Understand Your Usage

Electric usage varies from day to day and month to month, depending upon a variety of factors including your daily habits, the weather, and the time of year. An increase in your electric usage could be caused by a variety of factors.

Cold Weather

Electricity bills may be higher during the winter months to keep your home warm and comfortable. It's simple math:


For example: How much energy does my water heater use?

A water heater = 4,500 watts
Divide that wattage by 1,000 to get the # of kilowatts = 4.5 kilowatts
Multiply the kilowatts (4.5) by the number of hours used (3) = 13.5 kWh (number of kilowatt hours used to heat your hot water during a day)
Multiply the kWh (13.5) by the cost (12.9 cents per kWh*) = $1.74 cost per day to heat your water

*The total cost per kWh for a typical customer on Service Classification No. 1 is 12.9 cents.
(NYSEG delivery is 6.8 cents, Supply is 5.2 cents, and surcharges are 0.87 cents.) Your supply rate may vary - check your bill.



  • To estimate the hours used, think about how your appliances operate – does the appliance cycle on and off all day? Is it on steady for 8 to 10 hours?
  • Think about how you use your appliance. For example: using a water heater while enjoying a shower = 1/2 hour, times 30 days a month = 15 hours of use in a month.
  • Look at your bill to understand your billing cycle – it may run mid-December to mid-January, for example, so what you call your January bill may be half December!
  • Look at your bill to find the cost of your delivery charges (page 2) and your electricity supply (page 3).

Now you have an idea of the impact of colder weather and warm comfort on your bill!


Access our FREE tools to help you better understand your electricity use.


Malfunctioning Appliances

A sudden increase in energy usage may indicate a problem with an appliance, heating or cooling system, or water heater. A spike can also be caused by a period of very cold weather in the winter. Don't forget that since billing cycles are about a month long, sometimes it can be a few weeks before the effect of a cold snap will be seen on your bill.


Fun and educational activities for your family – join the Power Adventure Team

Explore the Electric Universe! With information for everyone, you can find a section tailored to many ages and interests. Learn about electricity and safety at home or in school, gain wise energy use tips that are good for the environment and play games! You can also explore the Energy Underground and learn more about natural gas. Whether you like playing games, doing activities or learning about inventions, these are the sites for you!