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An Analysis of our Electric and Natural Gas Bill

We got our monthly electric and gas bill on Friday. I know what we paid for this past year which as of this month is $1800.15. That is the dollar amount that I am always trying to lower- the annual amount. Same period last year we paid $1971.33. So considering that rates go up, I guess we have done a pretty good job of lowering our consumption. That said it has been warmer this winter than last winter. The average daily temperature this month was 36 degrees. For the same time last year it was 31 degrees. So Mother Nature is helping us out here too.

This month’s bill was $ 202.17 for 31 days. The # of days varies every month depending on when the meter reader comes (6 months of the year) and when I read it (6 months of the year). Our company reads just 6 times and if you don’t read it the other 6 times, they estimate your billing. I don’t like estimates; I want to pay what I owe when I actually owe it so I always read the meters those 6 months and submit my readings to the company.

I dislike estimates as much as I dislike budget billing. With budget billing they take a 12 month average and bill you the same amount once a month. For people who like this that is fine. But I prefer to pay them what I actually owe them each month. I handled many complaints about customers’ budget billing when I worked a few years for the agency that regulated them. Many customers were billed way too much monthly and some of the customers were not billed enough so they had to pay that amount in a lump sum at the end of their budget billing year. 

Back to our bill this month. We used 589 KWH(measure of use) of electricity and 141 CCF’s(measure of volume of natural gas used) or 145.6 therms(We are charged in therms which is the energy heat content of the natural gas.) of natural gas. We are two people in the household. We entertain and have overnight company a few times a year. Our home is a little over 2100 sq. ft. on the main living floor(we have a ranch home) and the same amount of square footage in our basement.

Our builder heated the basement in case we wanted to eventually finish it with rooms down there. We keep the duct work closed all year round although I am sure there is some leakage. The only time we are in the basement is to clean and organize it, work out on the treadmill, to change the furnace filters, and to put in and take out food and other items from our freezer and pantry. Hubby does have a workbench down there but it gets minimal usage. A sweater works for the time spent down there and when we are on the treadmill we work up a sweat and are never cold.

We use natural gas for heat, cooking on our gas range stove top and oven, and for our on demand tankless water heating. Electricity is used for everything else. 

NYS makes the utility companies break out the dollar amounts on your bill so that you know exactly what you are paying for. There are the basic service charges for your meters(you pay this even if you use no electric or natural gas that month), the delivery charges(what it costs the company to bring the energy to our home), the supply charges(what you pay for the energy purchased by your company), the weather adjustment charges(This moderates the natural gas bills during any extreme weather between October 1 and May 31. If temperatures are colder than normal you typically receive a credit; if temperatures are warmer than normal, you receive a charge.) Since temperatures were warmer than normal this month, we were charged $ 6.50 for that. 

Then there are transition charges(These reflect the costs of making the electricity and natural gas industry more competitive; it includes associated credits/and or charges.), payment and billing services charges(the cost to produce and send you an electronic or paper bill and process payments), the merchant function charges(this is for the administrative costs of obtaining electricity and natural gas supply),the system benefits charges(a mandated charge by NYS for all electric and natural gas customers to fund clean energy activities conducted by NYSERDA and energy efficiency programs administered by my company), the revenue decoupling mechanism(a charge or a credit that reflects the difference between forecast and actual delivery service revenues to encourage the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable technologies), and finally the residential consumer discount( a monthly payment received from the New York Power Authority to be used for the benefit of residential customers). This bill it amounted to a credit of $ .51 which was included in the transition charges.

Is your head spinning? I am sure it is but this gives you an idea of what we are actually paying for and what you are most likely paying for even if it is not broken down on your bill like ours is.

The electric portion of our bill totaled $ 71.94 and the natural gas portion of our bill totaled $ 129.36 which comes to $201.30 and then there was a misc. charge of $ .87 which totaled the billed amount of $ 202.17.  

That $ .87 for miscellaneous charges was for a payment and billing services charge of $.81, a payment and billing charge GRT of $ .02, and billing and payment charges sales tax of $.04.

Included in the electricity bill were state and county taxes of $3.65. Included in the natural gas bill were state and county taxes of $ 6.49. Including the miscellaneous tax, the total taxes in this bill were $ 10.18.

I have written some posts on how we save on our electricity and natural gas bill. The posts are:

Phantom Energy 

Winter Savings 

More Energy Saved 

Saving on A/C 

Saving with a Pressure Cooker 

Watching The Large Expenses 

Getting Ready for Winter 

Saving While Doing Laundry

We are doing things a little differently this winter for heating. We have our temperature set during the day(6AM to 10PM) at 68 degrees and during the night at 63 degrees. It is very cold in here at night but we sleep with a dual control electric blanket and we are both very warm. Sometimes it is really cold in here during the daytime at 68 degrees and we will bump it up to 69 or 70 but that is infrequently. We are too old to be uncomfortable. So it is worth paying for a little more heat when we need it.

It takes a lot of natural gas to heat this size house especially when we have 10 foot ceilings and 2 Cathedral ceilings in the house. We also have 16 very large windows( pictured above; that is why we have energy saving shades on them) in the house along with 1 door that is mostly glass and 8 smaller windows. So I don’t think our heating costs are unreasonable. 

If anyone knows what the GRT in the payment and billing charge stands for, would you please tell me in the comments. I don’t know or remember what it is. I will call my utility company on Monday to ask if no one knows.

So have your heating bills gone up or down this winter? What are doing to save on those costs? I am  very curious.