New Online Tool Can Help You Take Control of Your Energy Habits

New Online Tool Can Help You Take Control of Your Energy Habits
Mar 05, 2021
By Siobhan Fathel
Have you ever wondered "How much electricity do I use on a hot day"? Or, "How much energy will I save if I unplug appliances I hardly use"? If you have had these or similar questions about your energy usage and habits, the Penn State Extension Home Energy Log can help you navigate how to measure and track your home energy use to answer these and other questions.
Using a home energy log can help you to better understand your usage and establish energy benchmarks to compare your daily usage trends. For example, if you only run certain equipment on the weekend, like heating and cooling a farm store, you should see a marked increase in your energy usage compared to weekday. Or maybe you are interested in the energy use of seasonal operations, for example, you might want to know how much electricity you use to power fans for grain drying. By creating a daily log of your energy usage, you can notice inconsistencies or deviations that might be caused by irregular equipment use or operations.
Establishing a history of energy use also allows you to predict the future cost of operations more easily and opens opportunities to integrate new forms of energy production, like solar or wind energy into your energy system. A key step in installing alternative energy systems is to calculate your energy usage so that you can size a renewable energy system that meets your needs. Understanding how and when you use energy helps to prepare you to take advantage of changing rate structures and buying opportunities. Perhaps you have the option to take advantage of a Time-of-Use (TOU) electricity rate through your utility company. This type of rate structure charges more or less per kilowatt-hour depending on when the electricity is used, such that energy use during peak consumption hours costs more per kilowatt-hour than during off-peak times. If you can time your high energy demand operations to occur during off-off peak hours, you can save money on electricity.
Gaining an understanding of your energy use can help you take control of your energy-related purchases, be aware of your energy use trends, and can help inform future energy purchasing decisions. If you are interested in learning more about this tool or how to use it, check out the Home Energy Log: A Tool for Tracking Your Energy Use webpage. From there, you can download the Excel tool, which includes step-by-step instructions, an example energy log, and template for you to input your own values. There is a helpful video, How to control energy use and cost?, from the Energy Answers for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher YouTube channel that walks you through energy monitoring and how to use the Home Energy Log. Logging your energy usage can be an important step to gaining control over your energy costs. 
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