Many people pay their bills on autopilot without giving them a second thought. Bills are a necessary evil, after all, a rite of passage every adult has to learn to live with.
The average American pays nearly $112 a month in electricity bills. This averages out to around 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), though electricity rates do vary from state-to-state.
Smart homeowners know tricks to keep their electric bills as trimmed as possible.
So, if you find yourself wondering, “Why is my electric bill so high?”, keep reading. We’re going to review common reasons for sky-high bills and what you can do about them.
Why Is My Electric Bill so High?
Do you feel anxious receiving your monthly bill from the utility company in the mail? Have you found yourself wondering, “Why is my electric bill so high all of a sudden?” It can be frustrating if the price of electricity is eating a sizable portion of your monthly budget.
There are several reasons your power bill may be higher than usual. Let’s go over some of the most common.
Using Power-Hungry Appliances
Your appliances account for a huge part of your monthly energy bill.
You should consider unplugging some appliances when not in use. “Always on” devices can account for almost 25% of homeowner’s electricity bills.
Unplug gadgets like televisions, phone chargers, and coffeemakers when not in use. Try putting your computer on standby mode to help save power, too.
Powerstrips are handy little devices to have around the home. You can then turn off the entire strip to remove power from the energy-hungry appliances.
If you’re in the market for new appliances, look for energy-efficient models. These are not only better for the environment, but your wallet, too.
Energy Star appliances use less energy to do the same job as their more power-hungry counterparts. You should replace all your burnt out lightbulbs with energy-saving versions, too.
LED lights use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
You’re Not Using Your Energy-Efficient Appliances Right
So, you’ve gone ahead and made the switch to Energy Star appliances. Yet your electricity bill is still high every month. What gives?
Investing in energy-efficient appliances is the first step in reducing your energy usage. You’ll still need to perform regular maintenance to ensure everything is operating to its fullest potential.
Your dishwasher won’t work efficiently if it’s chock full of food particles. Your vacuum won’t work as well if it’s clogged with hair and dirt. Simply put, when your appliances have to work twice as hard to do their job, they’ll use more energy.
Don’t overcrowd your fridge or freezer. Clean the fridge’s condenser coils twice a year (more often if you have pets).
Avoid running your washing machine unless you have a full load. Clean the lint trap in the dryer after every use. Try to line dry your clothing when the weather permits.
Your HVAC Use Needs Reevaluation
The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home. Cooling and heat account for 31% of American’s energy costs.
We’re not saying you need to stop using your HVAC system. It may just be time to reevaluate how often you use it.
Your House is Large
The math is simple – the bigger your home, the more energy you’ll use. The average size of a newly built American home has increased to a whopping 2,600 square feet. This is almost double what the average was in the 70s.
If you’re about to buy a new home, don’t solely focus on size. Look into the energy efficiency ratings of the appliances. Ask the realtor what the average monthly electric bill is for the home.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. This is especially true when it comes to paying your bills and taxes.
You’re Not Using the Right Plan for Your Energy Usage
If your household has a Time-of-Use (TOU) rate plan, you may notice higher bills. This plan determines your monthly bill by both how much energy you’re using and when you’re using it.
The rates per kWh will vary depending upon non-peak and peak times. If you use less electricity during peak hours, your electricity provider will provide bigger savings on your bill. You’ll notice different rates if you use a lot of energy during peak times (like weekends).
How to Lower Your Electric Bill
Now you know why your energy bill is so high, let’s see how to lower it.
Buy a Programmable Thermostat
You can save up to 10% annually on cooling and heating by using a programmable thermostat. Setting your temperature back a few degrees can mean a big difference in your next bill.
In the winter, set it to 68°F when you’re awake. When you’re outside of the house or asleep, lower it a few degrees. These small changes can lower the amount of electricity you use, decreasing your bill.
Look at Your Insulation
Your home’s insulation is important, especially if you live in a colder climate.
Insulation helps your home maintain a comfortable temperature regardless of the season.
If your home is improperly insulated, your electricity prices will skyrocket during certain months. You’ll be cranking the heat in the winter and blasting the AC during the summer. The right application of insulation will allow you to save both energy and money.
Check your walls and pipes. You may even want to consider wrapping additional insulation around your home’s pipes. This will keep your hot water heater from doing overtime during the winter. You shouldn’t have to worry about your pipes freezing (or bursting) either.
Invest in Fans
Buy both floor and ceiling fans for the summer months. They may not be able to cool the air, but they can circulate it which helps to make it feel cooler. Remember to set your fan to spin counter-clockwise to push hot air upwards.
Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Up to 90% of the washer’s energy use goes towards heating the water. Save money on your energy costs by choosing to use cold water.
Believe it or not, cold water washing can remove just as many stains as warm and hot water. Even lace clothing and both dark and colorful fabrics fair better in cold water.
Heat can break down the fabric in your clothing faster, too. Choosing cold water on laundry day will make your clothes last longer and provide better electric rates.
Install Dimmer Switches
Use dimmer switches in all high-volume areas of your home. You’ll be able to adjust how much light you need at any given time of day. You may find that you don’t need the lights on at all during the day when the sun shines in.
Dress for the Temperature
The easiest way to lower a high electric bill is to dress for the weather. Bundle up in sweaters during the winter months and you may not need to crank the heat on cold days. Dress down during the summer to avoid reaching for the air conditioner.
Save Energy, Save Money
We hope our blog was able to answer your “Why is my electric bill so high?” question. You should notice a decrease in your electricity costs as soon as you start implementing our tips. It doesn’t hurt to be mindful of your energy consumption, too.