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Flat Rate Utility Bill?

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When I logged on to schedule payment for our electric bill, the Flat Bill option caught my eye. Currently, they are offering me a $125 per month flat rate for the next 12 months. And after this summer’s electric bills, I am tempted.

And then I also received my water/trash/gas bill today and it’s over $320 this month. Yikes!

I know it’s been hot and I know we had a record number of people living in our house this summer…but the bills are crazy right now. I’m beginning to think I need to find out if we have a water leak somewhere. The water bill is just SO HIGH!

So back to my original question…does anyone take advantage of the Flat Bill option? Does it work out financially for you? These are the details they offer about it on their site:

“FlatBill offers a 12-month fixed contracted price that does not fluctuate when your power usage does. FlatBill looks at your bills for the last 12 months, the expected weather for the upcoming 12 months, and predicted changes in energy use, and then creates a custom FlatBill offer for qualified customers. Your FlatBill amount includes additional charges to cover changes in usage, variations in weather conditions, and other factors that could affect the cost of providing electric service to you. This amount may be more than what you would pay under your existing rate plan.”
Georgia Power

I’d love to hear anyone’s experience or feedback on this type of option. Meanwhile, I am going to call my landlord about my water bill. It just seems exceptionally high. Almost $600 in utility bills this month is throwing my budget off big time!

 


13 Comments

  • Reply Angie |

    Flat rate bills are for people with cash flow problems and no savings. It says right there, “this amount may be more than you would pay under your existing plan.” The utility company is going to be conservative in their estimates so they aren’t giving away free power. Don’t do it!

    Has your water bill changed significantly over the month or just steadily crept up? Has there been a rate increase or did you jump useage tiers? That’s the first place to start. Gather up a few of your last bills and compare.

  • Reply Ann |

    You don’t get any interest on the money that is ‘invested’ in the FlatBill system, right? So if you yourself put $125 in the bank each month and used that account to pay your electric bill, you ‘d likely have enough to pay all the electric bills. And you wouldn’t be allowing your funds to be in the hands of someone else.
    I know the interest rate is so low now, it doesn’t seem worth it. But every little bit helps.

    I have to say that we are using that system now, and my husband was SHOCKED that I would do it. But we have scrimped and saved for years, and our four kids are grown. So now, I like that I have my banking account set up to pay the same amount each month and I don’t have to even think about that bill. But I am in a position that I can afford that. I considered how much money I would lose in interest and decided that was worth it for the time it saved me.

  • Reply Ellen |

    ComEd here in IL offers that. They look at it every 6 months. They take your 6 month average and come up with your bill for the next 6 months. It works well. It definitely helps with not seeing a crazy bill every month and it helps to not have the bill fluctuate. You know exactly what to budget for. They also do low energy days. Where they will send out an email or text saying from 1-6pm (or whatever) today use less energy. During that time I unplug anything that is not needed and if the weather is nice, I will turn off the AC and open the windows. The last time, I got a $20 credit to my bill. hope this helps you.

  • Reply Lisa |

    If you end up using more than $1,500 in electricity over the next 12 months will you owe the difference? My company does something similar called budget billing, but they also keep track of what you actually use and at the end of the year they adjust the rate for the next year, but also you owe anything you used over what you actually paid for the previous year. If you ended up paying more then you actually used you get a credit. It’s more so you have a consistent bill over the year instead of really high ones in the summer/winter and really low ones in the spring/fall. Flat bill could be a good way to help you budget, but if what I said above applies to their policy make sure you keep an eye on what you are actually using so you don’t end up with a huge surprise bill at the end of the year.

  • Reply Cynthia |

    I take advantage of the flat billing option because my bill ranges from around $70 for 6 months per year to $400+ for 3-4 months and somewhere in between the other months. Definitely easier to budget. Mine gets re-evaluated once per year and my monthly payment goes up or down accordingly. With the numbers you have I would encourage you to conserve regardless of the payment plan. Even with a lot of people, those numbers seem high. Your utilities are creeping up there close to the same amount you pay for rent.

  • Reply Laura in So Cal |

    Water Bill. Look for a water leak. 1. Go outside and look for wet spots associated with leaking sprinklers or sprinkler valves. Check on hose bibs. Even a small drip can add up. 2. Go thru your house and check under all the sinks, listen to your toilets (running toilets and/or hissing toilets can me you have leaks into the bowl that are using more water). Again a small leak will add up. 3. Check your hot water heater 4. If you constantly have issues with leaks, you have a pressure problem. You might need a new pressure regulator on the plumbing coming into your house.

  • Reply angie |

    Looks like your rate for water and sewer is $16/thousands gallons. I’ll assume your trash and gas costs are always around $100. That means you’re using almost 20,000 gallons of water?!?! For reference, I’m in a household of 2 with minimal outdoor watering (10 min daily timed drip garden and no grass) and we use 3,000 gallons per month. If that’s right then you definitely have a leak or are way overwatering your plants outdoors. They only way to tell if to look at your past 12 months of bills to see what the major difference is between summer and winter bills. If they’re relatively close and consistently high I’d say you have a leak. If it shot up dramatically with your plants and garden then you’re just using too much water.

    Is your dryer gas? Water heater? I expect your gas costs to be way low. Since you’re not running heat.

  • Reply Angie |

    Last thought. Maybe the twins should sign up for the flat rate plan. They might end up paying a little more for the security. But they’re the target market of this type of plan. Low savings and little ability to pay for unplanned bills.

  • Reply Reen |

    I also live in IL and have ComEd. I personally love the flat rate plan and I have the disposable income each month if I didn’t…but it’s all about consistency and ease. I know some here mentioned about investment of that extra money, etc. It is so nominal that I think it won’t make a difference in your case.

    As for the water bill, it might simply be more consumption and added watering plants in the summer. My water bill for the last 3 months was over $1100 for a HH of 2. But, we have grass and a lot of plants we water in the summer (by choice). In comparison in the winter that same bill is about $250. I compared last few summers and it was consistent.

  • Reply Jen |

    I know several people who do use this. It makes budgeting for utilities easier if the amount only changed once a year. I do not because:

    1) I want to pay exactly what I owe, no more no less.

    2) My water/electricity is owned by the township which does the billing. They are notorious for billing errors, resulting in utility bills being 3x+ what they should and people have to get lawyers involved to get things corrected. I don’t want to potentially be paying for a billing error for months while things are sorted out (if it ever gets sorted at all).

  • Reply Margann34 |

    I have used average billing for my gas bill in the past. They averaged my bill for the past year and that is how they determined my monthly payment. I liked having a set amount that I knew I would pay each month.

  • Reply Marzy-d |

    A flat rate plan does not save you any money. If you use more than they expect, they send you a bill for the excess at the end of six months, and that can be a REAL surprise.

    When you are trying to save money, its better to get the bill monthly. That way when the bill is extra high one month, you can try to cut usage, or look for the leak, as you are doing now. With a flat rate plan, you are more likely to ignore usage and just pay the nill, leading to nasty surprises at the end of six months.

  • Reply Meghan1227 |

    While the concept is nice I don’t know that it is the best financial choice for you.

    If it averages the past 12 months it will be accounting for 6 people in your home when now there is only 4.

    If they don’t do an annual ‘true-up’ then if you are over-paying they do not refund you for the overages.

    Now that you have a year of record you can plan and forecast your budget accordingly.

    Even though the summer heat of Georgia makes perfect sense for an electric bill this size, I don’t think it would hurt to do an ‘energy audit’ of your home. Do things remain plugged in that do not need to be? Does it make more sense to open curtains for daylight (and turn the lights off) or keep them closed to retain the AC and keep it from escaping through windows that aren’t as sealed tight as they could be? Same with main doorways, is AC escaping the out of them? And what about air circulation in the house, if one room gets particularly cold but others are still warm do you have a way to circulate that cold air to other parts of the house? For this last one I would particularly check bedrooms, does one of them get cold but then the door is kept closed?

So, what do you think ?