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Outrageous Electric Bill

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We just received what I believe is the largest electric bill I’ve ever received.

I was so sure that the price was an error that I called, waited on hold for a solid half hour, and spoke to a representative who confirmed, Yep. There’s no error, that’s just our bill.

Hubs and I had a little bit of a pow-wow. We can pay the bill, so it’s not an issue of not having the funds to cover it. But the ridiculous price tag meant we needed to have a Come to Jesus meeting to figure out what we’re doing and correct our ways.

For reference, our largest electric bill to date (occurring in a summer month) was $269.  The bill we just received was for $283. It’s a huge jump from last month’s ($199) bill. And it’s not even summer. What gives?

So, after putting our heads together, we decided we’re both a bit at fault.

Hubs has been on a laundry mission the past month. I swear, just about every minute that he’s home he’s got something in the washer and dryer. I’ve seen several half-loads and several items of clothing that weren’t even dirty somehow mysteriously ending up in the laundry pile (the latter being a big pet peeve of mine).

But I’m probably equally, or moreso, responsible. We’re in that weird in-between time of year in regard to temperature. During the night we run our heater (which is gas), but during the day I often flip on the A/C (electric). All the up and down/back and forth has meant that both our gas and electric bills are a bit higher than normal. So that’s got to be a big culprit.

I really think the electric has to come down to these two things. Otherwise, we’re pretty energy efficient – all light bulbs are energy efficient, the house we rent has newer appliances (with the exception of the washer/dryer, which are our own), we don’t leave lights on, the house is well insulated, etc. etc. etc.

So I’m making a more deliberate attempt to be energy-efficient this month. When I get home from work, instead of turning on the A/C I’ve been opening the windows. It’s still a bit warm for my preference (especially when I’m cooking!), but it’s not terrible. And a cold front just blew in this week so I really haven’t needed the A/C at all anyway.

Here’s hoping it makes a big difference in next month’s electric bill because we can’t be having these $300 bills! That’s straight nonsense for a home of our age and our size. No reason it should be that high!

What’s the largest utility bill you’ve received? My mom lives in Austin where water is set at a SUPER high rate to discourage over-watering, etc. She regularly complains about $500 water bills. And there’s only 2 people living in her home! Isn’t that nuts???

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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16 Comments

  • Reply JayP |

    When you say electric bill, is that just for electricity? I often use that term for my utility bill – which includes water, garbage etc. We live in Arkansas and my total utilities(garbage, water, sewage, electric, gas) average between $200 and $500 over the course of the year, higher in summer and winter and lower spring and fall.

    $200 does sound very high for an apartment if its just electricity.

    • Reply Ashley |

      It’s just electricity. And the bill was nearly $300! But, it’s actually a single-family home (not an apartment), and though its only one story it has very high ceilings. Still, this is one of the biggest bills I’ve ever had for electricity! Ouch!

  • Reply Stephanie |

    I also find that we take hot showers in the winter, which hikes up the bill if your water heater is electric. We’re in Phoenix, so in the summer we’re happy with lukewarm or cool showers. The hot showers in the winter really put an extra strain on our electricity use.

  • Reply Julie E |

    If you can, I would suggest unplugging any electrical appliance not in use. I do this for my washer and dryer and my microwave and would guess I save at least $7/month. If you can, do it for your TV and stereo too. All appliances, even when not in use, use electricity. Makes a big difference.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    My dh has an auto-immune disease where when he gets warm he gets very itchy. My heat is set at 60 degrees at night and 63 during the day and we live in Western PA. Our home is never warm, both of our kids were home over the holidays and used electric heaters in their rooms. My electric bill was $149.00 which is not high to you, but more than I pay during the summer. Our gas bill will probably be low. Cheryl

  • Reply Marie |

    Just curious if you are TRICO. Because my TEP bill has only exceed 200 once, although I am in a newer house, 8 years old. But I haven’t been using the A/C. Just a lot of Gas due to the extreme cold. I heard rates were increasing across the board, but that does seem really high to me. I know though that we have lower bills than most people I know since I’m kind of a cheapskate when it comes to the electric.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Nope, we’re with TEP. I used to be an extreme cheapskate with heat, in particular (I’d just wear sweatshirts and bundle up in winter), but with kiddos now I’ve found I’m more inclined to set the thermostat at a reasonable temperature so the kids aren’t freezing. But I’m a pretty big weenie about being hot. Our heat is gas so that’s not what’s caused the electric spike. But I think the constant switching back-and-forth from A/C to heat was a big culprit. Right now with the cold front I haven’t been switching anyway (since it’s too cold to need A/C!!!), but I’m going to try to be more mindful about it as the temperature starts warming back up again during the days and just leaving the A/C off!

  • Reply April |

    I signed up for my electric co’s alert system (Edison), where I can both set a goal budget, and they also send me emails once a week to see how I’m doing with my usage. This has really helped from any “surprise” bills. You might want to check your electric company’s website to see if they have something similar.

  • Reply carina |

    We keep ours on 69 which is kinda chilly if we don’t have on socks and a hoodie. Our house is a 3 story new construction with crappy insulation and thin walls I’m sure and the heat pump seems like its always on. But our highest bill has been $208. We’re in Virginia. I expect the next bill to be that or higher which sucks

  • Reply Kiki |

    Oh, how I remember those huge electric bills from when we lived in Texas. Even 30 years ago, they were just terrible! (We were financing a nuclear plant in Houston) We had a very small home there too. Now, we live in a 1000 sq ft. townhouse in Minneapolis, and our utility bills are so low. Most of the year, our gas bill is the minimum–about $13. It goes up to about $60/month during the winter months when we use our natural gas heating. The year round electric bill is about $30-50 month. This is for electric cooking and the water heater. During the summer we install two small AC window units, which we pretty much just need for July. This doesn’t affect the electric bill that much. I hang ALL our laundry. In fact, our dryer sits disconnected in the garage. (It’s just hubby and I now.)

    Our water bill is about $20/month. I know how different parts of the country struggle, and we feel fortunate here. Living in a towhouse, we are also well insulated by our neighbors, so that helps too!

  • Reply Juhli |

    Have you tried using a floor fan when you are cooking instead of running the AC for the whole house? We find it makes a huge difference for comfort in the kitchen.

  • Reply Malady |

    Hanging laundry rather than putting it in the dryer can save heaps. I use a clothes horse (not sure what you call those? Airer maybe?) and it fits a load and a half on it, it dries overnight or during the day on our back verandah, and costs me nothing but the 10 minutes to hang the loads out.

  • Reply Teresa |

    Ours is $780 for January! We live in central SD with electric heat and we have had days of highs in the negatives. We are also a large family and I have a home daycare, but $780 is ridiculous! !

  • Reply SZQ |

    Have you ever checked with your electric company to see if they have an “off-peak” usage program? We are signed up with ours – it basically means we get a really great deal on electric usage when it’s “off-peak” time (7 p.m. thru noon following day). Using electricity any other time is really really expensive, so I tend to do all laundry and other things after 7:00 p.m. or before noon. A dryer is a HUGE HUGE HUGE booster of your electric bill (I know this – hubby was an electrical engineer for the electric company). So I am never allowed to run it during those expensive hours!! (I’ve tried but been busted!! ha ha). Just a thought to see what your electric company may offer – it’s worth a call.

  • Reply Kili |

    Not sure if that would actually save you some money on gas or if someone else pointed that out or if it’s even a valid option:
    Couldn’t you just use thicker blankets this time of year? Or a second set? To avoid having to run the heater at night? Over where I live we use thicker blankets in winter and thinner ones in summer.

    • Reply Ashley |

      We’d kind of been doing this, but I think it contributed to the problem. The way we did it, I’d set the thermostat lower at night and we’d just bundle up with blankets. But then when morning rolled around and the kids woke up I felt like I needed the heater to be on because they were always freezing in the mornings. So instead of keeping a steady temperature (which I think is better for energy efficiency and heating/cooling costs), we were going up and down, etc.
      I got our next bill and I’ll say there was a BIG difference (over a hundred dollars!), so I think by keeping things more constant we actually saved money. To be fair, it also helps that right now in Tucson it’s very temperate. For the most part, we kept our heater AND our A/C turned completely off this month.

So, what do you think ?