Help! My bill is high – What should I do?
This is a familiar picture. You just arrived home and proceed to open mail. Among the many envelopes, you find your latest Choptank Electric bill. You hold your breath and open it – and there it is! The highest bill in history! Even if you view your bill online, a high bill is still a disrupting event that usually feels like it arrives at the worst possible moment. Members who receive high bills can often feel confusion, anxiety, or even anger – yet the worst feeling is that of being powerless and not being able to do something about it.
Fortunately there are things that you as a member can do, to be proactive and reduce your bill. Like a good lawyer preparing to go to court, an empowered member could prepare and ask themselves some questions about their habits, usage, and past billing history before picking up the phone to call the Member Service Center. Energy usage and billing information can be seen anytime, anywhere using SmartHub. Members can access SmartHub through the web portal or via mobile App for iOS or Android.
The first step would be to review your last few bills. If you are good about keeping your billing records you can simply pull the last 12 months of bills OR by logging into your SmartHub account (or setting an account on SmartHub if you don’t have one already) to compare bills. Look at how much you have used this month, in comparison to the same month, last year. Is it vastly different? Or is it about the same? You might want to access up to 24-36 months of bills for reference. You will notice bills go up and down at around the same times each year, marking the beginning or end of seasons.
But your research doesn’t end there. You should also try to remember about the weather, and other particular events that may have affected your usage. Did your town experience a bad winter storm? Did you add a new appliance or replace a failing one? These kinds of events can drastically affect your bill, even account for a large portion of the difference between a normal bill and an outrageous one. SmartHub can help members by allowing you to set “markers” that track specific usage events such as when a new HVAC system is installed, when you would like to know how much it will save you in the long run. Similarly, since most of us don’t keep a detailed record of the weather, we can rely on SmartHub to view temperatures for each day, and even determine how much in kilowatt or dollar amount these translate to.
Perhaps your particular case is different or not clear, due to special circumstances such as traveling habits or energy assistance. This is where our friendly Member Service Representatives come in and can help you sift through the numbers on your bill. They can even refer you to our Energy Program Coordinator who could come to your home to pinpoint potential energy problems that may be costing you tens or hundreds of dollars on your bill.
So what can you do with all this information? If your bill is normally this high during the summer or winter months, you could look into a budget payment plan, or simply plan to reduce your usage on those days in which usage is expected to be high. Choptank Electric has programs that help you keep track of high demand such as Beat the Peak. If the answer is something more drastic like upgrading your home HVAC system, adding insulation on the attic or crawl space, or replacing windows, our helpful Energy Efficiency Coordinator can guide you through the process.
If your problem seems to be a one-time instance, remember weather and special events such as a bad appliance which has been replaced can be the culprit. Regularly maintaining your HVAC and other large appliances can prevent this from happening in the future. Finally, remember that our Member Service representatives can help you establish a payment plan to get things under control.
Hopefully these guidelines can empower you to prevent or manage any future high bills. Contact our Member Service Department at 1-877-892-0001.