Around or before winter each year I get an email from our local electricity and natural gas provider, PG&E, telling me that if we save some set amount of energy (15%?) we will get a kick back. Last year I think they sent one of those Visa giftcards and I immediately reapplied it toward my next bill since it was only $25 or so but I was surprised that we got it without even trying.

Recently they introduced new tools to monitor your energy consumption (or started emailing me about it so much I couldn’t ignore it) and of course this winter I got the email stating that if you save 10% energy compared to past winter’s gas usage you get a 20% bill credit. Now, I already knew that our teeny house with two people uses less everything than the average house so I wasn’t expecting much and there’s no way I’m not going to use my  our new heater so when I got an email telling me to check my progress I thought this was pretty awesome:

Apparently we’re kicking ass and taking names in saving natural gas which seems crazy to me seeing as how we were using our fireplace to heat the house, have been using the new heater, cooking and baking using natural gas and even our clothes dryer and water heater uses natural gas to run. Is this really compared to last year or just every body else? I mean, I care about the environment and I compost, recycle and turn off lights but it’s not like we are being crazy hippies and reading by candle light. So I checked out how we compare, first in electricity.

That blue line is us, the gray is “other similar homes” and the green line is “efficient similar homes.” We are rocking the pants off the “efficient” homes and I’m pretty sure we aren’t anywhere near an energy efficient home (okay, we have mostly new appliances in the kitchen and a new washer but everything else is a little older) and we even run a dehumidifier all day sometimes. Plus an electric blanket. Plus whatever things we charge. Plus our “not efficient” but new plasma TV. Or is it LCD? I don’t know. It’s 3D but we don’t have the glasses for it. I know, not on track.

Next I checked on natural gas usage. You know, when I was in elementary school I was assigned a report on energy and had to do natural gas and when I went to the library (before there was Wikipedia) and asked the librarian where the natural gas books were she laughed. In. My. Face. I then had to explain I meant natural gas, the energy resource. Sheesh.

Okay, gas usage (the energy resource):

Apparently our usage is pretty darn similar to an “efficient” home on this one, which again, I don’t consider us. It’s not like we have a tankless water heater or take cold showers. You can bet the heater was on this morning before I left the house. But we’re still doing way better than the average home in usage. And just for fun, one last cool graph showing our usage in terms of the temperature outside:

The conclusion I drew from this was that the longer we endure slightly chilly temperatures, the more inclined we are to use natural gas to heat out home. Just look at the difference between October and November, though, how you can tell that’s the month we start getting a chill.

My whole point in sharing this all is that you are probably an energy hog based on these graphs. But if you’re not, and you’re below the average similar home in usage and/or live in an “efficient” home, then kudos to you. The environment thanks you. Maybe making sure that we turn off unused lights, using energy efficient light bulbs and minding our energy usage can get the line for usage a little lower for all homes.