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What makes CutMyBill better than other solar cost and savings calculators for RMP UT customers?

There are three key reasons that our RMP UT solar cost and bill savings calculator is far better than any other solar calculator or solar estimate website on the net for RMP UT customers;

  • Firstly, whilst most solar panels calculators are really good at forecasting the electricity production you can get from installing solar panels for your home (because they all rely on the pwatts.nrel.gov solar production data) most of them just use a single generic state wide unit cost for electricity in their calculations. Our RMP UT solar cost and bill savings calculator actually uses our database of each of the available RMP UT electric rates plans to use more specific electricity cost data. Therefore we can generate much more accurate solar savings analysis.
  • The second reason is that we use DOE (Department of Energy) electricity usage patterns for the RMP UT service territory, and some very basic questions we ask you about your home to estimate how you use power over the course of a day and the seasons of the year. This allows us to accurately forecast solar savings where time of use electricity plans are available to you. We estimate your electricity usage for each hour of the year and then overlay the known production of solar panels in your area for each hour of the year. Without this level of detail solar panel cost and savings calculators on are inaccurate; and
  • Lastly, before we even consider solar savings, we look for any savings that can be achieved simply by swapping to a cheaper available RMP UT rate plan. Our software looks for any available RMP UT rates plan that works our cheaper for your estimated usage pattern. Generally speaking savings from swapping to a cheaper RMP UT rates plan are only available to those who have larger monthly electric bills but given it only takes a phone call to achieve these savings it is by far the quickest and easiest bill cutting option where it is possible.
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Will installing a solar power system or swapping rate plans save me the most on my monthly RMP UT payment?

There are almost always far greater cost savings to be obtained from installing solar panels than swapping rates plans but this doesn't mean possible savings from swapping rate plans should be ignored. The other reason we search for your cheapest rate plan is that to forecast total possible savings you could get on your bill you need to take into account both savings that may be available from swapping to the cheapest rate plan and also savings that come from swapping your generation source for some of your power usage to your own solar power.

Compare savings from swapping rate plans to solar savings

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How accurate is the CutMyBill estimate of my power usage pattern?

The CutMyBill electricity usage profile estimator is a key part of the technology of why CutMyBill can forecast solar and bill swapping savings so accurately without requiring you to enter your kilowatt hour electricity usage for each month of the year or to upload 12 months worth of power bills.

The way we do this is we use electricity use profiles collected by the Department of Energy for each building type at each weather station across the RMP UT service territory. Some of the characteristics of your home such as your average monthly power spend and the square footage of your home are used to refine this analysis.

This gives a fairly accurate estimate but it is not an exact estimate. The best way to get an exact estimate of your solar savings and whether or not there are possible savings from swapping rate plans is to speak to one of your local solar companies. Whilst solar companies are experts in solar they also become experts in knowing the cheapest rate plans (both before and after solar) from their local utility companies.

Estimate my power usage pattern over a day and over the seasons of the year

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Three best ways to cut your RMP UT electric bill

Did you know you can cut your home's energy bill by using flashlights instead of overhead lights? Did you know you can cut your energy bill by doing a home energy audit each hour?

Yes, those are silly questions. Fortunately, you don't need to sacrifice comfort to cut your electric bill by 20% or more. And it could be very easy to do.

This article is specific to the Utah utility Rocky Mountain Power (RMP UT). We hope it helps you make a solid game plan to cut your RMP UT electric bill. If you haven't already, consider first reading our explanation of how your electric bill works.

Introducing the Jones family

To illustrate ideas, we'll show numbers based on typical energy use for a single-family home in Salt Lake City.

Meet our typical family from Salt Lake City: the Jones family. If you look closely at their picture, you'll see that the dad is also reading this article. The mom and daughter are saving energy by just pretending their tablets are on.

family savings energy

 

Let's see how the Jones family cut their monthly energy bill by 7% ($7.87).

Should we switch to the Time-of-Use rate plan?

You can voluntarily switch to RMP UT's Time-of-Use (TOU) rate plan.

How much money you save (or lose) on the Time-of-Use rate plan depends on when you use energy, and how your energy-use pattern matches up with the rate plan's time windows.

If the utility charges the high-peak rates during the afternoon, the Time-of-Use rate plan isn't a good fit for those who work from an air-conditioned or electric-heated home. If the utility charges the high-peak rate during the evening, it's not a good fit for those who crank up the electric jacuzzi after work. You get the idea.

Why does RMP UT offer a Time-of-Use rate plan?

Time-of-Use rate plans encourage RMP UT customers to use more of their energy when it's easier (and cheaper) for RMP UT to provide it, and when a higher portion of the supplied energy comes from solar systems. Think of it like freeway traffic — it can be smooth sailing or bumper-to-bumper depending on the time of day.

What are the Time-of-Use rates and Windows?

Here are the details for this article's featured RMP UT Time-of-Use rate plan:


Plan Name: Residential - Time of Use (2)
Last Update: January 1, 2018
Fixed Charge: MinimumEnergy Charge: $1.84
Service Charge: $6.16
Summer (May 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.075
Peak: $0.138
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 1pm, 8pm to midnight
Peak: 1pm to 8pm
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: All hours
Peak:
Winter (October 1 to April 30)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.092
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: All hours
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: All hours
Summer (May 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: 00
Tier2: $0.028
Tier3: $0.059
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 400 kWh
Tier2: Next 600 kWh
Tier3: Above 1,000 kWh
Winter (October 1 to April 30)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: 00
Tier2: $0.019
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 400 kWh
Tier2: Above 400 kWh

How do we know if Time-of-Use is better for us?

Let's figure out whether the Jones family would save money on the Time-of-Use rate plan. This starts with estimating how much of their energy they're likely to use during the expensive peak window (the more they use during peak, the higher their Time-of-Use bill).

We'll use hourly data to make a better determination. Let's focus on summer weekdays (to keep this article under control). Here's what their average hourly energy use would be under the Time-of-Use rate plan:

Place holder for average hourly energy usage.

The Jones family uses more energy per hour during the expensive peak hours, but then again there are more off-peak hours in the 24-hour cycle.

It gets even more complicated, because the Time-of-Use windows are different in the winter and on weekends, and the Jones family uses energy differently across the week and year.

Here's how the math works out: The Jones family's average bill on their current rate plan (1) is $113. Their bill on the Time-of-Use plan (2) would also be $113.

Is it worth switching rate plans to start saving $0.11 per month right away? Nope. But switching to Time-of-Use will put the Jones family in a better position to save money going forward.

Is it worth changing when we use energy?

Time-of-Use rate plans give you more control over your energy bill. You can save more money if you're willing to adjust how you use energy. For example, you could set an alarm for 3am to get up and run the dishwasher. Just kidding. Let's consider a reasonable way to adjust energy, and decide if it's worthwhile.

Recall that on the Time-of-Use rate plan (2), the summer weekday peak window (with the most expensive energy) is from 1pm to 8pm. The Jones family runs the dishwasher and clothes washer/dryer around 6pm . At the peak rate of 13.2¢, the combined cost for cleanliness is $11.58 per month (not including water heating).

After reading this article, the Jones family waits until 8pm to start the washing machines. The new charge is $6.33 per month — a $5.25 bill reduction. Is it worth it? It is for the Jones family!

Hello, Smart Home

The idea behind a Smart Home is that your internet-connected home appliances can be partially or fully automated to reduce your electric bill while also increasing comfort. The dishwasher can turn itself on after the peak window ends, the air conditioner can learn your preferences and patterns to avoid over-cooling, etc.

While the Smart Home is clearly the future, it isn't quite the present — we're looking forward to Smart Home devices playing better together (in other words, better technical standards).

How do I switch our RMP UT rate plan?

You should be able to switch your rate plan through your online RMP UT account. You can sign in here. If you don't see the option in your online account, go old school and give RMP UT a call.

What about just using less energy?

We won't rally behind former President Jimmy Carter and tell you to put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat. We'd rather not see our breath in the living room. But it's probably worth taking 5 minutes to consider whether energy is wasted in your home (in other words, is energy used that doesn't improve well-being).

The Jones family children have been politely asked to turn off lights when leaving rooms about 17 trillion times. They're generally respectful, but for whatever reason this one doesn't stick. How much money would the Jones family save if the children always turned off their lights?

Three 30-watt lights get left on in empty rooms 2 hours per day on average. That's 5.5 kilowatt hours per month — which costs $0.60. Is it worth continuing the effort (or trying a smart-home solution)? Nope. The parents will let this one go for now.

What about energy efficiency?

There might be one or more basic energy-efficiency investments you can make that'd cut your electric bill while not reducing comfort or adding day-to-day complexity.

The Jones family got a new refrigerator a decade ago, and plugged in their previous 1990s-era fridge in the garage (for those three sports drinks). Refrigerator efficiency has come a long way since the 1990s. In fact, their garage fridge uses over twice as much energy as their new Energy Star fridge. It'll cost them $9.37 per month to run it on their new Time-of-Use rate plan (or $9.38 per month on the standard non-TOU rate plan).

Should they replace the old garage fridge with a basic $500 Energy Star fridge? They'd save $5.39 per month on their RMP UT bill, but the related financing payment would be $9.44 per month ($500 borrowed, 5-year term, 5% interest). Their net loss in the first month would be $4.05. With the financing cost, the new fridge would pay for itself in 8.8 years (followed by years or decades of pure bill savings).

The Jones family decided they don't actually need a second fridge. That's a $5.39 per month bill reduction!

The Jones family's game plan so far

The Jones family has felt the pain of high electric bills for years. Thanks to this article (we have no shame), they're now ready to take control and cut it. Sounds like fun!

Their current average monthly bill is $113. Here's their game plan:

1. Switch rate plans: Switch to the Time-of-Use rate plan
When: Right after reading this article and making their game plan
Bill reduction: $0.11
New monthly bill: $113
2. Adjust energy use: Run the dishwasher and laundry machines during off-peak hours
When: Once they switch rate plans.
Bill reduction: $5.25
New monthly bill: $107
2. Reduce energy waste: Unplug the garage fridge (and schedule a recycling-center pick up time)
When: This week
Bill reduction: $5.39
New monthly bill: $102

One week later...the Jones family's new monthly bill is $102. They cut their bill by 10%!

They're excited, and in their enthusiasm they're wondering if they can cut their bill even more. That's when little Suzy got a bright idea. "Hey Mom and Dad, what about solar energy?".

Yeah Suzy, what about solar energy?

"Hmm...it's probably too expensive." The Jones family wanted to at least consider it, so they got in touch with a few local solar installation companies through Solar-Estimate.org. They were happy to hear that solar energy is affordable — it's only half the cost it was just 8 years ago.

They learned that 16 solar panels would fit nicely on the sunniest part of their roof (that's a 3.8 kW system). That'd bring their net monthly energy use from 1,033 kWh down to 443 kWh, and would get their monthly RMP UT energy bill down to $46.

They also learned they could finance the solar system through a solar-loan provider. Their $46 electric bill plus a $59 monthly financing payment would put them at a $105 per month energy cost. So they'd be spending an extra $2.89 per month. However, utility rates increase over time while the solar financing payment would be fixed, so it's a matter of time before solar would start making them money. A local solar professional would be happy to talk you through the math.

The Jones family totally went solar.

Jones family conclusion

If they took no action, the Jones family would be paying $113 per month for energy. The rate plan switch and energy adjustments got their bill down to $102. With solar energy and the solar financing payment, the Jones family's new net energy cost is $105. All together, they cut their monthly energy cost by 7%, or $7.87. The Jones family is feeling good! Here they are monitoring their real-time solar production and utility energy use.

Family monitoring energy usage
Energy bill reductions = tax-free income

That $7.87 of extra cash is actually worth $11.24. What? The Jones family has to pay income tax on money used for personal expenses (including their electric bill). Since they no longer need to pay $3.37 in taxes on the $7.87 they're not giving RMP UT, the net electric-bill reduction is worth an extra $3.37. The big take home here is that electric bill savings is more valuable than a conventional investment's return.

Your game plan

We hope this article convinced you that you can have your cake and eat it too — you can save money, improve your family's well-being, and help out the planet. We wish you the best with your upcoming power moves.

Find more about Rocky Mountain Project (RMP) electric rate plans.