Your Cooperative’s rates are the same all year long. Your electric use, on the other hand, fluctuates from one season to the next. Our experience has taught us that winter and summer are the two times of the year when our Member-Owners use the most power. That means two things: 1) more strain on the power grid and 2) your power bill goes up.
Why Your Bill Goes Up
Your power bill doesn’t go up because there’s more strain on the grid. Your power bill goes up because you’re using more electricity than you do during months when the temperatures are milder. It takes a lot of energy to run your air conditioner in the summer and your heater in the winter.
We try to keep generation and transmission expenses as low as we can, but no matter how low our rates are, your bills will still go up when you use more power. Many Cooperatives offer special programs to help you budget for high electric bills. Three of the most common are budget billing programs, prepaid services, and home energy audits.
Budget Billing gives you a consistent electric bill every month, all year long. Your payments are level based on your previous year’s usage. Each year, your Cooperative will let you know if your level payment amount changes. Budget Billing is helpful if you want to know exactly what to expect each month.
Prepaid services allow you to choose how much money you want to pay at a time toward your electric use. You can also choose how often you want to pay. When you prepay, you don’t have to make deposits or pay late fees. Prepaying also helps you to avoid disconnect and reconnect fees. Talk to your Cooperative to find out what prepay options are available.
What many Member-Owners don’t realize about prepaid services is that when you prepay, your Cooperative reads your meter every single day, deducting your payment account for the amount of electricity you used the previous day. This style “billing” is great if you’re trying to understand when you’re using more electricity, and they can help you hold yourself accountable for your budgeted power use.
Home Energy Audits
For a relatively small (and sometimes tax deductible) fee, your Cooperative can visit your home, giving you an assessment of the actual energy you use. Energy audits help you to identify air leaks, inadequate caulking and insulation, and other places where your home is losing heat (in winter) or air (in summer).
Each Rural Electric Cooperative decides how to help Member-Owners to manage high power bills. If you’d like to learn more, contact your Cooperative to ask about ways it can help.