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Abnormal Electric Bill

Q: I recently received an electric bill that I thought was abnormally high. Should I ask my electric company to check the accuracy of my meter, or is there something else that could be the cause?

A: Occasionally the REMC gets calls from members who are concerned that their electric bill is higher than usual. Many times the member wants the REMC to check the meter for problems, but most of the time the issue that causes the high bill is on the customer's side of the meter.

The most common sources of high energy bills are changes in weather, (which result in your heating or cooling system working harder) an addition of an appliance to the home, an additional person residing in a home, or appliance that operates inefficiently.

If you should receive a bill that seems higher than usual, first compare it with your bill from the same month of the previous year. Seasonal temperature changes commonly cause energy usage to fluctuate. Your heating system works harder in January and February, while your cooling system is often pushed to its limits in July and August. Also remember the bill you receive is for the previous month's usage and it may be hard to imagine on a pleasant September day, how hot it was just a month ago.

If you can't relate your high bill to a temperature change, think about other possible changes your household may have incurred since the previous bill. You should also be sure your home is operating at its optimum efficiency. Listed below are several things you can check in your own home to be sure you are using energy as efficiently as possible.

Heating & Cooling System

  • Is your ductwork airtight, with no leaks and sealed with mastic? (Duct tape should never be used to seal HVAC ducts.)
  • Is your ductwork located inside the conditioned envelope of your house? (Not in the attic or in an uninsulated crawl space.)
  • Is the ductwork unrestricted?
  • Has your filter been changed in the last month?
  • Is your outdoor unit free of objects that can hamper airflow?
  • Has your heating and cooling system been inspected by a licensed HVAC contractor within the past six moths?

Water Heater

  • Is the water heater free of leaks?
  • Is the temperature set no higher than 120 degrees?
  • Are the hot water lines free of leaks?
  • Are the hot water lines properly insulated?

Attic

  • Is the blown-in insulation at least 17 inches deep? … or batt insulation at least 13 inches deep?
  • Is blown-in insulation evenly spread, covering ceiling joists?
  • Does the roof structure have both low (intake) and high (exhaust) ventilation?

Intake ventilation:

  • Soffit vents
  • Low mushroom vents

Exhaust ventilation:

  • High mushroom vents
  • Continuous ridge
  • Gables

Living Area

  • Do you have double pane, Low-E glazed windows?
  • Are gaps and crevices around windows and doors sealed with caulk?
  • Does the door leading to the basement have an airtight seal?
  • Does your fireplace have glass doors?
  • Do you turn your furnace off when you have a fire in the fireplace?
  • Is the damper closed when fireplace is not in use?
  • Is your floor insulated?
  • Does floor insulation have the vapor barriers (paper side) facing in?
  • Do you have foam gaskets behind light switches and electrical outlets?
  • Have you sealed holes around pipes in the kitchen and bathrooms?

Your Energy Use Habits

  • Do you turn off lights that aren't being used?
  • Is the thermostat set no lower than 78 degrees in the summer and no higher than 68 degrees in the winter?
  • Do you use fluorescent light bulbs?
  • Do your shower heads/faucets have water flow restrictors?
  • Are supply/return vents unobstructed?

The REMC also holds energy efficiency seminars at the Corydon office each month to teach ways to cut current energy bills, or to build new homes with low energy bills. A schedule of the meetings is published in the "Seminars & Events" section of this web site.

 

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