A high bill may catch you by surprise and cause concern. The amount of electricity used in your home varies by season. In most homes, more electricity is used during summer and winter than in fall and spring.
Higher summer bills are commonly caused by increases in the usage of air conditioners, fans, refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, washers, and dryers. Winter bills are higher due to an increase in home heating, hot water heating, additional cooking, lighting, and home entertainment. The water coming into your water heater is colder in the winter, which then requires more electricity to bring it up to the desired temperature. Even though you may use oil or gas to heat your home, electricity is still required to operate the pump and fan motors for the furnace. Nights are longer in the winter, which requires the use of lights to be doubled compared to lights used in the summer. In addition, most households spend more time watching television during the winter.
To take the surprise out of high winter bills, sign up for Westar Energy’s Average Payment Plan.
Fluctuations in monthly bills are normal. There are many factors that can influence the amount of your bill:
Kilowatt-hours used: When comparing your monthly bills, it's best to look at the kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity used as opposed to the dollar amount. The energy charge on your bill is strictly for kWh usage during the billing cycle.
Unexpected seasonal use: Changes in weather can affect the amount of energy you use. For example, that weekend when it was unexpectedly cooler may have triggered you to turn on the heat for the first time in six months. Because it was a time of year when you wouldn't have expected to use heat, you may have forgotten about it until you received your bill. The same is true for air conditioning, electric space heaters, dehumidifiers, and other seasonally used items.
Length of the billing cycle and rates: Length of the billing cycle and changes in rates may have an impact on the amount of your bill.
Estimated bills: Your current bill may appear higher or lower than usual because of previous low or high estimated bill. We typically read your meter every month. However, there are times when we are unable to do this. The reasons we cannot read the meter most commonly are weather or situations when we cannot safely access our meter. If we cannot get an accurate read, we send an estimated bill. If we have estimated too high or too low, the billing will be corrected with the next actual reading. Keep in mind that our AMI (digital) meters are not estimated.
Travel away from your home: When you leave your home for an extended period of time, anything you leave plugged in or connected will continue to use electricity. We remember that the lights and television are off, but these are not the big electric users. Think of your hot water heater, freezer, refrigerator, HVAC system, landscape irrigation, etc. We expect these items to be ready to use when we are home but forget they can still use electricity when we are not there.
Meter issues: Our meters have little chance to measure energy use incorrectly; meaning, they tend to work correctly or do not register any usage at all. Older meters do not speed up over time. They tend to run slower or measure energy used less precisely, giving you a lower bill. We will test your meter for accuracy if you request it. There will be a $30.00 charge to test your meter, but we charge this only if our original read was accurate.
Condition of energy equipment/appliances: While Westar is responsible for providing the equipment to the point where electricity enters your residence and for installing a meter to accurately record energy usage, you are responsible for the use and condition of the appliances and equipment beyond the meter. Be alert for the possibility of faulty wiring conditions or improperly operating appliances or equipment. The older the appliance, the more it can impact your energy usage. They can cause an increase in the amount of energy you use, which affects your bill.
Although the size of your homes may be the same, your appliances and energy habits may be significantly different. Insulation and window and floor coverings impact your bill. Regular maintenance of HVAC systems can improve the efficiency of your HVAC systems, and may prevent higher bills.
For a list of top changes you can make to use your energy more efficiently, click here.