Factors That Can Cause Higher Heating Bills, Including PG&E

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Dozens of PG&E Customers say they’re seeing higher prices on their gas bills. Some bills more than double than what they were just months ago. But many customers don’t always know how to read the bill.

“You have to factor in, not how much you’re actually paying but the usage,” said Ana Montes, a consumer advocate with Turn.org, a utility watchdog group.

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In order to do that, consumers need to look at the total number of therms they used during the billing cycle. Put simply, a therm is a unit of heat in your gas similar to a watt on your electric bill. Each household has a certain number of therms they can use that the company determines is an average for reach of four tiers of gas usage.

“The baseline is based on where you live and the climate,” Montes said. “When people stay within Tier 1, it’s your lowest cost.”

But if they use more therms than they’re allowed in Tier 1, the cost per therm goes up.

PG&E told CBS that prices went up by an average of $7 per month last year. Combine that with a harsh winter and you get higher gas bills across the region. But Montes says customers won’t recognize an error if they don’t know how to find it.

“One of the things for me that signifies a major error is if nothing has changed and the bill goes up by 25% or more,” Montes said. “That’s significant.”

And that means a billing error isn’t out of the question. Of course, it’s important to factor in changes in your home that could affect your gas usage.

“And you can’t compare your bill to your neighbor’s bill unless you have exactly the same appliances, you have the same house and you have exactly the same amount of people living there,” Montes said.

What you can do if you’re concerned about your bill, is call PG&E directly and have them explain any changes you’re concerned about.