The geographical location of your home plays a huge factor in how much energyit needs and uses, explains Atlas Heating and Cooling. In forgetting this simple but key variable, people waste vast amounts of energy and money each year.
In 2012, the U.S. used 11 times more energy than the U.K., despite having only five times more people. In terms of traveling needs, the U.S. is a much broader landscapeto traverse. On the legislation front, the U.K. is consistently ahead of the curve. The most obvious explanations for the striking differences in energy use are these varying travel needs and energy policies.
However, the geographical location of the two countries is a major factor at work. U.K. dwellers, living in a much milder climate, use less energyfor heating and cooling. An interesting indicationof this fact is the lack of air conditioners and swimming pools throughout the country’s communities.
Energy needs are highly dependent on environmental factors, including the region’s sea level, temperature range, annual precipitation and how often andhow severely extreme weather hits. By factoring this data to the equation, people can make smarter decisions when selecting the energy products and services they really need.
Someone looking to buy a new air conditioner should take several factors into consideration, such as frequency of use, cost and quality. Geographical location typically slips the mind. But, depending on the climate and sea level of the customer’s home, some products and services come more highly recommended than others.
Before a new air conditioner model hitsshelves, it receives a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. A higher rating equates to higher efficiency. Since 2006, federal law states that any new air-conditioning equipment must score a rating of at least 13, but SEER-18 and SEER-23 pieces are readily available.
“If you live in the Northeast of the United States, you generally do not need a SEER rating above 13 for an AC unit or above a 14-15 for a heat pump,” explains Atlas Heating and Cooling, a company specializing in HVAC system repair and installations.
In hotter locations, where equipment is more frequently and intensely used, a higher rating is suggested. ACDoctor recommends a SEER rating of 16 or higher, especially for those living in sun-ruled areas.
In general, households in the southern U.S. use the most energy.
Location is so important that the number of trees that surround a home and how much shade they offer can even change how much energy is needed.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2009 Residential Energy Consumption survey, the average American household uses908 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month. Looking deeper, however, the national average varies drastically from state to state, specifically between states with dissimilar weather patterns.
Homes in the south average 1,162 kWh per month, with Louisiana taking the cake at 1,273 kWh. Eastern, Midwestern and Western homes collectively average 769 kWh; with Maine households averaging the lowest consumption in the nation at 521 kWh. Six of the seven states that use the most disposable income on power bills are located in the South.
Keeping households warm is no walk in the park either. Heating bills tend to run higher than electric bills for the northern parts of the U.S., says Atlas Heating and Cooling.The 2013-2014 winter months buried the Northeast U.S. in deep snow on numerous occasions. Cities experienced record-breaking snowfalls, with Philadelphia seeing four snowstorms totaling six-plus inches for the first time in its history.
Homes in colder locations obviously require more energy to stay warm. With this mindset, one would think that a household in Buffalo, with an average January and February low of 16 degrees Fahrenheit, would undoubtedly have a higher heating bill than a home in Washington, D.C. The numbers, however,tell a different story.
Some colder areas are smartening up and, in turn, saving tons of money. In 2008, the average Buffalo home spent less than $333 on heat, whereas the average home in Washington, D.C., rang in at $1,609.
How is this difference possible? Besides local pricing, choice of heat is the major variable in play. Eighty-eight percent of Buffalo residents use natural gas, the most efficient and least volatile energy source. Chicago tops the charts with 90 percent of its residentsutilizing natural gas. On the contrary, Washington, D.C., has astartling share of homeowners using electric heat, the least cost-efficient type of heat available.
Even more surprising, residents of some of the hottest states pay more annually to heat their homes than to cool them down. In fact, Atlanta residents spend approximately twice as much on heatthan they do on air conditioning, accounting for about half of their total energy bills.
“We think it is important that people get the right system for them and their home, because if you are sold something more than what you need, you may never see the financial benefits of the system,” says Atlas Heating and Cooling.