Baseload energy consumption, simply put, is the amount of energy your household consumes under the best possible conditions. It’s the time of year when your heat isn’t running and your air conditioning isn’t yet on.
In central North Carolina, where we live, this is actually tricky to figure out. Spring, while overwhelmingly beautiful, can also be a time of contrasts in terms of the weather. Some nights (and even days) in April might be 50 degrees – so cool enough so that you are using your heat – and a week later we might hit high 80s or 90s, which to this homeowner means air conditioning.
The same kind of thing can happen in the fall, as well. In many parts of the country September means cool, pleasant temperatures. In the North Carolina piedmont September is Hot. It’s still flip-flop and beach weather. And October can be hot, or it can be cold, or it can feature a hurricane.
I love it here, but the weather can be fractious!
Anyway, spring or fall is probably your best time to figure out your base energy consumption. To do this you’ll need your electric bills, as well as your gas bills (if your home uses gas). Several year’s worth of bills are best, but if you only have one year you can still figure it out.
Basically, your base energy consumption if you live in central North Carolina is the total amount of energy consumed in either the month of May or the month of October. Essentially, you want to pick a month where the average temperature outside is similar to the temperature you enjoy inside.
Here is a great set of maps from the State Climate Office of NC that shows average monthly temperature for North Carolina.
Look at the energy bills for May and October and see how they compare. If you have last year’s, look how they compare. They should be similar unless you have changed something in your household over time. You may be using less energy than you used to, or you may be using more.
Calculate your average energy consumption during those months to figure out your baseload energy consumption. Once you have this figured out you can see the months you are using the most energy, which will help you figure out where to put your efforts in order to be more energy efficient. Your baseload energy consumption figure, plus a thorough home energy audit, can get you started on the road to a truly energy efficient home.