In 1986, gas was $.86 a gallon; a stamp cost $.22; the average income was $24,897; and CO2 measured 347 ppm. It was also the year that John and Linda Quint began building a Stitt home near St. Louis, MO. Ever since moving in, John has recorded his home's energy consumption. This year, that makes it 30 years in a row!
Solar Pays Off
John and Linda's energy-efficient two-story, 2,064 square foot home, is primarily electric. However, it's also passive solar in design and includes a solar water heating system and a wood-burning stove. From his detailed records, John knows how much firewood they've burned; how many days they used auxiliary heat and air; how many hours the backup element in the solar water heater ran; how much electricity they used per month; and their average kilowatt cost (including tax). Quite the accomplishment!
Energy Efficiency Offsets Rising Costs
What John's numbers show is that the annual cost of home energy is more expensive than ever – how much so? According to John's records, the past ten years have seen the overall cost of electricity increase by 67%, from $0.07 per watt to approximately $0.12 (including tax). Now add to that the effects of climate change, which influence the amount of heating and cooling a home needs. Temperature extremes are becoming the norm. Over the past five years, the number of days John and Linda used air conditioning varied from 58 to 95 annually. During the same time, the amount of wood they burned varied from 1.7 to 3.5 cords annually.
We recognize that a single example of energy consumption isn't a perfect scientific study, but the accuracy of and time span covered by John's numbers do tell a story. They show that building and living in an energy-efficient home is ultimately affordable: it saves an increasing amount of money year after year. Plus, you have the added daily comfort of consistent temperatures throughout your home and healthy indoor air to breathe.
The Bottom Line
John and Linda's average monthly electric bill for the first year they lived in their house was $40.52, this past year it was $78.87. That takes into account increased consumption to accommodate a changing climate and increasing utility rates. We have to say: Congratulations, John and Linda - that's quite impressive in today's environment! Thank you for 30 years of sharing!