Why is my electric bill so high?
Being on the receiving end of a super high electric bill can be a frustrating experience. When you get your cell phone bill, the usage is broken down item by item so you know exactly what you did to cause the extra charges.
The power company can’t provide you with that data. They simply take a reading off of your meter and send you a bill. This can leave you mystified as to what you’ve done to cause the extra charges.
This happened to me recently. About a week ago I got the highest electricity bill I’ve ever had. It was nearly double what we normally spend. A typical power bill at our place is around $200 for two months. Still too much in my opinion but manageable.
I was shocked by this last bill, it was $387.
After the shock wore off, I started thinking over the last two months and how we caused this obnoxiously large bill.
First was the obvious things, we replaced two major appliances in December, the dishwasher and the hot water heater. So I went and did a look-over of these two. Turns out, our new dishwasher automatically sets every single load to heat-dry, unless you push a button to turn that function off.
The new hot water heater was not so simple, I had to phone a family member with a plumbing ticket to figure this one out. I checked the thermostat on our water heater and it had been set from the factory to 140° celsuis (284° faranheit). I turned this down to 120°; confusingly, that is the manufacturer’s recommended temperature.
There were a variety of other issues including an unusually cold winter on the West Coast of Canada, Christmas parties at our place, kids leaving heat on etc. This week I’m going to do a full check over our home for other causes that we can control and reduce.
One quick thing before I get into the main content. When you evaluate your power usage, make sure that you’re focusing on kWh rather than cost. There may be other charges on your bill such as connection, disconnection etc. Also, your cost per kWh will vary based on peak rates.
Below is a list of the top 9 causes of a high electric bill to help you diagnose your own issues.
If you have baseboard heaters like me, you’re going to pay more for heat. They’re super inefficient compared to forced air heat. They also have a tendency to get left on. We have six different heating zones in our home and at any given time in the winter, at least one of them gets left on.
Find ways to reduce this power usage by checking all of your heaters a couple of times per day. Set a reminder in your phone if necessary. Consider switching to inexpensive programmable thermostats that will dial the heat back during the day when you’re out as well as at night when your family is sleeping.
In my experience, almost everything will come clean in cold water. You can use a ton of energy heating water for laundry. Your dryer is also a huge power suck. Make sure to clean the lint trap after every load and check the rear vent periodically to make sure it’s not plugged. A plugged dryer vent will increase your power usage and it’s also a fire hazard.
Another simple change that will make a big difference is ensuring that you only wash and dry full loads. Your dryer is using the exact same amount of electricity for a half load as it does for a full load. Also, a dry rack is $10 at Wal-Mart, consider hang-drying indoors in the winter if you have the space.
3. Air Conditioning
If you’re running an air conditioner, be sure to turn it off when you leave home. Also, if you close off the area you’ll save power as it’s not trying to cool too large a space. We have a curtain that we hang at the top of our stairs in the summer to keep the cool air in at night.
4. Hot Water Heater
Give your hot water heater a check over to make sure that the thermostat is set correctly, usually around 120°C. Also, check for leaks. A leaking hot water tank is really inefficient as it’s constantly heating new cold water. You might also consider upgrading to a tankless unit or a newer, more efficient hot water tank.
5. Faulty Appliances
Check over all of your appliances to be sure that they’re running properly. Some things to look for are faulty seals on ovens, refrigerators, dryers and freezers. Also be sure that the coils on the back of your refrigerator and freezers are kept clean and free of dog hair, dust etc. for efficient operation.Well pumps that run constantly and defective thermostats are other things you should check for.
This is pretty simple, turn your lights off when you’re not using them. Also, there’s no longer a reason not to be using LED bulbs. They’re a couple bucks apiece at Wal-Mart and Costco. I switched our entire house over in about 6 months buying one package every time we went out to Costco. It’s a great, simple way to save money.
Make sure that you buy lights that are compatible with your home. If you’re using dimmer switches, you need to buy bulbs that are compatible with dimmers. For exterior lights that are 80w or 100w, LEDs may not be the best choice. I was only able to find 60w equivalent bulbs and they just don’t put out enough light for our entryway.
Did you take some vacation time last month? It’s possible that being home during the day caused you to use more power than usual. Most electricity companies offer usage graphs to help you diagnose a high electric bill. Check and see if your usage is typical or if there was another reason for the unusual cost.
Want to save more of your hard-earned money? Enter your email below to make sure you never miss a post!