Understanding Your Home Energy Use


Beginning in 2015, ImpactNV (acting as EnergyFit Nevada) was awarded a contract for the NV Energy PowerShift program. From 2015 to mid 2019, EFN assessors performed more than 18,000 in-home energy assessments for customers throughout Northern and Southern Nevada. These energy assessments included detailed, expert evaluations of all energy use in the home and recommendations to reduce use and make residents’/renters’ homes as efficient as possible. Below, our assessors compile answers to frequently asked questions as well as offer some general advice on best practices geared toward reducing energy use in your home.

General Energy Use Information

1. Understand what monthly billing plan you’re on:

This step is crucial: are you being charged for your monthly usage? Or are you on a budget billing plan? If you’re charged monthly for your usage, you’ll receive a bill every cycle charging you for the number of kilowatt hours your household used that month at the prevailing rate. If you’re on a monthly budget billing plan, your utility takes the average number of kilowatt hours you consumed last year, assumes that you’ll use around the same this year, and creates a monthly average for you to pay. This spreads out the total costs you pay for power over the course of the year. As a result, if you live in a hot part of the country and use electricity to run your air conditioner, in the summer months you’ll see a lower bill than your neighbors who are on a monthly usage billing cycle. But on the other hand, in the winter months you should expect a higher bill than your neighbors.

2. Know how many hours of electricity you use per month:

Ensure you’re correctly calculating the amount of power you use in a given month. Many bills will break out your daily use, or simply show you how your monthly usage changes over the course of the year. Make sure that you’re measuring and assessing your usage over the same period that you’re billed on: for most consumers, this will be monthly.

3. Reading your bill:

Current Charges –This section of your bill will show your current account balance, or how much you owe to your utility company and when that amount is due. The way your utility company determines this amount is by taking two readings of your electric meter. One at the start of the billing period and one at the end. They then take the difference between these two amounts and multiply it by the current energy rate.

Billing Period –This part of your bills explains when your energy company takes both the first and second readings of your electric meter each month. The dates for these readings should be roughly the same each month, though there does tend to be a little variation. Usually 28-34 days.

Miscellaneous Charges – Every utility company is different and will have their own unique set of miscellaneous charges on their monthly billing statements. Usually the definition of the charge will be listed on the bill. If you have any questions about fees on your bill, contact the billing department of your utility company and ask them to explain the charge to you.

4. Understanding KWh Usage:

When you look at your electricity bill, you will see the total number of kWhs you used in the month, but you can’t tell how much electricity each appliance is using. To find the general number of kWhs you use per month for each appliance, you can use this method:

KWH Calculation Method:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Energy Use

There are many reasons why your bill is higher than the previous month. First, make sure you are current on your bill – if you have an outstanding balance from a previous charge, it will raise your current amount due. Second, the outside temperature might have changed, but your thermostat settings did not – this could lead to the ac/heater running longer times which would be reflected as an increase in your bill. Third, something could be broken, causing additional usage (AC not blowing cold enough, heater not blowing hot enough, water heater leak, etc.). Fourth, more people might be home during the day such as on school breaks, or new appliances might have been added.

Most likely not. Electricity does not “leak.” See question number 1 for possible reasons your charges have increased.

Rarely. Most common space heaters, run at eight hours a day, will cost upwards of $40 per month. A natural gas furnace is usually cheaper to run than using space heaters.

It depends. There are many factors you should consider when deciding whether or not to “go solar;” such as: leasing or owning, if you are more concerned with the cost of your energy versus the source of your energy, how much your panels will produce versus what you use, etc.

78 degrees in the summer and 68 in the winter is the recommended setting that balances personal comfort and energy efficiency.

Approximately 4-5 hours in the winter; 8 hours in the summer (depending on pool size)

At least every 3 months but your filter should be checked monthly in the summer and definitely between seasons (this can vary depending on filter type).

In a cold climate – 14-17 inches of insulation is recommended; 10-14 inches is sufficient in a warm climate.

LED bulbs are recommended for most lighting uses and use the least amount of energy, LED bulbs are much more affordable than in the past and they last much longer.

Check your heating and cooling systems at least once a year with the changing seasons (check your heating system before winter and your cooling system when going into summer).

Water heaters should be flushed once a year for electric and tankless systems, and at least every 3 years for gas systems.

Always keep doors and vents open in your home, closing these off changes the air flow within your home (increasing the pressure for the air handler), causing the system to work harder and use more energy.

Adjust your thermostat a few degrees higher or lower depending on the season (some smart thermostats have vacation settings), make sure to leave all your internal doors open for air flow, turn your water heater to vacation mode, and use a timer for your lights.

Adjust your thermostat a few degrees higher or lower depending on the season (some smart thermostats have vacation settings), make sure to leave all your internal doors open for air flow, turn your water heater to vacation mode, and use a timer for your lights.

Landlords are required to provide cooling in the summer, heating in the winter, and hot water for all tenants. Southern Nevada Landlord/Tenant Dispute Hotline

Common Energy Misconceptions

The energy required to turn a light bulb on is a fraction of the energy it takes to illuminate the bulb. If you are going to have the light on for more than a fraction of a second, turn the light off when not in use to save energy and extend the life of the bulb

This is very unlikely – your neighbor would have to have a cord plugged into an outlet in your home to steal your energy and you would probably notice this. More likely, something is in need of repair or has been left on in your home.

See FAQ #1 above. In addition, remember that there are many factors that could lead to your bill being higher than a neighbor’s with a similar home. Your thermostat settings might be different, your neighbor might have more efficient appliances, you might have a pool pump running and your neighbor may not have one at all or may run her’s less, something might be in need of repair and running constantly in your home unbeknownst to you, etc.

The utility company is only responsible for delivering the energy to your house. Any issue after the meter is the homeowners responsibility. That means any issues with any appliances etc. are also your responsibility.

This is possible but unlikely – see FAQ #1 above and check to make sure you don’t have anything running in your home you are not aware of. You can also shut the power to your home/apt off at the breaker and see if the meter is still running. If it is, then you might have an issue with the meter and should contact your utility provider.

This is rarely the case – see FAQ #3 above

See FAQ #4 above. Many customers still have utility bills of varying amounts when they have solar. This could be because of the weather, the solar panels not producing enough energy to cover what is used by your household, you may still be charged some general fees, etc.


Join Nevada’s Sustainability Alliance and be a part of the movement towards a greener, more sustainable future!