UtilitiesBudget & Finance

Troubleshooting the Cause of My Large Electric Bill

My electric bill is outrageous! A fellow employee/electrician gave me a meter to measure amp draw on each of my breakers. All of my 15A breakers average around 4A. I have 2-30A breakers running my water heater and the same set up for my washer/dryer. The water heater is drawing about 17A and the washer/dryer (while running) draws about 19A. What could be the most likely cause of my high electric bill?


By Scott

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August 14, 20101 found this helpful

Hard to say as we don't know your housing situation, how big a place you have, how many people live there. Do you have air conditioning in the summer? Call your electricity provider and tell them you think your bill is too high. They will do a survey (it is online with my provider) and it helps you determine why your bill is what it is.

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August 14, 20100 found this helpful

I would call the electric company and have them check out the meter, maybe replace it. When the meter reader comes ask him how many kwh you used for the month and check that against you bill.


You could also ask the electric company if they have a serviceto find the appliance or what is drawing so much current.

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August 15, 20100 found this helpful

One big pull on electricity is the computer/printer/modem staying plugged all the time, and the tv/vcr/dvd/etc plugged in at the living room. Even when these machines are 'off', if they have any glowing light on them, they are pulling electricity.
The best way to solve that is to get a surge protector for the computer area, and one for the tv area, plugging each appliance in, and then you can turn them all off or on by just using the switch on the surge protector. Also make sure that your microwave, programmable coffee pot, etc are unplugged when not in use, as any appliance with a timer, or clock constantly showing will draw electricity as well.

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

I concur with the previous answers, make sure all none used electrical equipment is unplugged or switched off at the mains socket and I would ask for a meter testing and probably a new meter.

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

One cause might be if your meter was estimated for several months instead of an actual reading then it was read, you may have paid a lower bill on estimated use and the power company is now charging you for actual use. Another one might be your air conditioner, this pulls a lot of power to cool and it has been very hot this summer.


My last thought is that it could be a neighbor using your outdoor outlets for something like cooling during the day while you are at work--don't laugh it happens! Good luck.

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

You didn't give a location. If you live in the south, it could be ceiling fans, pool pump, etc. running all the time.

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

Agree that it's difficult to really give you an informed answer without more info on how many people are living in your home and whether your AC is in use.

However: we live in South Florida, where the AC is on at least nine months out of the year. We also had ridiculous electric bills and found they dropped after a) doing a tune-up oin the AC system ( freon levels checked, system checked for leaks and making sure vents are clean and tight) b) keeping the AC at 78 degrees c) replacing our old hot water heater with a more energy-efficient one and d) putting up a clothesline and forgoing the dryer altogether.


The dryer was only three years old but still a power hog, not using it cut nearly 20% alone off the bill. Also, washing in cold water cuts down on electric consumption.

This is also going to sound strange, but if you have even a minor leaking faucet anywhere in your home connected to the hot water tap, that's also wasting electricity.

Don't know how the electric company is by you, but ours has an online energy audit you can plunk your info into that may also give you an idea as to where your biggest draws are. We're also lucky enough to be in the process of having digital meters put in, where we can pinpoint usage down to the appliance and the minute.

I think if your AC isn't on 72 all day, you're not doing multiple loads of wash and dry daily, there aren't four or more people running hot water in huge amounts daily and your appliances are relatively new, I'd see if my power company could check the meter and possibly do an on-site energy audit.

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

There's some good advice here already, but here's one more to try:

Can you turn "all" of your breakers off for just five minutes (including refrigerator, etc.) and then look at the meter to see if it's still running? If all of the breakers are off and it's running still you need to call your electric company to come out and take a look. It could be a defective meter and, sadly if you have neighbors right next to you, could be someone has hooked themselves up to your electric.

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

We were told that anything that heats takes twice as much electricity as other appliances. Ironing, hot water heater, dryer etc are notorious for gobbling up an electric bill. Also, you might inquire about your electric company's charges. Have they recently gone up? We lived in Orlando for years, and the


Orlando Utilities Commission would go up in the charges per Kilowatt hour about twice a year. If we didn't pay attention and read every little piece of paper enclosed in our monthly statement, we would think we were using more.

We reduced the thermostat on our hot water heater since we really didn't need the water to be 160 degrees, never. Not even in the winter.

Now, we have a hot water heater that we can't even find a way to turn it down. I'm sure there has to be a way, but so far, we haven't found a thermostat. Sounds like someone had a plan, huh?
I could live without everything except the air-conditioning now.

Good Luck to you.

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March 20, 20120 found this helpful

The easiest way to make your home more energy efficient is to seal any air leaks, and one that is often overlooked is the bathroom ventilation fan and exhaust vent. The back-draft flap these units come with do a very poor job of stopping leaks.


To address this issue, I use a replacement insert fan from the Larson Fan Company (online). Their fans has a true damper built in, that does a great job in keeping warm air in during the winter and hot, humid air out in the summer. This product has reduced my annual energy bills by over ten percent. It saves the most when air conditioning is being used.

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