This article was originally featured on Energy Tariff Experts.
If you are one of the fortunate people in MA served by a natural gas utility, you probably saved a bundle this winter compared with your neighbors who burn oil, propane, or the truly unfortunate who heat with electric baseboard heaters. If you are like most people, you get your bill, it sits in a pile for a week or two, and then you pay it without scrutinizing it. If you pay online, you almost certainly don't read your bill. You may not realize it, but if you heat with natural gas you are participating in a deregulated marketplace. Lets walk through a residential NStar gas bill and see what all that stuff on the bill really means. NStar changed their bill format about two years ago to make the bill easier for the lay person to read. Luckily, they also kept the old bill format which is now printed on page two. Below, I've included a mildly redacted version of my gas bill.
For those who crave data, page 1 may leave you wanting more, but there are some great nuggets here. Note the "Bill Analysis" section on the middle part of the left. It lists the number of days, average daily gas use, and average daily temperature for the current, previous, and year prior billing cycle. Many people compare usage from month to month or year to year without looking at the number of days in the billing period. If there is a difference in the length of the billing cycle, then you really can't make an accurate comparison unless you normalize the data to usage/day.