Troubleshooting a High Bill:
Review the last 13 months of the location usage history. Compare the most recent month to the same month one year ago. Weather fluctuations may also be a factor.
True Electric charges
Is this a true high electric bill? Are there other charges beyond the electricity fees? (fixed fees, past-due amounts, water, sewer, PCAC, deposit, disconnection fee, returned check)
Days of use
Check the number of days billed for energy consumed. This varies from bill to bill due to the number of days in a month, and/or billing cycle. Initial or final bills can have more days billed than the normal monthly bill resulting in a higher customer charge and consumption charge on these bills.
Compare Winter to Summer
Check the kilowatt hour total by month. From the history, check if the winter months are higher. This can indicate electric heating or some form of electric space heater usage or heating blankets. Electric water heating also tends to go up in the winter.
Electric water heater elements are notorious for failure causing energy consumption to increase. This attached link provides troubleshooting instructions to identify any failures related to your Electric Water Heater.
During the summer months, the main driver of higher energy consumption is air conditioning. Were the temperatures higher or lower than normal? In the rural area, well pump failures are a common cause for electricity issues. These issues frequently occur when the pressure tank has a failure. This failure will cause your well pump to run more often than needed. This link below provides a detailed explanation.
This Old House – YouTube video link:
Angie’s List – Well Pump
Electric meters do not go on vacation
Remember that any appliance left plugged in or connected will continue to use electricity even while gone: electric water heaters, refrigerators, freezers, HVAC systems, well pumps, sump pumps, dehumidifiers, etc. These continue to operate while away. Most electronic devices will also continue to use electricity even when not in use: TV, DVR, PC’s
No two households use energy the same way, so comparing one house to the next is like comparing apples to mailboxes. The location usage history is your best course of action to resolve high-energy usage.
Has the size of the household increased; did someone stay at home more; have guests stayed for an extended period? This is typical when people retire.
Were additional electrical equipment added to the home? (A hot tub, space heater, window A/C unit, old or new hobbies that require power tools, ovens, or other high resistance tools or appliances)
From a water perspective, did the customer take up gardening and are now watering the garden; did they redo their lawn and are watering it to get it to grow faster and get established; Did a child move back home for a significant duration; Did they buy an outdoor pool and fill it up?
Appliances older than 15 years may lose efficiency and have a tendency to use more electricity. This is common with additional refrigerators used in the garage. Regular cleaning of refrigerator coils, condensing units, and replacement filters help maintain peak performance. Also, check for a dripping sink or running toilet.
Consumer Reports is a great resource to find the right, efficient, reliable appliance/equipment.
Focus On Energy – Program Discounts:
How to detect a toilet leak (click below):
Additional heating or cooling load will cause an increase in electric use. Using space heaters, fireplaces, livestock heaters, and vehicle block heaters in the winter dramatically increase ones energy consumption. Running dehumidifiers and central air/window A/C units weigh heavily on energy usage. A good rule of thumb while setting your thermostat, one degree in either direction will save you 10% on your energy consumption. See the link below for further tips.
Lightning can damage well pumps, sump pumps, or appliances increasing the load on these devices. If underground wiring-insulation is damaged an increase in electrical usage may occur when the ground is saturated from rain or snow melt. If you suspect you have damaged wiring, it is best to have a certified, licensed electrician troubleshoot and fix your problem.
Was it a very dry season and the customer was watering flowers, garden, or lawn? Dry weather can also cause issues with homes that have poor grounding, which leads to equipment operating differently or not at all.
Electric and water meters are rarely the cause of higher consumption, but frequently blamed. Less than 1 out of 1000 meters will test wrong, either slow or fast.
After reviewing the above information, if customer service staff are unable to reconcile the issue or concern over the phone, contact Jim for high electric or the Water Department for high water usage to follow up with additional services that may be offered.
Department of Energy:
Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits link:
Home Energy Saver:
Home Energy Yardstick
Focus On Energy