According to a 2012 report by U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has experienced a dramatic increase to electric bills within a period of 10 years. While the average cost a decade ago was less than $80, today it has already skyrocketed to more than $100 with Alabama paying the highest in congruous United States at $135.26 as of 2012. Hawaii’s electric price, however, is way higher at $203.15 on the same period.
Many factors affect electric rates, and some of them are out of your control, including the overall market price of natural gas or petroleum in world’s market, weather, domestic and international policies, and infrastructure available. However, as a consumer, you have the option to be smarter in using the electricity cost calculator and learning how to decrease usage and, in turn, your electric bill.
What Your Bill Looks Like
Do you know that your own billing statement can be used as an electricity cost calculator? Grab one now and take a look at it. The appearance and some of the information can differ between providers and location, but almost always, they contain the following:
- Personal information such as your name, address, account number, and class (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial)
- Summary with your previous bill, payment made, and current bill
- Payment due date
- Reading (present, previous, and difference)
All these 4 elements are essential when you’re trying to determine your electricity costs. Rates can differ among classes, whether you’re residential or commercial entity. That explains why sometimes either of the two costs less for you. It also depends on how much these classes typically consume. Studies have already revealed that residential accounts not only are the biggest consumers of energy, but they also have the highest rates.
How much you paid in the previous billing can also affect the outcome of the electricity cost calculator. Any remaining balance is carried over to the next cycle and is subject to penalties, further increasing your total payment due.
Most of all, the readings will already give you a summary of your total energy consumption. The difference, specifically, speaks of whether you have become more energy efficient or not.
Breaking Down the Total Electricity Costs
Most consumers, however, often overlook the breakdown of their total delivery services charge since they are more technical. The truth is these things are often out of your control that they are also mostly ignored by a typical electricity cost calculator online. Nevertheless, they can give you a better idea of where your money is actually going:
- Kilowatt-hour (KWH). You are charged per kilowatt-hour, and it’s fixed, though it’s subject to increase depending on several factors like the increase of other charges. This is where you have the most power. For example, if your air-conditioning unit consumes 150 kilowatt-hours in a month and the charge per kilowatt-hour is 13 cents, the electricity cost calculator may reflect an amount of $20 for each month or $234 in a year.
- Distribution Charge. This refers to the charges allocated for the actual distribution of electricity from the source or the transmission lines to the end consumers or, in this case, the residences.
- Transmission Charge. This is the charge that is meant for the transmission of high-voltage electricity from the power grid to the transmission company, which is then in charge of delivering electricity to its customers. This has a federal cap, which means none of the parties can increase or decrease the charges anytime they want to.
- Some electric bills may reflect taxes to be paid to the state. However, if your state has energy-incentive plans and you’ve taken advantage of them, you may see credits and/or refunds in this part.
Other kinds of charges that may be added are renewable energy (if you’re using a state-recognized or -approved renewable energy source) and transition.
How the Weather and Lifestyle Affect Your Electric Bill
There are times when figures in the electricity cost calculator are erratic—that is, the difference can be very high or very low. Many factors can affect your total billing, and two of the most well-known are your lifestyle and weather.
During summer and winter, an electricity cost calculator may reveal higher-than-normal rates, but these are expected. Two of the most notorious consumers of electricity, heaters and air-conditioning units, are active during these periods. The time of day too matters, especially during these seasons. Prices during the winter tend to be a lot higher in the morning then taper during the afternoons, then increase again at nighttime.
Your electricity cost calculator may also show a higher amount if you’re living in a bigger house, you have more appliances running almost simultaneously, or your home lacks proper maintenance. Leaks, for instance, can increase electricity costs since AC units or heaters have to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.