Imagine this—last month, your electric bill was so high you made sure to turn off all unnecessary lights and use as little electricity as possible in hopes of a lower electric bill next time. Your new electric bill comes and you open it in anticipation to see how much you saved. You almost fell over because it's nearly double what you were expecting. What went wrong? Here are a few not-so-obvious things that could be causing your electric bill to be higher than it should be.

Your heat pump is heating and cooling simultaneously

Heat pumps are designed to heat and cool, but not simultaneously. However, when the thermostat is not wired correctly, a heat pump can operate both as a heating system and an air conditioner at the same time. This can also happen when the thermostat is broken. You may not even realize that the system is functioning both ways, especially if you have a silent unit or it cannot be heard indoors. You may need to hire an HVAC technician for repairs.  

Your well water pump is shorted and using more electricity

A short in the circuit for your water pump can cause it to constantly draw amperage into the pump, which can definitely increase your electricity bill. A shorted circuit can be due to a broken wire that is touching the metal sides of the pump casing or the water. Another problem that may cause your water pump to use too much electricity is if the relay switch is broken. Call your local well drilling service.

Your water heater element is dirty or burnt out

This can cause the water to never reach a high enough temperature for the thermostat to shut off the heat. Most water heaters have two heating elements. If one is covered with minerals from hard water or burnt out, the other heating element will continually work to try to heat the water. This constant use of electricity can cause your electric bill to skyrocket. Eventually, the second heating element may burn out as well, which may have you shivering in a cold shower. A plumbing contractor can determine if your water heater elements are faulty.

Your dishwasher dirt sensor is dirty

Many new dishwasher models have a dirt sensor. You may find your dishwasher running longer than normal, but you figure it's because your dishes are dirty enough for a few extra minutes of rinse time. The appliance continues to rinse your dishes with hot water, even after the dishes are already clean, because the dishwasher senses the dishes are still dirty. But, the dishes aren't dirty… the sensor is. This additional, unnecessary use of water can increase your water and electric bills. Refer to your owner's manual to see how to clean the dirt sensor, or call a plumber.

Your refrigerator is not sealed

Warped seals of refrigerator doors can cause cool air to escape and heat to enter. This results in the refrigerator constantly running because it's not able to reach the right temperature to keep your food cold. It can also cause frost to accumulate inside the refrigerator. But, newer models with a defrost feature will sense the frost starting to accumulate, which turns on an element to introduce a small amount of heat to clear away the frost. This constant cooling and defrosting can also cause an increase in your electric bill. Purchase a new seal at your local home improvement center and install it.

These are 5 not-so-obvious possibilities you may want to troubleshoot if your electric bill is higher than it should be. To help you troubleshoot, contact your electric company and ask them to conduct an audit to see what could be causing the problem. That way, you'll know which professional service to contact for repairs of the not-so-obvious reason for your high electric bills.