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Measure Where All Your Power Is Being Used, Part 1

September/October 2015
This online-only article is a supplement to the September/October 2015 print edition of Home Energy Magazine.
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August 10, 2015
Just over a year ago, we moved into a new house (new for us, at least). Our excitement waned a bit when we saw our first power bill. We weren’t too happy about the thought of paying over $100 a month for electricity in our small space—1,500 square feet, two floors, and two permanent occupants, excluding somewhat frequent guests. In addition, we had always thought of ourselves as conservationists. But having our usage rated several tiers higher than the minimum by our provider, PG&E, made us feel like we should be doing more. The way our (and we think most other peoples’) power bill works is that when your usage exceeds a utility-defined lowest tier, any additional energy you use is charged at a higher rate. Typically, there are several tiers, and the rates increase substantially as you pass from one to the next. Because of this, you can sometimes cut your power bill significantly by cutting only the power you use that falls in the top tier. For example, it is often possible to cut your bill in half by cutting your usage by a lot less than half.

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