Q&A: What are your actual energy bills?

Electrical Bill $230 CreditJohn Brooks, a reader of my recent article in Green Building Advisor asked this:

You posted the Net Energy Balance for 12 months. I am curious how that relates to your actual Energy Bill….the sum of the checks that you write to the “power provider” over 12 months? (Including the base customer charge and difference in buy-back rates)

That’s a good question that others have brought up to us before. The short answer is that during the cold, dark days of our first winter, we paid small electrical bills. In the spring, when the sun came out and our heating needs diminished, we started generating more power than we were using, which showed up as credits on our electric bill.

After about fifteen months of living in the house, we currently have a credit of about $230 on our account. We had the option of requesting a check, but we decided to leave that credit on the books to pay our bills this winter. If our usage is like last year, that $230 credit should more than last us through the winter, so we probably won’t be paying anything out of pocket from now on.

Here’s a breakdown of our last twelve months of bills:

10/28/11 - 1/13/12: $90.01
1/13/12 - 03/14/12: $55.42
3/14/12 - 5/11/12: -$32.25 (credit)
5/11/12 - 7/11/12: -$125.07 (credit)
7/11/12 - 9/11/12: -$92.98 (credit)
9/11/12 - 11/9: -$12.29 (credit)
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7 thoughts on “Q&A: What are your actual energy bills?

    • No, the Washington State production credit, which comes to about $1,000 per year, is totally separate. The credits on our utility bills are based on our net meter (which goes forward and backward depending on whether we’re drawing power from the grid or feeding it back into the grid at any given moment). The production credit, on the other hand, is calculated from a separate production meter, which measures how many kWh of solar power we produce, independent of our usage.

  1. This is a silly question, but what would happen to the under floor heating system if there was an earthquake? Would an earthquake be likely to damage or destroy the system, and if so how hard would it be to fix it? I wondered if you had discussed that with the builder and what he said.

    BTW, your house is lovely! Thank you for sharing pictures of it! I hope to be able to see it the next time you open it up for tours (if you have any plans for that, that is.)

    • Thanks for the compliments! I actually hadn’t thought about what would happen in an earthquake, but I would imagine that if one were severe enough to crumble the foundation, it would also damage the radiant heating system. Then again, a ruined foundation, which could happen to any house, would be a much more dire problem than a leaking heat system.
      I did a little online research, and here’s what they say over at SeattleRadiant.com:
      “The tubing used in Radiant is both tough and flexible but can be damaged if a sufficient shift in the concrete it is embedded in occurs. This has been very rare to date since good construction is built to prevent shifting.”

  2. What has been your actual kwh used…it is as important to know usage as $. Should be on your billing. Thanks

  3. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community
    in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on.
    You have done a marvellous job!

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