Some pieces of information take longer to hit my radar screen than others. Like this map Deus Ex Machina found. It shows how much the residents of each State pay per kilowatt hour for electricity.
Frankly, I'm a little surprised, and actually, a little irritated to discover that Maine has the fourth highest per kilowatt hour rate in the country with only Vermont, New York, and Hawaii paying more. We pay 12.37 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity compared to say, Oregon, which has a similar population density, but pays 7.71 cents per kilowatt hour (Kentucky pays the least at 5.81 cents per kilowatt hour).
I guess I knew the cost of living was higher up here, but I didn't realize that we paid so much more for electricity than nearly everyone in the rest of the country.
The uncomfortable realization comes from the fact that I've been telling anyone who'll listen that our average electrity bill for the past several months has been around $50 - like that's some awesome thing, and in my opinion and experience, it is. If we used the same amount of electricity that the average US household uses, our electric bill would be $123. We pay $50/month. Our average usage is 350 kwh/month, which is about one-third the usage of the average US household. With five people living in our house, it works out to about 70 kilowatt hours per person, and if one were to calculate out the "business" usage (which we don't) and the homeschool usage, our per person rate would be even lower.
I've had the habit over the past few years of breaking things down into dollar amounts, because it's been my experience that when I'm talking about the changes we've made, the one thing that seems to most often get people's attention is the cost savings. What the map made me realize, though, is that if I'm talking to someone from Oregon about my eletric bill, that person could be using twice the amount of electricity we use, but paying the same amount. If I only say, our last electric bill was $50, that person might think, "Big deal! So was mine!" Not realizing that not all electric bills are created equal.
My dilemma, now, is how to talk about the changes in a way that anyone in any part of the country can understand how big the differences are.
Perhaps the best option is to keep that map so that when I'm talking to my friends and family down south, and I'm telling them about our electric bill, I can convert the numbers.
Me: We just got our electric bill. It was $50.
FamMem: So was ours! Guess we did pretty good this month if our bill is the same as yours.
Me: Oh, wait. I just looked at the chart, and if we had the same usage, but lived down there, our bill would have been $20.
FamMem: Hmm ... maybe you should move.