Bills are a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean they’re fun. The utility bill you get every month can be especially confusing. You thought you were using less power, but your bill shot up instead. It’s frustrating to deal with, especially if you’re in the middle of coping with an extreme weather snap. No one wants to call the utility company and ask questions about your bill in the middle of a January snowstorm, but sometimes that’s the only way to ensure someone didn’t make a mistake.
How utility companies work
How much you pay for electricity and gas depends on where you live. Some states have partially deregulated one or both utilities, which means they allow suppliers to charge whatever they feel like they need to charge, while other states require utility companies to go before a governmental board and request a rate increase. In theory, those companies also have to explain why they need a rate increase and/or how increasing rates will allow them to better serve their customers, but it doesn’t always work that way in practice. Texas is like the Wild Wild West of electricity markets, as the Lone Star State deregulated most of its grid in the early 2000s. Electrical companies have been waged in a turf war ever since. In Texas, if someone knocks on your door, he or she might be trying to get you to attend a certain church, but he or she also may be trying to get you to change utility companies.
Not surprisingly, utility companies love “energy choice,” but the benefits aren’t always so clear for consumers. It can be frustrating to told you have “choices” when all of those choices seem to be expensive.
What you can do
Regardless of the choices you do or don’t have when it comes to your utility company, there are still some simple steps you can take to try and reduce your bill. Something could be wrong with your HVAC system that’s causing it to not run as efficiently as it should. If you suspect that’s the case, get a qualified repair team to come out and take a look at things.
Your house also just be may drafty. If a lot of inside air is going out and a lot of outside air is coming in, then your heating and cooling systems will have to work harder to keep you comfortable. Poor insulation can be a problem in any house, although it’s more common in older residences. A door that won’t close all the way can really do a number on your bank account when it’s time to pay those electric bills. Old windows can also cause plenty of issues. Replacing a door or window may seem like a hassle, and it will be in the short-term. In the long-term, though, there’s a good chance a sturdy new back door will benefit you in the long run. There are a lot of things we can’t control about the bills we pay (for example, that they exist at all). You’ll be way less agitated if you focus on what you can fix rather than brooding about what you can’t.