Tired of poring over your gas bill every month to find the errors your utility company missed? Here’s a look at our top tips for eliminating errors to avoid paying too much on your gas bill.

1. Utility Rate Options: Most utility companies offer multiple rate options such as small rate, medium rate, and large rate. Each rate has a basic monthly charge. Paying attention to the rate can result in substantial savings without any change in operation.

2. Selecting the option of firm or interruptible rate as the demand for gas goes up. Utility companies need to have large storage capacity to meet the demand. Buying gas in future markets can be very expensive (6 times more than normal pricing) at peak times. Interruptible rates require standby systems such as fuel oil or propane with air mixer systems. There are other options such as “guaranteed supply” offered by some utility companies.

3. Transport service, also called “self-help”. This means that you can buy from any producer and pay the interstate pipeline charges which are regulated by federal and state regulations.

4. Classification: Make sure you are charged on the correct classification. The 3 main classifications are residential, commercial, and industrial. Add to these other options such as elderly or special zone pricing discounts for economic development, and it takes an expert to select correct categories.

5. Credits: Credits may be available for gas used in a production process. The laws vary from state to state. Proper articulation of processes is necessary to get the credits.

6. Meter reading errors: Errors can happen. SME was asked by one company to look into gas usage and discovered the gas meter multiplier was overstating usage by a factor of 10. SME worked with the utility company to correct their mistake and issue a credit.

7. Zero Usage Meters. Billings in review: zero usage meters can happen because of abandoned meters or meters that are used very occasionally. However, a careful review can result in removal of meters and resulting in substantial savings.

8. Incorrect applications of tariffs. Many utility companies may not charge the correct taxes on the bills. There are many different taxes such as city tax, county tax, state tax, federal tax, franchise fees etc. A careful review can result in substantial savings.

9. Late fees: If you see a late fee charged on your bills it could be an error, or you need to review your payment policies as this can add substantial cost.

10. Abnormal billing period. If the billing period is very long, say 40 days, this needs to be investigated.

11. Abnormal usage. If the usage spikes suddenly then something may have gone wrong such as a leakage or some equipment is left on by mistake and needs further investigation.

12. Demand Charges: If your company has large usage, and utility companies provide contracted demand this should be reviewed periodically.

13. Contract guarantees. Contract guarantees need to be reviewed as company needs change.

14. Consolidation of meters: In some cases it is possible to consolidate gas meters to save on meter charges and likely qualify for a better rate.

15. Bypass local utility service: If your usage is large enough and you’re able to get an easement it may be possible to bypass the local gas provider and buy direct from the interstate pipeline.

If you think you might be paying too much, call us to schedule your no-cost, no-obligation audit of your gas bill.

Peterson joined SM Engineering Co. as Senior Staff Engineering. He worked on a variety of projects in the Midwest with regard to energy audits and utility rate analysis and installation of boiler controls by Tour & Anderson. Mr. Peterson also published several Technical Papers for the Minnesota Multi Housing Association on boiler operations. Find him on Google+