I got my December PG&E bill the other day. I believe it's the highest we've paid at around 156 dollars and change. I went up to the PG&E web site to see if I could figure out whether the increase was due to increased energy use or cost of energy. They have a special web page for figuring that out.
To get there go to the PG&E web site
and log in. Click on the My Energy
link and then My Usage
. All kinds of info there.
I got a bit sidetracked when I first got there by a graph that showed our last year's energy use compared to "energy efficient" homes and "all similar homes". I have no idea what criteria they use for similar homes. At first glance, we came out pretty good:
With electricity, we were well below Similar Home usage. During the summer months we equaled efficient home usage. Then we climbed above Efficient Home use as the weather got cooler. We still stayed well below Similar Home usage:
Oct- Nov 2012; Us- 170kwh, Efficient Homes- 172kwh, Similar Homes- 390kwh. It stays close to that all year except for Similar Homes spiking upward in October.
With gas, we didn't do as well. Even during the summer we were above Efficient Home use, but still below Similar Homes. July- Aug 2012: Us- 20 therms, Efficient Homes- 10 therms, Similar Homes- 24 therms.
I suppose it should be no surprise our gas bill went up as it got colder, but I was surprised to see it spike starting in October (wasn't that when we started using our new, high- tech thermostat?) and go above Similar Home usage in Nov- Dec: Us- 67 therms, Efficient Homes- 28 therms, Similar Homes- 60 therms. It was the gas that seems to have cost us the big increase.
Taking a look at their Compare Bills feature, I see our gas bill was $134.76 this last month. The month before it was only $59.65 (Yikes!). Electricity was only $19.93 compared to $16.11 last billing period.
Comparing this last bill to last year's of the same period, gas was only $97.67. Electricity was $19.19, so hardly a change there. The big increase is, again, due to gas.
The bill comparison suggests some reasons for the increase, weather, for example. There's no mention of increased natural gas prices that I could find and I have read that natural gas prices have gone up substantially, or were going to, despite the supposed abundance of it nowadays.
Regardless, it is what it is and I don't see any way to shave costs on our bill except maybe setting the thermostat down a degree or two.
While I find their energy stats application of interest, I don't know how one could use those stats to decrease their energy bill and it does bring one question to my mind: How much of my bill is used to pay for providing all these statistics?