Complete List of Possible Reasons for High Electric Bill

why is my electric bill so high this month

The recent pandemic and the ongoing geopolitical unrest have contributed to the hikes in energy prices. Because of these contributing factors, the average energy costs for residential users have increased by 8 percent compared to 2021. That’s according to the US Energy Information Administration. So we can’t blame you if you dread receiving your electricity bill, anticipating it will be higher than your previous one. 

Unfortunately, you probably won’t see any respite from increasingly expensive electric bills as no one expects power rates to go down anytime soon. Well, the surges in the per kilowatt hour prices may be beyond your control, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to paying high electricity expenses month after month.  

Reducing your energy usage is the best way to lower your electric bill. But before you can tone down your consumption, you’ll need to understand what’s making your electric bill so high. Afterward, you can implement conservation measures to save energy, which, in turn, will help you save money. 

Let’s explore why your electricity bill seems to be on a never-ending upward spiral and discuss several practical energy-saving tips that can boost your efforts to lower your next electric bill.  

Reasons Why Your Energy Bill is Expensive

It’s easy to blame utility companies for high energy bills, but in many instances, your consumption also plays a role in pulling up your electricity expenses. Naturally, the more energy you use, the higher your utility costs.  

Here are some possible explanations as to why your electric bill keeps increasing every month. 

Vampire Appliances

Will you want to pay for something you don’t use? We’re sure your answer is no. But without knowing it, that’s precisely what you’re doing when you leave your electronics plugged in. Years ago, unplugging appliances won’t make any difference in your energy consumption. That’s because once you turn them off, they cease consuming electricity. We can’t say the same thing about modern devices.  

Newer appliances and gadgets continue sucking energy as long as they remain plugged into the power socket. That’s even if you turn them off. With most modern electronics, pressing the OFF button doesn’t completely shut down the appliance or device but instead puts it in standby mode, which still consumes electricity. As a result, it can drive up your electric bill by around 10 percent. That can translate to about $100 a year. 

Old, Inefficient Appliances

Appliances that are way past their prime use more energy than their newer counterparts. An old-fashioned refrigerator or oven may complement your retro kitchen set-up, but they can drive your electric bill through the roof. Other appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines manufactured in the 1990s, are electricity hogs and must be replaced as soon as possible. 

When it’s time for an upgrade, look for energy-efficient models. Getting an Energy Star-certified unit is the right step in reducing your electric bill, as appliances with an Energy Star rating are built to save energy. For example, a newer, more energy-efficient refrigerator consumes four times less than an old model. This can save you around $144 on energy costs in 5 years. 

Using Incandescent Bulbs

Nowadays, you have plenty of options when it comes to lighting solutions. There are incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). 

Incandescent bulbs and CFLs waste electricity because they transform most of the energy they draw into heat.  

In contrast, LEDs emit very little heat, so the electricity they consume is used mainly to produce light. These energy-efficient light bulbs use 75 percent less electricity than incandescent ones and cost as little as $1.32 to operate for 1000 hours.  

Leaving Lights or Appliances On

Light bulbs and appliances consume electricity as long as they’re operating. Let’s say you keep the lights on in your basement 24/7 or leave the fans running when you step out of the room for long periods. The kilowatt-hour consumption of the bulbs and appliances may not seem like much, but they can add a few cents to your next electric bill.  

How much electricity your light bulbs and appliances use depends on their wattage and length of operation. But no matter how minimal the consumption, they can still potentially impact your electricity bill.  

Inefficient Use of HVAC

HVAC systems consume the most electricity in the average American home. Because heating and cooling devices require significant energy to operate, inefficient use can lead to sky-high electric bills.  

One example of inefficient use is leaving the windows open while operating the air conditioning or heating unit. That’s tantamount to throwing money down the drain because the cooled or heated air escapes out the open window. That temperature-controlled air doesn’t come cheap either, as your system consumes about 3500 watts when it runs two to three times an hour for 10-15 minutes. That leads to approximately 850-1,950 kWh of power consumption in a month.

Using a Lot of Hot Water

Water heating accounts for roughly 18 percent of a home’s energy bill. Many household tasks and activities entail the use of hot water. These include doing laundry, washing dishes, bathing, and showering. As you use the hot water, your water heater will consume electricity to heat more water. Some water heaters run on natural gas, but if yours require electric power, water heating will drive up your electric bill. 

Although water heaters have become efficient in using energy, they still consume considerable electricity. Depending on their capacity, they can use between 1,000 and 6,000 watts, with 3,000 watts being the average.   

Poor Home Insulation

We mentioned that an HVAC system accounts for a big slice of your home’s power consumption. Keeping the temperature of your living space at a comfortable level requires a lot of electricity, especially if you live in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions. Thus, an inadequately insulated home will inflate your electric bill as hot or cold air escapes into the outside environment. This makes your HVAC system work harder to maintain the desired temperature. 

The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) estimates that around 90 percent of homes in the country don’t have adequate insulation. Gaps in windows and doors and drafty attic spaces account for about 50 percent of air leaks in homes. 

Spending More Time Indoors

The pandemic has caused more power customers to spend more time indoors. Staying inside the house can drive your electric bill so high that it shocks you to the core. But a high power bill shouldn’t come as a surprise if you stay indoors most of the time. That’s because you’ll naturally consume more electricity when you’re inside the house. 

For one, you’ll need to keep your home’s temperature optimal. That means running your air conditioning unit or heating device. You’ll also require illumination. Instead of enjoying a run around the block, you’ll probably spend your leisure hours watching television or playing a game on your computer or other devices, all of which lead to higher electric bills.   

Using Electricity During Peak Hours

In a time-of-use electricity plan, power rates vary depending on the time of day. Peak hours refer to those times during the day when power demand is highest. This occurs when energy consumers are at home and busy with their chores or leisure activities requiring electricity. Energy companies charge more during peak hours. 

Using electricity during peak hours is unavoidable in some instances. For example, you must keep your refrigerator running to preserve fresh food. Turning off your home security system won’t be practical, either. However, you can schedule some of your activities during off-peak hours or when the electricity demand is lowest. Keep in mind that peak hours vary depending on some factors, such as the supplier and time of the year.  

Extreme Weather

The weather can change drastically from one day to the next. The temperature may be mild today but can turn scorchingly hot or freezing cold tomorrow. Spikes and dips in the thermometer can lead to a high electric bill as you try to cope with the heat of summer or the winter chill. 

When the temperature fluctuates dramatically, your heating and cooling devices must work harder to keep your living space nice and comfy. That requires electricity, thus hiking your power usage, and is one of the reasons your electric bill rises. 

Increased Electricity Rate

You’ll naturally get a high electric bill due to increased power rates. Electricity prices indicated as cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh), vary depending on your area and the electric company. The season of the year can also affect the per kWh rate. For example, you may see a higher amount on your utility bill during summer. 

Of course, your cooling costs may rise when there’s a heat wave. But sometimes, even if your electricity use remains the same, your bill still increases due to the surges in power prices.  

Regulated Energy Market

In states with regulated electricity, one power company may be responsible for everything related to electricity service. These include energy generation, constructing and maintaining the transmission lines that carry the generated electricity from the power plants, and distribution lines that bring the electricity to homes and businesses.  

You can’t easily switch electric providers if you live in an area where the energy market is regulated. As such, you have no choice but to pay whatever electricity rates your utility company charges. In deregulated states, you have the option to compare the energy rates of different power providers and switch suppliers if your current bill is so high. 

Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill

Now that you know the reasons your electric bill is so high, let’s discuss what steps to take to save electricity and save money. The good news is that you won’t run out of ways to lower energy use. You can take small steps or go big in your efforts to avoid having higher utility bills in the coming months. Here are some tips you may want to try. 

Perform an Energy Audit

An energy audit is an excellent way to avoid a higher bill and save money despite increasing electricity rates. Basically, the auditor will determine your home’s power consumption and make recommendations on how to upgrade its energy efficiency. With the information gathered from the audit, you can identify and address power usage issues to curb energy costs.  

Unplug Electronics and Appliances

Electronics and appliances can pump up your home’s energy use because most modern electronics keep on consuming electric power when they stay plugged into the socket. Most households have various devices, appliances, and gadgets with indicator lights. Such electronics are notorious for adding to the home’s energy use even when they’re sitting idle and are not in use. Pull the plugs off the socket or purchase a smart power strip to avoid wasting energy.   

Upgrade Old Appliances  & Use Energy Efficient Ones

Outdated appliances tend to be power hogs. To cut your energy expenses, consider replacing your electricity-draining appliances with newer and more efficient models. Getting Energy Star-rated units can further boost your power-saving efforts. Machines with the Energy Star label are guaranteed to perform the same tasks older models do while using less electricity. 

Use LED Bulbs

LED bulbs use less electricity than traditional lighting solutions. The US Department of Energy states that replacing five frequently used light fixtures in your home with LED bulbs could shave $75 a year from your bill. More so if you switch to Energy Star-rated bulbs. And because LED and CFLs with the Energy Star label last longer than traditional bulbs, you also get to save money on replacements. 

Adjust the Thermostat

Turning your thermostat down by 7 to 10 degrees from its usual setting for 8 hours a day can yield 10 percent savings for you. This won’t require much sacrifice, especially if you adjust the temperature setting when you’re not home. That way, your heating and cooling system won’t have to work so hard to produce warm or cool air while you’re away. A programmable thermostat will help with this technique. 

Install Ceiling Fans

A ceiling fan doesn’t produce cool air. However, it helps make your home more comfortable during scorching weather. It does so by removing hot air and replacing it with cooler air from outside the house. Using a fan in tandem with the AC lets you raise the thermostat setting and still be comfortable.  

Change Your HVAC Filter Regularly

A clogged filter reduces the energy efficiency of your HVAC system, making it work harder and, thus, hiking its power usage. Check your filter regularly and clean or replace it as soon as it’s dirty. Changing the filter every 3 months is ideal. 

Air Dry Dishes and Laundry

A large amount of the electricity consumed by clothes dryers and dishwashers comes from their heating elements, which are necessary for drying clothes and dishes. Use a clothes rack or line to hang your laundry to curb your appliances’ consumption. For dishes, air dry them or use a dishcloth to remove the excess moisture. 

Lower Your Water Heater Setting

The default temperature setting of most water heaters is 140 degrees F. However, water heated to 120 degrees F is enough to meet most homes’ hot water needs, which means you’re unnecessarily increasing your home’s energy demand if you stick to the default setting. Dialing down the temperature setting to 120 degrees F can save you $31 to $60 that you lose in standby heat expenses and more than $400 in demand losses a year. 

Plan for Off-Peak Hours

If you’re in a time-of-use plan, a certain amount of planning can help reduce your bill. Avoid operating your power-hungry appliances during peak demand hours, when electricity prices are highest. For example, consider using your clothes dryer during off-peak hours so you’ll pay less per kWh.  

Switch to the Best Electric Supplier

You may still see high energy bills despite your efforts to conserve electricity. In this case, switching to a supplier with lower rates may be an option. But before terminating your agreement with your current provider, research the different companies and look for the following. 

  • The Price to Compare (PTC): This is the per kWh rate the supplier charges. Knowing the PTC lets you determine if the company you’re considering charges less than your previous supplier.  
  • Price lock options: Locking in your rates with a fixed rate contract means the price you pay per kWh won’t fluctuate with seasonal and market changes. 
  • Taxes and other charges or fees: Check if the taxes are included in the PTC. Also, find out if there are additional charges, such as monthly service fees. 
  • Incentives: Some suppliers offer gift cards and other incentives to attract customers.   


Why has my Bill gone up with a Smart Meter?

There were reports of power bills going up after the installation of a smart meter. One possible explanation is the age of your old meter. If your previous electric meter was installed ages ago, the chances are high that it was no longer accurate. Normal wear and tear may have degraded some of its parts, making it go slower, thereby making your bill lower than what it should have been. The new meter reflects your actual consumption, which may seem high for you because you’ve gotten used to the reduced readings of the old meter.   

Is Electric Cheaper than Gas?

In terms of price, gas is a more budget-friendly energy source than electricity. However, if you factor in the installation costs, maintenance, and running expenses, electricity will outrank gas when it comes to affordability.  

How do you know if you need a New Thermostat?

Several signs will tell you that you need to replace your thermostat. The most common are: your HVAC system turns on and off sporadically, you get faulty thermostat readings, you have unexplained spikes in your electricity bills, and the thermostat fails to respond to changed settings. Moreover, if your device is around 10 years old, it’s time to upgrade. 

Is it Cheaper to use Washing Machine at Night?

For those under a time-of-use plan, electricity rates are lowest at night. Thus, it makes sense to run your power-hungry appliances when the per kWh rate is the cheapest. A washing machine consumes around 400 to 1400 watts. So yes, it’s cheaper to do your laundry at night, between 10 pm and 5 am. 


Your energy bill reflects your energy usage, so if you see an upward trend, check what’s making your home consume excessive amounts of electricity. Appliance problems, drafty old windows, and other factors may drive up your energy costs. On the other hand, your usage may be the same, but the per kWh rate has increased, resulting from influences beyond anyone’s control. 

Small changes in your habits and lifestyle can help reduce your power expenses. Replace old appliances with Energy Star-rated models, optimize your thermostat setting, insulate your home and plan your electricity usage pattern to see positive results on your electricity bills. 

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