Energy Efficiency
Why Is My Electric Bill More Than My Neighbor’s?
Different habits lead to different electricity usage

Putting down the controllers and picking up the dice can help lower your energy bill.
Alina Vincent Photography, LLC | iStock.com

You have a TV, video game system, microwave oven, electric range and cooktop, refrigerator/freezer, heat pump and personal computer. So does your next-door neighbor. So why is your electric bill almost twice as high every month?

Consider this: How well are your walls insulated compared to your neighbor’s? Do you take longer, hotter showers? Are you cooking gourmet meals and baking from scratch while your neighbor subsists on quick-heating TV dinners? Does the TV keep you company even when you’re not watching it?

No two families live alike. So no two electric bills are the same. Comparing your monthly statement to anyone else’s would be like comparing your weekly grocery tabs. Two families of four will never spend exactly the same amount on food because their tastes and habits are different.

Think about the conveniences you might be willing to pay for, even though your neighbor isn’t. Are you more comfortable sleeping in an extra-cool house on hot summer nights? Maybe your neighbor’s set-back thermostat ekes the temperature up a few degrees at bedtime.

Do members of your family entertain themselves in separate rooms after dinner—watching TV or playing video games—while the folks next door all gather in a family room to play a board game?

Another major factor in today’s electric bills is vampire energy loss. Virtually anything that’s plugged in is drawing some current—even when it’s off. Experts estimate that standby energy drain accounts for 5–10 percent of an average home’s annual power usage. A plasma TV, for instance, can use $165 annually for electric power—when it’s off.

Consider unplugging items when not in use or using a power strip to disconnect several items at once. There are also “smart” power strips available that automatically cut power to devices in standby mode.

The way to lower your electric costs is to use energy more efficiently before the bill comes.