Many Factors Can Cause Higher Heating Bills, Including PG&E Billing System

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WHAT YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF IS, DID ANYTHING CHANGE IN THE HOME? DOZENS OF PG & G CUSTOMERS ARE WRITING IN SAYING THEY'RE SEEING HIGHER PRICES ON THEIR BILLS. SOME DOUBLE WHAT THEY SAW A MONTH AGO. SO WHY ARE CUSTOMERS SEEING THIS BIG INCREASE ON THEIR BILLS. Reporter: CHRISTINA AND SAM, PG & E TELLS US PRICES HAVE GONE UP OVER $7 A MONTH FROM LAST YEAR. COMBINE THAT WITH A HARSH WINTER AND YOU GET HIGHER PRICES. BUT I SAT DOWN WITH A CONSUMER EXPERT AND SHE TOLD ME WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO READ YOUR BILL. Reporter: FROM ROSEVILLE TO SOUTH SACRAMENTO, MANY PG & E CUSTOMERS ARE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR BILLS GOING UP. MANY CUSTOMERS LIKE ME DON'T ALWAYS KNOW HOW TO READ THEIR BILL. IS THERE ANY BENEFIT TO KNOWING WHAT THIS ALL MEANS. Reporter: A UTILITY WATCHDOG GROUP SAYS CUSTOMERS WON'T RECOGNIZE AND ERROR IF THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO FIND IT.

SO YOU WANT TO ALWAYS LOOK AT THESE THAT COMPARE THIS MONTH TO THIS MONTH. Reporter: THAT'S THE SAME MONTH A YEAR AGO. THE NEXT STEP, TAKE A LOOK AT THE TOTAL NUMBER OF TERMS YOU'VE USED IN THE LAST MONTH. A TERM IS A UNIT OF HEAT. EACH HOUSEHOLD HAS A CERTAIN NUMBER THEY CAN USE THAT THE COMPANY DETERMINE S IS AN AVERAGE FOR TIERS. EACH IS THE AMOUNT YOU USE AND A CLIMATE. WHEN PEOPLE STAY WITHIN TIER ONE, THAT'S YOUR LOWEST COST. Reporter: BUT IF THEY USE MORE TERMS THAN THEY'RE ALLOWED THE PRICE PER TERMS GOES UP. THE CUSTOMER WAS ON VACATION FOR HALF OF HIS BILLING CYCLE, BUT HIS BILL IS ONLY A FEW DOLLARS CHEAPER THAN IT WAS IN THE SAME MONTH LAST YEAR. THAT IS STILL A LOT FOR HIM BEING GONE. THIS IS A CASE WHERE THE CUSTOMER SHOULD CALL THE COMPANY AND HAVE THEM COME OUT AND LOOK AT THEIR METER. Reporter: A BILLING ERROR IS NOT OUT OF THE QUESTION.

HOWEVER, YOU SHOULD TAKE INTO ACCOUNT YOUR USE AND APPLIANCES. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS CALL PG & E AND ASK THEM ANY QUESTIONS. WE NOW KNOW HOW TO READ THE BILL. PG & E DID NOT RESPOND AT ALL ON CAMERA..

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