Five big factors that impact your electric bill

No one likes to receive a higher-than-usual energy bill. It’s stressful, and makes you wonder what the heck happened to make it so expensive. Below, find the top reasons you might see an increase on your current bill, and look to the right for tips on managing energy usage to save money on your next one. 

  1. Working and schooling from home: With so many people working from home and doing virtual schooling right now, this one is a heavy hitter.  In the past you may have turned down your heat or turned up your AC when you left the house to save energy costs. Those savings are gone when you work from home. This will impact your bill, especially if you had to hook up an extra computer for work, multiple computer screens, printers, or Wi-Fi extenders to make your home office suitable for doing your job, you’ll likely notice an uptick in energy costs. If you have a child or multiple children doing online school, this will increase your costs too. 
  1. The weather changed drastically since last month: Heating and cooling costs can account for up to 50 percent of your monthly energy usage! In spring and fall when temperatures are milder, you will likely notice lower bills compared to summer and winter. This is because the greater the difference between the temperature outside and the temperature inside, the harder your furnace or air conditioning unit has to work to maintain a consistent temperature inside your house. Fiddling with the thermostat all day will make this worse, so try to “set it and forget it,” and only turn it up if you really need to.
  1. New roommates or an increase in house guests: If someone new moves into your home, you are pretty much guaranteed to see your bill go up. While most people may not realize it, this makes sense; suddenly there is another person turning on lights, using hot water, watching tv, and doing laundry. Nearly everything we do at home consumes some amount of energy, so an extra person will definitely cause an increase. Additionally, hosting a large gathering can lead to an increase in your bill. In the days leading up to the gathering, you’re probably cooking and cleaning more, using electricity that you don’t normally use. On the day of the party, you might have extra lights on, plug in TVs or other entertainment systems that you don’t usually use, and you’ll probably keep them running for more hours than you usually would. 
  1. Your appliances are old: After heating and cooling, appliances are the second largest power drain, accounting for almost 25 percent of energy consumption if you include the power needed for your hot water heater. The biggest offenders are dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators. If you have appliances that are more than 10 years old, consider upgrading to newer, more efficient models. Even though the initial cash outlay might sting a little bit, upgrading can save you hundreds of dollars a year in the long run.
  1. You need to blow the dust out: Dust and particulates build up in air vents, on refrigerator coils, in dryer vent hoses, in your furnace filter, and in other places in your home, depending on what you have in place. Over time, this degrades the performance of appliance motors - shortening useful life - and makes your HVAC system work harder - not to mention negatively impacting your air quality! Make a list of everything in your home that uses energy and collects particles, then set up a maintenance schedule and stick to it.

Now that you know the key factors that can increase your bill, you’re probably wondering if there is anything you can do to control these costs. Of course there is! Check out the feature story printed next to this list for more information about what you can do to have a cheaper bill next month.