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Learn2 Calculate Utility Costs

Power bills can prey on your pockets!
Monthly utility bills can be a frustrating expense for a person trying to keep expenses low. You undoubtedly used the power that's listed on the bill, but where did it all go? By performing an evaluation of your power consumption, you'll have a clearer picture of where your money's going. Here's how.

In this 2torial, you'll develop a four-column report: a listing of the major energy-consuming devices in your home, their hourly usage per month, their rate of energy consumption, and their cost of operation per month. The result: you'll be able to budget your money more effectively, and identify wasteful uses of certain appliances. And, should you wish to take some additional energy (and cash) conservation measures, you'll know which targets to pick, that is, which appliances and systems are the most wasteful. In the end,you'll save money and conserve energy, and therefore decrease the environmental pressure on the planet.

Before you begin:
Probably the most important factor in this evaluation is the art of estimating the hourly use of an appliance during the course of a month. There'll be more suggestions in Step 2, but keep this in mind for now: with all of your estimates, you want to err on the side of slightly too much, rather than too little.

If you live in a very old house, you may not want to calculate your utility costs yourself. Instead, ask your utility company: they may offer free or cheap energy audits. If they don't, look under energy auditors in your local yellow pages. You can hire a professional to do an energy audit for you.

Professional energy auditors can help you figure out precisely where your utility dollars are going—in the case of an old house, where they're leaking out. After examining your house, they'll make suggestions to prevent such loss. Some companies will test, clean, and tune up your heating or cooling system all at the same time, too.

Time:
Less than five minutes to figure out what it costs to run a single appliance; about an hour to calculate the monthly costs of your home's heating and cooling systems and the major appliances.

What you'll need:

  • Pen and paper (you'll need some scrap paper for calculating and a large piece on which you'll record a final report)
  • Your recent utility bills (if you use both electricity and natural gas, you'll need both bills), or the phone number of your utility company
  • A calculator (optional)

This service is produced by Learn2.com, a partner of CBS.com

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