Why Is My Bill So High?
Thinking about how you use electricity, and how MUCH you are using, is not generally high on consumer's lists. That is, until a much larger than normal electricity bill appears. Currently, we've been receiving a number of phones calls from members whose bills are above the norm for their standard monthly bill. Typically, they just want to know, "Why is my bill so high?"
At first, these WCEC members may believe there must be something wrong with their meter. Then, they wonder if electricity rates have gone up. In fact, WCEC's base electricity rate per kWh, has not increased. The Power Cost Recovery Factor (PCRF) was set at .04500 in September 2017 and was only raised from .04300 or 2/10th of 1 cent. So, with that answered, what is driving up the bills? Simply put, it's not increased rates, but increased kWh usage.
In the winter, heating costs generally account for the largest percentage of residential electricity bills. And, heating costs usually mirror outside temperatures. While you may adjust your thermostat some,
it's still set for a level that keeps occupants comfortable. That can be a 30 to 40 degree difference from the outside temperature. And the greater the temperature difference between the inside and the outside, the harder and longer a heating unit must work to maintain indoor temperatures.
In December we experienced twenty days with a low temperature below 40 degrees, so that is bound to have an effect on usage. Typically, the coldest hours are after midnight when most aren't aware that the outside temperature has gotten so cold.
When members call in with concerns about their high bills, there are several steps the cooperative can take to help them better understand their bills. One way is to provide them with their individual daily usage data. Comparing these side-by-side with the weather charts offers a very clear picture of the increased energy that is used to heat a home.
We also can offer tips to help conserve kWh usage. One is to maintain a 68 degree temperature when you are at home and active; but when sleeping or away, consider lowering the thermostat a few degrees.
Some may argue that they don't even use a central HVAC system, but only heat with space heaters or with the fireplace. Space heaters can contribute enormously to a high bill, depending on the space being heated. Keep in mind that a 1500 watt heater uses 1.5 kWh per hour and in a month's time that could add up to 540 kWh if running 12 hours a day. Fireplaces allow much of the heat generated to escape right out of the open flue. Other cost factors that drive up heating depend on how well a space is insulated and if heat is escaping because of poor insulation.
Receiving a large and unexpected bill is never welcome, and at WCEC we understand this. We always want to help our members be as efficient as they would like. Importantly, if you have questions about your bill or will have difficulty paying it, reach out to our member services department by calling 903-763-2203. Depending on the circumstances, arrangements may be made. We can also schedule a home energy audit to help you better understand your usage. The cooperative also employs some bill paying options to help avoid future sticker shock, such as levelized billing, which spreads monthly bills evenly over the year, eliminating the high bills.
At WCEC we only purchase the amount of electricity we sell, and sell the amount we purchase. Most importantly, there is no incentive to raise rates, since the cooperative is a not-for-profit and any profits are returned to the members. Therefore, we truly want to help our members control their usage and their bills. As a cooperative, we're in this together.