This is a guest post by Casey Peters, a guy that tracks just about everything. From Price Per Gallon to kW hours, he’s always scouring the numbers to make sure his home is running like a clock. When Casey isn’t guest blogging he can be found spouting tid-bits of awesome at caseypeters.com or @caseypeters on Twitter.
In October of 2008 the czar of this very blog, Suzy Trotta, helped me and my wife land our very first home. After an extensive search we settled in a 2,400 sq ft house in West Knoxville.
The home was finished just before we signed on the dotted line in a new neighborhood that’s still trying to find occupants for many of its empty lots. Like most new neighborhoods, ours is still reeling from the Great Financial Tank of 2008.
Just like with any new purchase, we decided to track as many things about our house that we could. From the price per gallon of water to natural gas therms used, we have kept our Excel spreadsheets busy with data.
Before I jump into the numbers you have to understand a little bit about Knoxville. NOAA classifies the Knoxville area as falling in the humid subtropical climate zone. That’s a fancy way of saying it gets hot in the summer and fairly cold in the winters. We like to think it has four distinct seasons but on occasion Spring and Fall can be a blip on the radar as winter zooms right on into summer and vice versa.
- Electric Water Heater
- HVAC w/ Gas Heat, 2 units
- Most bulbs replaced w/ CFL’s or LED’s
- Added foam sealers to all electrical outlets
- Weather-Stripping on all doors
- Lux TX9000TS programmable thermostat (downstairs unit)
When you look at our utilities data you can almost see the seasons as they happen each year. Since 2008, May has averaged the lowest total bills at $102.23 since this is open window season. January has averaged the highest total bills at $298.20 as the temps drop in December and old man winter sets in. July peaks your wallet at an average of $254.53 as temps rise and drive everyone toward their favorite lake.
Since Nov 2012, our average LCUB bill, or electric bill, has come in at $89.96. Like most Knoxvillians, we were hit by the TVA Fuel Cost Adjustment tax (just being honest about it being a tax because it is) as soon as we moved in. We didn’t feel relief until August of 2012 after we had already paid $530.41 in fuel tax dues to the good ole TVA.
November and December of 2012 yielded exceptionally high bills because of our First Utility District (FUD) water usage. New sod required exceptional amounts of water but it was money well spent. Annually, FUD conducts backflow testing so if you end up plumbing your water from them expect this annual $50 gem to show up on your bill.
Because of the Knoxville climate I mentioned earlier, our KUB gas bills typically span between November and May. In our case, we have averaged $76.25 per bill and 56 gas therms used. With 2,400 sq ft to warm we are very happy with this number. Our floor plan provides generous heat flow up the stairs and into the bedrooms so we rarely have to run the upstairs HVAC unit. If we did, this number would likely be significantly higher.
Now that we’ve looked at a high-level swath, I’m sure you’re curious how Knoxville utility rates have fluctuated since 2008.
- Average price per natural gas therm increased from $0.58 per therm to $0.89. This seems a bit high considering how rampantly available natural gas has become in the past five years.
- The price per kW hour has remained the same. As mentioned earlier, it was the TVA fuel tax that provided the kick in the wallet.
- The cost for water has remained steady at $0.004 per gallon.
Going forward we are continuing to monitor our utility use on a monthly basis in hopes of maintaining or lowering our expenses. We have future plans for the following:
- Nest Learning Thermostat. Now that v2 is out and the reviews are glowing, we think it’s about time we took the $250 plunge. We love our Lux but like most families, we stopped using the programming function a while ago.
- Move to all LED’s. As more LED bulbs offer warm-colored light, rather than blinding blue-tinted light, we will likely switch all of our bulbs out.
If you’re in the market for a new Knoxville home, check with each utility company so you know what to expect each month. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to find relief from sticker shock.
Have a post you think would interest AAKT readers? Send it my way and I may wind up Guest Postin’ It in the near future!