Our home is 2700sqft 1 story. We have a swimming pool with a variable speed pump which barely runs and is on the lowest setting. I also have a 40x60 workshop that has 100 amps coming off the house. I am only in the shop once or twice a week for probably no more than an hour each. We have radiant barrier in the attic. This month since it's been cooler we have barely used the electric heat and only turned the AC on maybe 3 times. Our Kwh usage for the past year has been 5400kwhs up to 7898kwhs. Our neighbor has almost the same size house and shop but he works in his shop daily for 6-10 hours each day. He doesn't use over 2000kwh per month. My wife just told me about our $700 and up to $1300 electric bills. This is ridiculous. Thanks in advance for any info.

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    Title says your usage doubled. But content says you are double your neighbor's usage. Those are two totally different things. Dec 23, 2020 at 19:21
  • Appliance by appliance, how much does each one draw? Focus on the large 240V appliances, but large 120V appliances that are on often/continuously are also of interest. Dec 23, 2020 at 19:21
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    Seriously, don't put up with this. This needs to be attacked aggressively and fixed fast. The kind of money you're spending on electric ($700/mo) would pay the mortgage on a major remodel several times over, and the remodel could come with all new insulation, windows, and a heat pump or gas for heat. Wow, crazy wow! Dec 23, 2020 at 19:31
  • I'm confused. Are all the usage values per month? 2000 kWh per month sounds ridiculously high to me, unless we're talking about a winter month with direct electric heat. 8 MWh a year (you wrote "usage for the past year") sounds more reasonable for a house this size, although a bit on the high end.
    – TooTea
    Dec 23, 2020 at 20:24
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    ...is the pool heated....??? Electrically? And yes, this is unclear as heck - please clarify - usage per year/per month? Your usage doubled - your usage is double your neighbors? And do try shutting off all the breakers or the main while your family keeps an eye on the lights in the neighbors houses - it's an ugly one but definitely not unheard of.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 23, 2020 at 22:23

4 Answers 4


What is your heat source? I had a rental house that had a heat pump that failed and the renters complained about a sudden spike in electrical billings. BC the heat pump failed, the house was being heated with backup electrical resistance elements.

The most common cause of a spike in electrical usage is space heating. Also, if you have a leaking hot water faucet (or other leak in a hot water pipe) it could cause the water heater to run much more than normal (assuming an electric water heater).

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    Had a leaking hot water pipe under a house we were renting once - that was expensive.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 23, 2020 at 22:27
  • @Ecnerwal I'll bet! Amazing how quickly consuming resources 24/7 can add up. My youngest son's leaking toilet (mentioned in another comment), ran up a huge water bill. He and his wife thought, no way could a simple toilet leak do that and I said, "OH YES IT CAN!" Dec 23, 2020 at 23:03

Check with your power company. Most of them have a "dashboard" on their web site that allows you to check your usage hourly and daily. You can then compare it to what you used that day. It can also tell you what the usage hogs are. The readings usually lag by 24 hours which is a great improvement over waiting for the monthly bill and then trying to remember all the details.

Any chance a neighbor is tapping into your service?? It happens.

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    Nothing like getting your household all ready for it and then throwing the main in the evening (with everyone in your family on watch) to see if any of the neighbors lights go out, yup...
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 23, 2020 at 22:18
  • @Ecnerwal LOL'ed at that comment! But seriously, even after flipping the main breaker, be sure to check the meter to see if it's still showing usage. The tap may between the meter and the main breaker. Very unlikely, but possible. Also, the OP should take daily meter readings if the POCO doesn't have the "dashboard" JACK describes (mine doesn't) The old style meters with the dials and wheel are more difficult to learn how to read, but the new digital ones are super simple. Then try and track daily usage to what could be going on in your home/shop. Dec 23, 2020 at 23:10

First, bone up on some knowledge.

Learn what a "Volt" is, what an "amp" is.

Learn how watts are Volts * Amps. A kilowatt is 1000 watts obviously.

Learn simply that VA is vaguely similar to watts, you don't need to know the gory details of that.

A kilowatt-hour is 1000 watts run for 1 hour, and is a basic unit of electricity sales.

Look at a lot of equipment nameplates. See what they specify for Watts, VA, or volts and amps (you can get VA from that).

The circuit breaker is sized somewhat larger than the actual load. However if you have, say, a 50A breaker - you can bet there's something big on the other end of that!

Now you can start getting a feel for what each appliance actually requires in practical power.

It's not the power, it's the power x the time it's run. So a 12,000 watt welder is inconsequential since you rarely use it, but a 1000 watt baseboard heater is a huge big deal since it may run 8 hours a day!

Now look at your electric bill. It should be making more sense now. Note that they will have a "meter reading" stating number of kilowatt-hours you used, and some of the lines start at pennies, and are multiplied by that figure. Add those up and that is your cost per kilowatt-hour. Other charges on the bill will be constant.

Now, talk to your utility about tariffs (rate plans)

Given that anyone would build a house with electric heat, I would imagine the power company provides some sort of favorable tariff for that. That is common in places that have lots of expensive-to-build, cheap-to-run power plants (nuke and hydro).

For instance in North Carolina there's a rate plan that charges you a stiff rate based on your peak kilowatt draw but then a mind-blowingly low rate per kilowatt-hour. See why I need you to bone up on the basics? You can't exploit deals like that unless you understand them.

If all else fails, time to look at strategy.

$700/month is outrageous and would pay for a whole lot of remodeling. So it's time to come back and talk about your specific loads, how your house uses power, how it is insulated, etc. And we can figure out next steps from there.


Any electric motor if turn on, off, on off, it's usually costlier than let it run.

And you don't know how much the amperage or power you are using daily.

Please check with an ampere meter or power meter, it's better you installed it permanently, so you can check how much power in your daily needs.

For checking what is causing you to pay so much, try turning off all appliances from breaker or plug (lamp too) and put one by one to check how many amps or power that one appliance is drawing. This is the easiest way without any tools except a power meter or amperage meter :) or you can buy

This one Cheap Socket Meter

if you get the culprits like one appliance is oddly drawing so much current go check it out or get in service.

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    That's not true at all, it's an "old wives tale", that people love because it rationalizes bad behavior: leaving stuff on all the time. It's always cheaper to shut off HVAC when you aren't using it. That makes sense if you understand how insulation works. The link is broken but be careful with eBay/Amazon, a lot of that stuff is dangerous and not UL-approved. Anything installed in mains must be approved by the local authority who usually defers to UL, CSA, BSI, TUV etc. Dec 23, 2020 at 19:29
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Mostly agree, but for large tools (table saw, band saw, dust collector, etc.) it's easier on the motor to leave it running for a bit rather than start and stop all the time. An electric motor experiences the most stress during startup. Nothing about saving electricity....don't know if it saves anything or not. But I'd rather save my motors than a few bucks in electricity. Dec 23, 2020 at 19:38
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    @George Oh yes, agreed. But that's not what this thread is about. Dec 23, 2020 at 20:27
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Yep! Agreed, just wanted to make that comment. There are devices that automatically start and stop wood shop dust collectors based on other machine operations, they are sarcastically known as "dust collector motor sellers"! Dec 23, 2020 at 22:11

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