How It Works

Select the work to be done
Let us know what project you need help with and when you need it done - we'll match you with the right pros for the job.
Compare matched pros
Verify pro credentials, read reviews, ask questions, discuss availability, and request project estimates.
Complete your project
Hire the pro that's right for you and your budget. After the project is complete, let your community know how it went.
Powered by

The Home Depot

What Caused a Spike in Electricity Usage?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Energy Efficiency > What Caused a Spike in Electricity Usage?
What Caused a Spike in Electricity Usage?

The average consumption of electricity in an American home is somewhere in the vicinity of 750kWh per month. This will vary depending on the size of the home, the number of people residing, and the kind of appliances in use. The estimated electricity consumption accounts for items such as refrigeration, lighting inside and outside the home, heating/cooling your home, and other electronic devices that might be used. If you live in a place with cold weather such as Seattle or Boston, the electricity consumption might be higher because of heating costs. But if you live in Phoenix your electricity costs will be similar because the heat will compel you to use you’re A/C consistently.

  1. The occurrence of a spike in electricity consumption is usually the result of a faulty appliance and you will have to locate where the problem is.

    1.A Spike

    Electricity meters are typically installed in homes by the utility providers. The readings are checked periodically and the home owner is usually billed for electricity usage every month. If you are billed a somewhat consistent amount every month for electricity, and suddenly one month this figure becomes exorbitantly high, it is known as a ‘spike’.


    The occurrence of a spike in electricity consumption is usually the result of a faulty appliance and you will have to locate where the problem is. In some instances, using more electricity for heating the home in winter can be the cause of the sudden increase.

  2. 2.Determining the Cause

    The first thing to do is to contact the electricity company and determine that the meter is working properly. They will come and check it to ensure that there is not any malfunction. Once this has been determined, it is time to move on to other possible causes of the electricity spike. So, you should start looking at the various appliances that generate heat from electricity such as water heaters and electric space heaters. You can have the appliances checked by an electrician to determine if they are in good condition. An old refrigerator can also cost you a decent amount in electricity consumption. So, if you have one which is not being used much, you might do better to dispose of it rather than keeping it around, sucking up juice.


    Another thing that you must do is switch off all the breakers in your house and then switch them on one by one while you check the meter simultaneously. If the meter starts spinning more than usual when any of the breakers is switched on, it is an indication that the fault is in one of the outlets served by that breaker. You can then plug in all the appliances connected to that breaker into a watt-hour meter to find out how much electricity that particular appliance uses. Yet another common cause for electricity spikes is the use of decorative lights such as those during Halloween or Christmas. But you should be expecting this of course.

  3. 3.Other Factors

    There are some factors that might cause temporary electricity spikes and these are common occurrences. On extremely cold winter days, more heat will be required to keep you house warm and this can lead to increases electricity consumption on that day. Similarly, very hot days in the summer will see the air conditioning staying on all throughout the day which could drive up your price. Check your settings; perhaps you do not need it that cool in your place.


    The opening and closing of the refrigerator frequently could increase your electricity usage. You would have to be constantly opening and closing the fridge though. It would have to be practically left open for a spike in your bill to occur.


    If you have guests at your home for a few days, there will again be an increase in electricity usage due to more appliances being used (fridge being open and closed as just discussed), lights remaining on, TV being used more, more opening and closing of doors, and so on.

  5. 4.Solutions

    There are some ways in which you can ensure that your home is being energy-efficient. Never put warm or hot food in the fridge because this will cause the fridge to use more energy to cool the food. Leaving the door of the fridge open will also cause a loss of electricity, so make sure it stays closed when you do not have to gain access to it. Accidentally leaving the fridge’s door open might be the reason for a sudden spike in electricity consumption by your refrigerator (if it is left open for a while, for a couple of days perhaps).


    Look at how many appliances have been switched on at the same time. Just leaving them plugged in with the switch turned on is enough to account for 15 percent of the total electricity bill each month. When washing clothes, using a lower temperature can consume up to 30 percent less electricity than it would at a higher temperature.

Find Pros

Get your home project started today with help from Pro Referral’s qualified network of pre-screened and background-checked professionals available in your neighborhood.

Get Expert Advice

Submit your toughest home improvement questions to our knowledgeable experts and receive free personalized solutions, product recommendations, how-to advice, and more–all within 48 hours or less.