Most businesses don’t think twice about the utility bills they receive each month. The assumption is that the utility company got the amount right, so companies pay the bills without scrutiny. Unfortunately for some businesses, this means wasting a lot of money. In reality, it isn’t uncommon for utility companies to miscalculate and charge businesses more money than they should be spending. This is true of electric bills, commercial natural gas bills, and other types of utilities.
How Excess Charges Creep Into Commercial Natural Gas Bills
One of the reasons companies never have their utility bills audited is that they simply aren’t aware of the many ways in which a utility bill can be wrong. Sometimes, these are one-off mistakes that, while expensive, are not ongoing. Other times, the mistake is part of the regular billing process, leaving the company paying more than it should every single month. Understanding how and why these errors occur is the first step to rectifying the situation.
Some common causes of excess charges are:
1. Sales Tax Overcharges
Most localities require commercial natural gas bills to include sales tax. In the grand scheme of things, this tiny percentage added to the cost of your bill might not seem like much. But over the course of a year, sales tax can add up to a significant amount of money.
Because there are often sales tax exemptions for certain businesses and non-profit organizations, you may be spending money on sales tax that is unnecessary. However, the utility companies don’t automatically know who must and must not pay sales tax. If your business has an exemption, you can save money every month simply by making the utility companies aware of it.
In some cases, the sales tax itself is illegal. In 2020, a Palo Alto judge ruled that the tax charged on utilities by the city was illegal because the money was being funnelled into the general fund.
2. Wrong Rate Plan Used
Natural gas providers often have several different rate plans. There may be discounts for increasing the contract term, or there may be discounts for higher usage volume. Either way, the discounts can mean substantial savings for the businesses that take advantage of them. Sometimes, however, businesses are charged at the wrong rate plan.
Residents of Maryland found this out the hard way when some were asked to switch to a variable rate plan that seemed cheaper until it was discovered that rates on the previous plan were set to drop.
3. Faulty Meters or Incorrect Meter Readings
Gas meters let the utility company know exactly how much natural gas you’re using, so they can charge you accordingly. The problem is that sometimes the amount on the meter isn’t so exact.
Like all devices, gas meters are not infallible. When something goes wrong with one, it will measure your gas consumption incorrectly. Unless the problem is severe and instantaneous, it’s unlikely anyone will ever notice as the gas bill starts slowly creeping upward.
Faulty meters affect any utility that uses them. Recently, Virginia businesses were overcharged because Dominion Energy failed to properly reset the meters each month.
4. Human Error
Most utility businesses are moving away from error-prone paper-based billing systems. They’re also increasing the amount of automation they use to reduce human error. But there are still plenty of human mistakes that might have an impact on your utility bill. If you have a large organization with a complex natural gas bill, the chances for human error to creep in are even greater.
Energy provider Plymouth Rock provides a list of things to look out for to determine if your energy bill is higher than it should be.
How a Utility Audit Can Help
When a utility audit is performed on your commercial natural gas bills, the auditor will examine every aspect of your bill. During this thorough examination, they’ll find:
- Hidden line items
- Improperly applied rate discounts
- Any errors made by machines or humans
These types of audits often expose a substantial amount of wasted money going towards unwarranted utility expenses.
The best thing about utility audits is that they focus purely on helping you find waste and reduce it. You don’t need to worry that your auditor will find some problem with an appliance and try to sell you a new energy-efficient one, try to convince you that you need to switch to a different provider, or give you any other advice that leaves you wondering whether taking it is in your best interest or only in the best interest of the auditor. Your commercial natural gas bills audit will also be performed offsite. So there will be no interruptions to your day-to-day operations as the utility auditor goes about their job.
Contact Util Auditors, LLC Today
Having an audit of your commercial natural gas bills or other utility expenses performed by Util Auditors, LLC has no upfront costs. Our audit process is a no-risk solution to ensure you aren’t paying more for your utilities than you should be. We have a highly successful track record of saving clients money, so make yours the next business we help. To find out how much you can save on utility bills, schedule an audit today.