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Unlocking the secrets—and the savings—in your energy bill

A lot of my electric bill doesn’t make sense to me. Is there information in it that can help me save money?—Don

As you suspect, analyzing your bill can help you save energy and money.

If you live in an all-electric home, all the energy costs are on the monthly bill from your electric cooperative. This bill probably has one or more fixed charges that cover some of the costs your co-op incurs in delivering the power to your home. 

Beyond these fixed fees, you pay for the power you have used that month, which is sold in kilowatt-hour (kWh) units. One kWh is equal to 1,000 watts over a one-hour period. Most electric co-ops charge about the same rate for a kWh no matter when you use it. 

Careful study needed

Most energy bills include a chart like the one at right that shows your electric use over the past 12 months. The charts can be used to compare energy use year over year to spot any trends, but don’t make snap judgments about your costs on that basis alone. Factor in what may not show up on your bill, especially considering Kentucky’s erratic weather patterns: a milder-than-normal January one year, and a frigid one the next year, for example. Even a lengthy stay by house guests can skew your usage pattern. 

Still unsure? If your bill is rising and you are not sure why, your electric co-op is a good resource. Your co-op’s energy advisor may be able to sift through these factors, help you analyze your bill, talk about your home’s features and your family’s practices, and give you some ideas for reducing your energy use.

PAT KEEGAN and BRAD THIESSEN write on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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