Power bills change a bit from month to month, reflecting small differences in electricity use. When your energy costs jump by a significant amount, however, you know there’s a problem.
Issues such as a faulty electricity meter may be the reason your bill jumped so high, but equipment failures are rare. More than likely, you can trace the increase to something or someone using too much power.
The tips below will help you identify and resolve the problem. You can bring your electricity payments back to an affordable amount and maybe even save some money at the same time.
1. Older, energy-heavy appliances
New appliances and machines are made to use less electricity. Older designs don’t have the same power efficiency. They consume more energy than necessary, driving up your electricity costs.
ENERGY STAR certified appliances, for instance, can use up to 50% less electricity than older models. Though you get the same basic functionality, you pay far less in the long run.
You may swear by your ancient washing machine’s dependability, but you could be spending more in power costs than you’re saving in repairs. The same goes for refrigerators, dryers, dishwashers, ovens, and more.
If your appliances are ten years old or more, it’s to get a new model. Compare the power requirements of your current machine against the new options to understand how much you can save.
2. Inefficient power use
Unfortunately, “user error” is the most likely reason that your power bill has gone up. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’ve left too many lights on or opened the windows without shutting off the air conditioner. Those actions may increase your usage, but there are other, less-obvious ways you may be using your electricity inefficiently.
Vampire devices are a common culprit. These devices use energy at all times, even when they’re turned off. A TV, for example, needs to stay connected to the remote so it knows when to turn on. Maintaining that connection requires a small amount of constant energy usage.
Similarly, devices such as microwaves and ovens use continuous energy to display the time on their displays. Computers will consume power to stay in sleep mode. Your various chargers may even draw energy when they’re not connected to your devices.
Get in the habit of unplugging any devices that don’t need to be connected. Chargers, computers, speakers, and other devices can be disconnected until you need them. You can also unplug larger appliances, such as TVs and microwaves, though that may be more hassle than it’s worth.
Unsurprisingly, how you set your thermostat plays a significant role in your power usage as well. If you saw a big jump in your bill during the summer, you may be seeing the costs of cooling your home. Heating can create similar spikes.
Minimize your heating and cooling costs by setting your thermostat strategically. Only run your HVAC system while you’re at home, letting the house reach less costly temperatures while you’re out. Find alternatives to running your system, such as using space heaters or opening the windows on a cool day.
Additionally, avoid frequent temperature changes. Your HVAC system will use more energy if you turn the thermostat up and down throughout the day rather than leaving it at a consistent temperature.
Your water heater can also cause high electricity bills. It keeps your water heated to the temperature you set at all times. Even when you’re not using hot water, your heater is using electricity to warm the water in the tank. Turn this temperature down to reduce your costs.
3. Insufficient insulation
Some houses lack proper insulation. Even if you use your HVAC system moderately, the hot or cold air won’t stay inside. With inefficient insulation, your system will have to work twice as hard to keep the house at the right temperature.
Most temperature-regulated air escapes through poorly-insulated walls, but it can also get out through the attic, windows, doors, and the floor.
If your home’s electric bill is unusually high, especially during extreme temperatures, you should evaluate the insulation. You can hire an auditor to inspect the home, though it can be pricey. Checking the attic insulation, as well as the door and window frames, yourself is another option.
4. Energy-inefficient light bulbs
There are several types of light bulbs, including:
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL)
- Light-emitting diode (LED)
Since 2014, all new light bulbs are required to use 25% less energy than older models. LED and CFL lights, in particular, have high energy efficiency. They also last longer than halogen or incandescent bulbs, saving more money.
To reduce your power costs, equip all of your lights with LED bulbs. They can use up to 75% less energy than other lights, creating significant savings. Just be sure to choose the correct wattage for each light to prevent electrical fires.
5. Rising energy costs
The final, and least controllable, reason your power bill has increased is rising energy costs. Like all goods and services, electricity prices can change for a variety of reasons. As frustrating as these increases can be, it’s a normal part of energy usage.
As a Texan, however, you do have a bit more control over the prices you pay. Texas has a deregulated energy market, which gives you the ability to choose your power provider.
If you’re unhappy with your costs, shop around for another energy company. Look at the different prices they offer to see if there’s a better option. You may also be able to choose a plan that reduces your energy costs.
Some plans, for example, adjust energy rates based on peak usage hours. If most of your energy usage occurs at night or during other periods of low usage, you can pay discounted rates. Any energy used during peak hours, however, may cost more than usual.