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Why Is My Electric Bill So High? Here’s The Answer!


electric bill - way too high

I struggled for years trying to figure out why my electric bill was so high. I read tons of articles and watched countless YouTube videos but what I really needed was a simple action list that I could use to make my home more energy efficient and lower the cost of my monthly electric bill. If you are in that situation, here’s what I’ve learned from all of my research and trial and error.

The reason your electric bill is so high is that there are energy efficiency issues in your home’s structure and in your usage patterns that are costing you money. The good news is, there are simple ways to identify and address those issues to see almost immediate results on your electric bill.

“Wait! How can you know that my home has energy efficiency issues or that my energy usage patterns are contributing to my high electric bill?”

Excellent question! The answer, however, is fairly simple. There are really only two influencers on an electric bill -the amount of electricity used and the efficiency at which it is used. For example, running a window air conditioner to cool a room at a lower temperature uses more energy that running it at a higher setting (energy use pattern). But running that window air conditioner while having large air leaks around the windows in the room (home efficiency) will require it to use much more electricity as it works against the inefficiency of the conditioned space.

It’s that simple, except that it’s not. The problem is that the majority of energy inefficiencies in a home are not necessarily visible to the human eye or are not easily noticed without actively searching for them. We need to dig deep if we are serious about this and find every possible contributor to our home’s efficiency challenges. And that includes the way we tend to use electricity each day. It’s a balance, and balance matters.

If you are inclined to focus on only one aspect of this balance, let me briefly explain why such an approach will be ineffective.

Let’s say you decide that you will focus only on the energy efficiency of your home. You spend countless hours tracking down and addressing every possible efficiency issue in your home’s structure but you do not adjust your energy use patterns.

Will you see a difference on your electric bill? Probably. But I’m betting you will be disappointed with the results. If we consume in mass we deplete resources. A healthy balance and having and using the resources that we need without compromising comfort is a key part of the equation.

On the other hand, you might choose to do the opposite. You go all-in on lowering your energy consumption based on use patterns but you do nothing to address the energy efficiency of your home. Again, you will likely see positive results on your electric bill, but you will be miserable.

That is not a sustainable solution. What we really need to do is address both sides of the coin so that we are consuming less energy in a way that does not disrupt our lifestyle or create an uncomfortable living environment for our family.

And the majority of these action steps are easier than you think!

This article will focus on usage patterns. Once you have reviewed and implemented these strategies, I recommend you continue your pursuit with the other side of the coin, Is My Home Energy Efficient? Here’s How To Know!

Let’s have a look at your energy usage patterns and what you can do to immediately start lowering your electric bill.


Lower Your Electric Bill By Adjusting Your Energy Usage Patterns

Here are five simple ways that you can lower your electric bill by adjusting your energy usage patterns:

  1. Get control of phantom energy use!
  2. Schedule Energy Consumption For Off-Peak Hours
  3. Use Cold Water For Washing Clothes
  4. Wait To Run Your Dishwasher Until You Have A Full Load
  5. Supplement Your Energy Dependency With Solar

Get Control Of Phantom Energy Use In Your Home!

If you take a look around your home, you may be surprised to see just how many electronic devices are plugged into electrical outlets. Kitchen appliances, televisions, cable or satellite boxes, lamps, and on and on. All plugged in and ready to use electricity when you need them to provide the amenities that we have become accustomed to.

But did you also know that many of those devices draw current from the electrical grid even when they aren’t in use? The amount of energy they consume while not in use can be small but it can really add up.

It is more of an annoyance than it’s probably worth to go around unplugging all of these devices at night but you can actually automate the energy savings process with the use of some nifty energy saving devices.

One way to do this is with the use of smart outlet plugs like this one that works with Amazon Alexa and allows you to set up schedules for when devices will receive electricity. I use these in several places throughout my home to automatically turn off lamps and cut power to devices at night when they aren’t in use. You can control them and set up schedules with your cell phone and even control them with your voice if you have an Amazon Alexa device.

If you are needing more control over multiple devices such as a home theater system then a timer-controlled power surge device like the Tripp Lite 7 Outlet (Timer Controlled) Surge Protector Power Strip is worth considering. It not only allows you to automatically control power to devices at certain times but also has uninterrupted power outlets for devices that have to continuously receive power (such as devices that have a digital clock that would reset every time the power was interrupted).

Devices designed to eliminate phantom power consumption can easily pay for themselves in energy use.

According to the Department of Energy, phantom devices are responsible for up to $100 per year in annual energy consumption in U.S. homes.

Schedule Energy Consumption For Off-Peak Hours

Many electrical companies have what is known as peak and off-peak rates. Generally, off-peak hours are at night when less energy consumption is expected. Rates during off-peak hours are usually lower than peak hour rates.

You can take advantage of these lower rates by simply scheduling heavy energy consumption chores that don’t require hands-on activity at night.

Here’s Two Simple Examples Of How To Save Money On Your Electric Bill By Taking Advantage Of Off-Peak Hours Include:

  • Run your dishwasher at night
  • Set a load of clothes to wash right before you go to bed

Remember that major appliances account for a substantial percentage of a household’s energy usage. By scheduling these two energy consumption patterns during off-peak hours, you can easily begin to see savings on your monthly electrical bill without significantly disrupting your lifestyle.

Use Cold Water For Washing Clothes

While we are saving money by washing a load of clothes before we go to bed at night, let’s really stretch that dollar and save even more by simply washing our clothes using cold water. It costs money to heat water and its not really necessary for the vast majority of laundry cycles.

By simply selecting the “cold water” option on our washing machines, we can further reduce the amount of energy we are consuming.

That means even more savings on our monthly electrical bill. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPC), this simple adjustment to your energy use patterns can save around $40 per year. You won’t get rich from this, but like everything else we are discussing, it adds up. And the best part is, it’s completely painless in that it doesn’t require an adjustment to our lifestyle!

Only Run Dishwasher With A Full Load

Still digging deeper into savings on these appliances, we can save even more by being mindful of our dishwashing habits. By making sure that we only run the dishwasher after we have a full load, the EPC estimates that we can save an additional $40 per year on our electrical usage. You are also saving water in the process by washing less frequently.

Are you starting to see how all of this adds up???

These off-peak hour tips have become a ritual in my home. Each night I start a load of towels or something before I go to bed and turn on the dishwasher (but only when I have a full load!).

As a bonus, since peak hours usually don’t start until 7 or 8 am, I tend to throw the laundry that washed the night before into the dryer when I get up, saving a little more money before the rest of the family even rises for the day.

There are so many options for taking advantage of off-peak hours and saving on electrical costs by just adjusting your energy usage patterns a little. What ideas can you come up with on your own?

Supplement Your Energy Dependency With Solar Power

Of all of the ways that we can save money on our electrical bill, this is easily becoming my favorite. I have written extensively on my quest to find simple solutions to get started with solar and save money on electricity.

My wife would tell you that I’m a little fanatical about this but from my perspective, every device that can run on solar in and around my home just adds to the pot of savings month after month.

I consider little solar devices, such as outdoor lighting, a return on investment proposition. Instead of consuming energy from the grid each month, I light the areas outside my home with energy from the sun. I pay for the product up front but it gives me a return on that investment month after month in energy savings.

After two years of aggressively pursing savings through the use of simple solar devices, I can tell you that I have absolutely no regrets. Our pool area is lit and accented by solar lighting, I have solar powered flood lights for security purposes, and I use a solar powered trickle charger to keep my lawn mower battery charged through the winter.

These are simple strategies that you can use to adjust your energy usage patterns and save money on your electric bill. The second part of the equation, though, as we mentioned at the beginning, is ensuring that your home is energy efficient. Ready to start part two?

Now for the other side of the coin:

Is My Home Energy Efficient? Here’s How To Know!

Conclusion

I’m continuously adding to my arsenal to offset my dependency on the electrical grid. It not only saves me money, it provides a level of security knowing that I have security lights outside that will still work during a power outage.

If you would like to learn more about how I use solar to offset my energy dependency and how you can do the same and save money on your electrical bill, be sure to read my post, How To Get Started With Solar Power (Simple Solutions!)

I also recommend you read Seven Reasons Why A Solar Generator May Make Sense For You to understand the benefits of having a portable solar generator in your home for power outages as well as using it to supplement your ongoing energy usage.

And finally, you can automate your home energy savings by taking advantage of “smart” devices and plugs that ensure needless energy usage is minimized without you even thinking about it. For more information on these “set it and forget it” energy saving tips, read Automate Your Home Electricity Savings.

I hope this information has been useful to you. I would encourage you to take advantage of these simple strategies for saving money on your electrical bill each month. Even if you just select a few of these and put them in action, it’ll mean more money at the end of the month in your pocket and less going out to the energy company.

And from my perspective, that’s a win.

All my best!

Paul

As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I've learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.

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