Straight Talk About Your Electric Bill

Energy use is dependent on weather...colder weather = more energy use:

You may be asking why your electric bill is higher than normal. We want to make sure that our customer-members have the facts and some helpful information on how to keep their home energy costs down.

We also offer advice for reducing your energy usage, as well as rebates and programs to help make your home more energy-efficient.

Extreme temperatures make your bill go up:

Weather affects everyone’s bills. February 2015 was one of the coldest in Southern Maryland in recent years. On February 20, 2015, SMECO reached a new all-time system peak of 1,002 megawatts (MW); that means customer-members were using more power than normal for a sustained period of time.

PJM Interconnection LLC, the regional transmission organization that manages the flow of wholesale electricity in our part of the country, also set a new record for winter peak demand at 143,800 MW.

Compare the average temperature below with the average amount of energy SMECO’s customer-members used each month, and you will see that when the weather is colder, people use more energy. 

Measurement January 2015 February 2015 December 2015
Average Temp. 32.7 degrees 27.3 degrees 51.0 degrees
Average KWh Use 1,710 kWh 1,808 kWh 1,075 kWh
Total kilowatt-hours 374 million 380 million 259 million

Energy use changes seasonally:

When it’s cold in the winter and your heating system runs, or when it’s hot in the summer and your air conditioning runs, your bill will be higher. Your bill is at its lowest in May and October, because you typically use less energy in those months. The chart below shows the average monthly temperature from January 2015 to December 2015. For more information, visit Average Temperatures.

The cost of energy:

SMECO’s Standard Offer Service (SOS) rate for energy is made up of an energy charge and a Power Cost Adjustment (PCA). The total is the SOS rate customer-members pay on their monthly bill. The SOS rate reflects the price that SMECO pays on the wholesale market. SMECO does not mark up energy costs to earn net margins.

The chart below shows the SOS rate for sample winter months and how much you would have paid for energy if you used 1,300 or 2,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) each month.

Monthly energy costs (residential):

Measurement Total Energy Rate
(cents per kWh)
1,300 kWh
per month
2,000 kWh
per month
December 2014 8.7213 $113.38 $174.43
January 2015 8.7092 $113.22 $174.18
February 2015 8.5976 $111.77 $171.95
December 2015 8.062 $104.81 $161.24

How your energy dollar is divided:

The pie chart shows how much of an energy dollar goes toward heating and cooling and water heating: 75 percent of a typical home’s energy costs.

If you can control your heating and cooling costs, along with your water heating costs, you can control your energy bills.

Control your heating costs:

  • Have your heating system serviced annually.
  • Insulate your attic, walls, and crawlspace.
  • Ensure duct work is sealed and insulated.
  • Find the coolest comfortable setting. (We recommend 68°F in winter.)
  • Install a programmable thermostat, such as the CoolSentry thermostat.
  • Clean or replace filters monthly.
  • Take advantage of sunlight to help heat your home.
  • Weatherize doors and windows.
  • Sign up for a Quick Home Energy Check-up.

Control your water heating costs:

  • Set your water heater thermostat between 120° to 125°.
  • Use cold water whenever possible, such as when washing clothes and only run full loads.
  • Insulate your water heater (check manufacturer recommendations).

How can you budget your bills?

Sign up for SMECO’s Budget Plan to make it easier for you to pay your monthly bills, or log into Account Manager to enroll. The Budget Plan is a fixed amount that levels out the effect weather has on your electric bills.

SMECO Residential Energy Rate

Helpful Tips

SMECO Spotlights