Is your electric bill higher than you expected? Where do you start to figure out what could have caused the increase?
Here are a few of the most common culprits behind high household power usage and suggestions on how to curb usage 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.
- USAGE HISTORY
Review the kilowatt hour (kWh) history on your account for the last 13 months. This history is provided for you on every bill. You can compare your most recent month to that same month one year ago. 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 each year. If you have questions call our Customer Service Representatives at (541) 567-6414.
- 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? Don’t forget to account for any Energy Saver Loans you have taken out, those payments are included on your monthly bill.
- COMPARE SEASONS (WINTER TO SUMMER)
Check the kilowatt hour total by month. From the history, are the winter months higher, indicating some form of electric heat or higher hot water heater use? Do the summer months indicate 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 nearly half of your average total energy use. Using space heaters, fireplaces, livestock heaters or vehicle block heaters in the winter can dramatically increase your energy consumption. Running a dehumidifier or watering of lawns, gardens and animals in the summer months will increase your energy use.
- YOUR ELECTRIC METER DOESN’T GO ON VACATION
If you leave your home for an extended period of time 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, HVAC 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 is best to compare your current use to your past use. That is a more accurate record. Remember to determine if the size of your household has increased or has someone stayed at home more? Have you added a new swimming pool or hot tub in your backyard? Do you have hobbies that include the use of power tools, ovens and other electrical appliances?
- LIGHTING, REFRIGERATION, APPLIANCES AND COOKING
Lighting, refrigeration, cooking and appliances account for roughly 50 percent of the total energy use in the normal household. The location of refrigerators and freezers is very important. Never place a refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or in unconditioned space such as a breezeway, garage or outbuilding. The refrigerator or freezer will have to work harder to overcome excessive heat during warmer months. Make sure that your refrigerators and freezers have adequate ventilation.
- EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE
If an appliance is more than 15 years old, the efficiency of that appliance may be decreasing significantly and requiring more energy to do its job. It is important to clean or replace the condenser, coils or filters on some appliances regularly. You may need to replace the appliance itself. Many times old electrical wiring will have loose connections resulting in increased electrical use and create potential safety hazards.
- CONSTRUCTION OR REMODELING
Have your remodeled your home? Many times room additions are completed without proper sizing of HVAC for additional heating and cooling loads.
Top Power Culprits: Check out the usual suspects and determine what changes you can make.
Most modern appliances and gadgets still draw electricity even when turned off – hence the term vampire power! The reason for this is, they never really power down. Even “powered down”, most are in standby mode. Think about what you have plugged in: DVRs, computers, cell phone chargers, televisions, microwaves and coffee pots. Anything you have programmed or scheduled a task is in standby mode, which still draws electricity. Anything with a clock, such as microwave ovens and coffee makers — and even older technologies, like VCRs — need power to keep time while turned off.
- Solution: You can start saving energy by connecting devices to power strips and turning off the power strips when you’re not using them. That way, off will really means off as you’ve effectively disconnected the device from the power source.
Big appliances, like dishwashers, clothes washers and clothes dryers demand a lot of electricity and using them too often can drive your electricity bill way up. In fact, the average American family does almost 400 loads of laundry a year and uses almost 40 gallons of water for a full load. Always use the appliance to it’s fullest capacity and eliminate unnecessary loads.
Top Ten Most Electricity-Drawing Appliances
- Central Air Conditioner (2 ton): 1450 kWh/month
- Water Heater (4-person household): 400-600/kWh/month
- Refrigerator (17-20 cubic foot): 205 kWh/month
- Dryer: 75 kWh/month
- Oven Range: 58 kWh/month
- Lighting 4-5 room household: 50 kWh/month
- Dishwasher: 30 kWh/month
- Television: 27 kWh/month
- Microwave: 16 kWh/month
- Washing Machine: 9 kWh/month
- Solution: For your dishwasher, make sure that you fill it to capacity 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.
LIGHTING & CEILING FANS
When it comes to lighting, many people make the mistake of using lights to affect the brightness of an entire room, which can contribute to high electric bills. However, lighting is efficient only when used directly to provide light to specific areas of a room, such as couches, chairs, kitchen tables and workspaces. Full room ceiling lights are much less effective than individual lamps for providing the light you need. You’ll also pay more on your electric bill if you keep lights on when nobody’s using them.
Ceiling fans only affect the temperature of the room in which they’re installed, so it doesn’t make sense to leave a ceiling fan on if nobody’s in the room. Additionally, ceiling fans have a toggle switch that allows the blades to switch direction for optimal efficiency based on the season.
- Solution: Use lighting only for specific areas that are occupied and make sure to turn off lights when those areas are no longer in use. Change out inefficient incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient LED bulbs. Learn more about making efficient lighting choices at the ENERGY STAR website or watch this video. Turn your ceiling fans off when nobody’s in the room and be sure to set the toggle switch so that the blades run counter-clockwise during the summer and clockwise during the winter to circulate air more efficiently.
Using old appliances is probably one of the bigger reasons why you’re paying more on your electric bill. The fact is old appliances simply use more energy than new energy-efficient models.
- Solution: Upgrade your appliances with new energy efficient models. A new energy efficient refrigerator, for example, uses about four times less electricity than an older model.
In today’s world, there is a charger for everything: cell phones, MP3 players, iPads and tablets, PC’s, electric razors, electric toothbrushes, laptops, portable gaming systems and a other devices. Scan your house, if you are technology enabled, more than likely you are to have these devices plugged in everywhere and drawing energy from your home — the more chargers you have, the more they impact your electric bill.
- Solution: Unplug AC adapters and chargers from sockets when not actively charging a device, as they’ll pull electricity simply from being plugged in. Also, make sure to only charge your devices when they need it consider having them all on the same power strip so you can turn it off when not needed. Keep in mind, frequent charging not only costs money, it can shorten your gadget’s battery life.