Understanding a High Bill

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Weather extremes make a difference

When our winter temperatures drop below 40 degrees or our summer temperatures exceed 100 degrees, there is no doubt that your electricity usage will be impacted. With this in mind, you will notice how your bill fluctuates throughout the year.  Only a few days of extreme temperatures can increase your usage and cause your bill to be noticeably higher.  The annual usage for our residential customers varies year to year, primarily based on our weather. 

When temperatures drop, furnaces work longer using more electricity. People also spend more time at home due to weather which increases usage in lighting, electronics, appliances and heating water, especially over the holiday season or when school is cancelled or delayed.
In addition to weather, the length of daylight time, number of weekends during the billing cycle, energy efficiency measures, and added members to the household all add to the ups and downs of your usage. 

If you have questions about your electricity usage, log in to SmartHub®.  There you can access a personalized, private view of your usage.  You can compare usage by year, month, week or day.  This will help you better understand how and when you use electricity and enable you to make simple lifestyle changes that can lower your usage and your bill. 

Degree days – another way to track weather impact

For a more exact look at how temperature affects customers’ bills, utilities track “Degree Days.”  “Degree days” are the difference between the actual average temperature for that day and 65° F.  If it is warmer than 65°, “cooling” degree days will result. If it is cooler than 65°, “heating” degree days will result.

Each degree over or under 65° is considered a degree day.  For example, if the average temperature on April 1 was 55° degrees, you subtract 55 from 65 to get 10 so that day had 10 heating degree days.  By adding the degree days for all the days in a month, it provides a way to compare the months to see how much colder or warmer each month was.  In the months with a larger number of heating degree days (or cooling degree days), customers will likely have a higher bill. During 2015, heating degree days were the lowest we’ve seen in over a decade, 83% of average.  As you review your bills make sure to watch heating and cooling degree days as well as total usage.