Get ready, wallets. The days of cheap home energy are over for now.
Hopefully you noticed these past 8 years that electricity and natural gas supply rates were at historic lows. Fracking Appalachia and Pennsylvania to death built up a glut of natural gas, and prices plummeted. Electricity power plants then shifted from coal to natural gas. We all paid lower electricity and natural gas rates.
What’s changed is a current energy perfect storm. Huge global gas demand is driving prices up. U.S. drillers pumped less gas, so reserves are down. Plus we’re shipping more gas off-island to foreign countries.
BGE’s standard electric supply kilowatt hour rate has averaged $0.07 for a few years. Today, the rate is nearly 20% more, 8.3¢ through May 2022. Natural Gas supply rates, the commodity price, jumped from roughly $0.45/therm for the past few years to $0.72 today. And it’s projected to climb.
Add to this, BGE’s gas distribution rate for delivering and maintaining the system shot up. The regulated utility got approval to invest a billion or so in infrastructure upgrades. We pay for that. In 2018, BGE distribution charges were $0.50/therm. Today this rate is $0.71/therm. It will just keep climbing.
Two factors are at play on your BGE bill — price and usage. Both are equally important.
Rate increases add up. Each year, the average BGE home account uses 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 675 therms of gas. About $1,800 a year if you heat with gas. How much energy does your abode use? The yearly usage is buried on your BGE bill, page 2, lower right in really small font.
Here’s the real-world steps to save money in an apartment or home.
Go in order. The steps below layer the savings.
#1 Grab your BGE bill. Time: 5 minutes
Online billing is convenient yet leaves key rate and usage information buried on the ether. BGE is shifting accounts with an email on file to e-billing. Under the ‘Account History’ tab on your bge.com account you can access your last 24 months of BGE bills in pdf form. Call 800-685-0123 if you want paper.
#2 Are you paying more for third-party supply? Time: 4 minutes
Look to the right of the circles on page 1. If any energy company name is printed other than BGE, you’re on a supplier. This new AARP Maryland Energy Toolkit will help you figure out if you’re saving or losing. Don’t know off the top? You’re most likely losing. Those energy supplier short-term contracts must be re-shopped, constantly. I just helped a lady the other day save $1,018.
#3 Enroll in offsite Community Solar Time: 10 minutes
Eco-minded or not, it’s a legit state program that guarantees savings based on BGE rates for up to 20 years. BGE accounts get 10% off the entire electricity bill (delivery & supply). Moderate to low-income accounts get 25% off. The average BGE account could save a few hundred a year and support locally made clean energy.
#4 Enroll in BGE’s Incentives Program Time: 3 minutes
Get bill credits for collectively reducing usage during summer peak hours when it is smoking hot outside and the grid is stressed.
#5 Is your Home an Energy Hog? Time: 3 minutes
Find that BGE Home Energy Report – the one with the bar chart. If your home’s grade is an unhappy face compared to neighboring homes like yours, you might as well be handing twenties out to teens at Rofo. Call BGE if you lost your report. Insider’s tip: Visit bge.com and confirm BGE has your home’s profile accurate (square footage, HVAC type, brick or stucco).
#6 Considering Solar on Your Rooftop? Time: 1 hour
Call the non-profit Solar United Neighbors. Solar purchased and installed through a buying co-op is affordable. Once you pay back that installation, the sun is free.
Steps 1 through 6 took about one hour’s time.
Now Really Pay Yourself Back
For the past 140 months, you have invested your cash into EmPOWER Maryland’s energy efficiency program. The surcharges are found on page 2 of your BGE bill.
BGE administers this excellent SmartEnergy Program offering up to thousands in rebates, check ups, home audits, LEDs, and more. Research reveals switching those lights to the quality LEDs (the light is normal now), really saves energy.
Schedule a no-cost 45 minute Quick Home Energy Check-Up Time: 5 minutes
This Quick Home Energy Check Up is a no-brainer, especially for apartment dwellers.
Call BGE 877-685-7377 and schedule a BGE-approved contractor to visit your apartment, co-op or home. You’ve already paid for this. BGE will install all kinds of energy saving swag. The technician will also conduct a cursory home review to point out glaring items the bigger audit below might reveal.
Invest in a Home Performance with Energy Star audit $100-$150. Time: A lot.
Mid-Atlantic homes are older and leaky. Too much expensive heated and cooled air is flowing outside. While it’s not fun to focus on HVAC systems, leaking attics, holes in duct work and gaps in basement rim joists, these are the reasons many yearly BGE bills average far eclipse the $1,800 average.
This whole house audit is the most time intensive, and the biggest bang-for-your-buck. This action requires a solid financial planning mindset. More than likely, you already know this fact: you need to upgrade parts of your home in order to save every month.
Book the home audit. A BGE-approved auditor will spend 3-4 hours analyzing every energy aspect of your dwelling. You’ll get a follow-up report making suggestions for upgrades and rebates. You can choose your own approved contractor. Invest a few hundred to thousand dollars now and get paid back thousands over time. Plus, that cold bedroom may become habitable again. Good luck. Check out my energy pictures from today.