Understanding Home Energy Use

Did you groan the last time you opened your electric bill? Sometimes our energy use gets away from us and we have no idea how much electricity we’ve used until the bill comes due. It is possible to avoid this unwelcome surprise. Making sense of how your home uses energy is vital to getting a handle on how much you spend each month on your utility bill.

Determine Your Usage and How Much It's Costing You

Everything in your home that uses electricity requires a certain amount of power measured in watts. Your electric bill is based on the number of kilowatt-hours (kwh) that are used each month.

1 kilowatt hour = 1 kilowatt of electricity used for 1 hour
1 kilowatt = 1000 watts

  1. Multiply the power an electric appliance uses by the amount of time it runs.
    For example, a lamp with a 60 watt light bulb, left on for 120 hours a month (4 hours a day), has used 7200 watt-hours. 7200 watt-hours = 7.2 kWh.
    (60 watts x 120 hours = 7200 watt-hours or 7.2 kWh)
  2. Multiply the kWh by the cost per kWh and you can see how much you spent running that light all month. JEA’s current kWh charge is 11 cents per kWh, which includes all city fees and taxes.
    So, that light bulb costs 79 cents to operate. 
    (7.2 kWh x 11 cents = 79 cents)

The higher the power (watts) or the longer the run time (hours), the higher your utility bill will be (and cash out of your pocket).

Where Does the Energy Go?

As you can see in the pie chart, most energy use goes to heating or cooling the home. Water heating is usually next followed by appliances and lighting. Finally, home electronics and other large equipment such as pool pumps and heaters, spas, well pumps and compressors have an impact. Depending upon size and run time of electronics and other equipment, they can add up to a significant part of monthly energy use.

Energy Consumption for a Typical Single Family Home*

  • Heating & Cooling: 46%
  • Water Heater: 14%
  • Appliances: 13% 
  • Lighting: 12%
  • Other: 11%
  • Electronics: 4%

Your Home’s Energy Usage

Even if you don’t pay your bills online, there is great information online that will help you understand your bill and your usage. If you haven't already, now is the time to register for a jea.com account and become familiar with My JEA Utility Tracker.

On a monthly basis, energy use can vary quite a bit. Look at your monthly usage either online or by comparing your bills. You’ll see it go down in the spring/fall seasons and up in the summer/winter seasons. Typically, this is due to the energy used for heating and cooling as a direct result of changing weather conditions. The lowest months reveal your base load - the energy used all the time no matter the weather. Base load includes water heating, refrigeration, lighting, and entertainment, washing and drying. These systems use pretty much the same energy all the time.

Unusually High Bills

Some months, your JEA bill may suddenly be higher than normal. Often these high bills are due to extreme weather conditions. Extreme heat, cold and humidity seriously impact your heating and cooling costs, even though you haven’t touched your thermostat! Due to the weather, your A/C or heating unit may run longer to achieve those normally efficient settings of 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer.When you hear forecasts for unseasonably extreme humidity or temperatures, prepare by adjusting your thermostat setting accordingly. A few degrees could normalize your electric usage while your indoor comfort level remains relatively the same.

*Above chart based on average price of electricity at $0.09 per kilowatt hour. Other represents an array of household products, including stoves, ovens, microwaves, and small appliances like coffee makers and dehumidifiers. Source: Residential Energy Consumption Survey, 2005 via www.energystar.gov.  

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