You’ve probably seen some items in the news recently about customers across the country spying problems with their electrical bills. Between confusing data, inconsistent information, and (unfortunately) some electric companies marking up bills in their favor, it’s difficult to know exactly whether or not you’re being charged fairly for your electricity usage. This is why it’s important that every customer understands a thing or two about how to interpret the various parts of their power bill. That way, if you suspect that you are being charged incorrectly or unfairly, you can understand what your bill says in order to find and fight the discrepancies.
So, how does one understand the different information on their power bill? To an extent, it depends on your electric company. Here in Seattle, the customers of Seattle City Light receive a bill with a lot of different information on there designed to help you understand your power usage. Seattle City Light even provides a handy reference guide here which gives tips and pointers on how to interpret the various parts of your electrical bill. Because the bill is broken down into several different sections, it can be confusing at first. You might find it difficult to know exactly where to look or what you’re looking it. To help you, we’ve compiled some information here that we hope will be useful for you, shedding more light on what can be a confusing subject for many people.
The first section of the bill (top left) is your basic account information – your name, address, customer number, etc. While it’s always a good idea to check and make sure this information is correct, probably won’t have to worry about this section too much.
Special Messages from Electrical Bill Supplier
Underneath the account information area is a section for Seattle City Light to write any important messages to you as a customer. These messages might include such information as future rate changes and available discounts, so you’ll definitely want to pay attention to that area to see what could happen to your bill in the future.
Analysis Over Time
The final area of the left side of your bill is a time analysis graph. This might look confusing at first, but it really isn’t. This graph shows the last two years of your electricity usage. This can be useful for comparing bills between similar time periods. So, for example, if your April bill one year is significantly higher than the April bill from the previous year, that might be something to look into.
Why could it be so different? While there are many “natural” things that could affect a bill, such as difference in weather (a cold April versus a much warmer April, for instance) or the amount of days being billed in that cycle (three or four days’ difference can really add up), it could also be a sign that your usage has changed significantly, or that someone somewhere made an error. Either way, those are things you would want to look into and see what caused such a discrepancy.
Electrical Bill Payment History
Over on the right side of the bill, we start at the top with a quick rundown of your previous billing. This section will show the amount of your previous bill, how much you paid, how much (if any) you owe from the previous bill, and the amount of your current bill. You want to make sure that the numbers from previous months are correct. Go back and check your records and make sure that the amount Seattle City Light says you paid is the amount you actually did pay.
Detailed Billing Information
Finally, we come to the most important and often confusing part of the electrical bill. The bottom right-hand corner breaks down the various charges and rates of usage for the past two months. You’ll find a couple beginning with the dates of service . And also the meter readings from the beginning and end of that time period.
Then, underneath that, there are a couple of line items to look at. First, the “Base Service Charge,” is a flat rate that is charged to all customers regardless of usage. Underneath that, you will see how much electricity you used at various rates. These rates vary depending on when you used your electricity. But this area will tell you how many kWh (kilowatt hours) you used at these differing rates. This is then added up to get your total. Also, if you are a member of the Utility Discount Program, that credit will relfleft in your bill.
It is usually with the number of days and the average usage per day listed here.
Hopefully, this quick rundown will help you understand your electrical bill. If you do still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Wire Craft. We can also help you figure out how to lower your bills by reducing your overall energy consumption. We look forward to hearing from you!