troubleshoot high electricity bill causes

High Electricity Bill? Here’s how to troubleshoot

Key takeaways

  • Check if there are a lot of energy-inefficient appliances or unnecessarily plugged-in appliances that could be draining electricity.
  • Your utility company could be a factor. Has your billing plan changed? Have electricity rates gone up recently?
  • Unplug from activities that require power. There are lots of fun things to try that do not require electricity. 
  • One sure way to save money on your electricity costs is by going solar

If you own a home in America, you’ve probably experienced the shock of seeing your monthly electricity bill much higher than you’d expect. With COVID-19 and how much more we now stay at home, you may have just seen a higher than usual monthly electricity bill. One of the most common questions we hear is, “Why is my electricity bill so high?” Let us help you diagnose your electricity bill to help you save money during these times. 

Particularly nowadays, when every dollar seems even more valuable, there are steps that you can take to help reduce your electricity costs. Find the source of your high electricity bills to minimize the impact of utility costs on your wallet. Do a quick home energy audit to diagnose and reduce your high electric bill.

Questions to ask when your electric bill is shockingly high

If your electric bill suddenly increases more than you thought, you need to find find out why. Start by asking these questions:

#1: Purchased an EV? Any new electronics? 

electric car revolution
Electric Vehicles contribute to your electricity costs

It may seem a bit obvious, but a common cause of a significant increase in your electric bill is the use of brand new electronics. The purchase of a new electric vehicle (EV) is one of the primary factors for a shockingly high electricity bill. 

Additional examples of a new electronic device that could help lead to a surprise electricity bill might include spending hours playing the latest Playstation, baby cameras, getting a dryer, jacuzzi, or humidifier. 

#2 Tis the Season For a Frightful Bill? 

X-Mas decoration icon

Seasonality has a significant impact on why you might be seeing a surprise electricity bill. Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween can have a considerable effect on your electricity costs. Christmas lights, for example, can play a significant role in your electricity costs. A string of just 25 incandescent bulbs of Christmas lights uses roughly 175 (one hundred seventy-five) watts of electricity. 175 watts of electricity equates to approximately $15 across 45 days, assuming a 12-hour a day operation. If they aren’t turned off an run for 24 hours across the Christmas season, a string of just 25 incandescent bulbs costs roughly $30 to keep powered on. 

#3 More people living at home? Bundle of joy?

The number of people living at home can also significantly impact your electricity usage. Regardless of whether new people join their home temporarily or permanently, more people at home can have a significant impact on your electricity costs. With a few more bodies at home, that typically means that the dishwasher is used more often, laundry is done every week, and more lights are on than before. 

#4 Are you staying at home more often or starting to WFH?

With COVID-19, we are spending more hours at home, and people are using appliances more than before. The COVID-19 safer-at-home initiative is leading to more TV being watched, more iPad time, and more A/C usage. COVID has impacted the way you work. Most jobs now require you to work-from-home (WFH). So the hours that you once spent at your office charging your computer, monitors, and running additional lights. 

#5: How old are some of your electrical appliances in your home?

As more time passes, the electronic appliances in your home degrade and lose efficiency. This loss in efficiency can lead to older appliances becoming “energy hogs” in your home. Even in their best condition, older devices will draw more electricity to generate the same amount of power that most comparable appliances could today. Just like with cars, appliances are now becoming more energy efficient. Replacing 

Also, older appliances weren’t made with the same efficiency standards that are required today. If your home is full of older appliances, switching to newer appliances could significantly reduce your electricity bill. 

#6 Are your major appliances non-ENERGY STAR certified?

microwave electricity usage

The ENERGY STAR certification helps identify energy-efficient appliances during the shopping process. Energy-efficient appliances make a substantial impact. In particular, the appliances that use a lot of electricity can see the most significant impact. A few examples of appliances that use a lot of power are refrigerators, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, dryers, and incandescent lights. Switching to more energy-efficient appliances in your home could lead to significant annual savings on your electricity bills

#7: Are your appliances plugged in when they aren’t in use?

Have you noticed that even if you spend a month or two away from home, you’ll still have a decently-sized electricity bill? Even though appliances aren’t “on” keeping your appliances plugged into their outlets can cause high electricity bills. An easy way to conceptualize this is to view these appliances as being on “standby” until being turned on.

Most electronic devices continue to draw electricity from the grid even if they are powered down or not in use. That is why it is essential to unplug the appliances that you don’t use them frequently. Consider unplugging devices that you don't require all the time like DVR systems, smart home devices like the Amazon Echo, Facebook Portal, computer printers, or your microwave. 

While appliances on standby don’t use much electricity comapred to when they are in use, this small power draw can add up. They are contributing to an overall higher electricity bill. 

#8: Is your utility company increasing electricity rates?

The price of how much homes and businesses pay for electricity fluctuates across the country. One constant theme, however, is that and retail and residential electricity rates have increased over time. According to the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), electricity rates have increased on average across the United States by approximately 4% per year in the last ten years. As the price you pay for electricity continues to grow, it will mean higher electricity bills, even if you aren’t using more power. If you think that your utility company has raised their rates, it’s worth taking a look at their website or searching local news to see if this is the case. 

utility lines

#9: Have you switched to a time-of-use plan?

Has your billing plan been updated? Utility companies are now forcing homeowners to adopt a time-of-use (TOU) plan. If you are part of this group, this could be one reason your electricity bill is higher than it’s been in the past. TOU plans to charge different electricity prices depending on the time of day you’re drawing electricity from the grid. Typically, the time that you consume the most amount of electricity (4 pm-9 pm) is when electricity costs are the most expensive. The highest billing timeframe is called “Peak hours.” If you’re on a TOU plan and running lots of appliances that consume a lot of energy during these hours, it will increase your monthly bill. 

#10 When are you using your appliances the most?

If you’re on a time-of-use billing plan, it’s worth considering your day-to-day habits. Peak hours for TOU typically start around the time most homeowners get home. By adjusting your habits, you can substantially decrease your electricity consumption during peak hours. Consider when you start doing your laundry or when you start turning on or off your air conditioning. Adjusting when you use certain appliances, particularly if you’re on a Time-of-Use billing plan, can make a substantial impact on your electricity bill. 

What’s next? Reducing your high electric bills

If you’ve identified the cause (or causes) of your high electricity bill, there are small steps as well as more significant home improvement measures that you can take to combat them. 

Fun Things to Try to Power Down

  1. Start a journal
  2. Read a Book
  3. Clean the house
  4. Power down with a book
  5. Plant a herb garden

Installing solar for your home can save you money

Installing solar panels on your roof can save you thousands of dollars on your electricity bill. If properly sized, your solar energy system can offset more than 100% of your current electricity consumption, allowing you to eliminate your electricity bill. Depending on how many solar panels you can fit on your roof and exposure to sunlight, the average homeowner can save anywhere from $10,000 - $50,000 on their electricity bill over 20 years. With solar energy, you can also break from the rising electricity costs from your utility company since you will be generating your own renewable energy. 

Get an Energy Audit for Your Home

Scheduling an energy audit for your home can help identify various improvements you can make to improve your energy efficiency and lower your electricity bills. Typically, an energy auditor will identify areas that could benefit from main panel upgrades to LED lights, weather stripping, insulation, and energy-efficient appliances. 

solar energy can be life changing

When all else fails, call a licensed electrician

In some instances, your electricity bill may be shockingly high despite taking all of the right steps to be energy conscious. If that is the case, you could have some type of electrical fault or error that is impacting your electrical system. Faulty electrical wiring could cause a sudden increase in electricity consumption, or your electrical meter may be broken. If you continue to see a higher than expected electricity bill, even after taking all of the necessary steps to troubleshoot the exact cause, it may be time to call a certified electrician. An experienced electrician can help identify the reason for the increase and save you money on future bills. 

Are you interested in a home energy audit or installing solar for your home? Call Forme Solar Electric at (714) 694-2262 and get started today!