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How to Read Your Energy Bill

Most of us pay our energy bills without a second thought. All that matters is that it gets paid on time, right? Well, not necessarily. Your utility bill is full of useful information that can help inform how much energy you use (and what you pay for it) down the road. Knowing it front to back is in your best interest!

Every utility bill you receive, by mail or digitally, should feature a breakdown of charges, including how much energy you use each month and how that use pattern compares to prior months' energy use.

Looking to sign up for a voluntary renewable energy program? Those charges will be added to this same energy bill; so, getting familiar with it is your first step toward making smarter energy decisions.

Ready to sit down and decipher that energy bill? Here are the main sections you'll want to pay attention to next month. To help make things clear, we're going to look at a sample electric bill from one of our local energy providers, Black Hills Energy.

What's included on your energy bill

  • QR code: These days, many energy companies include a QR code on their monthly statements. Simply scan the code with your smartphone camera or QR code reader app to pay your bill with your mobile device.

  • Your information: Check the top of your bill for your account number, name and bill mail date. Should there be a discrepancy on your bill, you'll want this information handy when you call customer service.

  • Bill amount and due date: Pay close attention to how your charges fluctuate month by month. An unexplained spike in electricity usage could be the result of a malfunctioning appliance, a broken meter or a voltage leak. Don't let these slip by unnoticed!

  • Energy usage chart: This chart details your average energy use and cost per day for the current month, the past month and all last year. Super handy! Want to lower how much you're spending on electricity each month? Consider insulating your attic! This alone can reduce energy costs by up to 50%.

  • Usage details: This section includes everything from your billing rate, meter readings and dates read, your meter number and the totally energy use expended during your last billing period.

  • Charge details: Any additional charges related to your energy use will be listed here. These might be labeled something like "commodity charge" or "distribution charge." Check out this guide if you aren't sure what the fee is related to.

  • Transaction history: Payments made since your last bill, fees or adjustments, deposits billed, energy assistance and payment arrangements can be found in the transaction history section of your bill.

  • Spot for charitable contributions: Many energy companies, including Black Hills Energy, provide funds to help low-income families afford electricity. Should you like to make a contribution to this cause, simply mark the checkbox on your pay stub and dictate how much you'd like to donate.

Once you feel like you know your way around your energy bill, it's time to work on lowering it. First, check out our post, "10 Energy Saving Strategies Guaranteed to Lower Your Electric Bill!" for ideas. Then, get in touch with us about how we can help you make energy efficient upgrades! You'll be surprised how little effort it takes to reduce what you're spending.

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