SAN ANTONIO — Missy Wilson has always been energy conscious, which is why she was shocked to get her July CPS Energy bill showing her family had used 4,330 kilowatt hours.
“Last year we put new insulation in our attic because we were concerned about the rising cost of the bills,” Wilson said.
A few neighborhoods over, also on San Antonio’s north side, the Martindale family got their highest bill to date ($721.00).
Both families homes are less than 3,000 square feet and both homeowners told News 4 they set their thermostats at 80 degrees during the day and 78 degrees at night.
“I want an explanation, I want to know where the bill is coming from,” said homeowner Kylie Martindale.
She also voiced her frustration on the community website, Nextdoor.
“I think today there are more than 90 comments on it from neighbors that are experiencing the same thing,” Martindale said.
Many of the comments come from other northside homeowners with record high bills who’ve recently had smart meters installed.
The timing of it all has led some to question whether the new meters are affecting their bills.
“Here’s the interesting thing about meters; when they fail, they slow down,” CPS Energy spokesman, John Moreno said. “So a customer would see a lot of energy consumption.”
Moreno said it does not explain why Martindale’s bill is so high, but in some cases, CPS has found older meters don’t track consumption as accurately as the new meters being installed.
“If a smart meter is replacing a meter that was previously slow, which is a mechanical meter, then the customer would see that consumption come back to normal, versus what they were previously paying,” Moreno said.
Another factor, hotter than usual weather.
The National Weather Service numbers show there was one triple digit day with an average temperature of 94.7 in July of 2015 compared to 3 triple digit days with an average of 97.2 this past July.
“A customer that has it at 78 when it’s 100 degrees outside, that air conditioner will have to compensate for the extra 22 degree difference and maybe run 4 to 7 hours per day,” Moreno said.
It may explain part of the reason for Martindale’s unusally high energy consumption, but it likely doesn’t account for a 1500 kilowatt difference.
“I’m like obsessed with it now,” Martindale said. “I watch it everyday, how much energy did my family use today.”
CPS did test her meter and found it was working properly, so the burden of proof is on the homeowner.
“I don’t know how to prove that I didn’t (use that much energy),” Martindale said. “I don’t know how they can prove that I did.”
While CPS no longer offers energy audits, Moreno said hiring a professional energy auditor could suffice as proof.
Another high bill factor are the surcharges consumers pay, 2 of them year round and 1 only during the summer.
The peak capacity charge is added to bills between May and September for customers who use more than 600 KW per month.
“There’s added cost to run those resources and that cost gets passed on to the consumer,” Moreno said.
Martindale’s bill is a good example of the premium customers pay for energy.
During the month of July she was charged 409 for energy consumption, 105 for peak capacity, 90 dollars for fuel and 64 dollars in regulatory fees for a total of $669.37.
“It’s not fair and there will be backlash for it,” Martindale said. “What are we going to do, fire them?”
If you are interested in finding out how to track your daily consumption or conserve more energy you can click here: CPS Energy.