Troubleshooting an Unusually High Electric Bill | The Light Lab

Troubleshooting an Unusually High Electric Bill

There’s always a moment of suspense right before you open your monthly electricity bill. Will you be surprised? And if so, will it be a good or bad surprise? Most homeowners have experienced electric bill sticker shock at least once or twice.

Why Is My Electric Bill So High?

Whether your electricity bills have suddenly spiked or gradually increased, figuring out why could help you save a big sum of money each year. Here are some of the most common reasons for unusually high electric bill surprises:

Troubleshooting an Unusually High Electric Bill | The Light Lab

1. Your Home Isn’t Energy Efficient

We often think of energy efficiency in terms of appliances and electronics, but one of your most important energy efficiency concerns is your physical home. Is your insulation sufficient? Are your windows multi-pane or single pane? Is your home drafty? Heating and cooling accounts for the largest share of the average electric bill, and these factors have a huge effect on how hard your furnace and air conditioner have to work. If you want a big-picture view of your home’s energy efficiency, consider scheduling a professional home energy audit.

2. Your Major Appliances are Costing You

As you might imagine, it’s the big things in your home that contribute the most to your electric bill. Air conditioners, electric furnaces, refrigerators, washing machines, electric dryers, electric ovens, dishwashers and electric water heaters deserve close scrutiny during a high electric bill troubleshooting session. You can save money by using some of these appliances less, such as by adjusting the thermostat or switching your laundry loads to cold water. But the biggest energy saving opportunities come from replacing older, less efficient appliances with modern ENERGY STAR certified models.

Troubleshooting an Unusually High Electric Bill | The Light Lab

3. You’re Using Your HVAC System Too Much

Most of us are willing to pay a price for comfort at home. But if you keep the thermostat set at 72 degrees year-round, you’re missing a big chance to shrink your electricity bills. Switching to a programmable or smart thermostat will make it easier to use less energy while you’re not at home. And you can save even more by supplementing your comfort with fans in the summer and dressing warmly in the winter.

4. You’re Using the Wrong Light Bulbs

You have light bulbs in every room in the house, and maybe you even tend to leave them on when no one is in the room. If you’re still using old incandescent bulbs, you’re paying several times more than you need to. Even CFL bulbs are no longer the most energy efficient lights on the market. LED bulbs, which have dropped significantly in price in recent years, can light the average home for just pennies per month. And while their purchase price is still a few dollars more than the old-fashioned incandescents used to be, LED bulbs last for years.

Troubleshooting an Unusually High Electric Bill | The Light Lab

5. You’ve Experienced Extreme Weather

Some matters of energy efficiency just aren’t up to us. If you live in an extremely hot or cold climate, or even if you’re experiencing a freak heat wave or cold snap, you can count on your HVAC system working overtime. The less insulation you have in your home, the more extreme the energy spike will be.

6. It Could Be Your Electric Rate

If you’re not in the habit of reading your monthly energy bills closely, your rate may have increased without you even noticing. Check your old bills or inquire with your electricity provider if you think your rate may have changed. In deregulated states like Texas, you can shop around and choose your electricity provider based on different packages of rates and discounts. In either case, your electricity provider may offer time-of-day discounts that allow you to save by delaying chores like dishes and laundry until off-peak evening hours.

Nobody likes to see a nasty surprise in their monthly electric bill, but with a few changes in habits and some upgrades around the house, you can set yourself up for pleasant surprises to come.

Save More on Your Electric Bill with First Choice Power

Protect your bill from price spikes by locking in a competitive fixed electricity rate with First Choice Power. We have a variety of rates and plans to fit your home, and our online account manager lets you track your usage so you can see how much you save!

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Josh Crank is a freelance writer with a background in legal journalism, travel writing and marketing. He's found his perfect fit in writing about home maintenance and repairs, energy efficiency, smart home technology and other topics to help readers make home life green and comfortable. Josh lives with his wife, two sons and endlessly howling beagle-basset hound mix in New Orleans.