Dealing with an abnormally high electric bill is no fun. As unpleasant as they are, high electric bills are common for homeowners. There are reasons for your increased energy costs, and the sooner you identify them, the easier it will be to manage your monthly budget.
14 Causes of an Abnormally High Electric Bill
Why is my electric bill so high? It’s a question that many homeowners ask themselves at some point. Fluctuating prices, outdated devices, and peak-time patterns all play a role.
Here are 14 possible reasons you’re seeing an increase in your utility bill.
1) Inefficient Light Bulbs
While convenient, standard light bulbs use a lot of electricity, which can cause your electric bill to escalate. Alternatively, LED light bulbs are much more energy-efficient.
Not only do LED light bulbs use less energy, but they’re long lasting—they can provide up to 50,000 hours of continuous use. Do LED lights make your electric bill high? Just the opposite. While up-front costs may be higher, you’ll use far less energy.
2) Plugged-in Devices
Keeping unused devices plugged in is a common bad habit. Devices like laptops, phones, TVs, game consoles, and microwaves can raise your utility bill. In fact, 75% of appliance energy usage comes from devices that aren’t in use.
Some owners refer to these as “vampire devices” because they continue to draw power from electrical outlets when they’re shut off. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that requires minimal effort: Turn off—and unplug—unused devices.
3) Insufficient Home Insulation
Home insulation makes it much easier to maintain comfortable temperatures. Without proper insulation, you may rely more heavily on your HVAC system to regulate your home’s temperature. In doing so, you end up with higher energy bills.
If you want to cool your room in the summer or stay cozy in the winter, insulate your home properly.
For the most efficient results, try these steps:
- Seal off your vents.
- Use heavy curtains to block out heat.
- Add weather stripping to your doors and windows.
- Close the fireplace.
- Cover your water pipes in the winter.
- Use window films for your windows.
- Seal off cracks beneath your doors.
4) Peak-Time Charges
Some utility companies don’t charge their customers a consistent rate. In fact, electricity prices can fluctuate based on demand throughout the day.
The more electricity you use during established peak hours, the higher your overall bill will be. Try to reserve electricity usage for “off-peak” hours. This means waiting to wash your clothes or charge your electronic devices until demand is at its lowest—which is often at night or early in the morning.
5) Worn-Out Appliances
Worn-out appliances consume much more electricity than newer, energy-efficient ones. They also don’t function as well.
Consider swapping your old washing machine or dishwasher for Energy Star appliances. Certified washing machines can cut a third of your energy costs, and energy-efficient freezers use 10% less energy.
6) Dirty Air Filters
Your air filter is one component of your HVAC unit that you should never disregard. When it becomes dirty with dust and debris, it reduces the flow of air in your home, forcing your system to work harder.
Avoid this unnecessary expense by changing or cleaning your filter regularly. How often you do so depends on factors such as your equipment and location climate, but generally speaking, you’ll want to replace your filter every 90 days.
7) Extreme Weather Conditions
Extreme weather patterns can take a toll on your HVAC system, especially when those weather patterns persist for a long time. When temperatures skyrocket, the demand for cooling systems rises, and your AC unit has to work overtime.
A similar pattern occurs during the winter when your heater has to work rigorously to keep you warm, which is why it’s critical that you learn how to save energy during the winter. Energy.gov recommends setting your thermostat to 68–70 degrees Fahrenheit during cold winter days and lower while you’re asleep or away from home.
During summer heat waves, keep your house as warm as you can tolerate comfortably. Set the thermostat a few degrees warmer when you’re sleeping or away from home. You can save 3% on your energy bill for every extra degree you’re able to stand.
8) Seasonal Appliances
Seasonal appliances are exactly what they sound like: appliances that you rely heavily on during certain seasons, such as your AC system and fireplace.
While you’ll need to rely on seasonal items more often during certain months, you can save energy by implementing a few best practices. For starters, clean your fireplace before winter hits. You can get a tune-up on your HVAC system to make sure your air conditioning is operating a peak efficiency before the temperature rises.
9) Damaged Wires
Damaged or defective wires can cause a wide range of problems, including an increase in energy usage. For example, if your thermostat is incorrectly wired, your HVAC unit might run its cooling and heating systems simultaneously. Damaged wires could also force your appliances to consume more electricity than needed.
If you suspect you may have damaged wiring, call a licensed professional for an inspection. Defective wiring can generate electrical fires, so always err on the side of caution.
10) Open Windows
An open window may not seem like it would play a huge role in energy expenses, but it is a contributing factor. If you have your AC system on, make sure your windows are closed. Otherwise, your system will need to use more energy to cool the room.
11) Defective Hot Water Heater
A spike in your electricity bills could be the result of a faulty water heater. Your water heater might be outdated or there may be a leak that’s gone unnoticed. Regardless, you’ll want a professional to inspect your heater so you can make an informed decision before your next electric bill is due.
12) HVAC Neglect
Why is your electric bill so high in the summer? The reason might have to do with your HVAC system. Your HVAC is delicate and requires regular maintenance to ensure its components function seamlessly. If poorly maintained, your AC unit will suffer and fail to work optimally, causing a surge in your electric usage. A qualified professional can inspect your HVAC and ensure that your vents, furnaces, and pumps are all in good condition.
13) Dishwasher Overuse
Your dishwasher requires a lot of hot water to function properly. The average household dishwasher uses 1,800 watts of power, so while they’re convenient, it’s best to find ways to reduce your dependence on them.
If you must use your dishwasher, run it when it’s full. You can also minimize your energy consumption by replacing your current dishwasher with an energy-effiicent version.
On average, Energy Star-certified dishwashers use 30% less water than standard ones.
14) Home Visitors
It should come as no surprise that the more visitors or residents your property has, the higher your electric bill will be. More people means more electricity use, which translates to higher electric bills.
To mitigate this, limit house guests during peak energy use months, like the height of summer or the coldest winter months. You also want to make sure that your housemates—and even guests—understand the importance of conserving electricity whenever possible.
Save Household Energy with Spring Power & Gas
If you’re interested in receiving environmentally focused energy and natural gas, or if you’d simply like to discover more energy-saving tips, Spring Power & Gas can help. As an eco-friendly leader in the energy retail industry, we strive to provide our customers with energy-efficient solutions that minimize their impact on the environment.
As a sign of our pledge to environmental responsibility, we invite you to check out our energy-saving plans to see whether one is right for you.
Contact us to learn more about our offers and our ongoing sustainability efforts.