I love my husband. He goes to work every day at a job where he gets yelled at and cussed out on a regular basis and keeps going back so that I can stay home with the kids. My husband works in customer service...for our power company. Don't get me wrong, he loves the company he works for, and he doesn't even mind doing customer service most of the time, but no one likes to be yelled at.
Times are tough, and power is expensive, and when it is hard to make ends meet (and I know how that goes) getting that mid-winter or mid-summer power bill that is higher than you thought it would be can be difficult. The best way to keep your energy usage down, and as a result the bill, is by being aware of how you are using power in order to curb that usage. Most power companies have plenty of literature that you can use to educate yourself on power consumption, and recently there has been a movement for utility companies to partner with local libraries to provide Kill A Watt energy usage monitors for free check-outs so that you can see where your power is really going. They work by plugging them into an outlet and then plugging the appliance into the monitor. It will tell you how much power is being used by that appliance, even if the appliance is turned off. It will help you know what needs to be unplugged when not in use, and may also help you identify some outdated items that would be worth replacing. Many of the library kits come with educational materials. If you are looking to cut your power usage, call your local library to see if they have the Kill A Watt to check out. I know they are available in the Denver, CO, Albuquerque, NM, Portland, OR, Boise, ID, and Seattle, WA areas just by doing a google search.
Also, some power companies have special customer service agents who will come to your home and tell you how you can cut your usage based on the appliances and things that you use in your home. Another tool that some companies have is the ability to look up your usage online by the hour, which will tell you when your peak usage times are. When you know that, you can narrow down how it is being use, and also scale back at those times (Say, not drying laundry at the same time you run the dishwasher and cook dinner) to avoid the higher charges that come with higher KWH usage. So, if you often find yourself in sticker shock when the power bill comes, it may be time to take control by finding ways to reduce usage, and just be aware of how much you are actually using and when.