The bulk was in a $40 rebate. For this yearly rebate, Xcel can remotely shut off our AC when the electrical demand is too high. This decision was a no-brainer for us as our house stays pretty cool in the summer without the AC.
Here are some of the reasons why our house stays pretty cool:
- our trees have grown tall enough to shade the house on the west side
- our wall and attic insulation is sufficient to keep out most of the summer heat
- our ceiling fans in the upstairs bedrooms keep the air moving. We run the one in our bedroom 24/7 in the summertime
- our three solar-activated attic fans running off thermostats keep the attic cool even though we have a dark-brown metal roof
- we close our blinds on the east side of the house in the morning and on the west side in the afternoon. Otherwise they are open
- we minimize opening the front door in the morning and back door in the afternoon
- we close and lock all windows. We lock them so there is no air leakage
- and at night, we open doors and windows to allow in cool mountain breezes
- we minimize inside cooking either with the stovetop or oven. Instead we use small appliances that don't give off much heat or use those small appliances on the back patio.
- we minimize running various appliances that generate heat. Our exceptions are the refrigerator and computers
- we have a lean-to greenhouse on the south side of the house, and we NEVER open that door until dark. We use an insulated curtain at that sliding-glass door when the temperature hovers around 100. We use the outside door if we need to go in there.
- we live on the garden level in the summertime where it is cooler
This year we used 258 kWh for electricity and 11 therms for gas. Last year we used 338 kWh and 8 therm for gas. More electricity but less gas.
To make a comparison, one must look, too, at the number of days in the billing cycle. Even though Xcel reads the meters automatically, there can be more days in one cycle than in another.
One more thing to watch: Xcel has higher costs during the summer, and they have a two-tiered system then. During this June-to-September rate structure, Xcel charges 4.6 cents per kWh and 9.6 cents per kWh over 500 kWh. It pays to keep your usage under that.
On September 30th the two-tiered rate structure ends, and electrical usage goes back to 4.6 center (or whatever the current rate is) per kWh.