Why is my bill so high?

Coastal Electric Cooperative representatives are always happy to assist you with your billing questions, but you may consider gathering this information prior to calling.

It may answer your questions or provide valuable information when you do call.

Accurate history

Review how much power you’ve used for the last 13 months.

This history is provided for you on every bill. You can compare your most recent month to that same month one year ago.

The best tool for analyzing your bill is to view your daily and even hourly usage at MyEnergyOnline.

Hourly

Click on the New User tab if you are login on for the first time and do not have a username and password.

Weather fluctuations may be a factor in any major differences, but this is a good place to start your search.

Daily Usage

The kilowatt hours you use drive the amount of your electric bill. Coastal Electric Cooperative residential customers average about 1400 kWh of energy use per month but most Members use substantially more than that in peak winter and summer months.

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, connection/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 to the bill for other Coastal Electric products or services (surge protection service, security lights, etc.)?
  • Don’t forget about state and 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.

Is the number of days greater than other months in question because of meter readings or meter reading cycles? Is the daily average significantly different from other months in question?

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 heater use.

Do the summer months indicate air conditioning? Were temperatures higher or lower than normal during the period?

Coastal Electric offers a levelized billing program to help Members with seasonal fluctations.

Your electric meter doesn’t go on vacation

If 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 pump, etc.

Most of us note that the TV and lights were not on, but we forget about these other items.

Lifestyle

No two households use energy the same way, so comparing your energy bill to your neighbor’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 back yard.
  • Have you had “guests” 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 percent of the total energy use in the normal household. The location of refrigerators and freezers is very important.
  • Never place a refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or in unconditioned space such as a breezeway, garage or out-building. The refrigerator or freezer will have to work harder to overcome excessive heat during warmer months.
  • Make sure that your refrigerators and freezers have adequate ventilation.
Equipment maintenance

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.

Seasons

The additional heating or cooling load will cause an increase in electric use. Heating and cooling your home averages around 44 percent of you total energy use. Using space heaters, fireplaces, livestock heaters or vehicle block heaters in the winter can dramatically increase your energy consumption. Running a dehumidifier or watering of lawns, gardens and animals in the summer months will increase your energy use.

Weather

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 occur when the ground is saturated with moisture. You may want to consider having Coastal Electric test your home’s ground rod installations and sign up for surge protection.

Field visits

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. Coastal Electric’s Member Services Department can offer efficiency solutions.

When should I ask Coastal Electric to test my meter?

Coastal Electric encourages customers 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 it is very 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 will likely run slow.
A faulty meter would more likely run slow. In the case of a meter check, a Coastal Electric field representative will check the meter.