The Whys and Hows of Tracking Your Energy Usage

Perhaps the most compelling reason why homeowners decide to track their energy usage is to become informed about where their money is being spent. If your energy usage peaks during the winter months, it’s a good indicator that your furnace is working too hard or is inefficient. High electricity bills during the summer might mean it’s time to schedule an air conditioning maintenance visit, change the AC filter, or perhaps replace the air conditioner in your Portland-area home altogether. Another reason to track your energy usage is to evaluate your savings after you make upgrades, like getting a new furnace installed . Here’s how to get started.

Getting Your Account Online

While it isn’t strictly necessary, it can be easier to track your energy usage if you set up an online account with your utility company. These days, most service-oriented companies offer online options, including Portland General Electric and Pacific Power. With an online account, you should be able to view your account history. Your utility company may even offer tools specifically for energy usage tracking. You can also view your current statements online.

Understanding Your Bill

Utility bills can be confusing, and different companies each use their own format. If you aren’t sure how to interpret yours, check the utility company’s website for a tutorial, or call the company directly. Look for the read dates, which tell you the length of the usage period. The read dates are different from the bill dates. When you check the costs, ignore the total labeled “net costs,” since that can include the previous month’s expenses.

Comparing Your Energy Usage

Some utility companies offer brief comparisons of your energy usage and your locality’s average energy usage. Or, you can check with the appropriate municipality or state agency for this information. If your energy usage is significantly higher than the average, it’s definitely time to consider some household upgrades.

Developing Smart Saving Strategies

To make the most significant impact, you’ll likely have to make major upgrades, such as by replacing your air conditioning unit and furnace in favor of energy-efficient options. There are also plenty of other options that don’t require a major upfront investment. For example, you should change your AC filter and furnace filter as recommended by the manufacturer. Otherwise, your HVAC system will use more energy.

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