Electric bills can be confusing and overwhelming. Most of the time, you probably just take a look at the total and proceed to paying what’s owed without double-checking if the amount is even correct.
Other times, you might see the total and realize that you won’t be able to pay the bill on time or at all.
In any case, you probably end up wondering if there are ways you could lower your electric bill in general. It’s time to realize that you need help with your electric bill. Let’s take a look at three areas relating to this monthly chore that will give you more control over future bill payments.
1- Understanding Your Electric Bill
The first step in understanding your electric bill is to take a close look at all the elements that it consists of. The following information is usually included in every electric bill:
- Your name, address, and billing account number,
- closing and due date,
- a bill summary that shows in detail how the total amount was calculated,
- different options to pay the bill (e.g. phone, online, by mail),
- meter readings,
- monthly and yearly usage comparisons.
Especially when your bill seems suspiciously high, you should double-check every single piece of information on the bill to make sure all the data is, in fact, correct.
One of the most important items to understand and examine here are the meter readings. While it is rare that they are incorrect, it does happen that electricity companies read the meter wrong resulting in inaccurate bill totals. If you don’t know where your electricity meter is or how to read it, either reach out to your landlord or electricity company – both should be able to help you.
Finally, to get a better understanding of your bill’s total, compare it to the average energy consumption in U.S. households, which is 903 kWh and $107.28 per month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If it ends up being significantly higher than this average, you should definitely find out what is causing it.
2- Paying Your Electric Bill
Speaking of high bills… sometimes they are so high (or overdue) that you can simply not afford to pay them right away. Don’t panic. There are a few options you can take advantage of.
First, most utility providers offer payment plans or deadline extensions. To take advantage of these offers, make sure to reach out to your service provider as soon as you can to avoid additional late fees. Also, the earlier you reach out, the more willing the company will be to help you figure out a payment solution.
If you are still unable to pay the bill, you can either turn to state or local government programs like Nebraska’s “Low-Income High Energy Assistance Program” (LIHEAP), which assists low-income Nebraska residents with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, all fifty U.S. states offer energy assistance programs to households that meet their low-income requirements.
3- How to Lower Your Electric Bill
There are many different ways to lower your electric bill, but some you might not have heard of. Did you know, for example, that some electricity providers charge different rates at different hours throughout the day? They call times during which smaller amounts of people use energy “off-peak periods” (e.g. weekdays from approximately 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.). That’s when you can save money, especially using high-energy appliances like washers and dryers.
You might also not realize that the cracks you notice between windows (or doors) and their frames actually let in a good amount of hot or cold air (depending on the outside temperature). This could be a huge energy-waster because it will make your air conditioner or heater work almost twice as hard to maintain pleasant temperatures inside your home. So make sure to seal those cracks with foam, draft guards, or caulk to lower your energy bills.
Light bulbs, even though less noticeably, can also contribute to increasing your electric bill, especially if you are still using incandescent bulbs. Try modern LED or CFL light bulbs instead and you might notice a difference at the end of the month when that bill arrives.
If after trying all of the above you still need help, you can turn to companies like Homeselfe who can help you evaluate your household’s energy efficiency by using a simple mobile app.