Here's a list of some common reasons a bill may increase:
Days of Service
Check the number of days you have been billed for on your billing statement. Days of service vary from month to month (i.e., 29 days vs. 34 days). More days in the billing cycle may result in greater kWh usage.
Note: an article was posted on GVEA's blog explaining the days of service in more detail. To read that blog post, please click here.
Check your usage chart listed on each billing statement to compare month-to-month usage. During the winter season, homes tend to have higher usage.
Plugging in vehicles without the use of a timer could add greatly to your monthly bill.
Based on 600 to 1500 watts, the cost range to plug in is 12¢ to 30¢ per hour. If you plug in overnight (e.g. 10 hours) that calculates out to $36-$90 a month.
GVEA and the Fairbanks North Star Borough recommend plugging in at 20° above zero. A well-maintained vehicle only needs to be plugged in for 3-4 hours before startup (5 to 6 hours for diesels). [provide link labeled ‘find out how much it costs to plug in your vehicle] http://gvea.com/resources/vehicleplugins
Electric heaters: an average small electric heater uses 1500 watts. If used for four (4) hours a day (on average), that will increase your monthly electric bill by approximately $32.
Boilers tend to kick on more often to meet heating demands; lowering your thermostat or using a programmable thermostat can aid in reducing the electrical consumption in the winter and summer months.
Heat tape left plugged in after winter.
During the winter months, we tend to be indoors more often, using lights and other household appliances.
During the holiday season, appliances and Christmas lights are used more frequently, which will have an impact on your usage. GVEA recommends using LED Christmas lights as they use 20% of the energy compared to incandescent lights.
Electric water heaters: Leaks, bad thermostats and bad heating elements that have failed, can increase your electric use. Lower the temperature on your electric hot water tank can help lower your electrical usage.
Underground wiring problems: With freeze and thaw cycles, there may be rocks that end up puncturing underground wiring, causing a short.
No two households use energy the same way; therefore, comparing your electric bill to your neighbor’s electric bill is like comparing apples to oranges.
Did the number of members of your household increase?
Did you have guests?
Have you purchased a hot tub?
Have you increased the use of power tools or appliances?
Have family or friends plug in an RV?
Dehumidifier recently added to the home?
GVEA recommends replacing home lighting with LED lights for best efficiency. Switching out 10 CFL light bulbs with 10 LED lights, that run 10 hours per day, will save you approximately $50/month.
Although not in use, many electronics (i.e., computers, T.V.) use phantom electricity, meaning they still consume power when they are turned off.
Where available, plug electronics into a smart strip and turn off when not in use.
More helpful tools to determine an increase in energy usage:
- Blog Post
- Very specific to winter of 2017 bills (Jan, Feb and March)
- Breaker Test
- Detailed instructions on how to conduct this yourself.
- Room-by-room Checklist
- Kill-o-Watt Meter
- By connecting this meter to a household appliance, you'll be able to assess the appliance's efficiency. It will count the appliance's electrical consumption by the kilowatt-hour, and can calculate its electrical expense by the day, week, month or year. Consider checking a meter out from the local library ... or you can buy your own for about $20.