Decode Your Power Bill

Whether through email, an app or an envelope in the mail, everyone that has electric service receives a bill, usually about every month. But do you understand all of the items that appear on your bill? Let’s look at some of the most common terms that appear on power bills and provide easy-to-understand explanations.

The Decoding Your Power Bill resource provides easy-to-understand explanations for 19 of the most common items that appear on power bills, including "Days Served", "Average Monthly Temperature", "Metering Readings", "Rates" and more.

Download the sample bill here.

Front of a Sample Power Bill
  1. 1. Total Amount Due/Balance Due
    The total dollar amount based your usage, fees and services. This line item is usually accompanied with a due date when the payment must be processed.
  2. 2. Kilowatt-hours (kWh)
    A watt is a measure for electric power and a kilowatt (kW) is one thousand of those. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is equal to 1,000 watts of power for a one-hour time period.
  3. 3. Days Served
    Billing period for which your electric meter was read. Usually 30 or 31 days, but this can vary.
  4. 4. Average Monthly/Yearly Temperature
    Weather has a big impact on your energy usage, as half of your bill could go toward heating/cooling. The greater the difference between your thermostat setting and the outside temperature, the more energy you’re using. During extreme temperatures, your bill will likely be higher.
  5. 5. Usage/Consumption
    The difference between your previous and current meter readings is the electricity usage for the current billing period.
  6. 6. Electric Usage History (Chart/Graph)
    A chart that depicts your past energy use, detailing important information like average daily usage, cost per day for the current bill or total usage by month. This is a great tool for learning more about your usage patterns.
  7. 7. Meter #
    Your meter number is unique to your electric meter and is usually stamped or printed at the bottom of the face plate of the meter on your home.
  8. 8. Meter Readings
    Most bills include both the previous month’s meter reading and the current month’s meter reading. The difference between the two is the kWh utilized in the current period.
  9. 9. Multiplier/Constant
    This is applied to certain types of customers to determine usage. For most homes, the multiplier is 1. If you don’t see this on your bill, it’s not something to be concerned with as it has greater relevance to business customers.
  10. 10. Next Scheduled Read Date
    This is the scheduled date for your electricity meter to be read and charted for your next bill. Smart meters have allowed power companies to remotely read meters, saving time and resources usually needed to read meters in person.
  11. 11. Other Fees
    Meter Charge, Customer Charge/Energy Charge. These are usually fixed costs to help recover your power company’s costs of serving you, including meter reading, billing and administration. Like the T&D charges, these will vary depending on region.
  12. 12. T&D
    Distribution Delivery Charge, Transmission Service Charge/Cost Recovery. These charges and fees have to do with the cost to deliver electricity from power-generating facilities to electric substations and then ultimately to your home. These will vary significantly depending on your region but will often include “distribution” or “transmission” in the name.
  13. 13. Renewable Energy Adjustment
    Your area may have legislation that requires a certain percentage of renewable energy, such as solar and wind. This line item helps fund those measures.

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