JEA customers surprised by significant spike in July utility bills

Have you noticed a spike in your utility bills for the month of July? News4Jax reporter Lena Pringle joins us.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Have you noticed a spike in your utility bills for the month of July? If so – you’re not alone.

It's no secret that utility bills can fluctuate from time to time.

However, many News4Jax viewers reached out to us wondering why their July utility bill from JEA was so high -- so I did some digging to figure out why you may have seen your bill spike this past month.

There’s no simple answer since everyone has different habits -- but one universal explanation is the dog days of summer and the heat that comes with them.

"That was the $400 that I'm like 'oh my God' you know that's really high with a family of four. My husband has been a little bit this month so I'm really surprised about that bill," said Kimberlee Barquist, JEA customer.

Kimberlee Barquist says her JEA utility bill increased nearly 100 dollars from June to July with no major changes in her family's normal habits.

Good morning! We've been receiving calls about abnormally high JEA bills for the month of July. Have any of you...

Posted by WJXT4 Lena Pringle on Friday, July 31, 2020

Barquist isn’t alone -- more than 2 thousand JEA customers reached out to me on Facebook saying they too saw a large spike in their bill -- in some cases their bill even doubling for July.

"We just got our house inspected for our one year mark and we got everything looked at and nothing was showing any evidence that we have any leaks or any problems or any efficiency issues. It's just that the bill is coming that way. I mean I find it kind of strange that that's $200 per device basically so like the water and electricity that's really high," said Barquist.

According to JEA, there has not been any rate increase since July 1, 2019, and you may have seen a lower bill just a few months ago in May because of a JEA fuel credit.

Some customers questioned if JEA was trying to make up for the costs it accumulated during the pandemic.

"No that's not a part of our standard practice to increase rates to offset the late fees that we waived and all of that, no. It's just the timing of July is always the hottest month, always," said Simone Garvey-Ewan, JEA Digital Communications Associate.

The utility company says the spike some customers are seeing is directly related to weather.

"Number 1 it was hot and it was humid. To be outside folks we're spending a lot of time mostly inside especially if they're still working from home. And to beat the heat while they're at home they may turn the thermostat to a more comfortable temperature say 78 to 80 while they're gone, they may be turning it down for comfort while they're at home. On top of that, we had a spade of dry weather. Take those three pieces, I think at the end of the month everybody's bill this July is going to end up higher than what we saw a year ago," said Richard Nunn, News4Jax Weather Authority.

There are a few things you can do in your home to keep costs down:

  1. JEA recommends keeping your thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home.
  2. Use fans or shading.
  3. Check your air filters.

You can find more cost-cutting suggestions here,

There’s one more way you can lower your costs – and it has to do with how you cook your food.

According to Consumer Reports, " if you’re cooking a small amount of food, avoid using the oven in your range. Cooking meatloaf in a full-size electric oven for an hour costs 24 cents while cooking it in a toaster oven for about the same amount of time costs 11 cents, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

That can add up over time, especially when you’re cooking most meals at home. Cooking something in a smaller appliance such as a slow cooker, toaster oven, or microwave costs less than heating your oven.

If you do cook something in the full oven, try to resist peeking because each time you open the oven door, heat is released, so you’ll end up prolonging the cooking time. When you’re cooking on top of the stove, always match the size of the pan size to the size of the element or burner.

For example, a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste over 40 percent of the heat produced by the burner, according to the ACEEE.”

Find more energy-saving tips here.