Ask Matt, July 2019

Ask Matt, July 2019

Dear Matt,
April and May are usually some of my lowest electric bills. My bill is lower, but I still think it seems a little high, considering I have not had electric heat and still have not turned on my air conditioner. 

I think many of us look forward to the summer and spring because we consider them “shoulder months” providing us some of our lowest energy bills. About half a home’s energy usage is heating and cooling, and if Mother Nature allows us to cut that out of our month’s usage, we often see a slight decline in our bill. 

Having had some combination of this question several times, I have noted a few common themes that may help you understand why your bill may not have dropped as much as you would have liked.

With our wet spring, some sump pumps are having to run around the clock. Depending on the horsepower these units run anywhere from 300 to 800-watt units. At ¼ HP at 600 watts running all the time would add 430 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to your electric bill.

All the rain also meant running our dehumidifiers all day. These consume 450 to 650 watts. At 500 watts, a dehumidifier could add 360 kWh if running constantly.

Of course, these useful devices are often necessary this time of year.

Another sneaky springtime load is heat lamps for chickens or other animals. A couple of 250-watt heat lamps are comparable to a continually running sump pump or dehumidifier regarding your electric bill.

Finally, here’s a spring cleaning tip that may help with your electric bills. I am often surprised how many refrigerators and freezers folks have plugged in, and some with nothing in them. If you have an older, less efficient model not in use anymore, consider cleaning it out and unplugging it all together. Don’t forget about units in garages and sheds which take more energy to function, especially in the warmer months. Mini fridges may also be a culprit, especially after a teenager moved out of the house and left the fridge powered on.