No Surprises: How To Never Be Surprised By A Utility Bill

One of my biggest pet peeves is the price of water in our community.  For some reason, our metro Detroit community is among the top of the list not only in overall price but also in average annual cost increases.

With this, I’ve done a lot of different things to try to keep our bill down.  We don’t water the lawn as often as we used to, we use the rain to our advantage, we have a low usage washing machine, we turn the faucet off when brushing our teeth, and probably other little things that take some of the pain away.

Lately, I’ve started doing one additional little thing just to make sure that the water bill doesn’t take me by surprised.  It’s a simple thing:

Often, when I’m down in the basement (where the water meter is located), I take a look at the reading on the meter.  Our billing cycle is every two months, so by looking once a week or so, I can make sure that we’re not blowing our usage out of the sky.  Having lived in our house for three years, I have a very good idea what regular usage is for everyday stuff (washing clothes, washing ourselves) and how that changes when we are watering.  Keeping tabs on that lets me make sure that we’re on track for our usage.

So, if I saw a spike in usage between one week and the next, I go over what could possibly be causing it.  If there ever were a problem, like an undiscovered leak, catching it would be a lot easier and would save a lot more money by discovering it sooner rather than when the bill comes.

I have to admit, I don’t typically venture outside too often to read the electric and gas meters, but the same principle could be applied, especially in high usage times like the middle of winter or the dead heat of summer, when those utility bills tend to spike.  I’m thinking that, at least for the electric meter, maybe I’ll start taking a peek at it when cutting the grass, which is usually a once-a-week chore.  That would let me get a handle on the usage so that the bill doesn’t send me into shock!

If you have access to your meters, I think this is a pretty good and easy way to keep an eye on your usage, and to make sure that you’re not surprised by a utility bill.  What do you think?

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