Billing Frequently Asked Questions
- Why does my residential electric bill vary so much from month to month?
- Why doesn't the meter reader come on the same day every month?
- Why is my bill late sometimes?
- Why is my bill sometimes estimated?
- Why is my bill so high when I haven't done anything different?
- Can I have the billing date changed on my bill to better meet the needs of my business?
- I have a late charge on this month's bill. I thought I paid last month's bill on time but I'm not sure. I have an excellent credit history and almost always pay my bills on time. What is this charge for and can you take it off my bill?
- Our company ceased operations at one of our production facilities several months ago, and we presently use very little electricity at this site (just a few lights). However, we are still receiving relatively high electric bills for this facility. Why is this happening?
- If I operate a business in my home, will I need to have a separate account for electrical service to my business?
- What number should I call if I have questions about my small business power bill?
- I'm planning to go into business for the first time. How can I estimate what my power bills may be?
- My plant is considering a move to your service area. Can you help me estimate costs?
- Are you using recycled paper for my bill? Is the bill recyclable?
- Why do you always want to verify my identity when I call to ask a question about my bill?
- May I use my credit card to pay my bill?
A. Residential electric bills follow uniform patterns from year to year. When a bill is higher than usual, naturally it arouses your curiosity. The cost of electricity in the home varies with seasonal use. In most homes, more electricity is used during summer and winter than in fall and spring. Summer means increased use of electricity for air conditioners, fans, refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers and washers and dryers. In the winter, higher bills are commonly a result of hot water heating, home heating, additional cooking, lighting and home entertainment. The water coming into the water heater in the winter is colder so requires more electricity to bring it up to the desired temperature. And even where oil or gas is used to heat the home, electricity is needed to operate the pump and fan motors on the furnace. Nights are longer in the winter, requiring use of lights about twice as long as in the summer. Also, most families spend longer hours watching television. Any one of these reasons isn't too important by itself, but together they help explain why so many people find their electric bills higher in summer and winter than in spring and fall.
A. We read more than a million meters each month. To do this efficiently and hold down the cost of your service, we use a cycle system under which some meters are read (and some accounts billed) each working day. This means your meter will be read (and, a few days later, your account billed) about the same time each month, with the date determined by your location. We work on a meter reading schedule that allows meters to be read during a period of three working days. This schedule provides flexibility in dealing with such things as severe weather and other events that could affect our meter reading efforts. Because of this three working days schedule, we cannot provide a specific date on which your meter will be read.
A. Your bill may be mailed later than normal for several reasons. If your bill looks out of line with past usage, we may hold it for further review and investigation before it is mailed. The bill may also be delayed if we were unable to gain access to the meter to get the readings. Also, during inclement weather, our main objective is to restore power, which could require moving resources away from meter reading functions and cause a delay in billing. You are still allowed 15 days to pay the bill after it is mailed before the bill is considered past due.
A. Sometimes we estimate bills if inaccessibility or weather prevents us from reading the meter within a few days of the normal date. By paying the estimated bill, you avoid having to pay a two-month bill when we read the meter the following month and get an actual reading to bill you for both months. On rare occasions, we may have to estimate a bill if the metering equipment malfunctions or has been damaged.
There are a number of factors that could have an unexpected impact on your energy usage. Here are a few:
Changes in the season can have an impact on the amount of electricity you use. The weather may have been much warmer or cooler this past month than in the previous comparable months.
Another factor could be the operation of your equipment. Have there been any problems with your equipment? Has any major equipment been modified or is it running longer? Have you increased your hours of operation? You can do a quick check by comparing your demand (if applicable) and energy readings for the month in question with comparable months in the past. Are this month's readings way out of line?
If none of these factors can reasonably explain the difference in your bill, give us a call and we will look at your account further to help determine the cause of increased usage.
A. Our current billing system is designed to bill your account according to the date your meter is read. Meter readings are scheduled according to your location and the most cost-effective routing of our resources. Customers receiving three-phase service can ask Duke Energy to install a meter that can be read remotely and, therefore, billed at another time of the month. However, the customer is required to pay the additional cost of this service, which is currently $25.00 per month, plus the cost of a dedicated telephone line.
Q. I have a late charge on this month's bill. I thought I paid last month's bill on time but I'm not sure. I have an excellent credit history and almost always pay my bills on time. What is this charge for and can you take it off my bill?
A. Bills for nonresidential service are past due 15 days after the date of the bill. If a bill remains unpaid 25 days after the date of the bill, a late-payment charge is added to the customer's account. The regulatory commissions recognize that there are interest, finance and service costs directly attributable to customers who delay payment of utility bills. Therefore, they allow utilities to attempt to recoup a portion of these costs through a late payment charge that must be applied to customers uniformly. In the future, to avoid a late payment charge or other credit action, mail your payment so that we receive it by the past due date shown on your bill. If you do not have time to mail your payment, you may pay by authorizing a one-time debit to your checking account. You may also want to consider our Automatic Payment Plan (APP), which automatically drafts your bank account for the amount of the bill each month.
Learn more about Automatic Payment Plan.
Q. Our company ceased operations at one of our production facilities several months ago, and we presently use very little electricity at this site (just a few lights). However, we are still receiving relatively high electric bills for this facility. Why is this happening?
A. Duke Energy originally contracted for service at your facility for the previous production level. If we have continued the existing service conditions without revision for the reduced level of usage, the old level of usage would affect your bill. The higher bills could be the result of several factors:
- The rate schedule on which you were served while in full production may not be the best rate under your present operating conditions.
- Under some rate schedules, what is known as a "demand ratchet" collects the demand costs over a period of time. Duke Energy has not fully recovered the costs of the previous service until this billing demand ratchet period is concluded. Until then, a demand from a prior month will most likely be used for billing and it can be quite different from the current usage. You should avoid establishing a new high demand while the facility is vacant to help reduce your monthly costs sooner.
- In addition to the billing demand ratchet, most rate schedules require that your billing demand be no less than 50% of the contract demand. The contract demand reflects the size of the electrical equipment Duke Energy has installed to serve you. If the initial term of your contract has been fulfilled, Duke Energy may be able to reduce the contract demand to a level more appropriate to your current load requirements. Anytime you have significant changes in your operation that could have a large impact on your energy usage, you should contact Duke Energy to review your situation and ensure you are on the appropriate rate with an appropriate contract demand.
Q. If I operate a business in my home, will I need to have a separate account for electrical service to my business?
A. If you operate a business from your home, please call us at 1-800-653-5307. However, many small home businesses operate without a separate commercial power account.
Q. What number should I call if I have questions about my small business power bill?
A. Call us at 1-800-653-5307 for 24-hour assistance.
Q. I'm planning to go into business for the first time. How can I estimate what my power bills may be?
A. Your monthly power bill will depend on numerous factors including the level of lighting you use, your heating and cooling needs, types of equipment you will use and how much current they draw, your operating hours and so forth. One way to make an estimate is to contact other businesses of a comparable nature and ask them to share information with you. For reasons of confidentiality we cannot provide this information ourselves. If necessary, you can check the electrical information, such as voltage and current requirements for your equipment, and calculate monthly kilowatt-hours based on expected hours of operation.
A. Our Business and Economic Development Office assists large business services users in estimating their power costs. We can also provide competitive pricing analysis, service proposals, and site, labor and community information prior to relocation. If you are contemplating a move to our service area, call 1-800-777-0046.
A. For quality assurance reasons, the paper used for your bill does not consist of any recycled paper; but it is recyclable. The outbound and paper return envelopes use a combination of new and recycled paper. Both are recyclable, but the cellophane window should be removed from the outbound envelope before it is recycled.
A. We ask for identification (in the form of your Federal TAX ID number, Social Security number, and/or relationship to the company, etc.) to help ensure customer confidentiality and to prevent unauthorized or fraudulent activity regarding your account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but feel this is an appropriate precaution to help prevent unauthorized changes to your account. We take the same security precautions at our online Customer Service sections on this website; you may find it faster and more convenient.
A. We do accept credit card payments for electric bills. Customers who are on our e-Bill service also can use a credit card to pay their bills, but they are required to call our Customer Contact Center and pay using Speedpay (a vendor that processes credit card payments). The vendor applies a 2.8% surcharge when the Speedpay option is used.