Electricity Prices Rise Again in 2013 – 10th Straight Year

Residential electricity prices rose again in 2013 for the 10th straight year. The average US household now pays around 12 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, 2% ahead of last year but 44% above the cost back in 2002 before the current decade of price increases began.  Savenia Labs ElectroSavvy-DB database tracks energy cost and environmental impact data by zip code.

ElectroSavvy-DB LogoSome 80% of states saw prices increase, with Louisiana rates jumping almost 11%, while RI, NY, CA and ID saw increases in the 6-7% range.  The highest rates in the country continue to be in Hawaii at 3x the national average, followed by NY, AK, CT, VT and CA which all pay between 45-55% more than average. Illinois was the only state to see a double digit drop in prices of 11% vs last year.

While power plants are slowly moving to replace coal with natural gas – the impact is not yet being felt by residential customers. Forecasting is difficult as electricity demand continues to grow while natural gas supply tries to keep up with higher demand from the colder winter in the east and other sectors. It looks increasingly likely that 2014 prices will rise again.

Buyers will make very different purchase decisions based on local electric, gas and water pricing which can swing operating costs quite dramatically based on zip code. Savenia found that the least expensive washing machine to operate in some cities costs hundreds more to operate than other models in different locations, all due to local utility pricing. Savenia captures these differences to help buyers make better decisions. In RetailEnterprise and now for Home buyers and sellers.

 

 

Natural Gas Prices Decline in 2013 – 5th Year Running

Natural gas prices to US residential customers declined by 4% in 2013, marking the 5th straight year on year decline. Prices last peaked in 2008 and have since dropped 26%.

GasSavvy-DB LogoSavenia Labs recent update of our GasSavvy-DB database includes natural gas prices and impacts by zip code.  The highest natural gas prices in the country were in Hawaii – where residents paid almost $5 per therm, some 5x more than the median US price. Colorado has the lowest prices, around 75 cents per therm at a savings of 25% from the US median. Almost every state saw a decline in residential natural gas prices in 2013.

At the same time, electricity prices continue to rise (even though many power plants run on natural gas) and this is changing the dynamics of purchasing decisions for gas vs. electric appliances like furnaces and heat pumps – where traditionally the more efficient electric heat pump had the edge.

Despite this long-term trend, market conditions and weather can still have significant impacts on short-term pricing. Prices hit a 5-year high on Feb. 24 2014 as temperatures plunged due to the infamous polar vortex, with unanticipated high consumption pushing natural gas inventories to their lowest levels in the last 10 years. Since then, as inventories have adjusted, prices have subsided.

Going forward, pricing dynamics are harder to predict as more domestic gas supply (which normally means lower prices) is pitted against higher priced export customers. There are also outstanding questions on the environmental impacts of natural gas – both to air pollution and water supplies, and we look forward to larger scale studies to help quantify the differences vs. coal and other sources.

Buyers will make very different purchase decisions based on local gas, electric and water pricing which can swing operating costs quite dramatically based on zip code. Savenia captures these differences to help buyers make better decisions. In Retail, Enterprise and now for Home buyers and sellers.

Savenia Labs Sneak Peek Into WaterSavvy-DB: New U.S. Regional Water Price Database

City Water Costs Chart with LogoSavenia Labs announced today that it has conducted an exhaustive analysis of the municipal water costs of hundreds of cities across the United States*, and has compiled this information into a unique database called WaterSavvy-DBTM. See full press release here.

WaterSavvy-DBTM is the most up-to-date database of municipal residential water costs in the US and affords valuable insights into one of our country’s most important natural resources.

The database will power the next generation of Savenia HYDROTM water, energy and environmental impact ratings for dishwashers and washing machines to help buyers save money and local water supplies.

Here is a sample of our findings.

Pricing System Permutations

There is no standard way localities charge for water costs – from our search we found more than a dozen ways to calculate a water bill, ranging from one fixed price per month, to rates that rise depending on usage and change by the season.  There are pricing tiers, seasonal rates, fixed costs, administrative fees, sewer rates, block rates, average and marginal per gallon costs. WaterSavvy-DBTM captures every feature of pricing for all its cities.

Not Just Water Anymore

Over 60% of the average water bill is for sewer and administrative fees. While there is a  wide variation on how water bills are calculated, on average a family of four in the United States pays most for sewer ($32/mo.) followed by water ($30) and administrative fees ($19) on their monthly water bills.

Dramatic Price Differences

Savenia found big differences in water prices across the country. The most expensive water was in Atlanta, GA where an average family spends $2,600 per year – almost 10 times more than residents in Wilmington, DE. Interestingly, 4% of cities surveyed don’t pay for water based on their usage but instead pay flat fees regardless of usage. The average US household pays $80 per month.  Pricing logic is not always clear. We found cheap water in the Southwest where water is thought to be scarce, and expensive water in areas where rivers seem to be full. In many cases sewer costs seem to be driving the differences.

Bringing It All Together For Shoppers

Using this data, Savenia found that shoppers in different cities would choose completely different appliances to save money depending on local water and electricity prices. Take the example of two families living in different states looking to buy a washing machine. One family, in Hilo, Hawaii, pays some of the country’s highest electricity rates but comparatively low water prices. The other family is in Seattle, WA, with high water prices, but comparatively low electricity rates. They’ve narrowed down their options to these two similarly sized Energy Star washing machines from well-known brands:

  • The Whirlpool WTW4880AW, 3.4 cu. ft., retailing for $600 (144 kWh/yr, 7743 gallons/yr)
  • The GE GWFH1200DWW, 3.56 cu. ft., retailing for $800 (181 kWh/yr, 5582 gallons/yr)

In Hilo, the family would save about $300 over their washing machine’s lifetime by purchasing the Whirlpool, while the Seattle family would save about $300 by purchasing the GE model. Drastically different decisions based on local utility pricing. If electricity or water prices go up over time they would save even more.

With the power of WaterSavvy-DBTM, Savenia Labs continues to illuminate hidden appliance costs and environmental impacts.

Savenia Energy Ratings are available in participating DC / Baltimore Metro Area Retailers (list here) – and for Savenia Enterprise customers.

*For this survey, Savenia Labs assumed water use for a family of 4 using a consistent 8400 gallons a month regardless of season. No hookup or starting fees were assessed and there were no irrigation or grey water recycling systems in the house. The water is city billed and maintained (where available) and the family is billed monthly. The family lives in a standalone house with a 5/8ths or, if unavailable, 3/4ths connection with 8 rooms and is within the city limits.

Electricity Prices Up Again in 2012

Residential Energy Costs 2013 with Savenia Logo

According to the EIA, residential electricity prices rose again across the US.  Residents of 75% of states (including DC) saw price increases in 2012, with Utah increasing the fastest at 11% vs. 2011. Other big increases in the 7-8% range were WY, ID, NE, HI, SD, MI and VT.

The most expensive electricity in the US was in Hawaii, where residents paid 37 cents per kilowatt hour, over 3x more than the national average of 12 cents. Next was Alaska and NY who paid 18 cents, followed by the North Eastern states of CT, VT, NH, NJ and CA who all paid 16-17 cents, some 50% more than the national average.

The cheapest electricity rates were found in Louisiana, Idaho and Washington state where residents paid between 8-9 cents.

Electricity makes up a large chunk of household budgets and as most consumers absorb these increases, it’s good to know you can take action to lower your bills by looking at Savenia Labs ratings for energy efficient appliances, light bulbs and other electrical items.  And since electricity to power these products creates air pollution, saving energy is both good for your wallet and good for the environment.

Savenia Labs Energy Ratings use ZIP code based regional energy prices and carbon footprint data to give shoppers the most relevant information to aid their buying decisions.  A coffeemaker that costs $200 to run over 5 years in Maryland will cost over $600 to run in Hawaii, and our ratings and labels reflect this reality for local buyers.

Go in to a participating retailer and take action to reduce your electricity bill on your next purchase.

Get the inside info on Savenia World Firsts before everybody else. SIGN-UP

Savenia Labs Launches First ‘GEO’ Air Conditioner Energy Rating Labels

 

GEOGRAPHY BASED ENERGY RATINGS REVOLUTIONIZE APPLIANCE SHOPPING

Today Savenia Labs unveiled the first ever location-specific energy rating labels for room air conditioners. Savenia Labs’ new ‘GEO’ Energy Rating Labels report zip code specific lifetime energy costs for room air conditioners anywhere in the US. Now available at participating retail stores, shoppers can see how much it will cost to run an air conditioner before they buy – with data specific to local energy costs, environmental impact and regional usage patterns.

Since lifetime energy costs can greatly exceed purchase prices, these new labels revolutionize air conditioner shopping by magnifying customer savings.

“Energy Rating Labels must be highly relevant to local shoppers to be helpful,” said John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs. “The same room air conditioner that costs $500 to run in electricity costs over its 9 year lifetime in Chicago will cost over $3,000 in a hotter climate like Key West, Florida. Now shoppers can get this localized information on the shelf next to the price tag for easy comparison, and save hundreds of dollars by shopping smart.”

Participating retailers that displayed the Savenia Labs Energy Rating Labels last fall experienced dramatic increases in appliance sales and customer satisfaction, while consumers benefited from energy efficiency information that helped them save money.

Check out the selection of energy efficient appliances at Strosniders True Value hardware and let us know what you think!  And stay tuned for more energy ratings from Savenia Labs.

March Energy Saving Madness!

As the country switches to basketball fever and the days get longer – how about teaming up with Savenia Labs to take a few shots at saving money on energy during March Madness?

Savenia Labs challenges you to our version of the Big Dance. Can you make it to the Sweet Sixteen or a National Championship? Dance your way through each round. The farther you go – the more money you keep in your pocket and out of the electric bill. As the tournament progresses, check back here to see if you advance to the next round.

National Champion

Save $2,200 – MVP!  Make Your Own Energy – Cut your entire utility bill by installing your own solar, wind, or geothermal energy system. Check in to tax incentives and grant programs through your local utility or county; in Montgomery County check MyGreenMontgomery for more information.

Championship Game

Save $450 – Triple Double!  Use Savenia Labs Energy Ratings to Buy Energy Efficient Appliances – Save up to $450 in energy over the lifetime of a coffeemaker.  You can find Savenia Labs Energy Ratings at participating stores here.

Final 4

Save $300 – 3 Pointer! Shop around for lower energy prices.  In Montgomery County you can save money AND switch to cleaner wind energy suppliers like Clean Currents.  Savenia Labs uses Clean Currents wind power for our operations, and so does Strosniders True Value Hardware – the best place to buy Savenia Labs Energy Rated Appliances.

Elite 8

Save $200 – Jump Shot!  Air Seal and Insulate your Home – Act on your Energy Audit and turn your house into an Energy Efficient Superstar to save over $200 per year.  You can buy lots of supplies at Strosniders True Value Hardware, and while there have a look at Savenia Labs Energy Rated toaster ovens to heat the pizza without heating up the house in the summer.

Sweet 16

Save $$$ – Get an easy assist.  Complete an Energy Audit of Your Home – Find out where your home is leaking money and where you can save.  The cost is often covered by your local utility or county.  Check mygreenmontgomery.org or your local county for more information.  You can buy caulking, insulation and other things including Savenia Labs Energy Rated appliances at Strosniders True Value Hardware.

Round of 32

Save $150 – Here’s a free throw.  Slay the Vampire – Eliminate the energy usage that’s not doing anything for you and save $100-$200 per year.  Unplug your DVR and wide screen TVs when you go to bed, or buy a shut off timer.  You can find these at Strosniders True Value Hardware.  Check out the selection of Savenia Labs Energy Rated coffeemakers without clocks, or fully loaded models with low energy usage.

Round of 64

Save $50 – This is a layup. Upgrade one incandescent bulb to a Compact Fluorescent Light bulb. The math is pretty simple – bulbs last 8x longer, use less energy and many are covered by a 2-year manufacturer warranty. You can get them at Strosniders True Value Hardware. While you’re there, check out the selection of Savenia Labs Energy Rated small appliances and magnify your savings!


3 Energy Saving Tips On Turkey Day

With Thanksgiving Day just around the corner here are a few tips from the lab on how to save money and energy in the kitchen this year.

1. Toaster Ovens – Batch, Shut-off and Convection.

We found that the vast majority of a toaster oven’s energy consumption goes towards getting it warm in the first place.  Once it’s warm, it doesn’t take a lot of energy (or time) to keep it there.  So heat the rolls, then the batch of cookies, then the pumpkin pie.  Just do it without letting the toaster oven get cold over and over again.  Also, many toaster ovens don’t automatically turn off after use.  Make sure to switch them off to minimize energy usage and for safety.   Finally, if you have a good convection toaster oven use it.   In many cases this feature can save time and potentially energy.  In our tests, they made cookies fluffier too – and who doesn’t love fluffy cookies?

2. CoffeeMakers – Go Thermo

One of the biggest drivers of energy usage in a coffeemaker is the heat plate it uses to keep your coffee warm.  If you’re in need of a new coffeemaker – consider getting one with a thermo-carafe.  It keeps your coffee warm longer without using any additional energy.  And besides, those heat plates can destroy flavor.

3.  Microwave Ovens – Zap Away

If you need to heat something quickly – zap it.  Your microwave is one of the best conservers of energy in your kitchen.  Use microwave safe containers and covers.

Strosniders True Value Hardware in Bethesda and Silver Spring has all these appliances and more with Savenia Labs Energy Rating Labels so you can see the energy costs BEFORE you buy!

Have a happy holiday!

Poll Result: 95% Looking for Appliance Energy Information

Do you look for energy info when shopping for appliances? Our Facebook followers do.  By a huge margin, too.  67% of respondents to our Facebook straw poll told us that they always look for energy usage information on the products they buy while 28% said they looked occasionally.  Only 5% said they never do.  We think awareness is growing nationwide about the importance of energy usage in lowering monthly utility bills and going easy on the environment.  A large part of that awareness was generated by the EPA Energy Star program, which sets efficiency guidelines for manufacturers that want to use the self- certification labels on their products in retail stores.  The impact has been enormous.  In 2010, Energy Star claims to have helped Americans save about $18 billion on utility bills.  That’s a huge number – and considering that the program only covers a fraction of the top selling electric appliance categories – imagine the impact of expanding energy information to the rest!

That’s what Savenia Labs is doing.  We’re imagining the impact on individuals and businesses of providing energy usage data for the next 100 or 1,000 product categories.  This Fall Savenia Labs is releasing our first set of product energy ratings, so make sure to check back here to find out how you can get the facts before you buy.  Also check out our facebook page to enter our newest contest and win a free lab tested appliance www.facebook.com/SaveniaLabs.