Finances & Money

Another expensive month for electricity

Just last month, I told you we were hit with an almost $400 electric bill. We had some major discrepancies in how they were calculating our estimated vs actual bill, but it all worked out since we hadn’t had to pay any bills for 4 months prior.

This month, we got a bill for about $435, for only one month of electricity! It was my fault that I didn’t unlock the gate on the day of the reading, but c’mon, $435? Here’s what I think happened: They saw that last month’s bill was an ACTUAL reading for $400, but their computer didn’t recognize the preceding pattern of a credit each month for 4 months. It only cared about last month’s bill. And since August is warmer than July, it figured we would use more electricity.

So what did I do? Obviously I don’t want to hand Pepco more money than I truly owe them, so the next day I got a manual reading and called it in. We have a “time-metered” digital meter, which means we have 3 time periods, and each period costs us differently. There’s Peak, Off-Peak and Intermediate. I had to grab the 3 numbers, plus a 4th “check sum” reading.

Unfortunately, the last time I tried to circumvent a bill, they didn’t apply my reading and re-bill me. This time, I asked the operator if she could ensure that I got a new bill, and she responded that she would put a hold on the account. I hope she didn’t mean that she would shut off my electricity until I pay the amount! I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt since it’s been a few days and the TV still works.

I did some calculations using my actual readings compared with the actuals from last month, and determined our bill should have been about $230. Let’s see how close I was when I get the new bill. By the way, we’ve been using the A/C more this past month, plus we have a pool with a pump that runs 13 hours per day.

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Clever Dude


  • I had to call in a reading once – we had a month left on our apartment lease when we moved to our house, and when they did the final reading at the apartment for our shutoff date, they did an estimated and billed us for about $80 for 20 days when we hadn’t even been living there based on prior usage. I called and had to go to the apartment and get a real reading (luckily we only moved cross-town) and my real bill turned out to be $6. Heh.

    I hope that your rebill is as low hassle as mine was!

  • Wow, I hope that works out! I hate estimated billing on anything, and I prefer to pay month by month exactly what I owe. My parents use the level payment plan, and even though I can’t prove it, I think they find a way to level payments in there favor. Just bill me what I owe, thanks. Good luck…

  • Patrick, I’ve considered looking into the level payment plans for gas and electricity, but we have the money to pay for the actual each month, and I’d like to know what the actual is too. We just make sure it’s in our budget to expect a higher bill.

  • The estimated payment month may soon become a problem of the past.

    Our electric company installed a new meter on our home that allows them to read it remotely.

    Because of this, an employee just has to drive down the street to read the meters in our development — they don’t need to get out of the car. This means that I now get an actual reading every month.

    The water company and gas company have installed similar devices.

  • You should call them and make sure you know EXACTLY what is happening for something this important. The “I will give her the benefit of the doubt” is just your excuse for being lazy 🙂

  • FB: It was an estimated bill. The real one, as I mentioned, should have been around $250. We have a pool, and it was hot in July. We keep the A/C at 80 degrees, but we do need to run a large window unit upstairs in our bedroom for 2-3 hours a night since it gets mighty hot up there.

  • Hey Clever Dude,

    I am an external auditor for Pepco and it is funny that you posted this because the other day I walked through their process for calculating esimations. Without breaking any sort of confidentiality agreements I can say that it is based on previous month’s normalized kWh consumption and the trend factor for your rate class (trend factor takes into consideration the temps and demands on the electric grid).

    I hope it gets resolved quickly for you!

    – TMac

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