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When the temps go down, the bills go up   

Author: Eric  by  Eric  on  12/17/2018

Natural Gas Use GraphI’m sure there are quite a few customers who are opening their bills this month and wondering why it’s higher than usual. When unexpected changes occur with your bill, one of the first things you should do is go back and look at the weather during the last billing cycle.

I like to compare receiving your utilities bill to receiving your credit card bill – you get it once a month and, by the time it arrives, you don’t really remember what you bought over the last few weeks to reach that total at the bottom.

Similarly, utilities use is very weather dependent, and it’s easy to forget the cold weather a few weeks ago when the sun is shining and it’s 50+ degrees outside today. So, just as you would go back through your receipts to verify your credit card statement, you can go back and look at the weather to correspond to your utilities use.

In November, for example, the average temperature for the month was 10 degrees colder than October. We had some really cold days – and even a little snow – right around Halloween. That’s when many customers flipped the switch on their furnaces, which means they used more energy – either natural gas or electricity.

I went back and looked at the weather (through a link in the My Usage tool) to compare it to my natural gas use, and you can see where the change in temperature matches with my increased use. On Oct. 29, the high temperature was 76 degrees and on Oct. 30, the high was 49 degrees. It wasn’t just a spike of a day or two, however. We didn’t get above 60 degrees again until Nov. 15. My new ‘baseline’ rose noticeably and led to a 69% increase in natural gas use from October to November.

Easy to see why my bill increased!

If you’re looking for ways to manage your bill and your budget, we have a billing option and an online tool to help.

  • Budget Billing uses historical billing information to average your bill, so you pay the same amount each month.
  • My Usage displays how much electricity, natural gas or water you’re using daily. When you know how much you’re using, you can better manage your bill.
  • Understand the breakdown of how natural gas is used and how it affects your bill.

So, when you get your next bill, try to remember the weather over the past few weeks. Like your credit card bill, it’s not always what you want to see but, utimately, the bottom line is what you spent or used.

 
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I agree that when the temperature drops AND when the hours of sunlight go down, the bill goes up. It is hard to get excited about residing in a cold dark home to save on utilities but, I too work at controlling how much I consume, yet I cannot seem to beat the billing system.

I calculated my base bill by billing periods. Base billing is the cost of utilities run to and available at your home. My ranges from about $60/29 day bill to about $73/34 day bill.

Usage is on top of that. I noticed electrical usage costs can vary - sometimes all KWh are charged 1 Electric Cost Adjustment (ECA) and sometimes kWh are divided and I charge 2 different ECA rates.

The same thing happens with gas consumption. Sometimes I am charged one Gas Cost Adjustment (GCA) and sometimes the CCFs are divided and I am charged 2 GCAs rates. This skunked me last month and my bill was a bit higher than I had expected.

I look at my online consumption to see how I compare with other residential customers and I am in the low range. I am still surprised at how much my bill is. I cannot imagine what it would be if I didn't manage my consumption!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019  3:55 PM  Suzanne

Suzanne,
Thanks for being conscious of your utilities consumption. As you noted, that's a major factor in your bill.
I wanted to address the comment you had about sometimes being billed 2 different ECA or GCA rates. That happens when the costs adjustments change in the middle of your billing cycle. You're billed at one ECA/GCA rate for part of the billing cycle and the revised ECA/GCA rate for the rest of the cycle.
Thanks for the comment.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019  3:44 PM  Eric