Understanding Your Bill

Residential Electric Bills

Residential electric bills normally follow consistent patterns each year. Over the course of a year, a number of things can make your bill seem higher than usual.

Why residential electric bills vary from month to month

The cost of electricity in homes varies with seasonal use. In most homes, more electricity is used during summer and winter months than in fall and spring months, for heating, cooling and related purposes.

Summer weather will bring about an increased use of electricity for air conditioners, fans, and dehumidifiers. Refrigerators and freezers have to work harder, since even air-conditioned homes are generally warmer in summer than in winter.

In the winter, heating your home will often bring higher bills. Even when gas, oil, or propane is used as a fuel source, electricity is needed to operate pumps and fan motors on the furnace.

Hot water heating costs may also increase. The water coming into the water heater in the winter is typically colder than in the summer, so it requires more electricity to bring the water temperature up to the desired level.

Lighting, cooking, and home entertainment also use more electricity in winter. Nights are longer in the winter months, so lights are typically on about twice as long as in the summer months. Also, most families spend longer hours watching television in the winter.

All of these factors combine together to help explain why customers may find that their electric bills are higher in the summer and winter months than in spring and fall months.

How changes in the household may affect a bill

Many customers do not realize the impact that changes in a household may have on an electric bill. Adding new electric appliances, adding a heat pump, turning on a pump on a swimming pool, adding an attic fan, changing lighting, hot tub, water bed, or even leaving a computer on all the time, are all common reasons for increases in bills.

People also make a difference. A new baby or roommate, a child who moves back home, or house guests who stay awhile will all mean increased electricity use.

Estimated bills – why bills are occasionally estimated

Bills are sometimes estimated if weather or inaccessibility prevents our meter readers from reading your meter on the scheduled reading date. On rare occasions, bills may have to be estimated if the metering equipment malfunctions or has been damaged. If a bill has been estimated, a read code of “E” will show in the usage section of your bill.

We do our best to make estimates as accurate as possible, taking into account your past usage patterns and other factors. However, if your previous month’s bill was underestimated and the current month’s bill is from an actual reading, it may look like the current bill is too high. What’s really happening is the current bill is making up for the previous bill that was too low.

Managing Your Electric Bill

You can smooth out your monthly energy costs by enrolling in our monthly payment plan. The plan divides your yearly energy costs into monthly payments, so your bill stays about the same, all year long.

See our other payment options for more programs to help you manage your electric bill.

View Sample Bills

Review a sample of your state's bill with explanation.

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