What’s Causing Higher Winter Energy Bills and What it Means for You

What’s Causing Higher Winter Energy Bills and What it Means for You

Higher winter energy bills? You’re not alone. Learn what’s causing bill increases and how MCE can help.
● Most customers substantially increased their energy usage due to recent cold weather
● Rooftop solar customers generated less electricity due to rainy weather
● Natural gas prices are the major driver for higher bills
● MCE can help you lower your bill with easy changes and bill savings programs

Colder winter weather often means higher energy bills, but this season may be having an even bigger impact than usual. Rising prices combined with higher seasonal usage of natural gas and electricity are causing bills to climb, but MCE can help.

What’s causing higher bills?

Unseasonably cold weather and high rainfall means lower temperatures, darker skies, and higher bills.

  • Colder weather also typically leads to increased use of water and space heating to keep your home comfortable. While electricity prices did go up in January, increased use of natural gas and electricity are the major drivers for higher bills.
  • Stormy weather creates darker skies and a greater need for lighting in your home, increasing your overall electricity use. If you have solar on your home, this also means decreased solar generation to offset increased usage.


In addition to these seasonal changes, a small percentage of MCE customers experienced a PG&E billing error in December. December charges were not included on the January bill, resulting in both December and January charges being displayed on the February bill. Impacted customers are eligible for payment plans. Please contact us at info@mceCleanEnergy.org for assistance.

Why is my bill so high even though I have rooftop solar?

Rooftop solar credits accumulate during summer months and help offset winter electricity bills. Darker winter skies cause your panels to generate much less electricity, resulting in higher bills during the colder months. Combined with extremely cold temperatures, generation credits were slightly lower on average, while the average usage was considerably higher than in prior months and years.

Why are natural gas prices so much higher?

First, MCE is an electricity provider and does not provide natural gas services.

In January, natural gas prices in California were up to six times higher than other parts of the United States. This was due to three main factors: a low amount of natural gas in storage, pipeline problems, and extremely cold weather.

  • Gas in storage: Natural gas storage fluctuates regularly, but this year when we needed it most due to frigid temperatures, storage tanks were only two thirds full, creating a supply and demand problem.
  • Pipeline problems: California receives most of its natural gas through only three major pipelines. Some parts of this system were down when the major demand hit, making it impossible to get new gas into the system.
  • Cold weather: Colder weather increased demand across California. Higher demand and shortages resulted in skyrocketing prices that showed up on customer bills.


For additional questions about natural gas prices please contact PG&E.

How can I lower my monthly bills?

The easiest way to reduce your monthly bill is to try these tips and tricks to lower your energy consumption:

  • Avoid running large appliances like the dishwasher, washer, and dryer during peak hours from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Try doing your laundry with cold water to keep energy costs down. On average, 18% of a home’s energy costs are from heating water.
  • See if you qualify for MCE’s Home Energy Saving Program for free and energy saving options. Energy savings for eligible multifamily properties are available as well.
  • Open shades and windows to take advantage of natural light and longer days.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs, which use 70−90% less energy.
  • Reseal your windows with weather stripping, caulk, glaze, door and window snakes, or window treatments to seal air leaks and save on energy costs.
  • Prioritize energy efficiency upgrades by conducting a do-it-yourself home energy audit before investing in a professional home energy assessment.


There are also a number of bill assistance programs that can help lower your monthly bill. Visit mcecleanenergy.org/lowerbill to learn more and see if you qualify.

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