How to Read Your Electricity Bill

Choose EnergyEnergy 101How It WorksHow to Read Your Electricity Bill

Most of us pay our utility bill without paying much attention to the dizzying numbers strewn across the page. But even if you did take the time to study the invoice, would you understand what each section means?

There are plenty of benefits in taking a closer look at your energy bill. You can learn how much electricity you use each month, view the breakdown of charges and compare prior month’s energy use to recognize patterns. Getting familiar with your bill is especially useful if you’re looking to sign up for alternative energy supply as these charges will be added to the document.

To find out more about your utility bill and how to decipher it, we gathered the main sections you’ll want to zero in on next month.

The upper part of a sample electricity bill.

  1. Account Number: Your account number can be found on the top left corner of your bill and is your key to billing and customer support from your utility. This number is also vital when signing up for an energy supply plan as suppliers need it to complete your enrollment.
  2. Last Payment: Here you’ll find the amount you paid for your energy service last month.
  3. Current Bill: This number represents your current charges, including generation and transmission charges, taxes and other fees.
  4. Applicable Taxes: In the message center, you’ll find your estimated total sales tax. Simple math will show you what percentage of your bill goes to state taxes.
  5. Price to Compare: Your price to compare is the utility’s current price per kilowatt hour. You can use this number to compare their current supply rates against available energy suppliers in your area.
  6. Payment Slip: This portion of your bill is the one you’ll need to return to the utility if you send your payment through the mail.

The bottom half of the sample bill.

  1. kWh Usage: This month’s kWh usage is shown in this box. This charge makes us the bulk of your bill.
  2. Bill breakdown (services): Here, you’ll find the breakdown of services that go into receiving energy to your home or business.
  3. Bill Breakdown (price of services): This section of your bill shows the breakdown of charges for each of your electricity services. You’ll notice generation charges make up the largest chunk of your bill. This is the service you can shop for in a deregulated market.
  4. Historical kWh Usage: You can use this chart to view prior months’ energy usage and track fluctuations – such as usage spikes during winter and summer.
  5. Usage Profile: Take a closer look at your energy usage last month and this time last year to see a rise or fall in kWh usage per month and per day. You’ll also find the average daily temperature during these months to give context to your energy use.