Why Is My Electricity Bill So High?
It’s happened before with other utilities. Maybe you forgot to turn the hose off over a long weekend and the following month, there it was — a whopper of a water bill. As painful as the bill is, you know exactly why it was higher.
But when it happens with your energy bill, you may not be able to tell exactly why the amount due is so much more than last month. So, if you find yourself asking, “Why is my electricity bill so high?” take a look at our helpful tips that can help you understand why that invoice is suddenly so expensive.
Appliances That Draw Expensive Stand-by Power
Appliances that draw a small electrical load all day long are all over your home, from your cordless phones to entertainment systems. Here are a few examples of household appliances commonly found consuming stand-by power and driving up your electric bill:
Flat screen TVs and audio/video amplifier
Your big screen TVs are upping your energy bill all day long, twenty-four hours a day. Standby mode may be necessary to sense remote control signals among other reasons, but don’t let it break your bank. Think about using smart power strips to limit consumption, and consider ramping up the different types of TV tech available before making your next purchase.
Refrigerators are also pulling stand-by power. If they’re in your unheated garage, you may be setting yourself up for a high electric bill. Because the fridge needs to keep things at a consistent temperature, that fridge is working two to three times as hard as it would need to in a climate-controlled environment.
If you’ve got DC converters permanently plugged in to your home’s outlets, they’re drawing power all day long. Although they’re sometimes charging your cell phones or powering your laptops, these items are sipping electricity and pushing your consumption higher.
How to Fix Energy Loss From Plugged-in Electronics
Picking up a little inexpensive tech can help you to better understand how much energy the appliances and items around your home are consuming. Installing Wi-Fi-enabled plugs can give you 24/7 access to items you may have left on and the ability turn them off remotely.
Other more costly answers can help you to truly manage your electrical consumptions. Leviton’s Wi-Fi or ethernet-enabled breakers give you real-time data on breaker performance and loads. You’ll be able to see what circuits are drawing power.
Upgrading to more energy efficient appliances is another way to reduce your electricity bill. Some EnergyStar compliant items even come with a rebate or tax incentive.
Your Ceiling Fans May Not Be Energy Efficient
It’s easy to forget that your ceiling fans are actually consuming a lot of energy. If you’re not using them in the right way, your energy bill may be telling you. Here are a few ways ceiling fans can result in an unusually high energy bill:
Your ceiling fans are on all the time
You may think that by leaving the fans on in every bedroom, you’re saving on AC, but the truth is, you’re probably not. When used strategically, and the AC’s off, they can be helpful, but otherwise, use them sparingly.
You’ve got the wrong bulbs in your ceiling fans
If every fan has four light bulbs and you’re using 40-watt incandescent bulbs, that’s 160 watts per fan. And if your home’s got 4 fans, that’s 640 watts. Now add the energy pull for the fans to spin, and it starts to add up quickly.
How to Reduce Energy Loss From Ceiling Fans
Make your ceiling fans part of your energy efficiency plan by only using them when they’re needed to circulate air and keep a room comfortable. Also, try swapping out the bulbs with LEDs and use the fans sparingly.
Incandescent Light Bulbs Can Result in a High Electric Bill
Probably found all over your home, old school incandescent bulbs drive up your home’s energy consumption. But home security and safety doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here’s what you need to know.
Revisit your lighting
If you’re using high-watt incandescent lamps to light your exterior at night, this could be an issue. And if they’re left on all night, that’s all the more reason to be concerned. Swap ‘em out and save!
Light walkways with solar powered lamps
Leverage your lawn’s sunlight by lighting your exterior walkways with inexpensive solar lighting. You’ll add some accents to your patio and pinch those pennies too.
How to Fix Energy Loss From Light Bulbs
Try converting to low-consumption, motion-detecting LED floodlights and lightbulbs inside and out. Adding even a small amount of solar powered items to your lighting inventory can help to save money, especially if your current outdoor lighting system is powered by incandescent lights.
Energy Usage Increases When Your Home’s Not Well-insulated
If your home isn’t well-insulated, you can experience many issues. Heat leaks out of your home during the winter, and your AC may be spilling out all summer long. Think about sealing the perimeter and saving in the long run. Here’s how:
Ice dams are reminding you of heat leaks
During the winter, if you’ve got huge icicles connecting your gutters to the ground, there’s important work to be done. Insulate the attic and save every season to avoid ice dams.
The windows may need attention
If the windows rattle every time the wind blows, even when they’re closed, you’re probably leaking energy across the seasons. Replace them with high efficiency UV screening glass, and help recoup the cost with lower energy bills.
How to Fix Energy Loss From Insulation
Get an energy audit from a certified energy auditor. Many utility companies are now offering incentives to help pay for the cost. Also, consider revisiting your doors, windows and insulation.
Upgrade Your Heating and Cooling Appliances and Maximize Loads
Although it doesn’t seem sensible to get rid of a perfectly fine hot water heater or dishwasher — maybe you should. Second-hand stores will gladly take them off your hands, and you may be able to write-off the donation too. These are some of the ways your appliances could be costing you:
You’re not filling your appliances to capacity
When your dishwasher, washing machine or dryer are in use, you should maximize the load. They’re consuming about the same amount of energy whether they’re filled to capacity or not, so you might as well do a full load every time. Your HVAC may need retiring.
Even if those old, outdated heating and air conditioning systems seem to be working well, they may be saddling you with high electric bills year after year.
Your windows are open
It’s nice to get some fresh air. But leaving the windows open when the heat or the AC is on has an impact on your finances — and not a good one.
How to Fix Energy Loss From Large Appliances
Again, EnergyStar compliant appliances can save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the item. And older heating and cooling units consume more than today’s high-efficiency models. With Energy Star incentives and other rebates available for homeowners, now may be the time to consider upgrading to a more efficient system. Be sure to wait until you’ve got a full load when doing laundry and dishes. This way, you won’t have to run another load of laundry later and spend even more money.
Work on sealing out the winter weather with rope caulk around windows and be sure to cover drafty windows with a window insulator kit. All you’ll need is a blow dryer to shrink the plastic into place.
Intense Weather Events Can Catch You Off-guard
If a string of -15° Fahrenheit days hits your neighborhood in early November, you may find a sting to your energy bills that follow. Likewise, a heatwave in March that forces you to put the air on for two weeks can lead to unpleasant surprises. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate and you’ll find an abnormally high electric bill as a result.
How to Fix Energy Loss From Bad Weather
A great way to keep that meter reading low is to pick up a smart, web-enabled thermostat. By micro-managing the heating and cooling of your home, you’ll find real savings. And when extreme weather events shift your usage, you’ll be able to tweak your temperature settings while away to keep the impact to a minimum.
Increased Electricity Rates May Be the Culprit
Another possibility for that increase in your power bill is that rates may be on the rise. The average annual energy cost for homes has increased by almost two percent in recent years. And that impact can be made even more pronounced by energy rate hikes occurring in areas where natural disasters have directly affected energy producing facilities or transmission lines.
Check in with your utility and learn about your options for rebates and incentives they’re offering if you enroll in peak time savings plans. These programs temporarily halt the power supply to your AC systems on high usage summer days, which allows the grid more flexibility and stability. And you’ll get to save a few dollars — or earn a credit — on your bill for it.
Your Utilities Provider Has Switched You to a Time-of-use (TOU) Plan
Time-of-use programs allow you to enroll in a plan that shifts your energy consumption to times when electricity costs are less and demand is decreased. As a result, you may be able to lower your bill. But time of use also comes with a spike in rates during high demand hours which can lead to an unusually high electricity bill. To make the most of an energy plan like this, place reminders in your phone that alert you to when those cheaper TOU rates start and stop each day.
Contact Your Insurance Agent and Learn About Ways to Save
At American Family Insurance, we understand that you want to protect your dreams and keep expenses down. That’s why we recommend you reach out to your American Family Insurance agent and schedule an insurance review. Not only will you get details on our easy-to-understand policies, but you can learn about bundling and other discounts that can really save you some money. You’ll have the comfort of fine-tuned coverage that works hard to protect everything that matters most to you.