Ever-increasing electricity bills are a great source of frustration and economic insecurity. In 2020 alone, 27% of US households reported they had trouble paying their electric bill while also reporting to have kept their homes at an unsafe temperature. According to Energy Star, out of the typical utility bill for a US household, heating tops the chart amounting to 29%, while cooling takes up to 13%.
With the extreme changes in the climate, it seems like no matter what you do, you can’t keep up with the skyrocketing electric bills. However, don’t lose hope just yet! There is a lot you can do to lower your electric bill. For example, switching to a smart thermostat or smart AC controller for automated heating/cooling can save you a lot on bills.
Read ahead to find out why your electric bill is so high and how you can get it under control. With these handy tips, you’ll be saving big bucks in no time!
Causes of a High Electric Bill
While you may think you’re doing all you can to save electricity, you may have picked up some unfavorable habits over the years that are making your electricity bill skyrocket.
1. You’re Lazy About AC Maintenance
Air conditioning costs account for 17% of total home electricity expenditures. In more humid climates, this figure increases to 27%. Neglecting maintenance can make this number grow exponentially. For example, if your AC filters are blocked, your air conditioner will have to work harder to provide the same level of cooling, thus consuming more electricity. Luckily, Cielo Breez smart AC controllers can help you keep track of air filter cleanliness by sending timely reminders. Moreover, regular AC maintenance will also save you expensive repairs down the line.
Here’s a handy HVAC maintenance checklist.
2. You Use the Most Energy During Peak Times
If you’ve been wondering why your electricity bill is so high despite limiting your usage, look at when you consume the most electricity. Electric companies charge higher rates during peak times to limit excess energy consumption. Therefore, if your electric bill is still too high, you can save your electricity bill by not using the electronics at the same time as everyone else!
In summers, peak hours are usually between noon and 6 p.m, when everyone is blasting their aircon units at full. Simply limiting usage during this time, or running your AC at a higher temperature, can make a difference and help you lower your electric bill.
Other than the aircon unit, avoid using the washing machine, vacuum, dishwasher, and other appliances at peak hours to keep your energy consumption in check.
3. You Have Leaky Doors and Windows
Windows and doors are major sources of air leaks. Even when your walls are well-insulated, if the weatherstripping or caulking on your doors and windows has worn out, your air conditioner or heater will struggle to do its job properly. As a result, it’ll have to work overtime, leading to an increased electric bill.
Before you start loading up on caulk and weatherstripping, it’s important to know exactly where the air leaks are. Read this handy blog on finding and fixing air leaks to ensure your electricity bills stay as low as possible.
Here’s our detailed guide on window insulation.
4. Your Home Is Inadequately Insulated
Inadequate insulation could also be the reason why your electric bill is so high. As a general rule, heat travels from areas with a higher temperature to areas with a lower temperature. Consequently, indoor heat is trying to escape outdoors in the winter. As a result, your air conditioner struggles to maintain a cooler temperature during the summer, and your heater struggles to maintain a warmer temperature during the winter.
Proper insulation prevents heat transfer through conduction, convection, and radiation – making it easier for your air conditioner to maintain your desired temperature. Your AC no longer has to run overtime to heat or cool the room. This saves energy and prevents a high electric bill.
If you’re convinced about the benefits of insulation but have no idea where or how to get started, read our 101 guide to home insulation.
5. You Cool Your Entire House Even When You Don’t Need to
Most people only occupy 1-2 rooms at a time. However, they still turn on the air conditioning for the entire house. This is a massive waste of electricity and leads to excessive bills. To get around this dilemma, you can create HVAC zones. HVAC zones use dampers to let you divide your house into zones and set a different temperature for each. Your AC will no longer have to work unnecessarily to cool your entire home.
6. You Have an Old HVAC System or Other Old Appliances
Old air conditioners use a shocking amount of electricity. An average air conditioner can last for 10-15 years. After that, as they get older, individual parts, such as the compressor, become less efficient. Older compressors use considerably more electricity. As Energy Star regulations become stricter, newer air conditioners have a much higher EER and SEER rating than older ones.
Apart from air conditioners, older appliances, such as refrigerators or washing machines, can be massive energy hogs. Natural wear and tear decrease the efficiency of older appliances, and they have to run overtime and draw excess electricity. As technology improves, newer appliances are becoming more efficient. An old refrigerator consumes 35% more energy than an Energy Star certified refrigerator. Get rid of appliances when they’ve reached the end of their lifespan. If you don’t, you’ll spend more on expensive electricity bills.
7. You Keep a Spare Fridge
Many people like to keep a spare fridge in the basement, unaware that it could be why their electric bill is so high. However, even if you’re not using your extra fridge, it consumes energy if plugged in. If your spare fridge is mostly empty, consider if you need it at all. If you must keep an extra fridge, ensure it is always full of something, or unplug it.
So the next time you wonder why your energy bill is so high, look at the spare fridge lying in the basement and consider flipping it.
8. You Run Your Hot Water Heater at a Very High Temperature
Your water heater’s temperature could be why your electric bill is so high. Water heaters account for 14-18% of your total utility bill. Thus, you can save a lot on your total electricity bill if you cut down on water heater costs. But unfortunately, most households keep their water heater at a higher temperature than required.
Most water heaters come with a preset temperature of 140F. However, experts say you can safely set them to a temperature of 120F. Setting your water heater at a lower temperature will reduce energy consumption and prevent scalding injuries!
Another ingenious method of saving money on your water heater bill is insulating it with a water heater blanket. This will prevent heat loss, and the water heater will not have to work hard to maintain the desired temperature.
9. You Frequently Use the Dryer
Using the dryer for every load of clothes is a major cause of high electricity bills. A simple clothesline can make a drastic difference if you want to lower your electric bill. Each hour of using a dryer costs anywhere between 24 and 72 cents. So if you use your dryer for every load of laundry, the cost can quickly add up. To avoid these costs, whenever the weather is good, skip on the dryer and hang the clothes outside to dry. Your wallet will thank you!
10. You Still Use Incandescent Light Bulbs
If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, they could be the main culprit behind your high electric bill. Incandescent light bulbs consume a lot of energy compared to LED bulbs. It is estimated that the average household could save $225 per year by switching to LED bulbs. Not only are LEDs cheaper, but they are also very long-lasting. Once you invest in them, you won’t have to change your lightbulbs for years. So what are you waiting for? Make the switch now!
11. You Use Your Dishwasher and Washing Machine Too Frequently
Appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines are notorious energy hogs. Apart from their energy consumption, they also need loads of hot water, thus increasing your water heater usage. Fortunately, saving money on washing machines and dishwashers is very easy. You just need to be a bit more responsible. For example, never run your dishwasher for a small load of dishes. Instead, wait for it to fill up completely, then run it at the end of the day.
You also don’t need to run your washing machine every day. Instead, keep a designated day or two to do the entire week’s laundry. These simple and easy steps will greatly help you lower your electric bill.
How to Lower Your Electric Bill
Apart from addressing the root causes of a high electric bill, there are a few additional steps you can take to reduce your bill even further.
1. Invest in a Smart AC Controller or a Smart Thermostat
Heating and cooling costs make up a big chunk of your total electricity bill. Smart AC controllers can help you get AC costs under control through useful features such as geofencing, humidity and temperature triggers, usage tracking, etc. Cielo Breez smart AC controllers can help you save up to 25% on heating and cooling costs.
2. Always Unplug Unused Appliances
Many modern-day energy appliances don’t shut down when given the command. Instead, they enter standby mode so they can power up quickly the next time you need to use them. The problem is that if you leave these devices plugged in, they will continue drawing energy. Over time, this energy usage adds up, leading to sky-high electric bills. So the next time you’re wondering why your electric bill is so high, walk around your house and look for any unused devices still plugged in.
3. Turn Any Fans or Lights off When You Leave the Room
Many people believe that lights and fans don’t use much energy, so they don’t bother turning them off when they exit the room. However, if you routinely leave ceiling fans and lights on, you will have a high electricity bill. So make it a habit to check any lights and ceiling fans when you leave a room. You will notice a difference in your electricity bill soon enough.
4. Invest in an Electricity Usage Monitor
If you think an appliance consumes excess electricity, a watt meter or electricity usage monitor is your best friend. An electricity usage monitor helps you determine how much electricity an appliance uses.
Plug the monitor into an outlet, and then plug your appliance into the monitor. Then, run the appliance for 24 hours. The monitor will tell you its electricity consumption for 24 hours. Multiply that figure by 365 to get an idea of your yearly cost.
An electricity usage monitor can help you understand why your electricity bill is so high and where you need to reduce usage.
5. Keep Your Fridge Full
Turns out, always keeping your fridge full of food can actually be good for your wallet! Food acts as insulation and helps your fridge keep food items cold. Every time you open the fridge door, you introduce warm air into it. If you already have a lot of chilled food items in your fridge, they will retain cold air and that warm air will have less of an effect. On the other hand, if your fridge is always empty, the large amount of warm air that enters every time you open it has more of an impact and it has to work harder to keep cool.
Why Is My Electricity Bill So High All of a Sudden?
If you already follow all the tips given in this article, yet your electricity bill has suddenly skyrocketed, there could be a few reasons:
1. Electricity Leak
If your bill is suddenly higher than usual, an electricity leak could be to blame. An electricity leak occurs when electricity flows to the earth through the earth wire, usually due to faulty wiring. An electric leak can be expensive and dangerous. If you turn off the main breaker for your house and your electric meter is still showing electricity consumption, you may have a leak. If you suspect a leak, contact a licensed electrician immediately. Do not attempt to fix it yourself as you can get a nasty electric shock.
2. Someone Could Be Stealing Your Electricity
A sudden unexplained increase in your electricity bill could be caused by pilferage. Switching off the main breaker is a simple and easy way to determine if someone is stealing your electricity. Contact the power company immediately if your electric meter continues showing electricity usage. They will send a technician to resolve the issue.
3. Rising Inflation
Your electricity bill may sometimes increase for reasons not under your control. If there is overall inflation in the country, naturally, your electric bill will also increase. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do in this situation. However, you can be even more diligent about not wasting electricity and reducing your consumption as much as possible.
Which Appliances Use the Most Energy in a Home?
Heaters use the most energy in a home. They account for the highest percentage of a home’s total electricity consumption. Water heaters and cooling appliances are the second and third biggest consumers of residential electricity, respectively.
Does Unplugging Appliances Save Electricity?
Yes, unplugging appliances does save electricity. The average American household has 40 products constantly drawing energy. Combined, these can amount to 10% of total residential electricity use.
High electricity bills are a source of great financial stress and hardship. With these tips, you can reduce the burden on your wallet and benefit the environment. It’s a win-win! Start implementing these tips and enjoy big savings in no time!