High Bill Checklist
Troubleshooting High Electric Usage
We understand that receiving a utility bill that is higher than expected can be frustrating and sometimes challenging to pinpoint how the electricity was used. Although we cannot determine how your power was used, please use the following for ideas to troubleshoot your usage and isolate where you can conserve in your home.
Non-usage reasons for higher bills
- The number of days in your billing period fluctuate from month to month depending on when your meter is read. Our goal is to keep your monthly bills as even as possible month-to-month but holidays, weather, and staffing issues sometimes cause smaller or larger billing cycles. Divide the total usage by the number of days on your bill to more accurately compare your daily average usage to other months.
- Look at the breakdown of your charges. Were you assessed any fees or deposits for transfer or connection in this billing cycle?
- Baseboard/forced air heaters set at what may seem to be a “low” temperature may be cycling continuously, especially if outside temperatures drop below “normal” for that time of year.
- Heat Pumps- Get heat pumps serviced and cleaned regularly. They can be accidentally or improperly set to emergency heat, a defrost cycle, or your outdoor unit could be malfunctioning, causing high usage. Call a heat pump contractor to ask questions or inspect your unit and/or thermostat functions.
- Any time the outside temperature drops below your thermostat setting, your heat will come on and stay on until the indoor temperature is met. It will cycle on and off continuously even while you are not home to maintain this temperature inside your home.
- Don’t let heat escape! Keep windows and doors closed during cool periods, weather-strip and caulk your doors and windows as it can save as much as 6% on your heating costs.
- When you’re not using your fireplace, close the damper.
- Wear layers of clothing inside the house instead of turning up the thermostat.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated.
- Make sure your water heater is working efficiently by setting the thermostats properly, and make sure all heating elements are functioning. A burned-out water heater element can result in surprisingly high bills making remaining heating elements work overtime heating the water. .
- Consider lowering your temperature preset; if often comes set to 140°; a temperature of 120° is plenty hot for most people and can save 6-10% on your water heating expense.
- Fix those drips! If you have a leaky faucet you are pouring money down the drain. If it’s hot water, you are you paying to heat the water you are losing and may also be paying for the water itself.
- Install low-flow showerheads, and use cold water when you can.
- Only wash full loads of dishes and laundry.
The actual reading “dates” listed on your statement fluctuate
- The number of days in your billing period fluctuate from month to month depending on when your meter is read.
- Divide the total usage by the number of days on your bill to more accurately compare your usage.
Any holidays that may fall within the billing period
- Did you have additional people in the household or guests for a short or extended period of time? This can cause extra laundry, extra bathing or showering, and additional cooking.
A full house
- Do you have higher occupancy or are you spending more time at home? Are your kids schooling from home or have your worked from home? Being mindful of your energy use and making a habit out of turning off lights and electronics when rooms are not being used will save a lot in the long run.
- Did you have additional people in the household or guests for any period of time? This can cause extra laundry, extra bathing or showering, and additional cooking.
Unexpected seasonal changes
- Weather condition changes result in additional heating or cooling. Be prepared for extreme weather by bundling up and using blankets before cranking up the heater.
- Do you have a new hot tub, smart device, fan, or any other newly added equipment?
- Failure or aging of equipment, such as a burned-out water heater element or fridge/freezer failing door seals are common culprits.
Unnecessary charging time for devices
- The average phone needs around 2-3 hours to fully charge, not a full 12 hours. Keeping your phone or computer plugged in and charging all night drains energy. We charge more devices every year; be cautious to unplug charges that are not plugged in to a device as electricity will still trickle out waiting to charge.
Off does not always mean off
- Devices still drain energy even when they are “turned off”. They are always waiting on standby to be activated unless they are unplugged. Remember that nearly every appliance or device with a digital display is using power as it waits to be selected.
- Unplug computers, printers, TVs, etc. if you will be not be home for an extended amount of time.
- Forced air heating system filters not replaced or cleaned monthly during the heating season cause the appliance to work harder to perform. Even clogged vacuum cleaner filters will result in much longer use time. In a manufactured home, ducting could be disconnected or damaged.
Is your house properly insulated?
- You could be wasting a lot of heat through drafty attic spaces, walls, uninsulated basements, and poorly fitted doors/windows causing drafts and escaping heat. It may be time to caulk around your doors and windows.
- Use LED light bulbs, and keep lights off in rooms you are not using.
- Decorate in light colors as darker colors absorb light and use more watts to light the room.
- Use timers on lights while you are on vacation so they are not running 24 hours a day.
- Older incandescent lightbulbs pull a lot of energy; replace with LED.
- Make sure the size of your air conditioner meets the needs of your home.
- Use landscaping, awnings, and overhangs to shade around the outside of your home.
- If you plan to leave for more than a few minutes, turn your fan off.
- Open your windows during the cooler morning and evening hours to use the outside air to cool your home.
- During the day close the draperies and blinds to keep warm sun out.
Refrigerators and freezers
- Keep your appliances maintained. The average useful life of a fridge is 15 years. Check the door seals and if one is cracked, or cold air is leaking out, the seal should be replaced. Unplug it if you are not using it. You could be wasting as much as 2,400 kwh a year for an extra refrigerator or 1,200 kwh a year for an extra freezer.
- Use high efficiency appliances, and keep the condenser coils clean on your appliances. Dirty coils can lead to higher operating costs.
- Keep your appliances level to assure a proper door gasket seal.
Washers and dryers
- Over 70% of the cost of washing a load of clothes is in heating the water. Wash full loads at appropriate water levels and temperatures.
- Use cold water as often as possible.
- Check for hose cracks and leaky faucet connections to your washing machine.
- Don’t over-dry your clothes and only dry full loads.
- Make sure your lint screen is clean after every load, and dry your clothes on a line outside whenever you can.
Ovens and ranges
- Don’t preheat your oven if you don’t have to.
- Cover your food while you cook to keep heat trapped in the pot or pan.
- Keep the oven door shut while cooking, and keep the oven clean. An oven that is free of grease will work more efficiently.
Pools and spas
- Use optimal temperature settings and consider keeping your filters and heater on a timer. Keep the pool or spa covered to trap heat when not in use. Consider heating your pool or spa by solar power.
For water-saving tips please visit Water Use It Wisely
Isolating Usage by Performing a Breaker Check
There is no way for us to tell you where your usage is going, your meter simply measures the electricity used. May we suggest performing a breaker check to determine which areas of your property are using the most power:
- First check your meter. You can do this by turning your power off at your fuse box or breaker box. You have a main that will turn everything in your home off. After you pull the fuse or turn the breaker off, wait about five minutes and then go look at your meter. The disk that revolves around should be stopped completely. If it is stopped, your meter is not creeping. If you are sure everything going to your meter is turned off and your meter continues to turn, then please contact our office.
- If you have underground cable going from the meter into the house, you could have a short in this cable. After you do the above, if your meter continues to creep, turn the power off in the box under the meter. If this stops your meter then your trouble is in the underground wire.
- Turn off all your circuits by pulling the fuses or turning your breakers off, and then turn them back on one at a time. As you turn one back on, go check your meter and see which circuit seems to be making your meter turn the fastest. Then see what appliances are on this circuit and check them out.