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Old 02-18-2008, 07:28 PM   #1
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


Some basic info. I live in a small 2 bedroom house, 1 story about 1100 sq feet (and that's being generous). Basement is 'dug out' style and not heated. I have a 2yr old heat pump, a 1.5 yr old water heater that's gas, newly added insulation in attic (2 yrs ago), 2yr old double pained windows. 2 adults living in house. Keep heat temp set at 70. Have floor register and a dog, so filter gets dirty easily, I chage it every 15 da ys. Live in sw Virginia winter rarely gets colder than 20 lows and about 50 highs.

Last month my electric bill (nov-dec) including water was $259. This month (dec-jan) my electric bill was $380. This bill cycle I was out of town for 4 days as well so no water was used during that time, and less electricity (set heat back to 66). My electricity usage drastically increased and my water consumption increated by 1300 gallons! The temps have been the same outside as the last cycle. I lived about 2 miles from my current house last year, had a good 600+ more sq feet, a much older heat pump, and my bill there was never this high. We never leave anything on while we are gone (other than heat pump set at 70), don't leave extra lights on in the house while we are there and at max dry 4 loads of laundry a week. I don't know what to do. Does anyone have any tips on something I can do to save money or check that my electric company is charging me correctly? Is there someone I can hire to check the efficiency of my house or something?

It just seems so high for a small house w/ all of the efficient improvements we have made in the past 2 years.

Thanks for any help

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Old 02-18-2008, 07:47 PM   #2
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


Bills tend to be higher in the Winter & Summer (especially during Dec-Jan & July through August). First thing I would do, is check to see if this was a estimated reading, or Actual.

Start off by looking at habits. If you are currently using all incadesent lighting, look at CFL. For those areas that people tend to forget about hitting the light switch to turn off the light (Pantry, Entry way, Laundry room, Bathrooms), look at installing motion sensative switches such as http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...W-L&lpage=none

You can ask all you want, but doing a little investigating, helps in eliminating spenders. Also, look at using Cold Water Tide, to help cut out using so much Hot Water for Laundry, turn down the Thermostat to 68 during the day, 64-66 at night when sleeping. I just changed out our Thermostat to a 7 day multi-program, that hopefully I should see a change in use with it.

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Old 02-18-2008, 07:48 PM   #3
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


Check the readings on both the water meter and electric meter for correctness, around here the utility will sometimes estimate usage for a month or two then read meters and get back to even. This means we have an unusually high(or low) bill for seversl months then they read meters and correct any ovre or under charge. Check for a water leak, a leaky toilet will use an incredible ammount of water. Finally call the utility and ask them to check the electric meter they do get out of calibration some times.
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Old 02-18-2008, 11:05 PM   #4
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


All above are good ideas. I would get a thermemeter(digital is best) and check the temp. of the air going into the "return" air register and check the temp at the register closest to the unit coming out. If the difference isn't at least 10 degrees, get an HVAC company to check out that heat pump. Might need to have someone find a leak and charge the unit. Also the fan motors can be checked by the same people. Have them check the amps the fans are pulling. Have the evaporator cleaned while they are in there. You should have your unit checked for proper operation at the beginning of season. Heat pumps are energy guzzlers. Also check your weatherstripping around the exterior doors, you would be amazed at the savings after closing these up. Also check around the windows that they were properly sealed and that they are not leaking around the frame, sill, etc. good luck!
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:54 PM   #5
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


Also, check the first bill you're making the comparison to. Was that a (possibly) grossly underestimated reading or actual? And yes, a leaky toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water.

(This is the first I've ever heard of a combination water and electric company!)
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Old 02-19-2008, 01:06 PM   #6
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When I lived in a Rural town, the utilities where billed under the Village. They bought Electric, NG, made their own water, and have a Sewage Treatment Plant.
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Old 02-19-2008, 01:49 PM   #7
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Rates vary quite a bit. Where do you live.
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:00 PM   #8
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


As pointed out by the OP, SW Virginia. I am guessing around Roanoke.
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pirategirl007 View Post
Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?
Become Amish.
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Rates vary quite a bit. Where do you live.
Bristol Va is where I live. We literally are on the TN/VA state line. Our cost of living here is extremely low, so that's what has me so concerned over this bill.

I did some checking today on the web and our electric company (BVU) as of Jan 1 switched back to purchasing power locally from TVA (past several years it was somewhere in Ohio that our power came from) and the announcements of this and newpaper articles listed reasons such as supporting local industry and an effort to reduce escelating energy costs. The community has been complaining and holding town meetings on the high costs for the past 2 years. I also checked w/ my neighbor and his bill went up drastically but is only $70 more than mine. His house is twice the size and he has 2 heat pumps. I called and BVU was to send someone to my house today to check my meter. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Thanks for all the great tips, I'm gonna check out the links and look into having someone come check my house for efficiency.
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:14 PM   #11
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


As previously said, keep an eye on your meters especially a few days before your normal statement date on the bill.

They have been known to be wrong which is an honest mistake or they may just be estimating.
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:02 PM   #12
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


First, make sure you are using energy-saving bulbs.

The heat pump is your next enemy.

I used to get bills that high, and I installed a gas heater on my wall--quit running my 220 unit outside. Wow! It's already paid for itself many times over, and I don't even believe in gas per se.

I would look to replace old unit, but I know it's expensive.

You probably have an old 100 amp breaker box too. You may have to ubgrade to 200 amp.

--Scott
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:10 PM   #13
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


Changing from 100 amp to 200 amp service will not make any changes, other then put a nice dent into the wallet.
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:15 PM   #14
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


Go down into the basement and find the pot farm! Or maybe you just forgot about it!
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Old 01-17-2009, 09:18 AM   #15
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Help! Electric bill too high, what can I do?


Hi,
We had a very similar scenerio to yours. We did all kinds of updates, replaced all of our old appliences, sealed the doors, windows, have not used lights when we were not in the room, adjusted the temperature in the house to save energy, turned the fridge to a higher temperature, also the water heater, updated the insulation in the attick, turned off the computers for a month when not used (which is by the way not the best for a computer to turn it off every day), and were waiting excited for our electric bill, hoping to see a low $ amount on it. And guess what!? It went up! I called the electric company, was all furious ....They suggested to check the duct in our home. And we found out that it had a leak. So basically, we did heat or cooled the attick way more than we did the living area of our house. So, probably you want to let someone checking on that.
I hope I could help!
Erika

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