Hawley, Minnesota

A Family Friendly Community

Hawley Public Utilities


305 6th St.

PO Box 69

 Hawley, MN  56549


After Hours Utility Emergency:


Secondary: 701-361-8219 or 701-361-4803


I don’t heat with electricity, so why is my electric bill higher in the winter? 

During the winter, heaters are running, we are all inside more, the TV is on, the lights are on, the kids are inside, the refrigerator is open for snacks and so on. In other words, we all use more electricity during the winter. 

It is generally estimated, using an average usage for all residential consumers, winter kWh usage is 200+ more kWh per month. 

If you are concerned about your bill, there are things you can do to reduce your usage and make sure your bill doesn’t raise as the temperature drops. It is recommended to check your electric meter on an occasional basis. Think about what you have on in the house and look at your meter. See how fast it is spinning. The faster it spins, the more electricity is being used at that moment. 

Hawley Public Utilities Staff try to contact customers when we see large jumps in their usage. We also try to help people determine the cause of these jumps when they happen. When trying to determine what your usage is, a rule of thumb is that any appliances or equipment that generates heat from electricity are your largest users.

Listed below are things to look out for (problems) and things that have been found to help reduce electric consumption. 

Problem — Vehicle Block Heaters

Electric block heaters for cars and trucks can be heavy electric users. Many electric block heaters are 1,500 watt heaters and use as much electricity as fifteen 100 watt light bulbs. 


  1. If you are plugging in your truck every night, you might consider a timer. A good timer will cost $20 and could save you that much in electric usage each month. Having the timer set to go off one or two hours before you have to leave in the morning is usually enough to let your vehicle start easily.
  2. If you live in an apartment building that has outside receptacles, check to make sure someone else is not plugging in to your meter. We have had several instances of this recently. 

Problem — Hot Water Heaters: 

Electric hot water heaters are heavy electric users. Electric hot water heating elements can become covered with silt and other water residue. This tends to insulate the water from the heat source, forcing the heater to work harder to heat the same amount of water. Increased use of hot water for washing clothes and for personal use can certainly increase your usage. **A leaking hot water faucet can also quickly increase your costs – both for the water and for the electricity to heat it. 


  1. Manufacturers recommend flushing your tank annually. At times the water carries a lot of silt/hardness; this silt will eventually mean that your water heater will not function as designed if you do not flush your tank.
  2. Setting the temperature on your tank to 120 degrees can save you money. Often, heaters are set at 170 degrees at the factory. Remember that most 30-40 gallon tanks have two thermostats — a lower one and an upper one. They should both be set back to 120 degrees.
  3. Insulate your tank. Valuable heat loss occurs in many hot water heaters because the manufacturer does not do a good job of insulating. Many hot water heaters are sold with only a minimum amount of insulation. 

Problem — Space Heaters 

Electric heaters are very high users of electricity. A small heater can cost you $100 or more per month if used continuously.

Suggestion:  Don’t use them! 

Problem — Refrigerators and Freezers 

Refrigerators and freezers. It has been reported back to us over the years that refrigerators and freezers that were causing problems for people. They did not cycle properly. Several of these older units caused a large increase in their owners’ bills. 

Suggestion:  Manufacturers recommend cleaning the cooling fins on a refrigerator or freezer annually. Dust will accumulate and can eventually insulate the cooling fins so that the refrigerator or freezer cannot rid itself of heat. This will mean that the unit will not function as designed and will not cycle or turn off. 

Problem — Electric Heat Tape Problems 

Electric heat tape. Due to past water line freeze up problems, some home owners have installed heat tape on water and sewer pipes. 

Suggestion: Check water and sewer lines under the house or under sinks for wires that you are unfamiliar with. Leaving heat tapes plugged in continuously is not a safe practice; the thermostats on them may fail and could cause a fire. 

Problem — Unauthorized Use of Electricity 

Unauthorized usage. On several occasions when we have worked with customers on their usage, they have found extension cords plugged into outside receptacles. 

Suggestion:  Check your outside receptacles on an occasional basis. 

 We’re here to help you. Try using these suggestions to lower your electric usage. If these suggestions don’t help, check with an electrician, and give us a call.


Hawley Public Utilities Commission