Troubleshooting a High Bill
Is your electric bill higher than you expected?
Here are a few of the most common culprits behind high household power usage and suggestions on how to curb your energy use and save money.
We highly recommend that you explore your monthly electric usage online using SmartHub. You can track your usage and take the guesswork out of your bill. Through detailed graphs, you’ll be able to monitor usage 24/7 and track your consumption, ﬁnding ways to reduce and save.
COMPARE SEASONS (WINTER TO SUMMER)
Check the kilowatt hour total by month. From the usage history, are the winter months higher, indicating some form of electric heat or higher hot water heater use? Do the summer months show air conditioning? Were temperatures higher or lower than normal during the period? The additional heating or cooling load will cause an increase in electric use. Heating and cooling your home accounts for half of your average total energy use. Using space heaters, fireplaces, livestock heaters, or vehicle block heaters in the winter can dramatically increase energy consumption. Running a dehumidifier or watering lawns, gardens, and animals in the summer months will increase your energy use if you have a well pump.
YOUR ELECTRIC METER DOESN’T GO ON VACATION
If you leave your home for an extended period for business or vacation, remember that any appliance you leave plugged in or connected will continue to use electricity even while you are gone, especially your water heater, freezer, refrigerator, heating and cooling system, landscape irrigation, well pump, etc.
No two households use energy the same way, so comparing your energy bill to your neighbor’s is like comparing apples to oranges. It’s more accurate to compare your current use to your past use. Think about what has changed with your lifestyle and ask yourself if your household’s size increased or the time spent in the home rose. Have you added a new swimming pool or hot tub in your backyard? Do you have hobbies that include power tools, ovens, and other electrical appliances?
OPERATING YOUR HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEM FOR MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY
Depending on the kind of heating system you have in your home will dictate the best way to operate your heating system. If you heat with an electric furnace, wall or baseboard heaters, or gas heating, then turning your heating system up and down when necessary is the best way to go. For example, turning your thermostat down in the evening or when you are away from your home for multiple hours during the day and then turning it back up when you return will save you money each month.
However, if you use a more energy-efficient heating system called a heat pump, setting the temperature once and leaving it there is the most efficient. Turning a heat pump thermostat up and down causes more expensive backup heating to operate more frequently. If you are leaving for the season or an extended vacation, consider turning down the home’s thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.
LIGHTING, REFRIGERATION, APPLIANCES AND COOKING
Lighting, refrigeration, cooking and appliances account for roughly 25 percent of the total energy use in the normal household. The location of refrigerators and freezers is critical. Never place a refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or an unconditioned space such as a breezeway, garage or outbuilding. The refrigerator or freezer will work harder to overcome excessive heat during warmer months. Make sure that your refrigerators and freezers have adequate ventilation.
If an appliance is more than 15 years old, the efficiency of that appliance may decrease significantly and require more energy to do its job. It is important to regularly clean or replace some appliances’ condensers, coils or filters. You may need to replace the appliance itself. Often, old electrical wiring will have loose connections, increasing electrical use and creating potential safety hazards.
CONSTRUCTION OR REMODELING
Have you remodeled your home? In the construction process, using additional tools and equipment can add significant usage. If you are altering the size of your home, complete appropriate modifications to your heating and cooling system to ensure your system can meet the additional heating and cooling loads.
Review the kilowatt hour (kWh) history on your account. SmartHub provides the ability for an in-depth review of your usage history while your billing statement compares your most recent month to that same month one year ago and the prior month. The kilowatt hours you use are the main driver of costs on your electric bill.
BUDGET BILLING ADJUSTMENT
Your monthly payment amount is based on your average usage over the past 12 months and is reviewed and adjusted twice each year, in March and September. If you have questions, call our Customer Service Representatives at (541) 548-2144.
OTHER CHARGES ADD UP
Are there other charges beyond electric service? Any additional service fees (i.e., deposits, connection/disconnection fees, or returned check fees)? Have any past-due amounts from a previous bill been added to the total?
Top Power Culprits: Check out the usual suspects and determine what changes you can make.
Big appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers, demand a lot of electricity from the water heater, and using them too often can drive your electricity bill up. The average American family does almost 400 loads of laundry annually and uses nearly 40 gallons of water for a full load. Always use the appliance to its fullest capacity, not overfilled, and eliminate unnecessary loads.
- Heat Pump (2-3 tons based on a six-month heating season): 1,400 kWh/month
- Standard Electric Water Heater (4-person household): 500 kWh/month
- Refrigerator (17-30 cubic feet): 57 kWh/month
- Dryer: 57 kWh/month
- Oven Range: 24 kWh/month
- Lighting 4-5 room household: 50 kWh/month
- Dishwasher: 13 kWh/month
- Television: 29 kWh/month
- Microwave: 11 kWh/month
- Washing Machine: 6 kWh/month
- ½ HP Well Pump: 90 kWh/month
- Solution: For your dishwasher, ensure you fill it to capacity and not overfill it before you run it, choose an appropriate wash cycle and change the drying setting to use no or low heat. For clothes washers and dryers, try having only one laundry day each week, fill your loads to capacity, and select low heat for drying. Lastly, consider upgrading to newer appliances. You can ask us which ones have the quickest return on investment based on what you currently have in your home.
Ceiling fans only affect the room temperature where installed, so it doesn’t make sense to leave a ceiling fan on if nobody’s in the room. Additionally, some ceiling fans have a toggle switch that allows the blades to switch direction for optimal efficiency based on the season.
- Solution: Turn your ceiling fans off when nobody’s in the room and set the toggle switch so that the blades push the air down during the summer and pull the air up during the winter to circulate air more efficiently.
Using old appliances is probably one of the bigger reasons you’re paying more for your electric bill. The fact is old appliances use more energy than new energy-efficient models.
- Solution: Upgrade your appliances with new energy-efficient models. For example, a new energy-efficient heat pump water heater will reduce the amount of power you use by around 60% on average compared to a standard electric model.
WHAT MORE CAN I DO?
For additional tips and information on our many efficiency rebate programs you can visit us here or call us.