Why Is My Electric Bill So High? - Part 1

No one likes to pay high utility bills. It can be even more painful if the bills have recently gone up. With the cold weather we’re having many might first assume it has to do with their central heating system. The assumption is, “colder weather equals higher electric bill”. Maybe that is so, but it is best not to assume. To help our friends and neighbors in and around Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino, this GAMA Air blog post will talk about “Why is my electric bill so high?”.

First things first. Has your electric bill always been high? Or has it recently gone up. Next, check your usage. The answer to the question may be as simple as “a rise in prices.” How can you tell? I’m going to guess that the first thing you look at when the bill comes in is how much you have to pay. Am I right? My next guess is you probably never look at how much electricity your family actually is using. It’s okay. Most of the time it doesn’t really matter. But if you’re asking yourself why your bill is so high, you have to separate two key factors: Price and Usage.

Figuring out the price may be kind of tricky. There are various methods used by utility companies, that may involve Flat-rate, Time-of-use, Indexed plans, Peak/Off-peak usage, Variable rate, and the list goes on. For more specific help, contact your local electric company. Their customer support number will certainly be on your latest bill. Either way, what you want to do at this point is try to figure out if there has been a change in how much they are charging for electricity. Has it gone up? If so, then there is your answer as to why your bill is higher. Don’t overlook the possibility that the cost per unit of electricity may not be the only fee on your electricity bill. Your utility company may have to pass on demand charges, or maybe there are other city services besides electricity that are included on your electric bill. But like we said, calling you’re the office of your electric company is a good way to get help figuring that part out.

But let’s say the prices haven’t changed, there’s no extra charges that have gone up, and yet you the bottom line is more than you were paying in the recent past. Next step: look on your bill for usage. Electricity is commonly billed in units of “kWh”, which stands for “kilowatt hour” and of course one kilowatt is 1,000 watts. For example, if you have a 1,000 watt space heater and run it for one hour, then you will be billed for the 1 kWh it used. Got it? Okay, so what do you see on your bill? Is your usage higher than it was in the recent past? We’ll go over a list of things to check coming up.

However, what if your complaint isn’t that your bill has gone up recently, but rather you think it's always been too high? If that is the case, then first you should compare your usage to what's normal. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American family uses about 900 kWh per month, with a range of from about 1,290 kWh to 510 kWh. Check out their webpage to get specifics for where you live. And with statistics showing the average American home has ‘about’ 3 people then that comes down to 300 kWh per person per month. So if your usage is around that figure, then you’re average. Now don’t get me wrong, the truth is that the average American family wastes a lot of energy, so this doesn’t mean you can’t try to save on your energy bill. But at least you know there’s nothing shockingly high about how much electricity you are using compared to your neighbors.

So let’s get back to the pending question about if your usage is higher recently. And here we can include, what if your usage is the same, but much higher than you would expect for the size of your family and the region we live in. Come back for the next part in this series to get the answers. Click here for Part 2!}

Do you have a question that needs a quick answer? Then visit our Ask an Expert page now, fill out the form, and get your quick answer from the resident expert here at GAMA Air.

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