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Are You Overpaying for Electricity?

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Are You Overpaying for Electricity?

By Steve Graham, Networx

Your electric bill is probably increasing, even if you still turn off the lights whenever you leave the room. The Denver Post recently reported that the price of electricity for most residences here in Colorado jumped 15 percent in the past year. Both electric rates and additional fees on electric bills are going up around the nation. However, you can potentially minimize cost spikes by carefully reading your bill, checking your consumption and comparison shopping.

Check Their Work

The convenience of automatic bill pay and online banking comes with a danger. We may be less diligent about reviewing utility bills, and may even miss a major spike or an erroneous charge. Even if you don’t have to write a check, review the usage listed on your bill every month. Compare electric usage to previous months in kilowatt-hours, not dollar amounts. The actual bill may vary for the same amount of electricity depending on added fees or rate hikes, but more on that later.

The average home uses 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It’s fairly easy to use less than the average by switching out light bulbs, turning down the thermostat, turning off vampire appliances, etc. However, if your bill shows significantly higher consumption, either you or the electric company may have a problem.

An unusually high bill may simply be an accounting error or a misread meter. You can double-check the electric company’s work by looking at your meter. It should be slightly higher than the meter reading at the end of your last billing period.

If the meter and the bill match, but the usage seems unusually high, make sure the meter is working correctly. It should stop spinning when you turn off every appliance, light and gadget (though it’s easier and more foolproof to test the meter by shutting off all your breakers). If it still spins, it may either be broken or a neighbor’s circuit is inappropriately wired onto your meter. You can also ask most utility companies to test the meter for accuracy.

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97 comments

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9:20AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

I know my bill is going up and I blame that on the utility providers since my usage is the same but their rates are not. What worries me is that we need utilities like electricity to survive but it's getting harder to pay for it with the rising costs of everything. I get the feeling utility customers are paying more just so that the executives and managers there can have fatter paychecks.

3:15PM PST on Dec 13, 2010

Sigh. Guess I'll have to start really reading the bills. But really thanks for this. Every dollar helps.

3:18PM PST on Dec 9, 2010

Patricia - The way you can save with an alternative provider is on the generation portion of the bill. Your utility has the infrastructure and will still deliver the energy at their regulated rate. Companies like mine can be less expensive (and usually are) on the generation side. I checked NY for you and we offer service in ConEd's area. Hopefully we will get into your area soon. I hope that helps. -Dan

6:38AM PST on Dec 9, 2010

Here in NY state you can opt out of National Grid as your electricity provider but you still have to pay them for the delivery of the electricity. they more than doubled their delivery charge 2 months ago. My bill, even though I have cut my usage substantially, went up $100. How are you supposed to save.

No COLA or $250 one time payment for SS recipients this year. That's 2 years in a row.

I'm screwed yet again!

9:56PM PST on Dec 7, 2010

That was supposed to be www.energybuzz.ichoosesavings.com. Sorry about that.

9:49PM PST on Dec 7, 2010

Many states are deregulated and you can choose who you get your electricity from. If you live in NY, NJ, CT, MA, PA, or MD check out www.energybuzz.ichooseavings.com. There are great rates and a Customer Appreciation Program where you receive Savings Dollars each month just for paying your bill. You can redeem the Savings Dollars on everyday things like travel, dining, gift cards at major retailers, etc. I looked at dozens of alternative energy providers and this was the best deal I saw. I liked it so much I got involved part-time as an energy consultant. We also offer awesome energy savings products like solar panels, LED bulbs, etc. in every state. Check it out - you won't be disappointed. Almost everyone I have told about it has switched. There is no risk and no cost to switch - just a great deal! We also offer commercial rates. You can email me for details.

9:59AM PST on Dec 7, 2010

No matter how many lights I turn off, or energy saving light bulbs I change to, I can't stop my bill from being expensive. I tried to call the electric/gas company but they don't want to hear it. I feel like they are robbing me.

2:21PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Most utilities are required to provide at least some green energy but it is usually only in the single digits like 7-9%. I can show you a greener source where your electricity will be 20% green. Switching to that will not only save you money on your bill, but it can be the equivalent of planting from 40 -114 trees or not driving from 775-2115 miles annually, depending on the state you live in. Just think of the impact you can make on the environment! If you live in Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey (or New York in early 2011), go to www.viridian.com/sharpe and save 10% on your first bill by changing to 20% green by December 31, 2010. There is zero cost and zero risk.

11:25PM PST on Dec 4, 2010

great...i live in a monopoly...even though they have 2 electricity producing dams within 1 mile of where i live...and we also have over a hundred windmills hooked into the utilitiy system and they are within sight of my home...you'd think i'd get lower rates...they sure don't have to do much to deliver power to my place and considering that they have not upgraded any of the supply equipment to the area since around 1940....our rates should be much cheaper....

6:34AM PST on Dec 2, 2010

Yes! It should be free!

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