A few years back, I started tracking my electric use in kilowatt hours and compared year over year. Then I started researching what the biggest energy hogs are in the house. In most areas, air conditioning is the biggest draw, followed by water heating in my case, then lighting. I also read a fantastic article that talked about how inefficient window air conditioner units are. It said that, as a general rule of thumb, if you have more than three window units running at the same time, you would be better off running central air. I had five window units! So I called up a local HVAC company that I had used in the past to give me an estimate on installing a central air unit, which would also include upgrading the electric water heater tank with an on-demand gas unit.
$18,000! I couldn’t even fathom a bill like that! But I couldn’t shake the idea of doing this, so I got out the calculator. I plan on staying in my house for the next 15 years. Would these changes be worth it in the long run? This needs to save me $100 a month over the next 15 years to be worth it. With the calculated savings of all of the units, I figured I would be cutting it really close. Then, when I considered that having central air would possibly add to the value of my home, I went for it.
While the crew was working around my home, I was going around and installing LED lightbulbs. I figured I might as well see all the savings in one shot to know if my numbers were close. As a card-carrying nerd, I also decided to make a graph to see how I was doing.
The work was done in May 2016, just in time to see what happens in the summer months. June’s bill came in, and I was not really thrilled. Sure enough there was a savings, but not really enough to make the whole thing worth it. Then July’s bill came in and KACHING!!! My bill dropped by $179.70!! So that was great during the dog days of summer, but what about in the winter when I no longer needed to run the air conditioner? How would my savings work out with just the light bulbs and water heater? As you can see in my chart, it worked out quite well. When I averaged it all out, I am saving around $90 per month after the tiny increase in my gas bill for the water heater. When you factor in the rising electricity costs and the increase in my home’s resale value, I think this project hit the bullseye.