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How to read your electric bill

Know what to look for so you can understand how much you're being charged for electricity.

Electricity bills tell us a lot of information, from how much you owe to how you consume power. These details can help you cut down energy usage and costs. They can also help you decide whether switching to a different plan will save you money.

We can take you through what to look for and where to find it so you can decide your next steps.

How to read your electric bill

Where to find the exact information you need is different for each brand. However as a general guide, we took a sample bill from Con Edison and broke down each section.

While there’s a lot of information on any electricity bill, the main details to check include:

1. Account information

Address, name, account number and other details necessary for your retailer to identify you. Keep this information handy if you’re contacting your retailer online or over the phone.

Screenshot of account information on electric bill

2. Billing summary

This is usually shown at the top of your bill or near your account info. You’ll see what you owe, payment due date, payments you’ve already made and any late fees.

Screenshot of billing summary electric bill

3. Message center

Find out if your bill has any adjustments or corrections and overdue or termination notices.

Screenshot of message center on electric bill

4. Payment slip

You’ll need this slip if you’re mailing a check or money order payment to Con Edison.

For electricity, your usage is shown in kilowatts per hour (kWh).

For gas, it is shown in therms for the entire billing period.

Screenshot of payment slip on electric bill

5. Electricity usage

This includes information about the billing period, your meter reading and how much electricity you used.

Screenshot of monthly charges on electric bill

6. Charges and fees

This is a detailed breakdown of how you’ve been charged.

This will split your total charge into supply costs, delivery charges for
simply being connected to the grid and taxes and fees:

  • Usage costs
  • Delivery costs
  • Sales tax

7. Past usage

This handy graph shows you how much energy you’ve used in the past year and how your current average use compares to the same time last year.

Screenshot of past usage on electric bill

8. Payment options

A list of options for how to pay including direct debit, online, phone, in-person payments and mail.

Screenshot of payment options on electric bill

How can I use my bill to save on electricity?

  • Compare rates. With your actual usage in front of you, you can compare your current plan to others to see how much you stand to save.
  • Consider taxes. If you’re on a single rate plan but realize that most of your energy use takes place in the evening, it might be worth considering switching to time-of-use rates. This rate system charges more during peak times during the day but less at night.
  • Examine usage patterns. If your energy spikes during specific months, try tracking down the cause. If you’re running the air conditioner or heating system more than usual, you might be able to cut back on energy by raising or lowering the temperature.
  • Energy-efficient products. If you’re shopping for new appliances, consider an Energy Star certified product. Energy Star certified appliances, products and equipment help save energy and money without compromising performance.

Bottom line

Your electricity bill can provide a lot of insight on ways you can save on your monthly utilities. Learn how to compare electricity and gas providers to see if switching is right for you.

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