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Posted By Subodh on Friday, February 29, 2008
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I asked my friendly neighbors. And friends, colleagues, sometimes even total strangers. Everybody seemed to be paying less than $100 every month. And here I was going poorer day by day by paying hefty electricity bills to PGE for all of last three years. Last month’s bill was just a wake-up call. Something was really wrong here!


Detailed PGE Bill Insert


I reached a point where I was almost convinced that either somebody is stealing away my electricity or, I have a faulty appliance or two that is/are leaking electricity all the time.

After much deliberation, I decided to act a little sane before going berserk.

Why is my electricity bill so high? For the first time since I moved out of living in an apartment, I searched for PGE bills. Couldn't find them. Oh,  I enrolled for electronic delivery, no paper statements! Doh.

I logged in to PGE and looked at the bill details. Ah, there's a slab system. Dumb me. So yes of course my electricity usage is high but the troubling part is that I pay more than 3 times what others in my neighborhood pay. So why is the baseline so low? Does this mean that everybody else is able to manage within 340 kWh every month?

It was time again to consult friends. It was a big help when a friend allowed me to look at his bill. Wait … his baseline quantity is almost double that of mine. Great, so all I got to do is probably enroll in some other type of plan.
Another call to PGE brought down all my sudden found hopes. The friend’s service was on a E1 H Residential Service – Electricity only. Mine is E1-XB -- Gas + Electricity. PGE understands that for residential customers who only have electricity will need to use it for heating as well so their baseline usage is set higher. In any case, since this friend lived in an apartment I was sure, the bill would somehow be lower ( it was lower for me when I was an apartment dweller) than mine.

But that is weird. I am supposed to use gas as well as electricity. And of course, other than the winter months, nothing in my home uses gas other than the water heater. A quick look at the history at PGE site (those guys have an amazing website) showed that during non-winter months, my gas usage is less than $10-$15.

Now, that is a troublesome discovery. Although I moved from India a couple of years ago, I’m still new to this place. I do not even know what appliances can run on Gas. The first appliance that comes to my mind is the cooking range.  It’s electric! Shouldn’t it be Gas? How dumb of me. When I rented this house, I didn’t pay attention.

Coming back to the electricity bill, it seemed lik if I could save falling into the last (above 300%) slab, my bill would at least reduce by a major amount. But what exactly would  be able to save from? What appliance is consuming so much of electricity?



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 Comments & Discussions

  • Gravatar
    MIchael Will Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:01 PM
    Re: Understanding the PG&E billing
    I am wondering about the same issue, but I have not done as much home work yet on comparing other peoples bills.

    Electricity we are only 12% over baseline, so that seems reasonable.
    Gas wise we are more than 50% over baseline - for a month where we did not even use the heater for anything but the shower.

    In terms of finding out what appliances consume the majority of electricity in your house, yeah, the kitchen range might be a good guess - I heard that PG&E has some kind of service (energy audit) where they help you identify how to save energy.

    Good luck - Michael

    • Gravatar
      Subodh Friday, May 15, 2009 at 3:30 AM
      Re: Understanding the PG&E billing
      Thanks for taking the time to respond here Michael. I had forgotten to update the follow ups as related posts. Now they're updated. The electrical usage problem is taken care of.

      Now, Gas would be interesting! Other than the thermostat, there are no other direct ways of metering the usage. But the good news is, it can also be brought down, possibly with measures like in: www.subodh.com/Blog/EntryId/57/Go-Green-inside-your-house-Top-5-energy-saving-tips.aspx
      I did a round up of which appliances consume how much of electricity, here were the results: www.subodh.com/Blog/EntryId/6/Top-20-energy-consuming-appliances-in-your-home.aspx

      Please do let me know if this helps! Or, if you found another way of analyzing the the gas usage.

      PG&E has some kind of energy audit service which is free for low income groups. All others must hire their own electricians and figure that out.

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