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Even if you closely monitor your energy usage, your power bill at the end of the month might not always make sense. An overworked dishwasher, a glitch in your electrical box, or an unexpected heat wave are only a few ways that you can drive up your consumption. Luckily, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet so that you’ll be ready the next time an unforgiving bill comes your way.

It’s July 1st…

You decided to keep your AC running all day, because who wants to come home to a sauna? Although it seems insignificant, you’ve spent nearly 40 more hours of energy on air conditioning that week. Your power bill will naturally fluctuate as the temperature changes outside, but blasting the AC when you don’t need it will cause a huge spike in your energy spending. Especially during seasonal transitions, your heating and AC stay on longer and kick in more than usual. To reduce the surge, we recommend that you switch your thermostat off automatic and only heat or cool when essential. Also check your doors and windows to minimize drafts, as well as your thermostat to ensure it’s working properly.

You spilled on your favorite jeans

By throwing them into the wash, you’re wasting a whole load on one item. Appliances like dishwashers and laundry machines are energy hogs that cause spikes in your power bill during periods of heavy use. When possible, avoid wasting energy on small loads that could be done by hand. Using outdated appliances that weren’t manufactured to run efficiently could also be a reason you’re spending more on your energy bill. Appliances used past their prime consume much more energy compared to environmentally-conscious alternatives made in the last 10 years.

“Phantom loads,” or appliances that continue to suck energy even when turned off, can also quietly drive up your power bill. Investing in power strips, or just simply unplugging your devices when you leave the house will lead to a more consistent monthly energy bill.

You take a 20 minute shower

The average shower uses 5 gallons of water each minute, and heating water constitutes a huge proportion of your home’s energy consumption. In fact, your water heater accounts for nearly 18% of your spending on electricity each month. A cold winter, a leak in your warm water tap, or washing more dishes than usual can all increase your power bill. The simple solution to reduce your energy consumption is to use less hot water, but if that’s impossible, making sure that your faucets and appliances are working efficiently can help the issue. Also check the thermostat settings on your water heater and decrease the temperature if possible.

There’s damage to your electrical box

Though uncommon, voltage leaks can occur in electrical boxes weakened by water damage or corrosion. Even the smallest leak can multiply your electricity consumption, so be mindful of spikes in your energy bill that can’t be traced back to your appliances or lifestyle. There’s no way to avoid voltage leaks, especially after a natural disaster strikes, but keep an eye out for bill inconsistencies and check your electrical box occasionally to make sure everything’s in place.

A broken meter could also be the culprit. Your electric usage is measured by a meter that sends data back to your energy provider, and if it’s not working properly, your energy company could be overcharging you for electricity. If you suspect that your meter is malfunctioning, ask your energy supplier to send a representative out to your home to test the meter.

These small lifestyle changes can make a real difference in the amount of money you spend on energy bills each month. While saving a few dollars here and there may seem minor, by the end of the year those savings can really add up.

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