The next time the monthly utility bills arrive, resist the urge to blindly write a check or schedule a payment. Take the time for a more in-depth examination. You just might find a way to trim the bill.
Understanding your electric bill. Using a fixed rate, the power company charges a set rate of x cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) used. The rate doesn’t change no matter how much or how little power you use. A kilowatt hour is a unit of measurement to determine how much energy you would use to keep a 1,000-watt appliance running for one hour. So, using a 100-watt light bulb as an example, you could keep it on for 10 hours to use 1 kWh of energy. A large appliance like a washer or refrigerator will generate 1 kWh in a much shorter time frame.
Seasonal or time-of-use rates. Some power companies charge more for use during peak times. A seasonal rate will be more expensive in the winter and summer when the demand for heating and cooling is at its peak. A time-of-use rate is similar in the sense it charges more in the morning and evening when people are presumed to be consuming more energy.
Gas rates are similar. Rates for gas are charged at a per therm rate. A therm or BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
Water and sewage use. The water meter reads usage in gallons. Depending on the area, the water company may have a fixed base fee to help cover infrastructure costs and a variable fee to cover the volume of water your home uses. The less water you use, the smaller your variable fee will be. If you pay for public sewage, those charges will also be a part of your water bill. Sewer fees are based on the wastewater and surface water (mostly rainwater) drainage taken from your home into the public sewer system.
A budget planner. Understanding your bill and knowing exactly what you’ve been charged is a simple way to save money in the long run. Seeing how much gas, water and electricity you use every month allows you to budget ahead of time and look for inefficiencies in your systems. If a bill suddenly rises dramatically, an appliance repair or replacement may be necessary.