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How To Read Your Electric Bill

For some customers, going green and choosing solar energy is a no-brainer.

Mercury Solar Systems’ Jared Haines says a New Jersey resident could save $1,000 on a Cape Cod that is upgraded with a solar energy system. Or perhaps your neighbor is Collins Foots Sr. who lives in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward and cut his electric bill down $150 a month to just $38.

Solar energy is really essential in states with extremely high electricity costs, such as Hawaii, where the rate is 30.13 cents per kilowatt hour; Connecticut, where it’s 18.03; Alaska, where it’s 16.61; New Hampshire, where it’s 16.34; or Rhode Island, where it’s 16.21. These are places where the payback is faster and the returns are highest. Visit the US Energy Information Administration website to see how your state stacks up.

Solar energy isn’t 100 percent free, but there are areas to really save.

Understanding your electric bill could really help you figure out how much your home can save with a solar energy installation. There are certain components that will never change. For example, you will always be responsible for paying the city, county and state taxes, not to mention the fixed monthly service charge (which covers the costs of billing, collections and meter reading). Service charges may include: A Transmission Service Charge (for moving high voltage electricity from the plant to your electric company); A Distribution Service Charge (for sending electricity from the local electric company to your residence); And a Generation Service Charge (for the production of electricity). The real savings will be on your energy charge, which is measured in kilowatt hours.

There are many causes for fluctuations in your monthly energy bill.

Electric companies may come out and read your meter or they may estimate how much electricity you use each 25 to 35 day billing cycle. Estimates are made by looking at your usage this month last year. Your bill may be influenced not only by actual readings vs. estimates, but also by weather conditions, new appliances, vacations, new babies, guests visiting, extra trips to the fridge for cool drinks in the summer or reduced daylight hours and more time using the lights indoors during the winter.

To know how much electricity your household consumes, look at the “Average Daily Electric Use” graph and the comparison chart.

You’ll note certain months you have greater electricity needs compared to others, which could indicate lifestyle modifications you might make. Some people like to estimate their own calculations for energy usage. This website helps you calculate how much energy your household uses based on your lifestyle, light bulbs and appliances.

Solar energy saves homeowners tons of money on their electric bills.

Solar arrays can meet all your electricity needs, at which point, your utility company may credit you back on your bill. You can only offset your charges by 100 percent, however, so don’t expect super fat checks. Some local power companies do offer renewable energy rebates if you supply the grid with regular power, but they also charge everyone else a “renewable energy investment” surcharge which greases the pockets of solar investors such as yourself. The best thing you can do is research your individual energy consumption and see what your city, electric company and state offer by way of solar energy incentives.


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