Why is My Electric Bill So High All of a Sudden? 9 Causes and Solutions

Energy and Money Saving Tips



It’s never fun when you need to ask, “Why is my electric bill so high all of a sudden?”  But when your electric bill is suddenly a lot higher, there’s usually something causing that increase.

 

As the head of a company that’s been helping save money on electric bills for over 7 years, I have seen the most likely causes of high energy bills first-hand.

 

The most likely reason your electric bill is suddenly so high is that your plan expired without you noticing.  This could result in sky-high variable electricity rates that are 100-200% higher than what you were paying.

 

Here are 9 reasons why your electric bill may have increased suddenly, and what you can do about it.

 

Paying variable rates on your electric bill is like setting money on fire

 

1. Your electricity prices skyrocketed because your plan expired

 

Electric companies like to lure customers in the door with enticing offers and low rates. Those plans are great short term solutions.

 

But if you don’t replace your plan before it expires, the company will then put you in a variable rate plan. Those plans are super expensive and will cause your electricity bills to go through the roof.

 

Solution: Keep track of your plan’s expiration date using your phone’s calendar app. Set a reminder to start looking for a new plan about two weeks before that date so you don’t get a high electric bill next time.

 

You can also sign up for an electric plan management service like Energy Simply and not have to worry about having to remember.

 

Early termination fees can make your electric bill jump suddenly

 

2. You got hit with an early termination fee on your electricity bill

 

Check your high electric bill for an extra fee related to early termination.  If you see it, this is likely the culprit.  These fees can range from $100 to $300.

 

You may have accidentally switched too early.  Unless you are moving you, you will get the fee unless you are within the two week grace period before your plan expires.

 

Your electricity provider also could have made a mistake. Sometimes you sign up for a date and the company completely ignores it. Other times they charge you a termination fee when they shouldn’t have, like if you moved.

 

Solution: Again, staying on top of your electricity plan’s end date will help you avoid this situation. If your new company switched you too soon, you can usually get switched back to the old company and get your early termination fee refunded on your next electric bill. 

 

Don't get caught with high bills the next time there is a heat wave

 

3. The weather got hot (or cold) and you used a lot more energy

 

Living in Texas can be quite the weather roller coaster: Hot, cold, humid, dry, and every other type of climate. When temperatures rise, electricity usage rises too. And if you have electric heat, as is common in most apartments, cold weather can hurt you too.  

 

If the weather was a heat wave or deep freeze, this is a likely reason for the electricity bill increase. It just cost you a lot more than you expected to pay to heat and cool your home.

 

Solution: A smart, programmable thermostat does a world of good if you want to save money on your electricity bill.  Other solutions include weatherization and ceiling fans to help reduce energy consumption.

 

Electricity plans with usage credits almost always are a bad idea

 

4. You got fooled by a gimmicky plan that is causing high electric bills

 

As the old saying goes, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. You may have signed up for an “amazing deal” that is actually costing you an arm and a leg. 

 

In these types of plans, you may get a discount for hitting or staying under a certain kilowatt hour electricity usage. For example, a company may offer a $100 bill credit for using 1000 kilowatt hours of electricity in a month. 

 

Maybe in the summer you hit 1000 kWhs in a month, but now it’s November and your usage is only 900 kWh.  With less usage, your electric bills could be higher than those summer months.  A lot higher!

 

Free nights and weekends is another gimmick that seems good, but isn’t. The average kWh price you’ll see on your power bill with these is almost always a lot higher than average.

 

Solution:  Many people would recommend you research your usage profile and read the energy providers’ Facts Label (EFL).  But I know no one wants to do that. So my advice is simple. Stay away from plans that are not straight-forwardly priced.

 

If you are stuck in one of these plans and it doesn’t expire soon, you can:

  • Try to switch to a different plan with the same electric company.  Companies will often let you do this without triggering a termination fee
  • Switch early and pay the termination fee, if the savings from switching are more than the fee

 

Dirty air filters might be driving up your energy usage

 

5. You haven’t replaced your HVAC air filter in a long time

 

A dirty air filter could be driving up your electric bill.  If not changed regularly, air filters will cause your air conditioning (and heating) to work a lot harder and use a lot more electricity.

 

Solution: Luckily buying and changing an air filter is a piece of cake. As a side benefit, you will also have cleaner air!  

 

Homeowners should aim to replace HVAC system air filters every 90 days.  This simple step could  reduce your energy costs a lot.

 

A faulty air conditioner can have a huge impact on your electric bill

 

6. Your air conditioner has failing parts or low refrigerant

 

A malfunctioning air conditioner could be your energy bill problem.  Likely issues are:  

  • The compressor needs to be replaced
  • The motor is failing
  • The refrigerant is low.

 

Any of these will cause your air conditioner to have trouble producing enough cold air.  The result is air conditioning that keeps running and running and running.

 

Solution: Schedule an HVAC system technician to service your AC to see if there is a problem. Once you resolve any issue, schedule annual maintenance.

 

Making sure windows are closed can help save energy and lower your power bill

 

7. There is a window open somewhere in the house

 

I know! Of course you wouldn’t leave a window or door open. But it doesn’t take much of an opening to cause a noticeable difference .  

 

Are you sure you didn’t leave something open in your attic, basement, or just a room you don’t use much?

 

It’s not just the open windows that can cause energy to go to waste. Having windows or doors that are poorly fitted or insulated could also be sucking energy out of your home.  

 

Solution: Walk through your entire house to check for any open windows. Leaky windows are an easy fix, and usually don’t need more than clear silicone caulk to seal the deal. You can fix leaky doors with affordable weather stripping. Even if this is not the main problem, you can typically save money here.

 

Electric meter error is a rare but possible cause of a high electric bill

 

8. Your meter is faulty and misreporting your energy usage

 

This is a problem that isn’t very common.  But if your usage is much higher than typical, and you’ve checked the above possibilities, it might be worth investigating. 

 

Most meters these days are digital smart meters, which are usually pretty reliable. These meters, however, can malfunction and increase your electric bill by making it look like you are using more energy than you really are.

 

Solution: Call your Transmission Distribution Utility (TDU) to schedule a check of your meter. 

 

TDUs:

CenterPoint (Includes Houston metro):  713-207-2222

Oncor (Includes Dallas metro):  888-313-6862

Texas New Mexico Power (TNMP):  888-866-7456

AEP Texas Central:  877-373-4858

AEP Texas North:  877-373-4858 

 

Shutoff your breaker box to see if someone is stealing electricity

 

9. Someone is stealing your electricity

 

This is another unlikely one. But once you’ve gone through all the other items on this list, you might want to look into electricity thieves inflating your energy bill. 

 

Most people don’t have the know-how to tap into a neighbor’s electricity, but it is possible. This is called meter tampering and it costs electricity companies and consumers billions of dollars. 

 

So how can you tell?  

 

First, turn off the main breakers to your house.  Please make sure there is nothing important you will disturb before doing this, like your spouse’s conference call. 

 

Next find your meter, typically outside your house or apartment building.  Watch it to see if the numbers are still going up.  You might need to give it sometime to be sure.  But if the number keeps changing, then it is pretty likely someone has tapped into your power.

 

Solution: In Texas, stealing electricity can be a felony. So this is serious business.  If you suspect electricity theft, you need to contact your transmission company at their number above.  They have teams to address this and make sure your energy bill reflects your actual electricity use.

 

Wrapping it up – never ask “why is my electric bill so high all of a sudden” ever again.

 

Hopefully, we found your problem and you have already started the process of fixing it. 

 

If your problem has something to do with your electric bill and you never want to worry about it again, we can help.  Sign up and let us take a look, we’ll even try to help you resolve your current issue.