My Utility Bill – $704.34

My utility bill is $704.34.  My heart skipped a beat when I opened the envelope and saw that figure.  What??  That’s outrageous.  In some states–not here in California–but, in some states, you can rent an apartment for that amount of money.  My payments for two cars don’t come to that!

Okay, taking a deep breath and trying to get my heart back into a normal rhythm.

I begin to justify the charge in my mind.  We are blessed to live in a fairly large home, 2500-2600 sq. ft., so we realize electricity is going to be costly, especially in the summertime with the A/C running.  And, yes, I’ll admit that we need to replace the downstairs windows.  The upstairs has been upgraded to new energy-efficient windows, and we’ll get to the downstairs…if we don’t go broke paying the utility bill.  My kitchen stove is electric, and that draws a lot of juice.  There are 6 people in the house, so the washing machine goes almost non-stop.   Too, my voice is hoarse from the oft repeated, “Turn off the lights!”  And, to be completely honest, the bill is for two months and includes electricity, water, and trash collection.  Oh, and a charge for ambulance service in the area.  But, still, isn’t this highway robbery?  My A/C was never set below 80 degrees.  They can charge this type of money simply because they CAN!

So, I start to research solar panels for the roof.  I have a friend who just had them installed, and they can already see a difference in their bill.  It all sounds good….until I read this article this morning:

Firefighters alarmed by latest rescue risk:  solar panels.  “Firefighters across the nation are alarmed at the prospect of battling blazes in buildings topped with solar panels, which can create new risks of roofs collapsing, an inability to gain footing and even potential electric shock.”

I never thought about electric currents in the house in relation to firefighters, but according to this article, electricity is typically shut off prior to entering a burning structure.  Solar panels, however, continue to send electric current into the walls of the house.  This causes a shock and burn hazard to the firefighters.  Also, the solar panels take up the space that firefighters generally use for “ventilation” during structure fires.  There is the danger of slipping and falling, especially on the pitched roof that most homes have.  Also, the risk of the roof collapsing is much greater due to the weight of the panels.

The expense to install solar panels can run anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.  Obviously, that’s not something I am going to rush right into.  There are many things to factor into that decision.  And, now with the new information that I might lose the entire house, or worse, a firefighter might be injured or killed due to fire because of the risk of solar panels…?  I guess I’ll sit down and write a check to the utility company.

Last summer my highest bill was $500.

This year – $704.34

Next year?  $1000?  

Is my income keeping up with the increases?  Laughable!  Are homeowners being subjected to the equivalent of being held up at gun point?  I think so, because we have few options available to us.