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Your current Con Edison electric rates, and How your electric bill works

Electric bills can be complicated and mysterious. While the cost of apples (for example) is the number of apples times the price per apple, utilities slice and dice their energy "apples" (or units) in a variety of ways. And many utilities don't make it clear how much their whole apples cost you (they instead tell you the price for every little slice).

This article's purpose is to demystify your electric bill — putting you in a better position to take control and cut it. It's specific to the New York utility Con Edison.

To see your current electric rates, click here to scroll down.

A "Tiered rate plan" is a rate plan where the amount you pay per kWh for electricity increases as the quantity of electricity consumed increases. Generally there is a baseline allowance of a certain number of kWhs (kilowatt hours) per month that are charged at a cheaper rate, and then usage above this allowance is charged at a higher rate.

A "Time of Use" rate plan is an electricity plan where the amount charged per kilowatt hour (kWh) is determined by the time of the day and the season of the year in which it is used.

Time-of-Use plans will typically have "peak" periods with higher rates and "off peak" with lower rates.

The idea behind time of use billing is to get customers to use less power at peak periods (when most people use a lot of power). Peak periods put a lot of strain on the grid. This is why time of use billing is being implemented by all major utilities. It is an attempt to encourage consumers to help spread out the load, and thus reduce investment needed to support brief periods of extremely high usage.

If customers can adjust their habits to use appliances at non-peak times they have to potential to significantly lower their electricity bills. Although, as power at peak times is much more expensive, if you continue to use lots of power at peak times your bill could be higher.

How does my rate plan work?

Your electric bill has two parts:

  • A fixed monthly charge
  • An energy charge — a charge per unit of energy used

The fixed monthly charge covers Con Edison expenses that aren't directly related to your energy use. Examples are Con Edison's phone-support staff, and the hold music you hear while waiting for phone support. As the name suggests, the fixed charge doesn't change month by month. It's a lower charge ($23/mo) than the energy charge.

What's the energy unit that SCE uses?

Like other U.S. utilities, they charge per "kilowatt hour," abbreviated as "kWh". Understanding kilowatt hours will help you cut your electric bill.

 

Let's break it down with the classic light bulb example:

100 light bulbs x 10 watts per light bulb = 1,000 watts.
A "kilo" is a thousand, so 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt.
If the light bulbs are left on for 1 hour, that's 1 kilowatt x 1 hour = 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh).

1 kilowatt x 1 hour = 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh)

Let's make sure you got that.

 

How many kilowatt-hours are used if you leave 300 10-watt light bulbs on for an hour? ...You're right!

3 kilowatt-hours (300 bulbs x 10 watts = 3,000 watts / 1,000 = 3 kilowatts.
Left on over 1 hour = 3 kilowatt-hours).

300 light bulbs 3 kilowatst x 1 hour = 3 kilowatt-hour (kWh)

Now let's talk money.

 

How much does Con Edison charge to keep these 100 light bulbs on for an hour?

Under the standard rate plan (EL1), they charge 21¢ per kWh on average (for a home with typical usage).
1 kWh x 21¢ per kWh = 21¢.
If the 100 light bulbs were kept on 24x7 for a month (720 hours straight), Con Edison would charge $151.20.

100 lightbulbs x 24/7 x 22 cents = $151.20

How much does a typical Con Edison customer pay per month?

A typical family in Con Edisonterritory uses 939 kWh per month on average (they'd get to the same total by keeping 130 10-watt light bulbs on 24x7). They pay $197 per month for those 939 kWh.

How do Con Edison rates compare to the national average?

Con Edison rates are a lot higher than the national average — the average Con Edison rate for a family with typical energy use is 24¢ per kWh (including the fixed charge). The average national residential rate is 13¢ (source: US EIA).

What are rate Tiers?

To complicate things (we're talking about electric bills after all), Con Edison doesn't just charge the same flat rate for every kWh of energy. They increase the rate when energy thresholds are reached across the month. In other words, the standard rate plan (EL1) is a Tiered rate plan. Energy in the top Tier (Tier 2) is 1.1 times as expensive as energy in the first Tier.

Let's connect this to life with a 1 kW espresso machine. Let's say the machine is on for an hour every morning, so 7 kWh total per week (we'll pretend it's on non stop). Using summer-season rates, the total cost to run it in the first week (at the cheapest Tier-1 rate) is: $1.47. The cost to run it in the last week (at the most expensive Tier-2 rate) is: $1.58. So Con Edisonis charging an extra 11¢ for the same amount of energy (7 kWh).

Is it worth foregoing espresso in the last week to save 11¢? Definitely not.

Could we cut our bill just by switching to another rate plan?

Con Edisonoffers a Time-of-Use rate plan that you could voluntarily switch to. It might start saving you money immediately. With Time-of-Use, you'd pay a different rate depending on when you use energy over the course of a day. Time-of-Use gives you more control over your electric bill.

The next article in this series will go into the Time-of-Use option in more detail, and show how you can leverage it to cut your bill.

What are my current Con Edison electric rates?

If you're on Con Edison's standard residential rate plan (named "EL1"), here are the rates you currently pay:


Standard plan rates:

Plan Name: Residential and Religious (EL1)
Last Update: January 1, 2018
Fixed Charge: Service Charge: $16.96
Summer (June 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.143
Tier2: $0.158
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 250 kWh
Tier2: Above 250 kWh
Winter (October 1 to May 31)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.143
Tier2: $0.143
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 250 kWh
Tier2: Above 250 kWh

We're already on Time-of-Use — What are our current rates?

If you're already on Con Edison's optional Time-of-Use rate plan (named "EL1 TOU"), here are the rates you currently pay:


Time-of-Use plan rates:

Plan Name: Residential and Religious, Voluntary Time of Day (EL1 TOU)
Last Update: January 1, 2018
Fixed Charge: Service Charge: $21.07
Summer (June 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.056
Peak: $0.258
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 8am
Peak: 8am to midnight
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 8am
Peak: 8am to 12am
Winter (October 1 to May 31)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.056
Peak: $0.121
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 8am
Peak: 8am to midnight
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 8am
Peak: 8am to 12am