Understanding an Unexpected Bill
There are several reasons why your electric bill may go up from one month to the next. As you evaluate how you use energy, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Have there been any changes in your living patterns?
Maybe your kids came home from college for a month or you had visitors. Are you or someone in your home now working from home? More people in your home means more hot water for showers or baths, more laundry, and a general increase in electricity use for lights, television, dishwashing, and sometimes higher thermostat settings to warm rooms.
2. Have you added or replaced any major appliances?
Adding a dishwasher, for example, means more electricity to run the appliance and possibly more to heat water. Make sure you use the energy-saver setting on the dry cycle. If you purchased a plasma television for your home, be aware that some models use more than four times the electricity of a standard TV set.
3. Do you leave certain appliances such as cell phone chargers or high-tech gadgets plugged in when not in use?
Remember to unplug these devices. They are known as "energy vampires" and they consume electricity even when they are turned off or in standby mode.
4. Have you checked the filters in your heating or air conditioning system lately?
Dirty filters make your furnace, heat pump or air conditioner work harder and increase the energy necessary to operate your system. Clean or replace your filter(s) monthly and keep your system operating at maximum efficiency with an annual checkup by a qualified technician.
5. What are your thermostat settings?
During the air conditioning season, Pepco recommends a thermostat setting of between 75 degrees F and 78 degrees F. During the heating season, set your thermostat back at night if you have an gas, oil or propane heating system. Pepco recommends a thermostat setting of 68 degrees F unless there is a medical reason for a higher temperature.
6. Do you have a heat pump?
If you have a heat pump, it's best to find a comfortable setting and leave it there. Moving the thermostat setting up even 2 degrees triggers the auxiliary heaters, an expensive form of resistance heat. Remember also that if the temperature drops below freezing, auxiliary or resistance heat kicks on. A programmable heat pump thermostat allows you to set the heat back at night and brings the temperature back up very gradually so as not to trigger the auxiliary heaters.
7. Have you made an addition to your home?
A new room means more space to heat and your heating and cooling systems work harder and longer, thus increasing your energy usage.
- find ways to save energy and money,
- compare and analyze monthly bills,
- understand why changes in monthly bills occurred, and
- see where energy dollars go.