It is very important to understand the electricity bill and it’s components to make plans for energy savings. Our electricity bills have quite a lot of information to give us a good insight to our electricity consumption patterns. A good understanding of various components can help one plan for money saving exercise. In this article, we will discuss various sections/information on electricity bills that are important:
- Tariff / Category: Tariff and Category determine the rate structure applicable on the bill. Typical tariff codes start with LT (Low Tension) or HT (High Tension). LT codes are typically used for residential connections and small offices . HT codes are typically used for bigger industries and complexes. Category in the bill determines if the connection is residential, commercial or industrial. Different rates/slabs are applicable for different tariff codes and thus it is important to validate that the right tariff code is applied on the electricity bill. This information is available on bill header as shown below:
- Type of Supply & Connected Load: Connected Load is the total pool of supply that is given to a meter. This is calculated in kW (or Killo-Watts). This is the total peak kW given to a meter based on the appliances connected to the meter. This is not your actual energy consumption and only impacts fixed charges on your electicity bill. Connected load also determines if the connection will be a single phase or three phase. If load is more then supply is three phase and thus fixed charges are more. Utilities also charge more fixed cost for incremental connected load. Below is a screenshot from Reliance Energy bill in Mumbai:
- Units Consumed: Units consumed is the number of kWh (Killo-Watt-Hour) consumed in a month. 1 kWh is equivalent to keeping a 100 Watts bulb on for 10 hrs. This information is calculated by finding the difference between meter readings of two consecutive months. This is the total monthly consumption by all the appliances that are connected to the meter. This is the value that needs to come down in order to reduce the electricity bill. An observation of consumption history can give an indictor of the appliances having higher electricity consumption (typically Air Conditioners increase consumption in summers).
- Tariff Structure: It is very important to note the tariff structure on your bill, as this is the best indicator of how the bill can be reduced. Typically for residential and SMB commercial connections, the structure is slab based (unlike industrial connections where units are charged at a high flat rate). The intent behind the slab structure is to reward low energy users and charge extra to those who have high consumption. The slabs are based on the “Units Consumed” that we discussed earlier. As the number of units consumed increase, energy charge changes and also the fixed costs associated with the slab increases. Below is a sample of tariff structure from a bill from Mumbai:
- Fuel Adjustment Charge (FAC): As you can see in the tariff structure above, there is a FAC rate applicable at each slab. This is the additional cost of power incurred due to fuel price increments during a year. Fuel in most cases is Coal. As per a study, after 2011, the production rates of coal will decline, reaching 1990 levels by the year 2037, and reaching 50% of the peak value in the year 2047. So invariably FAC will increase till alternate sources of electricity are not developed to a state where they can generate electricity that cheap. So electricity costs will surely increase in future.
Understanding the elements of electricity bill mentioned above can help you understand your electricity bill and will also help you to plan your electricty consumption reduction project. Two things that should be targeted are: Units Consumed and Connected Load. Reduce the two and your electricity bill will surely come down.