Why is Your Electricity Bill So High? Part 1

Tuesday April 3, 2012
Posted at 10:31

Reasons why your electricity bill is so high

Whenever I get a new electricity bill, I make sure to look at it carefully. Call me crazy, but I’m not one to just get a bill and pay it without checking it out first. Sometimes I get a bill that’s higher than the one I got the month before. When that happens, I usually grumble to myself for a minute or two and then focus on finding out why.

Here are a few things to look at if you think your electricity bill is too high. For part one of our discussion, we’ll take a look at determining if your bill really is high and whether or not you used more electricity or paid more for the electricity you used.

Make sure to check out part two for a few words on increased utility charges, damaged meters and more.

Is your electricity bill really all that high?

So you get your electricity bill for the month and it says you owe $400. If you’re taken aback by the amount and you think it’s abnormally high, the first thing you need to determine is whether you’re right. You can do that by figuring out what’s normal for your home. If you go back and look at some old electricity bills and they’re all right around $400, then you know that your new bill, while seemingly high, is actually pretty much the same as your previous bills and everything’s fine.

However, if your bill has gone up, then you need to take a look at two other areas of your bill: how much electricity you used during the month and how much you paid for electricity.

Did you use more electricity?

This one’s easy. When you compare your new electricity bill with your previous bill, find out how much electricity you used. Just look at the number of kilowatt-hours, or kWh, you used. If that number increased from the month before, then you have your answer. Your electricity bill is higher because you used more electricity.

In this case, the only thing you can do is cut the amount of electricity you use. At Spark Energy, we offer all sorts of energy-saving tips that can help you cut energy costs, from behavioral changes like setting your thermostat back to home improvements like upgrading to modern electrical outlets and installing energy efficient windows and doors.

If the amount of electricity you used was close to or the same as the previous month, then you need to take a look at how much you paid for electricity.

Did you pay more for electricity?

If you’re on a fixed-price plan, then the amount you pay for each kWh you use should be the same. You can check this by comparing the amount you paid per kWh on your new bill with you last bill. If you’re on a fixed-price plan and there’s a difference, then chances are your contract expired and you were placed on a different plan. That’s one of the reasons I look at my electricity bills closely. Your electricity supplier will give you at least a month’s notice when your plan is about to expire, which is plenty of time to renew or explore what other options are available to match your needs.

Many utilities have their customers on fixed-price plans that fluctuate twice a year so that you’ll have one price for the six months surrounding winter and one price for the six months surrounding summer. If you buy your electricity from your supplier and your price jumps, then you could be getting the new seasonal rate. For example, Illinois residents who buy their electricity from ComEd pay one price from October through May and a different price from June through September.

If you’re on a variable-price plan, it’s possible your bill is higher because you paid more for electricity during your most recent billing cycle. Just compare the amount you paid per kWh on you new bill to the amount you paid on your last bill. If the number is higher, you paid more. The only thing you can do to prevent electricity prices from climbing higher each month is to learn more about the fixed-price plan options – which essentially lock in your electricity price for six months or a year or even two years at a time – and determine what best meets your home or business’ needs and budget.

If you’ve gone through these questions and you still think there’s a problem with your electricity bill, click on over to part two for some information about utility charges and other possible drivers of high bills.

Sources

Saving Electricity, “Why Is My Electric Bill So High?”

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