Do you think your electric bill is higher?
If your kWh usage is similar, but your current bill is higher, the reason for the higher bill could be the cost of electricity itself. Electric costs have gone up in recent years due in part to the power cost adjustment (PCA). The PCA passes on the higher costs of power needed by the cooperative if the power plant has an unexpected break down or needs more on peak days (your cooperative contracts for a specific amount of power; if more is needed, it must purchase it on the expensive open market). To help keep the PCA low, control your electricity use during peaks and join the co-op’s money-saving programs for heating, cooling and water heating.
Next, make sure your electric bill is accurate. Check the meter readings on your bill with your present meter reading. If you find an error, report it. Also...
- Don't compare your bill with your neighbors. Too many factors are involved — size of house, number of people, type of heating system, outbuildings, hot tubs, livestock, etc.
- Monitor your use of electric heat. Some people forget to turn their electric heat down when they aren’t home or asleep; a programmable thermostat can help. Others use it in places with bad insulation. Others might use two different sources of electric heat and remember to turn one off, but leave the other running. This causes the second source to use more electricity to make up the difference. Space heaters can also raise electric bills.
- Consider your outbuildings. Do you have block heaters on tractors, well pumps or heat lamps running? How about your home itself? Did you get a new hot tub or plasma TV?
- In addition, sump pumps can get stuck on if their water drain pipe freezes up. Do you have a well pump? Do you have a second refrigerator or freezer that is only half-full? Half-full freezers and refrigerators run more to maintain their temperature.
- How about your water habits? How many hot showers or baths do your family take a day? Do you wash laundry in hot or cold water?
- Are you drying more laundry since you can’t hang clothes outside as easily in the winter?
- Weather has a big impact on your heating/cooling costs? Was it hotter or cooler than normal? Did you plug in tractors, waterers or use garage heaters? Did you turn on the air conditioner?
- If you are interested in knowing how much power you are using and what uses it, contact Federated. We can provide you a kilowatt-hour usage chart for weekly, monthly or yearly. In addition, "check out" Federated's portable kilowatt-hour digital device; plug it into an outlet to see how much electricity certain appliances use. Be sure to ask for Federated's "101 Energy Savings Tips" booklet too.
Electricity is still one of the most economical sources of energy available.
High Bill Concern
Did you have a higher than average bill this month? Your electric bill can fluctuate for a variety of reasons. Before you contact Federated about your high bill, look into these possible reasons that may explain why your bill was higher than average:
Longer Billing Period
Federated’s billing cycles do not exactly correspond with the calendar months, so cycle lengths can vary by a day or two. Sometimes holidays and meter reading schedules can shorten or extend a billing cycle. Look carefully at your bill to determine if the number of days you were billed was higher this month.
Increased Heating or Cooling Due to Weather Extremes
When extreme weather conditions exist outside, the temperature inside is adjusted. During the hottest months of the summer and the coldest months of the winter, our members often increase their energy use. Even if you did not adjust the temperature on your thermostat, colder or warmer than average weather probably had your system working overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature inside. Insulation and drafty windows can play large roles in your home's efficiency, too.
Addition of New Household Appliances or Lifestyle Changes
When looking at your electric bill, consider any recent purchases or upgrades that may be drawing additional power in your home. Electronics and other gadgets are making us more ‘plugged’ in each year. Televisions account for about 4 percent of annual residential electricity, and the newer, high-definition TVs (HDTVs) draw even more power. One 50-inch plasma high-definition TV (HDTV) uses approximately 679 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. A 32-inch liquid-crystal display with HDTV capability was pegged at 387 kWh per year. By contrast, an older analog 34-inch TV was estimated to use just 209 kWh per year. And don’t forget about that DVD player, digital cable box and surround-sound system.
Electronics aren’t the only culprits either. Home upgrades may also be adding to your electric bill. Hot tubs, water features and fountains often surprise homeowners when they learn how much electricity they really use.
Also consider how much time you are spending at home. When the kids are out of school during the summer, they may operate the TV longer during the day, or when the whole family is at home for the holidays, your energy usage may increase.
Inefficient Appliances and Needed Repairs
The efficiency of household appliances like air conditioners, washers and dryers has dramatically increased over the last few years. However, older appliances in your home may be losing efficiency, or a needed repair may be what’s drawing more power.
Just a small leak in your water heater could make your water heater work overtime as it refills and continuously reheats. Also remember to keep the panel door on that covers the thermostat and elements. That old refrigerator in your garage may be worth turning off if it’s not being put to good use. If it’s time to shop for new household appliances, choose those that have earned the government’s ENERGY STAR® rating. Federated also offers rebates on refrigerators and freezers with recycling of the old unit, along with dehumidifiers.
Can a Meter Malfunction?
Members often ask us if their higher than average electric bill could be due to a meter that is malfunctioning? Meter malfunction is rarely the reason your electric bill rises. In fact, your meter is actually your greatest tool in helping track down inefficient or malfunctioning appliances. Ask Federated's energy expert for a daily use graph to track down energy guzzlers.
Find Out How the Little Changes Add Up
Flip the switch. Lower the blinds. Insulate your attic. Lower the temperature on your thermostat. These sound like simple tasks. Take all of these steps around your home or business, though, and you can rack up big savings.
101 Energy Saving Tips Booklet
Want to learn more energy efficiency tips to save money? We would gladly mail you the booklet "101 Energy Saving Tips." It is also available by clicking this link.