How to Read Your Bill

Review Your Bill

Your utility bill reflects your personal electric, water and sewer usage habits, solid waste removal and recycling, and private area lighting. Bills can vary significantly from month-to-month and are affected by weather, appliance efficiency, home insulation, days in the billing cycle and other factors.

Change in Bill Amount

The following shows reasons that your bill may have changed between billing cycles:

Use of Energy

The most likely reason for a change in your bill may be due to a change in how you used energy. Typically, a home is equipped with many energy-using appliances that are not always used in the same amount each month. You may have had guests, which could have contributed to higher water usage (causing your electric water heater to run more, more lights being used or being used longer), more laundry, cooking, etc.

Seasonal

The time of year is another possible reason for changing bills. During the summer months, there are appliances that run a great deal more such as dehumidifiers, air conditioners, fans and swimming pool pumps. In the winter, most heating systems use electricity to circulate the heat. We also tend to spend more time indoors, running appliances and lighting for longer hours.

Reading Cycle

Finally, a bill may be higher or lower because there was a difference in the number of days between readings. On your electric bill, the number of days between readings is noted.

How to Read your BPU Statement

Contact Us

If you think your bill has changed drastically and none of these factors seem to apply, call our Customer Service representatives at 716-661-1660. One of our representatives may be able to offer an explanation or make arrangements for a reread of your meter.

Utility Services

  • Your utility bill is for services you have already used.
  • Utility bills are due and payable when received.
  • Each customer has his or her own account number, which is located at the very top of the bill along with the address of that service. When inquiring about your bill, it is very helpful if you have your account number or the correct address of the service.

Auto Pay

If you are enrolled in auto pay, a statement above the summary will inform you that your bill will be deducted from your bank account on its due date.

Account Summary

The perforated bottom third of your bill provides you with an account summary. This includes the current amount you owe for electric, water, sewer, solid waste (garbage/recycling) and the total. It also includes the amount for those utilities that may be past due and the total of your bill.

Late Payment

A late fee of 1.5% is charged for bills that are more than 23 days owed. Your utilities may be disconnected fifteen days after written notice has been mailed to the customer. This notice may not be issued until at least twenty days have elapsed from the due date.

Detail Summary of Charges

View the summary of charges that will show up on your bill:

  • The basic service charge of electricity, water and wastewater. This is the cost of meter reading, record maintenance, billing and other customer services and is charged every month even if there is no product used.

  • The per unit charge for water (a unit = 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons) and wastewater. Wastewater charges are based upon measured units of water used each month.

  • Demand and reactive demand charges which relate to a customer's maximum hourly rate of energy use or load requirement during the billing period (usually for commercial and industrial customers).

  • The energy charge (per KWh) is multiplied times the number of kilowatts used as read on your meter.

  • The fuel cost adjustment charge per KWh fluctuates each month and reflects the change in actual cost of fuel or energy to the utility.

  • Various charges relating to off-street lighting, temporary services and transformer rentals and discounts

  • Sales tax

Billing Accuracy and Estimated Bills

Everything possible is done to bill your account accurately. Under certain circumstances, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) may issue you an estimated bill if it cannot read your meter or if it appears that the reading may be wrong. The procedure used to estimate your bill is one approved by the Public Service Commission. 

Each estimated bill clearly states that it is based on an estimate. If, by using estimated bills, the amount you owe the BPU is understated by fifty percent of the actual usage or $100 (whichever is greater), you must be notified of that fact in writing and you may make monthly payments on the difference.