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Your current XCEL CO electric rates, and How your electric bill works

This article is specific to the Colorado utility Xcel Energy (XCEL CO).

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

How does my rate plan work?

Your electric bill has two parts:

  • A fixed monthly charge
  • A charge per unit of energy used

The fixed monthly charge covers XCEL CO expenses that aren't directly related to your energy use. Examples are XCEL CO'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 not a big charge ($5.42/mo) compared to the energy charge.

What's the energy unit that XCEL CO 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 XCEL CO charge to keep these 100 light bulbs on for an hour?

Under the standard rate plan (R), they charge 11¢ per kWh on average (for a home with typical usage).
1 kWh x 11¢ per kWh = 11¢.
If the 100 light bulbs were kept on 24x7 for a month (720 hours straight), XCEL CO would charge $79.20.

100 lightbulbs x 24/7 x 11 cents = $97.20

What are rate Tiers?

To complicate things (we're talking about electric bills after all), XCEL CO 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 (R) is a Tiered rate plan. Energy in the top Tier (Tier 2) is 1.5 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: $0.68. The cost to run it in the last week (at the most expensive Tier-2 rate) is: $0.99. So XCEL CO is charging an extra $0.31 for the same amount of energy (7 kWh).

Is it worth foregoing espresso in the last week to save $0.31? Never.

How much does a typical XCEL CO customer pay per month?

A typical family in XCEL CO territory (specifically in Denver) uses 1,033 kWh per month on average (they'd get to the same total by keeping 142 10-watt light bulbs on 24x7). They pay $115 per month for those 1,033 kWh. How does your home compare?

How do XCEL CO rates compare to the national average?

XCEL CO rates are lower than the national average — the average XCEL CO rate for a family with typical energy use is 11¢ per kWh (including the fixed charge). The average national residential rate is 13¢, according to the U.S. Energy Info. Admin.

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

Quite possibly! XCEL CO offers a Time-of-Use rate plan that you could voluntarily switch to. It might start saving you money immediately. With Time-of-Use, you 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.

What are my current XCEL CO electric rates?

If you're on XCEL CO's standard residential rate plan, here are the rates you currently pay:


Standard plan Rates:

Plan Name: Residential (R)
Last Update: December 2, 2017
Fixed Charge: MinimumEnergy Charge: $2.29
Service Charge: $5.42
Summer (June 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.097
Tier2: $0.142
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 500 kWh
Tier2: Above 500 kWh
Winter (October 1 to May 31)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.097
Energy in Tier
Tier1: All kWhs

We're already on time of use — What are our current rates?

If you're already on XCEL CO's optional Time-of-Use rate plan, here are the rates you currently pay:


Time-of-Use plan rates:

Plan Name: Residential - Energy, Time of Use (RE-TOU)
Last Update: December 2, 2017
Fixed Charge: MinimumEnergy Charge: $0.38
Service Charge: $6.18
Summer (June 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.092
Mid-Peak: $0.139
Peak: $0.202
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 9am, 9pm to midnight
Mid-Peak: 9am to 2pm, 6pm to 9pm
Peak: 2pm to 6pm
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: All hours
Mid-Peak:
Peak:
Winter (October 1 to May 31)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.092
Mid-Peak: $0.104
Peak: $0.144
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 9am, 9pm to midnight
Mid-Peak: 9am to 2pm, 6pm to 9pm
Peak: 2pm to 6pm
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: All hours
Mid-Peak:
Peak:

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How do I work out if I am on the cheapest XCEL CO rate plan for my usage pattern?

To do an exact comparison on how much you would save from switching plans requires collecting your detailed usage data for the last 12 months. This is known as Interval Data and sometimes also called Green Button Data.

 

Interval Data
Green Button data

 

Interval or Green Button data is your electrical usage data for the last 12 months in one hour (or even shorter) intervals. This data is available from your utility provider.

Find out how to reduce your XCEL CO electricity bill.