'Green Tip of the Week': Monitor Energy Use Via Utility Bills

Published 03.16.2009


The Energy Conservation Subcommittee reminds the Penn College community to "Think Green Today, Tomorrow and Into the Future." The latest Green Tip of the Week, addressing conscientious energy use,comes from Richard C. Taylor, associate professor of plumbing/heating and chair of the subcommittee.

Use your utility bill usage graphs to diagnose high energy use problems. Your monthly gas, electric and water bills typically include a bar graph indicating your average daily usage for the billing month, as well as bar graphs for the past 12 months. It is useful to do the following:

  • Look at the pattern of use on the graph. Is it what you expect? Higher use months should be explainable by high or low temperature, or special use such as holiday lighting, or having children home from college.
  • Compare the most recent month's usage with the same month a year ago. How does it compare? The bill usually includes the average temperature of the month compared to the month last year take that information into account in your comparison.
  • If a month seems unusually high, identify what caused this. Did you buy new appliances or have unusual activity going on in the home?
  • If your use seems to be steadily increasing, identify what is causing this. Call the utility about any unexplained increases.
  • Finally, if a month is lower than you would expect, examine what you did right.

Keeping an eye on your use patterns and applying the weekly "green tips" will help lower your energy use.

The weekly tip is a cooperative venture of the subcommittee (part of Penn College's Governance system) and the School of Natural Resources Management's Horticulture Department. Contacts for the feature are Gail B. Landers, group leader at the Children's Learning Center and a subcommittee member, and Carl J. Bower Jr., horticulture instructor.