High Bill FAQ

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Why is my neighbor's electric bill lower than mine?

Your bill reflects the amount of electricity you use and represents the unique needs of your family. Houses vary in terms of:

  • Temperature settings of the heat, air conditioning and water heater
  • Insulation levels and values
  • Condition of the home and appliances
  • Laundry, cooking and cleaning habits
  • Hot tubs, swimming pools and water features

Your bill reflects the amount of electricity you use and represents the unique needs of your family.

What is typical usage for my air conditioner and heating equipment?

Cooling and heating systems typically have the biggest impact on bills. Costs are determined by:

  • Home size
  • Home structure (condition of ductwork, window caulking, insulation levels, etc.)
  • Outside temperatures
  • Thermostat settings, including the use of programmable thermostats and different settings for night, day and weekends, for example
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Size of the heating/cooling system
  • Hours of operation

On average 45 percent of a summer bill goes for cooling a home with central air. Regardless of the type of cooling system you are using, you can save by:

  • Changing your filters regularly.
  • Keeping your system tuned up. Have it inspected by a professional every five years.
  • Using the recommended thermostat setting of 78°F in the summer.
  • Increasing the temperature at night or when you are away from home for more than three hours during the day. Use a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature.
  • Weatherize your home to maximize efficiency.
  • Avoiding the use of heat producing appliances such as the oven and clothes dryer during the hottest part of the day

It is not uncommon for a home with a central air conditioning to have summer bills with usage that is three or four times greater than other times in the year. In winter, electric heat of any sort, whether it is a primary or secondary heating system, can also add significantly to your bill.

What power users might be causing my bill to be so high?

The largest users of electricity are items that heat and cool.

Other culprits that can cause your usage to be higher than usual:

  • Electric water heaters – especially as they age
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Pumps used for irrigation, swimming pools, water features or hot tubs
  • Medical equipment
  • Secondary refrigerators or freezers
  • Plasma TVs
Is it better to close the vents and doors of rooms that aren't in use?

In general, it is less expensive to heat or cool a small area than a large one. In order to save heating costs with an electric furnace or a central air conditioning unit, doors to individual rooms and vents within these rooms can be closed. Heat pumps are an exception to this rule and rely on air flow throughout the system. With a heat pump, doors, vents and ducts should remain open. In fact, heat pump warranties may become void if the system becomes inoperable due to reduced air flow in the home.

Is it worthwhile to continually turn on and off lights for brief periods of time when entering/leaving a room or is it better just to leave them on?

In general, lights should be turned off anytime they are not needed. You can save money on lighting by replacing incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® LEDs. These high-efficiency bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last far longer than incandescent bulbs.

Can I save money on purchasing new appliances or buying other energy efficiency products?

Yes, your purchase may be eligible for cash incentives from Pacific Power or Energy Trust of Oregon.

wattsmart outletPlease review wattsmart programs for your state:

California | Oregon | Washington

I think that my meter was misread, what should I do?

First determine if a change in your usage might have caused the change in your bill. Has the heating or cooling season begun? Have you had visitors? Have you had your system inspected by a professional? All of these can affect your electric bill.

If you still think that there has been a problem with your meter read, read your meter and compare it to the meter reading on your bill.

How likely is it that the issue with my bill is related to a faulty meter? What if my bill is much lower than usual?

It is very unlikely that the problem that you are experiencing is a problem with your meter. The chance of a five-dial meter failing is less than one percent; it is more likely to slow down than to speed up. Most new meters are digital, further increasing accuracy. Meters can sometimes stop, however. If you know that you are using power and your statement shows no kilowatt-hour usage for the period, your meter may have stopped. Please call us at 1-888-221-7070. Remember that unbilled usage will not go away. If your meter has stopped, we may estimate using past months' billing. To ensure accurate billing, please let us know as soon as you are aware that you have a stopped meter.

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