological improvements. It’s easy to take for granted something as seemingly simple as clean water — most Americans have ever only to turn on the faucet and clean, hot or cold water flows in abundance. According to UNICEF, even though we’ve seen drastic improvements in worldwide access to clean water since 1990, unfortunately 780 million people still do not have access to an even an improved drinking water source.
My annual water savings is due not to a drastic change in behavior, but to a change in mindset. When I decided I wanted to be serious about conserving natural resources, I knew technology had to be part of the solution. I installed high efficiency aerators (.5 gpm)* on all faucets except for the kitchen sink as well as high efficiency shower heads (1.5 gpm) and toilets (0.8 gal/flush). I used Niagara Conservation for all of my residential water efficient products, though I am sure there are other great options as well.
In the bills I uploaded below you will see that I broke-out my monthly water bill from other City of Raleigh monthly fees, such as solid waste removal, recycling and stormwater fees. These fees were about $15/month in 2012. You will also note, if you view the monthly analysis overview document, that the gallons I consumed each much fluctuated quite a bit, from a high of 74.8 gallons in February to a low of 0 gallons in June. I think the City must have had a problem with their meter or reporting process, because my month-to-month habits do not change much and I hardly ever water the landscaping or wash my car. Though, on average, I think the City billed me correctly, as my first few bills in 2013 report average monthly consumption of about 48 gallons. Maybe the City fixed its meter or reporting problem.
*gpm = gallons per minute
My March electric bill (which effectively is for the prior month) totaled $78.22. A year-on-year comparison shows a 40% decrease in electricity consumption (735 kWh in March 2013 versus 1216 kWh in March 2012) even as the average temperature was five degrees colder than the same period last year. Unfortunately, I experienced a month-to-month increase of nearly 14%. This was due to the average temperature being two degrees colder.
I am ready for spring and tired of this cold winter!
Google just sent my monthly email summary. In the past month, on only my work email account, I sent 1,000 emails and received 1,819 emails. I’m sure plenty of people send and receive many times more emails than this. But, I would like to opine for a second on how much time ‘emailing’ consumes. Query: how to decrease this time sink and afford more time for creativity?
If, on average, I spend 5 minutes on each email I send and 3 minutes on each email I receive, in aggregate I spent about 174 hours ‘emailing’ the past four weeks.
I do not know if my 5 and 3 minute estimates are accurate, but if they are, that’s a frightening amount of time emailing. If you call a working day 10 hours (which I do not, but let’s say 10 hours for the sake of it), then I spent more than 17 days out of the last 28 strictly emailing! If I work 6-days/week and 10 hrs/day (I usually work many more, but that’s besides the point), then I emailed 17/24, or 70% of the time. Yikes.
There must be a better way to communicate.
And, if I spend this much time emailing, I’m not leaving a lot of time for creativity and invention (much less time to educate myself on various topics of interest) — some of the really important to-dos.
I came across this quote by Leonardo da Vinci and must share it:
‘Life is pretty simple. You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.’
A year on year comparison shows a 50% decrease (633 kWh in February 2013 versus 1286 kWh in February 2012) in electricity consumption. Unfortunately, I experienced a month-to-month increase of 27%. This was likely due to the average temperature being 3 degrees colder and to keeping the house generally warmer (just got married, so we’re actually here some and prefer not to totally freeze!).
A year on year comparison shows an astounding 61% decrease in electricity consumption for the January billing period (1287 kWh in 2012 versus 497 kWh this year). The average temperature for each period (January 2012 and January 2013) was 47 degrees Fahrenheit.
Again, much of the difference is due a new 15 SEER Rheem HVAC and a Nest thermostat.
A year on year comparison shows a whopping 49% decrease in electricity consumption (931 kWh in 2011 versus 471 kWh in 2012). Interestingly, the average temperature for the same billing period last year was 54 degrees, compared with a colder 49 degrees this year. So, even though it was 5 degrees colder this year, I still managed to cut my electric consumption by 49% — thanks mainly to a new 15 SEER Rheem HVAC and a Nest thermostat, which were installed in late April.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the 2011 average monthly residential electric consumption in North Carolina totaled 1,151 kWh at an average cost of $118.09. In 2012, my average monthly electric consumption was 658 kWh (43% less than the state average) at a cost of $71.09 (40% less than the state average). Keep in mind, I was able to take advantage of the efficiency of the new Rheem HVAC and Nest thermostat for only eight months of the year (as they were both installed in late April).
A year on year comparison shows a 10% reduction in electricity consumption (440 kWh in 2011 versus 396 kWh in 2012).
Share and compare and we’ll all learn best practices, save money and decrease waste.
By the way, for those of you who are curious, I live in an 1100 square foot house that was built in 1988 but which I remodeled in 2010, after buying it through an auction (it was a foreclosure). Some upgrades included: insulated windows and doors, insulation in the crawl space and attic, a Rheem 15 SEER HVAC (installed in April 2012), high efficiency (.8 gpf) toilets by Niagara Conservation, low flow shower heads and faucets also by Niagara Conservation, a TED energy monitoring device and a Nest thermostat.
Anyone else interested in sharing your electric bills? I may add some analysis too, but wanted to upload the raw data in the meantime. If we could all easily share and compare utility bills, I think we would all save a lot.