Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Electric Energy

I'm sitting here with our electricity bill on my lap.  One can't help but wonder how the same house, same appliances, same everything can cost $132.84 a month when once it cost $15 a month. 

Our service company gives a breakdown of their charges, of course.  There's the Summer 1st Step charge, the Summer 2nd Step charge, the Energy Cost, the Regional Transmission Service, the Basic Service Charge, the State Tax charge, and the Local Tax charge.  Plus, I have to be careful to pay the bill by September 15th or they'll whack on the Late Payment charge, which would be an additional $1.99.

There is an electrical gadget, called a meter, attached to the south side of our house that counts the numbers of kWh's we use.  It's one of those services that we hope is on the straight and narrow, but that's putting faith in something we can't be sure about.

Our electricity provider does offer some good perks to their customers.  They will send a recycling contractor to pick up and dispose of old, working refrigerators and give up to $50 for them.  Keeping an old refrigerator in the garage, and running, can add up to as much as $100 a year.  They also recommend that before we dig up our yards for any kind of project, that we dial 811, their One-Call Center.  They will notify the utility companies, who will come and mark the locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint, for free.  Any yard project, like putting in a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree, or laying a patio are all projects that would need to check first before digging.  Hitting a utility line could be nasty business, one that a person does want to prevent.

If a storm comes through and knocks out the power, we all go berserk.  I have one easily-accessible drawer here in the hallway devoted only to candles for this specific scenario.  I buy these power-back-up candles at garage sales.  You'd be surprised how one candle lights up a dark room.  Always keep matches or a cigarette lighter close by, or you'll find yourself rummaging through drawers in the dark, wailing like a banshee.  Been there, done that.

Paying this electricity bill will be a breeze compared to the old-fashioned way of writing out a check, recording the amount in the checkbook, detaching the check from the checkbook, finding an envelope, addressing the envelope, putting the check and invoice in the envelope, finding and licking the stamp, and getting it to the post office.  Now all I do is open my online account, scoot over to the bill-paying screen, type in the amount, push a couple of computer keys and the bill is paid.

Guess I've got to be mindful of the latest luxuries, like online bill paying and blog writing, that are made available to me with these higher prices.  If I choose to use these services, then the cost of electricity is worth every penny. 

Bottom line is this, "If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candlelight."  -George Global