What Does A Utility Bill Look Like
Your utility bill is one of the most important documents in your household, and it's how you know how much your utilities cost and shows what's due.
It can be confusing and challenging to read though, so we’ll run you through an example of utility bill entries.
Understanding Your Utility Bill
You might think that your utility bill has a lot of information, but most of the time, a lot of the information is unnecessary.
The bill is usually divided into sections and labelled with words like “rates,” “supply charges,” and “delivery charges.” If you look at your bill, you'll notice helpful tips and explanations on the page.
If you want to get more out of your utility bill than just knowing how much money it costs you each month, here are some ways to do so:
- Read through all three sections (rates/supply charges/delivery charges) in order.
- You don't have to understand everything—just note what's happening over time compared with other months or years.
- For example, suppose delivery rates go up too much in one month when nothing significant happened with any other part of your life simultaneously (like getting married or having kids).
- In that case, this could indicate that something's wrong somewhere along the way, between picking up electricity from a power plant site and delivering it all over town in little drops called watts!
Utility Bill Sections
Your utility bill usually includes electricity or natural gas charges as well as other services like trash pickup and recycling.
If you have more than one account, like water, sewer and trash pickup; cable, phone and internet services; parking fees; lawn care and snow removal, even more extras may be listed on your bill.
Billing and account information
The first section of your bill will have all the information about your account. This includes:
- Bill Date – The date the invoice was generated.
- Bill Number – A unique number used to identify the particular bill.
- Bill Amount – Your total usage for this billing period, including charges from previous periods, carried over into this one.
Also known as a “total due” amount, it includes energy charges (kWh), base charges (fixed fees), taxes and other miscellaneous fees added together.
- Bill Due Date – The date on which an unpaid balance will incur late fees if not paid in full by then.
It's about two weeks after you receive your bill in the mail or online; however, if there are any past due payments on your account at that time, then they'll also be included here as well (this can happen if you've been paying bills late).
Service period dates
The service period date is the date that your bill is based on.
This can differ from the due date on your bill, which will be one day before your service period begins.
The monthly billing cycle for most households is 30 days and starts from the first day of each month. So if you get a bill on March 26th, it's for electricity usage during February (the last full month).
If you pay your bill by April 25th, any additional charges that accrue before April 25th will be included in next month's bill.
Previous balance and payments
- Previous balance: The amount that you owe for your current bill.
- Current charges: The amount due on your bill, including any additional fees or surcharges, taxes and late fees if applicable.
- Credits: Any credits you've received, such as an overpayment of a previous bill or the return of an estimated bill payment made to the utility company.
Total amount due
Let's explain each of these terms and how to calculate the total amount due.
- The total amount due refers to how much you owe for your utility services in a given billing period. The bill will show this amount as two separate amounts: one for the first day of the billing period and one for the last day (usually different days).
- Amount due on the first day(s) refers to any charges incurred during your initial meter read to date (your first meter reading after moving into a new home or changing service providers).
- Amount due on the last day(s) is exactly what it sounds like—the total cost of using up all available electricity during your time with us.
Payment options and instructions
- In addition to the bill, your utility company will provide information about how to pay your bill. On most accounts, there is a section that shows payment options and instructions.
- Payments can be made online or by mail, but they must be made by the first day of the billing period (usually on or before the 25th), alternatively by using credit cards if you have an account with that particular company.
- Payments can also be made in person at a utility office or by mail.
Hopefully we have given you some insight into better understanding how to read your utility bills.
Knowing what information is on it and how to decipher it, is important so you can accurately plan for the future. Best of luck with those bills!