If your electric bill has suddenly gotten higher than you expected, but you don’t think you are using more electricity, there are a few things you can do to verify your usage.

First, turn off the main breaker in your panel, which will turn off the power to everything in the house. If you have other buildings on the power supply, you will want to turn off each one. Now go to the meter, and verify that the usage is zero. You may want to wait a little while and be sure the usage is still zero. The conclusion to be drawn here is that there is no creeper voltage draw. What is being registered is actual usage.

If you still feel there is a mystery, switch all breakers off. Turn your power back on. Begin turning breakers on and checking to see if any of them speed the meter up more than expected.

Most hardware stores will carry an item called a Kill-a-Watt. This device plugs in between your appliance and the outlet, and will tell you the usage of your home needs. As your appliances age, they are less efficient. Other reasons exist as well, such as the coils needing cleaned on your refrigerator, or a loose belt on the washing machine. Regular maintenance of your appliances is a good idea.

Ask yourself if anything is different. If you have a well pump, are you hearing it cycle more frequently. If so, check immediately to be sure there are no leaks in the plumbing which would keep the pump running. Are you running air conditioners that haven’t been used for a few months? Did you install a pool, and now have pumps and heaters working to keep the pool clean and warm? Is there a new freezer in the garage? Did you add new lighting in the pole barn? If necessary, walk room to room and area to area, and make a visual checklist. If you have livestock, and are running fans for them, this may add to the electric bill. Have you been doing more laundry or taking more showers than you were for some reason? Are the children leaving items on when they leave their rooms?

Go online, and study the usage charts of your home. If you have a smart meter, you can verify actual breakdowns by 15 minute segments. You will be able to see the air conditioner cycling off and on, and how things change based on the activities in your home. Check the rate for each Kilowatt Hour. Did the cost of your energy go up? Were there any new taxes or surcharges added? Are you paying for that new wind farm up the road?

A little detective work will usually provide several ways to cut costs. You will feel better about paying the bill when you know it is legitimate. You will also be able to see it drop as you eliminate unnecessary usage.

If you would like to conduct an energy audit to obtain a professional opinion, give Professional Electric a call. Their knowledgeable electricians will help you assess your usage, provide tips and tricks, and get you back in control. Visit us online at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter! We are available 24/7 for emergency services! Mobile: (251) 473-5788 Baldwin County: (251) 929-8957.

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