Wondering why is your electric bill high all of a sudden even though you don’t feel that you consumed more electricity to the level that justifies this abnormal increase in the bill?
No worries, we all get that feeling at some time, to the extent that sometimes the electricity bill doubles in one month.
I will help you here find out what might be the reason with the list of 21 possible reasons of increase in electric bill, along with the solution to each one.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
21 Reasons for a High Electric Bill All of a Sudden
1 – Change in Season
This might be one of the biggest factors in changing the value of the electric bill from a month to the next one, especially when going from autumn to winter and from spring to summer.
The reason why this change causes such an increase in the electric bill is that this comes with extreme changes in the temperature levels.
This means that you would need to increase the use of the air conditioner to cool down your place during summer, and use either the air conditioner or the central heating to raise the temperature to comfortable levels in winter.
And these two systems consume a lot of energy, especially when operated for long hours every day.
Add to that, at winter you need to use more hot water, which is usually heated with electricity, or maybe in a boiler, but it needs pumps in order to distribute it to the points of usage such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Solution: Operate the heating and cooling systems only in the rooms where you need to be, and keep the doors between the rooms closed as much as possible in order to avoid heat dissipation from one zone to another, which causes more energy to substitute that loss.
Also, you may decide on setting the cooling and heating temperature level to a comfortable one that you can enjoy temperature that can you enjoy without going to the other extreme (22-24 Celsius, 71-75 Fahrenheit).
2 – Not a Good Insulation
Since heating and cooling are two of the biggest consumers of electricity, you better that you are using them efficiently.
Some of the reasons that the heating and cooling appliances keep working non-stop is that place they are in doesn’t have a good insulation, between the room and the outside of the place, and between the room and the adjacent rooms or corridors.
Or maybe the little space under door causes the cooled/heated air to drift from the room to other spaces in the place, therefore, not putting the heating or cooling system into rest.
Solution: Invest in good insulation for the walls and the roof, and close the gap between the door and the floor with door sweeps.
Check the windows for any possible gaps that might cause heat dissipation, or maybe the windows can’t close fully leaving some space for the air to move from and to the outside.
Also, you might invest in double-glazed windows that work well with maintaining the internal temperature from getting affected by the outside weather.
3 – Change in Lighting Usage
Going from autumn to winter means that you have fewer hours of natural light at evening and even at the early morning time.
This leads to more usage in electricity for the lighting on daily basis, which causes a sudden increase in the electric bill.
Solution: Try to keep the lights turned off in any space or room where you are occupying, and try to finish the tasks that require being in a lit space during the day if possible.
Maybe, you can install a lighting occupancy/vacancy sensor for some areas of frequent, but non-continuous use, where people turn on the lights to use the space and then leave the space without shutting them off, such as corridors, backyard, entrance, or some areas in offices or public places such as printer rooms and bathrooms.
4 – Inefficient Use of Lighting
You may have made a change by adding some kind of lighting fixtures like the recessed lighting units or flood lights may give a high level of brightness to a small area but you need use many of them in order to light up a certain room or space.
Also, using incandescent lamps consumes more energy than CFL lamps, which consume energy more than the LED lamps, and you may have added some of the ones that consume higher amounts of electricity.
Solution: Try using hanging lighting units that emit light on a bigger area instead of the recessed units, and consider using LED lights over other kinds of lights wherever possible.
5 – You Had More People Come Over to Your Place
Whether it was due to the holiday season or any other reason, having two more people with you for a week is equivalent to adding the consumption of two additional weeks to your electric bill, assuming that they consumed as much electricity as you do on average.
Not to mention that people staying at your place might mean that they consume more electricity that what you consume because you might leave during the day to work, while they stay in the house for example, and keep operating different appliances that consume electricity.
Solution: Consider advising your guests on good energy-saving habits related to all appliances in general, and to the lighting, heating, and cooling systems in particular as these are the ones that get used most of the time.
5 – Unused, Plugged-in Appliances
Energy Vampires are appliances that are connected to the electric source (sockets) without being used.
Examples are electric devices like TV, mobile in charger that is not charging a phone, a laptop or a computer in a standby mode, …etc.
If you started leaving appliances in standby mode more than you used to do in the past, this could be one of the reasons why the electric bill has increased suddenly.
Solution: Try to unplug the appliances that are not being used, and try not to keep electronic devices on standby mode for long hours and consider shutting them down instead.
7 – Staying at Home Longer Than Usual
Maybe due to pandemic, or because someone at the house left their job or changed habits in a way that they started staying at home for longer hours during the day or night, which leads to a sudden increase in electricity usage, and therefore, a suddenly higher bill.
Solution: Similar to the tips in the previous points, consider developing good habits when using electric systems, such as turning off the lights and the air heating and cooling systems in areas that you are not occupying.
8 – Change in Energy Usage Patterns
You may have started staying at work until night, which although means less time at home, but it also means that you will need to do everything at night, and therefore, use electric lights all the time.
Or maybe you shifted your work from a night shift into a day shift, and in the past you didn’t need to use electric lights as much as you do now.
Solution: This one is hard to overcome, but you need to consider the same tips in the previous points.
9 – Running Machines More Often on Half Capacity
Using a washing machine twice at half capacity consumes more than operating it one time at full capacity.
And the same goes for the dishwasher or the iron.
Solution: Try to use these appliances less often, but at full capacity.
10 – New Electric Appliances
You may have replaced the gas stove with an electric one, you started using an electric water heater instead of a boiler, brought an electric space heater, added some internal of external lights, bought an electric car, …etc.
These all mean reducing the fuel bill, but at the same time, increasing the electric bill all of a sudden.
Solution: You need to buy energy efficient appliances, and see how much did you save on fuel bills and if it justifies the increase in electric bill.
11 – Hot Water Leakage
How would the hot water leakage be a reason for a sudden increase in electricity bill?
It is because you either heat water with an electric heater, or maybe, with a boiler, but you use electric pumps in order to supply the points where you use water.
And if you have a leakage at any point in the piping system of the hot water, this means that you need to heat more water in order to substitute for the leaked amount, and that causes higher electricity consumption if you were using an electric water heater, or for the pumps if you were using a boiler.
Solution: Inspect the hot water system for any possible leakage, or call a local plumber to test it for you and do the necessary fixation if there was found any leak.
12 – Electricity Leakage
A continuous electricity leak means that the meter is now reading more electricity consumption than what you are actually using to operate devices.
This leakage could be due to a wire had the insulation torn at one point, and touching a metallic body at the same point, leading to the leakage, or maybe through a certain appliance that is causing the leakage through its metallic body that is touching the ground or any other metallic body.
Solution: You may get an electrician to test your electric wiring system and find out if there’s a leakage anywhere after the meter.
You can do this if you need how to deal with electricity by first turning off the main circuit breaker after the meter, and see if the meter is still moving, which would mean that the leakage is in the path from the meter to the main breaker.
If the meter is not moving, then you need to turn on the main breaker and turn off and unplug all the appliances that you can unplug, and see if the meter reading is still increasing.
If yes, then you need to switch off all the circuit breakers, except the main one, and then switching them on one-by-one for a period of time to see if one of them caused the meter reading to increase, so that you isolate the zone where the problem happened.
If there’s still not motion in the meter, then start plugging-in the appliances, one-by-one, zone-by-zone, without turning them on, and see if the meter has started moving, which means that you found the appliance that caused the leakage.
Disclaimer: If you don’t know how to deal with the circuit breakers and electric wiring in general, you better call a qualified electrical to inspect the possible leak for you.
13 – Faulty Appliances
Maybe some device with hit by a solid object, or it just started malfunctioning or consuming more power due to some internal error or fault.
Some of these results could be an electric leakage through the appliance’s body to the ground, or maybe a more power is needed now in order to do the same function that the device is supposed to do at a normal consumption.
One example could be a laptop battery that is being discharged faster than usual and now it needs more frequent charging, a heating or cooling system that is supposed to change the operating power automatically but now it’s working in full capacity non-stop, or maybe a thermostat that is not measuring properly, or not sending a signal to the cooling or heating system in order to regulate the operation of that system.
Solution: Try to be aware of any case similar to the examples in the previous paragraph, and see if you can find any device or system that is not operating normally and try to either fix it or replace it.
14 – Old Appliances
Old appliances might get less efficient with time, which means that they would consume more electricity in order to do the same job they used to do in the past with normal consumption.
Examples in the previous point about faulty appliances could also be applied here for old appliances that would need longer times to operate properly, or would require consuming more electricity than their nominal rating values.
Solution: Check the old appliances and notice any unusual pattern in operating time or efficiency while doing their jobs, and see if they require replacement or maintenance.
15 – Filters Need Cleaning
The filters of the AC units and ventilation outlets need to be cleaned on frequent basis in order to maintain the air conditioner’s efficiency as the dusty filters cause difficulties for air heating/cooling coils inside the unit and requires the AC unit to work longer on full capacity in order to give the desired temperature compared to how long it needs to work when the filters are new and/or clean.
This means that the electric bill might increase significantly from month to month if you don’t clean them, and if you go from a season where you don’t operate them that much, to summer or winter where you keep them on most of the time.
Solution: Check the filters of the existing AC units and make sure that they are cleaned on frequent basis, or replaced when necessary.
In general, AC filters need to be cleaned every 2-4 weeks, and replaced every 2-3 months depending on how quickly they get dirty, and sometimes you may even need to clean and replace them more frequently, depending on the area, or on how often you keep them on in every season.
16 – Forgetting Appliances On
Don’t underestimate leaving lights or heating and cooling systems on while you are on a business trip, a vacation, or even at work for the whole day.
These loads consume electricity whether someone was there to benefit from them or not.
Add to that, the fact that you may keep doors open between different spaces, or worse, forget a window open, which would lead to causing the heating and cooling systems to work continuously in full capacity and cause even doubling your electricity bill all of a sudden.
Solution: Consider having a mini-checklist or at least a small sign on the door that would remind you of checking everything before leaving.
17 – Power Stealth
This can literally lead to doubling or even tripling your electric bill, and it is not impossible to happen.
Luckily, it is easy to detect.
Solution: Similar to inspecting an electric leak, you would turn off the main circuit breaker, and check if the meter’s reading is still increasing.
If yes, the reason could be a leakage in the cable between the meter and the main circuit breaker, or it could be that someone is stealing electricity from you.
You better do this test during the peak hours when everyone around you is usually occupying their place and using electric devices, and if the reading of the meter is changing significantly, then it is probably that someone is stealing from you.
If the reading is changing slowly, it could be only a discharge in the cable from the meter to your main circuit breaker.
And if the reading is not changing at all, it means that neither there’s a leakage nor someone is stealing power from your utility meter.
18 – Peak Hour Loads & Blocks-Based Tariff
Some electric utility companies charge consumers a fixed tariff per KWH (Kilo Watt Hour) consumed, and some have a different tariff model, such as the Peak Hour Load tariff, which means that for the electricity consumed during a certain hour or time of the day, let’s say from 5:00-7:00 pm, you pay more per KWH compared to what you pay during the rest of the day.
If this was the case with the company selling you electricity, it means that you might have been consuming more electricity during the peak hours compared to the past.
Or, other companies might have a blocks-based tariff, in which you pay a certain price per KWH for the first block of usage within the month (300 kWh for example), and then you pay a higher price per kWh for every kWh consumed during the same month.
This means, that after consuming the capacity of the first block of electricity within a month, any additional consumption during that month leads to a significant increase in the electric bill.
Solution: Check the current tariff of the company selling you electricity, which is either on their website or even somewhere on the bill, and see if there’s a Peak Hour tariff, and try to shift loads from those hours to other hours when you pay less.
And if there’s a block-based tariff, monitor your power consumption and try not to exceed the lowest blocks, or even switching to another provider that offers a better pricing system.
19 – Price Change
Maybe the prices of the company selling you electricity has increase significantly, or maybe they changed the tariff system from a flat rate to the peak hour system or the block-based tariff.
Solution: If this is the case, you either have to adapt with the sudden increase in the bill and accepted, change your consumption habits, or even consider looking for another company with lower prices if that’s a possibility in your area.
20 – Due Amount
Maybe you haven’t paid the previous month’s bill yet, or maybe you paid part of it, and now the due amount is loaded into the latest bill, which made it look as if the bill increased suddenly.
Or maybe, the person who read the meter last time has registered a number that is lower than the actual reading, and the current month’s bill need to cover the difference that was missed during the previous reading.
Solution: Check out the receipts of your payments on previous bills and see if there was any amount that is still unpaid.
21 – Wrong Reading or a Faulty Meter
Maybe the person who read the meter for the current abnormally high bill has registered a value that is much higher than the actual reading, which led to a big increase in the bill.
Or maybe, the meter is not functioning properly and is reading faster than it should be, resulting in registering false, higher consumption value.
Solution: Check the reading registered on the current bill, and compare it to the actual reading at the meter asap.
If the reading on the bill is higher than the one on the meter, then the bill is requesting you to pay for an amount of electricity that you haven’t consumed yet.
You can either call the company or send them a letter to complain and request them to amend the bill.
If the actual reading on the electricity meter is slightly higher than the reading on the bill, then either everything is normal, or the meter is recording more consumption than it should be.
If you feel that you haven’t consumed a lot of energy this month, and you have checked all the previous points in this article without finding a leakage, faulty or old appliances, stealth, change in tariff, …etc., then it might be that the meter is not reading and registering the electric consumption properly.
In this case, you better send a letter to complain and request the company to inspect and test the meter.
If you want to complain, you may check our high electric bill complaint letter template article in order to get a sample letter to use instead of writing from scratch.
This list of the 21 reasons why your electric bill is high all of a sudden might help you analyze and find out what the reason could be for the high billing amount you received lately.
If you think that there might be some other reason that is not mentioned here in the list, or if you have a question about anything I mentioned here, please, let me know in the comments’ section below and I will be happy to help you out.
Are You a US Homeowner?
You might be eligible for installing a complete solar panel system for your house without a down payment, save on electric bill (or even eliminate it), increase the value of your house, and maybe get an extra $1,000 rebate!
SunPower is a leading solar energy company, and they can advise you on your eligibility.
Enter your zip code, and finish the 1-minute survey, and SunPower’s professional team will contact you shortly!