So, it’s the holiday season again and everyone is feeling generous, even you. You seem to have gotten past your Scrooge-stage and feel like splurging on someone else for a change. You don’t mind going the extra mile for your neighbor or running some errands for a friend. But when it comes to picking up the tab for utility charges that aren’t your own, you suddenly aren’t feeling so generous. However, odds are that you are paying for unfair charges on your utility bills, not only in the winter, but all year round. Due to increased awareness that estimated billing often contains a high percentage of error, many boards and property owners have turned to utility monitoring to alleviate the problem of overpaying for their utilities. And because most utility monitoring companies can obtain credit for such mistakes, dating back up to six years, an inquiry into your own utility usage via utility monitoring may be a very appropriate holiday gift to yourself.
Review Accounts and Save
"Utility monitoring," explains Scott Springer, senior systems engineer of Utility Programs & Metering, Inc. in Manhattan, "is the review of utility accounts, that could be electric, fuel, or water, to analyze both the usage patterns as well as the cost." Many clients have decided to employ such companies to monitor their utility use to ensure that charges are fair and accurate, especially in light of the fact that an estimated 70 percent of all utility bills are not accurate.
"There are a lot of different ways that a utility can overcharge a customer," says Ellen Bindler of Utility Check, Ltd., in Rockeville Center, New York. "Customers can be charged for more ‘usage’ than they actually use, or they can be in the wrong service classification," continues Bindler. "These are the two most common errors that are made." Bindler adds that utility monitoring companies like Utility Check have the expertise needed to identify mistakes in billing that not all customers might recognize. "We’ve also been in the business for 20 years and have so many customers that we know what a meter should be saying and if there is unusual usage, we’ll pick it up."
Michael Steifman of Utilisave Corp., a utility monitoring company in New Rochelle, New York that deals with owners of real estate and business, as well as program managers, adds that utility monitoring companies can determine other rates that can be more favorable for customers. "It could be that one rate is more appropriate and it’s up to you many times to make that determination and claim that. The utility company is not going to be that aggressive in helping you to save money like that." It is also possible, however, that the actual meter through which the utility tracks energy usage is not functioning properly and as a result gives false readings.