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Why is my bill so high?

It’s a question that gets asked a lot this time of year and it is a fair question. Why do bills spike in the winter and the summer? No matter what some people say, it is not because we charge you more. It is because winter and summer are when we see the extreme fluctuations in temperatures. Nothing affects your power use and your bill like very low or very high temperatures. Especially when those temperatures stay low (or high) for an extended period. This holiday season is the perfect example.  Energy use is usually higher this time of year. Kids are home from school, family gatherings and holiday parties are held. Combine that with cold weather and use rises.

All 4-County members can see their daily usage with an online account.


As you can see in the graphic above, this 4-County member averaged about 25 kilowatt hours used a day during November. That’s about $3 a day in cost (for a 30 day period that’s about $90 or so). But what happens when the temperatures start to drop? That use doubles. There has been no real change, except now the heat is running more and a 25 kWh average turns into a 40 kWh average.  That means the cost is now more than $4 a day (which means the bill is about $120 for 30 days). And you can see what happens in early December when things really started to get cold. As the mercury falls into the 20’s, the power use increases to match. Some days this member even uses 80 or more kWh a day, which will run more than $8 a day (which over 30 days would be about a $240 bill).  Things start to even out in late December as the temperatures head back up but look what happens when the really cold temperatures hit at the end of the month and into January. Now this home’s average use is in the 70-80 kWh range and even hits 140 kWh when the low temperature was 13 degrees. No matter how well built your home might be or how new your heat pump is, extreme temperatures will affect you.


The house in this example is about 12 years old, with a 12 year old heat pump and the thermostat was set on 74 during this period. Three people live in the house—2 adults and a teenager (who was out of school for a lot of this time). These folks paid the same cost per kWh that all 4-County residential members pay (a little over 11 cents a kWh) and their bill more than doubled from November to December. That’s because heating and cooling are the major factors in our power use and when the temperatures drop, the use, and the bills go up. Your home’s age, how many people live there, what you use to heat with and many other things all play a part. So what can you do?  Understanding what affects your use is a good start.

You can see your daily use by starting an online account with 4-County. That will help you track your use and see what happens from day to day, week to week and month to month. If you don’t have internet access, you can call us and we’ll be happy to mail you your use with a chart like the one used here.

Or you can use one of our many energy calculators to help you see where your power is used and where you might be able to save.

The next step is doing some things around your home to help. You can lower your thermostat, use space heaters less, dress more warmly, caulk around leaky windows and doors. Use our eScore program. You can have energy efficient upgrades made to your home and get cash incentives back for many of them. If you don’t own your home or can’t afford work right now, we can still come to your home and do a free eScore energy audit and help you identify where your energy issues are. Different payment options can also help. Levelized billing keeps your bill at about the same cost every month (it won’t go up more than $25 in a month) and can really help those who are on a fixed income or a tight budget. Prepay takes away your monthly bill and gives you the flexibility to pay as you go-as much as you want, whenever you want. There are also no late fees or other penalties with Prepay.  High energy bills are tough on everyone. One thing to keep in mind is that there is a cost for having the blessing of reliable power. No matter what we do, when extreme temperatures strike, our bill will go up. Contact us at 1-800-431-1544 or email us at support@4county.org for more information.