The Spreadsheet Spotlight is a periodic series where I provide knowledge of a spreadsheet I use, why it's valuable, and how you can leverage it too. Reading the Spreadsheets and You article first will help you get the most of this Spreadsheet Spotlight post and all the previous ones found here.
We all know I have hot dreams about spreadsheets.
They are sexy and you should get all frisky just thinking about them.
Too much to ask?
Fine. Just get hot and bothered about this one. It's another installment of the running Spreadsheet Spotlight series and, boy howdy, do I have a doooosie for you!
Why This Rocks
Do I really need to explain why this hot tamale of a spreadsheet is rated “R” for rockin'?
OK. You're really making me work for it today, aren't you?
Home Energy Audit and Simple Tracking Purpose
I enjoy feeling like I'm saving the world. I mean, who doesn't like feeling that way?!
So when I needed to set a baseline of how much energy my household was consuming to compare against some energy upgrades – both the hardware and habit kind – I turned to my friend the spreadsheet.
Not surprisingly, online calculators or resources for home energy audits leave much to be desired. Some blind you just looking at them, others were designed with HTML-1 (warning: techie joke just dropped), while others tell me the range of wattages for, say, an aquarium is 50 – 1210 Watts.
50 – 1210 Watts?! Um, thanks for that helpful guide.
(insert sarcasm here)
But there's gotta be an app for this, right? Five crappy downloads and trials later, I can confirm there ain't no app for this (that doesn't suck or make you wish you didn't waste your time finding out).
Spreadsheets to the rescue!
By the way, why should you spend a couple of hours doing a home energy audit in the first place? Oh, I don't know. Maybe because you like saving hundreds of dollars a year on your electric bill and want to challenge yourself to reduce your environmental impact?
Sure. Let's go with that. Or the feeling you get when you're the smuggest person on the block. Either works.
Access the Sample Here
Let's skip the foreplay and just hit the high-level benefits of this spreadsheet:
- There's a real-world example tab so you can “get it” before you use it
- Over fifty common items that draw electricity are included. Take that websites and apps with half the items!
- There's an instructions tab with *gasp* instructions and useful links to other energy audit online resources
- It makes you think about vampire devices that suck money from your bank account
- There's a tab for a chart that shows you which items are the biggest energy hogs
- It proves how ridiculous running your microwave or vacuum is
- It actually works
So how do you use this sucker? As the home energy audit professionals say, “See below and read the instructions carefully.”
Warning: They don't actually say that. I've never met a home energy audit professional and I'm sure they say more clever things and are salt-of-the-earth kind of folks.
How to Use It
This fancy-schmancy spreadsheet won't help unless you have a device to measure the energy being drawn by items.
That means step #1 before opening the spreadsheet is to buy, borrow, or steal a P3 International Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor (affiliate link).
Note: Don't steal. It's not cool or nice.
Don't even bother looking for an alternative or a cheaper item. The P3 International Kill A Watt models are so unbelievably superior to the other options in every way that it's not worth researching anything else.
Pro Tip: See if your public library lends out Kill A Watt models. Mine does and I can snag one whenever I need it.
Secured your Kill A Watt for a smokin' afternoon or evening full of energy measuring fun? Right on!
You can copy these steps for using the Home Energy Audit and Simple Tracking spreadsheet or tweak them however works best for you.
1. Look at the example tab: Examples are good. Taking a quick look at how the data is supposed to be entered will help a bunch.
2. Read the instructions: I know reading instructions are a drag, even if they only take two minutes. But just for me… just this once, please read the instructions on the “Instructions and Useful Links” tab.
3. Start getting specific: On the Template tab, get specific with the object labels for easy future reference. “Upstairs Bedroom Window AC Unit” is better than “AC.”
4. Hook up your Kill A Watt to stuff: Measure the watts consumed for various states of your electronic devices. This includes “vampire mode” (a.k.a. plugged in and not turned on), stand by, low use (e.g. a fridge that hasn't been opened recently) and high wattage (e.g. a plugged in laptop that's not in sleep mode). You can list any cell as “N/A” (Non-Applicable) if necessary. For example, a fridge runs 24/7, so the column “Plugged In and Not Turned On” would be N/A. You might not own or want to measure everything in the template, so delete rows (or just ignore them) whenever you like.
5. Get our last months' electricity bill: Find the cents per kilowatt hour ($/kWh) that your electric company charges you and put that in the “Cents / kWh” column.
6. Estimate the number of hours each device is used per week: Enter the number of hours (in fractions if you want) that each device is used on a weekly average. That goes in the “Average Time Used / Day Over Week (Hours)” column.
7. (Optional) Add notes: Add any general or specific notes in the “Personal Notes” column. For example, a fridge might use a different amount of energy when the door is opened than when it's closed.
8. See how much your home costs you: Scroll down to the Totals line on the Template tab and see how much it costs you to operate most of your devices.
9. (Optional) Check out a chart: The chart on the “Charts and Visuals” tab isn't pretty. But it's functional and gives you a visual for which devices are sucking up the biggest amount of juice.
Bada-bing, bada-boom! That's it.
Download the Full Version Now
It includes already completed parts that are relevant to you and everything else all purdied up and ready to be customized.
You'll have instant access to the other Spreadsheet Spotlight resources, 1/2 of my popular book, Experience Curating, and more grooviness.
Calling All Spreadsheets!
How does it feel to know your home energy use? Maybe you'll use the vacuum and microwave more judiciously now?
I'm happy to provide you with yet another Spreadsheet Spotlight, my friend.
The last thing to do is pretend that we're chasing our arch-nemesis in the Batmobile. We're tuned in to the police radio frequency and…what's that?!
There's a call across the radio for all units to send in their most amazing spreadsheets to solve the riddle of catching the villain! Are you going to help stop the forces of complexity, chaos, and financial disarray?
It's time for you (yes, you) to answer that call and help out the rest of this community. None of us can liberate our time, money, and talent alone.
Do you plan to use this featured spreadsheet or tweak it to be more valuable? Maybe you have an amazing spreadsheet in your secret stash that could help everyone else? Leave a comment and let's get our spreadsheet on!
Photo Credit: Visualogist, Pro-Zak, nickwheeleroz