Welcome to the 23rd National Energy Awareness Month, where they choose “Powering America – We’re on target” for the slogan. Seriously – their message is that we are on target, as in we are doing fine, there are no issues, so please keep doing what you are doing? I know this is an election year, but you have to be kidding me… Oh well, at least their five bullet points below are actually a start to reminding everyone to aware of their energy use. (The rest of the message)
Simple actions every day add up to big results:
- Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and solid-state lights (SSLs)
- Purchase ENERGY STAR® equipment
- Turn out lights and shut off computers and TVs when not in use
- Combine trips, share rides, and use mass transit
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
By developing renewable resources and using efficient technologies, we can protect the environment, stimulate the economy, and increase energy security.
Moving on & monitoring your usage:
Well since it appears that they do not intend to actually promote their own month, let’s see if we can help them out some. First, we would like to remind everyone that the current energy tax credits, will be expiring at the end of year. You may wish to review last year’s National Energy Awareness Month Article for a complete FAQ on the credits. While they did not include a tax credit for receiving a professional energy audit, we would recommend it so that you are not wasting your money on something that might not help at all.
Seeing this is Energy Awareness Month, can you tell me how much you spent on Electricity, Gas or even Water last year? How many Kilowatts did you use in the last three months, 6 months, or compared to last year? No? Well here is an easier one, what is your average MPG for you vehicle? Would you like a spreadsheet that can contain all that data, and then some? Below is a link to a spreadsheet I created back in 1997 & have used ever since as a way of tracking my usage, spotting issues, etc… As the saying goes, knowledge is the first step to changing.
Excel 97-2003 & other programs Utilities Spreadsheet
Excel 2007 / 2010 Utilities Spreadsheet
For the most part, I would say this spreadsheet is pretty self-explanatory with the exception of the red & blue arrows. The two yellow boxes next to the red arrow are for the point you start tracking your vehicles mileage (1st box) followed up by how many gallons your vehicles gas tank holds. The box to the left of the yellow arrow is for your current mileage. By keeping track of your mileage you can easily see not only how many MPG you are getting but possibly spot a problem. For instance on my truck, my gas mileage will actually climb up, before it drops below my regular MPG signifying I need an oil change.
Two other quick FYI’s – yes, this spreadsheet is locked to prevent accidental issues with the formulas, but it can easily be unlocked by clicking the unprotect sheet button, which will allow you to add fields, etc… If you have a second vehicle, you would like to track, all you have to do is select the tab, right click & select make copy.
In this tab, we have it so that you can input data from 2009, 2010, and 2011. The only fill-able fields are the date, the description, how much was used & the price. Based off of that you can easily see your daily cost & amount used daily. We included 3 sections for Electricity, Gas / Oil / Propane & another item many overlook – Water Usage.
Like above this spreadsheet is also locked to prevent issues with the formulas. By un-protecting the spreadsheet, you can then easily add columns, other items to track, or even add additional years. As for adding columns, our utility provide in Phoenix provided the average temperatures for that billing period, which I used to track – this allowed me to not only look at how we were doing, but to see if a spike was caused by the temperature, or if there was something else involved.
The water section can also prove beneficial for detecting a leak – sure, your usage will spike during the summer months, but if it is consistently higher than prior months (especially during the winter); you might want to start investigating why. Back at our place in Phoenix when I first bought it, I had a small issue with a toilet running & seemingly could not find the time to fix it. After a few months or so, I actually did get it fixed & my usage dropped almost 10 gallons a day entering into the summer months.
I would hope that you either are tracking your usage, or will start doing so. If you would like to start, but have tossed all your electrical bills, etc… most providers will either provide you that information online, or mail it out to you. Finally, I would like to send a shout out to Jamie Kaye of the ELMS Energy Group located in South Carolina for this article;. If you have a few minutes, I would encourage you to read it & happy Energy Awareness Month.