What Makes Your Electric Bill High in Georgia: 7 Considerations

Three prong cord on top of a one hundred dollar bill

Have you been looking at bills and asking, “Why is my electric so high?” The average electric bill in Georgia was around $126 per month last year, making Georgia’s costs some of the highest in the nation. But energy bills can change for many reasons. If you saw a sudden spike, here’s what may be going on.

1. Your thermostat is putting in a lot of work over the winter and/or summer.

Most frequently, there isn’t one culprit for high electric bills, but rather a number of factors combined so that your heating and cooling systems are working harder than they were last month.

One common reason is that thermostat settings have stayed the same while temperatures have changed. If your thermostat turns on to heat the house every time it drops below 70 degrees, and it’s now well below 70 degrees every morning this month, you’re going to start paying a lot more for heating. Make a schedule and reminders to adjust your thermostat in response to the seasons. For winter, try to only have the heat kick on around 68 to 66 degrees (cooling around 78 degrees in the summer), and pull on a sweater if things get too chilly. A single extra degree on your thermostat in winter can cause a 3 to 5% energy use increase for the month.

Also, practice efficient energy management! Keep the thermostat down in the middle of the day when no one is going to be home. Don’t leave windows open in the cold months. Don’t depend on space heaters in winter, as they waste lots of electricity for relatively little impact.

2. Rates or rate schedules have changed.

Other reasons your electric bill is high could be related to rate changes. If your household activity has remained relatively the same as it was before, take a close look at your energy bill and electric plan. Here are a few things that often explain paying more:

  • A longer billing period: Sometimes your billing period may be several days longer from one month to the next due to a variety of factors. It can be surprising just how much higher this can raise your electric bill, especially when the HVAC system is working hard.
  • Your power company raised rates: Electricity rates can fluctuate and can be raised with relatively little warning. And yes, 2020 certainly did see an increase in rates for many Georgia users. That may be the difference you’re seeing on your bill.
  • You switched to a different type of payment plan: A switch in payment plans may explain why you’re suddenly paying more. The worst culprit here is the “time-of-use” plan (called Smart Usageor Nights & Weekends with Georgia Power) that has higher rates for using electricity at certain times of day. Make sure your payment plan hasn’t recently changed and research the details.
  • A fraud campaign has impacted your bill: Scammers coming door to door demanding payment for your electric bill are just that: scammers. Educate yourself on some common fraud tactics used on Georgia Power customers.

3. Your HVAC filter has become clogged.

What can make your electric bill so high over the long term? Check your filters! The standard residential HVAC system uses an important filter near the fan inside your ductwork. This filter catches all the larger particles floating in the air.

These filters are made to be either replaced entirely or washed every several months, ideally at the start of each new season. If a filter is forgotten and left too long, it becomes clogged with dirt, which slows down airflow. That means hot or cold air isn’t making it into the house fast enough, so systems have to work longer and harder to achieve the same temperature as before. That causes increased wear and tear, while also pushing your energy bills higher than they need to be.

4. Holidays may have been especially demanding.

If you’re wondering what makes power bills high during winter especially, take a look at holiday plans and who has been staying over at the house. Additional friends and family members staying at the house tend to use more heat, more appliances and more energy overall.

This is what causes electricity bills to be high over Thanksgiving, Christmas and similar events where family may be staying for extended periods of time. These causes are often accompanied by other signs like higher water bills.

5. Your habits may have changed, too.

2020 has seen a lot of changes for many homeowners. More workers are staying at home in remote work situations when there typically wouldn’t be anyone at home during the day. More kids are staying home from school to work on online classes. People staying at home during the day need more heating, more lighting and operate electronics for longer periods of time. This is what makes power bills high in unexpected ways this year. Another key sign to look for is higher internet usage and difficulties staying under old internet data caps.

6. A particular unit is malfunctioning.

Sometimes, what makes the electric bill high is a specific appliance that’s not functioning as it should. This happens more often with old appliances that have developed heat leaks or become increasingly inefficient as they wear down. Listen for appliances that seem to be constantly running when they weren’t before or units that have started making strange noises. If an appliance or heating unit has started acting strangely, it’s time to contact a professional at Gainesville Mechanical to send out a technician for an inspection.

7. A big electrical change in your home.

A new introduction to your home can significantly alter your electricity needs. There are two common situations that owners run into. The first is installing a new appliance that uses up a lot of energy, such as a second refrigerator, a new electric oven range or (as we mentioned above) a new space heater brought in for winter.

The other situation would be a remodel that has added a new room to the house. In these cases, the heating and cooling systems have to work much harder to heat the same home.

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