Review how much power you've used for the last 13 months. We call this the kilowatt hour (kWh) history. This history is provided for you on every bill. You can compare your most recent month to that same month one year ago. Weather fluctuations may be a factor in any major differences, but this is a good place to start your search. The kilowatt hours you use are the main driver of costs on your electric bill.
True electric bill
Check to be sure this is a true high electric bill. Are there other charges beyond electric service? Any additional service fees (i.e. deposits, connections/disconnection fees or returned check fees)?
Have any past-due amounts from a previous bill been added to the total?
Are there ancillary charges added for other DS&O products or services (water heater, security lights, etc.)?
Don't forget about local taxes.
Days of use
Check the number of days that are billed for your electric use. This varies from bill to bill due to the number of days in a month and a billing cycle may be a bit shorter or a bit longer so as not to make your bill due on a weekend or holiday.
Compare winter to summer
Check the kilowatt hour total by month. From the history, are the winter months higher, indicating some form of electric heat, higher hot water use or heaters being used on water beds?
Do the summer months indicate air conditioning? Were temperatures higher or lower than normal during this period?
DS&O does offer an Average Billing Plan to help members with seasonal fluctuations.
Your electric meter doesn't go on vacation
If you leave your home for an extended period of time for business or vacation, any appliance you leave plugged in or connected will continue to use electricity even while you are gone, especially your hot water heater, freezer, refrigerator, HVAC system, landscape irrigation, well pumps, etc.
Most of us note that the TV and lights were not on, but we forget about these items.
No two households use energy the same way, so comparing your energy bill to your neightbor's is like comparing apples to oranges. It is best to compare your current use to your past use.
Determine if the size of your household has increased or did someone stay at home more.
Have you added a new swimming pool or hot tub in your backyard?
Have you had "a guest" stay for an extended period?
Do you have hobbies that include the use of power tools, ovens and other high electrical resistance tools or appliances?
Lighting, refrigeration, cooking and appliances
Lighting, refrigeration, cooking and appliances account for 56% of the total energy used in the normal household. The location of refrigerators and freezers is very important.
NEVER place a regrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or in unconditioned space such as a breezeway, garage, or out-building. The regrigerator or freezer will have to work harder to overcome excessive heat during warmer months.
Make sure that your refrigerators and freezers have adequate ventilation.
If an appliance is more than 15 years old, the efficiency of that appliance may be decreasing significantly and requiring more energy to do its job.
It is important to clean or replace the condenser, coils or filters on some appliances regularly. You may need to replace the appliance itself. Many times old electrical wiring will have loose connections resulting in increased electrical use and create potential safety hazards.
The additional heating or cooling load will cause an increase in electric use. Heating and cooling your home averages around 44% of your total energy use. Using space heaters, fireplaces, livestock heaters or vehicle block heaters in the winter can dramatically increase your energy consumption. Running a dehumidifer or watering a lawn, gardens, and animals in the summer months will increase your energy use.
Lightning can sometimes damage your well pump, sump pump, or appliances increasing the running of these devices. If underground wiring-insulation is damaged, an increase in electrical use may ocur when the ground is saturated with moisture. You may want to consider having an electrician test your home's ground rod installations.
Construction or remodeling activities
Has there been any underground excavation recently? If you have underground wiring, the electrical wires may have been nicked resulting in a direct short. Many times room additions are completed without proper sizing of HVAC for additional heating and cooling loads.
If after studying all the above information, you still feel there may be a deeper problem, we are happy to take your call and assist you. After handling the high bill complaint on the phone, we determine if a field visit is necessary to determine any energy efficiency problems or check the meter.
When should I ask DS&O to test my meter
DS&O encourages members to look for the cause in the above situations first. Meter tests should be a last resort instead of first. Meters measure energy use and because they are a mechanical device it is rare that they run fast. They are seldom the cause of a higher bill but often blamed. Less than 2 out of 1,000 meters are going to be wrong when tested. This includes running slow or running fast. Most old meters and faulty meters would more likely run slower not faster.