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The plummeting temperatures this January may have caused a bit of a shock when you opened your latest electric bill. Boston was stuck in a cold snap for almost two weeks, including seven days below 20 degrees, according to Fox 25 Boston.

If you are concerned about your electricity bill, because you think it is incorrect or may not be able to make the payment, there are a few things you should consider.

Estimate v. Actual

The first thing you should do when you get an electric bill is making sure it is representative of an actual reading and not of an estimate. If it is an estimate, you can get an actual reading from your provider which will update the account.

Efficiency Programs

Utility companies offer energy efficient programs that usually result in lower payments. Eversource has an Energy Savings Plan and a number of financial assistance programs for customers in Eastern Massachusetts. It offers a planning mechanism to help understand your energy usage and how you can reduce it. The financial assistance programs help customers find alternative methods to pay their monthly bills.

National Grid offers similar programs for their Massachusetts customers. They offer payment assistance programs, budget billing, and more time to pay options as well as no cost energy kits to control usage.

Mass Save is a rate payer-funded program that offers rebates and income eligible discount rates. They also offer free home energy assessments online that give a good indication of energy usage and potential savings.

Department of Public Utilities

The DPU website recommends that issues with an electric company first be taken up with them. After that, they offer resources to file a complaint. They also offer a consumer information page which answers frequently asked questions about payments, discounts, and financial assistance.

If you are not a homeowner, there are different rights and remedies that you are entitled to as a tenant regarding utilities. The State Sanitary Code mandates certain provisions regarding heat and water, for example, that landlords must abide by. If the heat in your apartment isn’t working or isn’t warm enough, notify your local Board of Health.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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