Important tips for analyzing monthly electricity usage

Would you like a nice chart showing your monthly electricity usage? I’ll show you how to build it.

bar chart of monthly electricity usage for a 1,750 square foot home in Midwest
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Taking control of your electricity stats

In my first apartment, I would keep an eagle eye on my electricity bill to see how much electricity a 350 square-foot apartment uses. Then I got a Kill A Watt to monitor the electrical usage from one outlet. The best tool of them all is keeping track of all your monthly electricity usage for a 950 square foot apartment in a spreadsheet.

How to download your electricity usage as a CSV file from ComEd

Your electricity company probably lets you download only the past two years of data. Start capturing that data now, so you can have a longer-term view of your usage. With ComEd, you can download all your data as a CSV file. Instead of manually typing in all the stats, oh man, it’s so handy to just copy and paste that csv data right into a spreadsheet every year.

  1. Go to secure.comed.com/MyAccount/MyService/Pages/UsageDataTool.aspx
    Don’t monkey around trying to find this page through all the various menu options on the ComEd site. Just use the direct link.
  1. Select “View Summary Data Online”.
    The “Order Interval Data” option sounds nice, but it’s probably not available for you. (It was not available for me)
  1. Enter your account number, and click “add”
  1. Click “Download CSV files”; and you are done!

Electricity usage for a 1,750 square foot house in the Midwest

Once you have the CSV file, import it into Google Sheets and make a chart. Here’s the standard chart in Google sheets with all the bars in blue.

All those blue lines just makes everything all blend together.

At first glance, you’ll most likely see your electricity spike in the summer. Once you identify that trend, you might stop looking at the chart, because you figure that’s what you have to learn. But wait. There’s much more to glean from your monthly electricity usage.

Beyond the obvious peaks with the summer months; you’ll see a mid-tier set of months with May and September. Then mostly everything else looks the same, except December sometimes sticks out.

Months cluster together into four main tiers

  1. Summer months.
    The highest tier is the summer months of June, July, August.
  2. Transition months.
    Mid-tier months are buffer before and after summer. The month of May transitions into summer. September transitions out of summer. It’s worth isolating just these two months to see how your usage varies over the years.
  3. Christmas month.
    December with all the joys of Christmas lights.
  4. Everything else.

Now we take our chart with the sea of blue, and start coloring some specific months. I did my coloring in Photoshop.

  1. Summer months. June, July, August are red. (red for heat)
  2. Transition months. May and September are green (to contrast with the red)
  3. Christmas month. December is black (to make it stick out from the blue)
  4. Everything else is blue.
bar chart of monthly electricity usage for a 1,750 square foot home in Midwest
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From a design perspective, this isn’t the prettiest chart in the world. In fact, it’s rather ugly. But it’s functional enough for what I need it to do.

Analysis

Due to the pandemic, we were all home from March 2020 to August 2020. I’m glad that our electricity has not skyrocketed in the past year. I’m imagining our pandemic usage of electricity is offset by getting new windows in the basement and 2nd floor. Our previous windows were letting a TON of air out.

In September 2020 my wife and three kids went back to school/daycare. I’ve continued to work from home until now. You’ll see how September 2020 dropped A LOT compared to our other Septembers. I’m not sure if that is due to the weather or to three of four people no longer being in the house.

Long-term vision

I imagine as our two kids get older and start using electronic devices more, that our electricity usage will start to trend upward. For now, it’s nice to see it holding steady.

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