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Understanding Your Gas and Electric Bills.

Need a little help with the details on your gas and electric bill? Check out our utility bill breakdown below.

Need a little help with the details on your gas and electric bill? Check out our utility bill breakdown below.

A Guide to Utility Bills

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average household consumes about 11,000 kWh of electricity per year. Use varies by region. In the South, single-family detached residences average almost 16,000 kWh/yr.  


Here are key tips on how to read an electricity bill.

Pro Tip:

Many bills include a section outlining your price to compare for your energy. Sometimes known as Standard Choice Offer, this is the rate that your utility company charges you for electricity or natural gas if you do not choose your own supplier. Use it as a comparison tool when shopping for a better rate.

Energy Bill Breakdown

To help you make the smartest energy decisions, we’ve created a full breakdown of a typical utility bill. This is helpful whether you’re looking to switch energy suppliers, or you simply want to understand your spending a little better. 

What does the electric bill include? Let’s review the key elements so you can learn to read an electric bill. 

Utility Bill Breakdown with Billing Summary marked as 1 and Account Information marked as 2
Utility Bill Breakdown with Delivery charges marked as 3 and Generation / supply charges marked as 4

1. Billing summary

Your billing summary lists the amount of energy you’ve used in the past month, and how much it costs. The summary may include a graph of your electricity usage over time, making it easy to visualize. If the graph is not automatically included, you may be able to request one from your energy supplier. 

2. Account information

At the top of most bills, you’ll find your personal account information, including your name, address and your customer account number.

In order to switch energy suppliers, you’ll need to submit this customer account number; your new supplier will need it to connect and activate your new plan with your utility account.

3. Delivery charges

Delivery charges are the rate that you pay for the transportation of electricity or natural gas into your home. They are set and charged by your utility company, and cover the cost of the wires, pipes, other infrastructure and maintenance required to safely transport energy into your home.

  • Customer charges
  • Distribution charges
  • Transition charges
  • Transmission charges
  • Generation riders

Because delivery charges come from your utility company, you cannot change or shop around for this rate.

4. Supply or usage charges

The supplier charge is the rate you compare as you shop for energy suppliers. Multiply the supplier rate by the number of kilowatt hours used to get your energy cost for the month. Add in energy distribution charges to get your total energy spend for the month.  

Finding your Price To Compare

If you do not choose your own energy supplier in a deregulated state, your utility company will charge you their rate. It will often be identified as the “Price to Compare” on your bill. When you shop rates, compare this rate to those of competing energy suppliers.

Your price to compare may be found:

  • Under the ‘Due Date’ section
  • In the ‘Important messages’ section
  • In the ‘Account Summary’ section

Key Usage Terms

To better learn how to read your electric bill, familiarize yourself with the terms.

Key usage terms on your electric bill

Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit used on your electric bill to measure the amount of electrical energy your home uses each month.

One kWh is the amount of energy required to run a 1,000-watt appliance for one hour, or a 100-watt lightbulb for 10 hours.

Key usage terms on your natural gas bill

Natural gas billing is not always as straightforward as billing for electricity. The units used often vary from one energy supplier to another. Here are the different terms you may run into, and how to convert them, if needed.

Btu

A British Thermal Unit (Btu) is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Note that one MBtu equals 1,000 Btus, and one MMBtu equals 1,000,000 Btus.

Therms

100,000 Btus equals one therm. Also, one Ccf of natural gas equals one therm.

Ccf/Mcf

You may also see abbreviations like Ccf or Mcf. One Ccf = 100 cubic feet, and one Mcf = 1000 cubic feet (or 10 Ccf)

Natural gas cost conversion chart

Suppliers price natural gas in dollars per therm, MMBtu, or cubic feet. This conversion chart helps you deal with suppliers who price their product differently. 

To compare rates, you’ll need the heat content of natural gas per a given unit of measure (i.e. Btu or cubic foot). Some natural gas suppliers provide natural gas heat content information on customers’ bills. Contact your natural gas supplier if necessary.

Dollars per Ccf÷ 1.037 =Dollars per therm
Dollars per thermx 1.037 =Dollars per Ccf
Dollars per Mcf÷ 1.037 =Dollars per MMBtu
Dollars per Mcf÷ 10.37 =Dollars per therm
Dollars per MMBtux 1.037 =Dollars per Mcf
Dollars per thermx 10.37 =Dollars per Mcf
Source: www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=45&t=8

How Can I Reduce my Energy Bill?

Save on your energy bill with these best practices. Keep in mind that heating, cooling, and hot water account for the majority of your energy usage.  

What’s the Average Cost of Electricity?

Electricity bills are increasing over time. According to the EIA, the average cost of residential electricity in the United States for November 2023 is 16.19 cents per kWh. However, there are significant differences from one part of the country to another. For example, in New England, the average residential rate is 27.40 cents per kWh, while it is 14.62 cents in the South Atlantic region. 

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Need help switching suppliers?

Once you know how to read your electric bill, it will be easier to compare competing energy providers. Once you’re ready to make a switch, Price to Compare is here to guide you through the process.