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Posted on: September 7, 2021

Q&A Regarding Utility Bills

1.       Were electric and water reads for the August billing estimated on prior months usage?

No, the August 2021 utility bills used actual reads for both electric and water.   

2.       Why is my electric bill for 32 days of service and my water bill for 28 days of service?

The electric and water meters are normally collected or “read” on a 30-day cycle with electric first followed by the water meters.  In August, due to some personnel absences in the light department, the reads were reversed with water meters being read first followed by electric.  The read order will revert back in September so electric days of service should be below 30 and water days of service slightly above.  

3.       Are the meters read manually or electronically?   

Electric meters are mostly read through an electronic process where the electric meter technician drives through Cheney and his equipment picks up the reads. There are some remote areas where he still does obtain a manual read.    

Water meters are read electronically in some areas of town and manually in other areas.   

4.       Does the city review the meter reads to check for inconsistencies?

Yes, Utility Billing in the Finance Department checks the reads for big swings in both higher and lower usage.  Since most meters are read electronically, errors typically only occur when the meter stops recording usage.  It is very rare for an electronic meter to malfunction and report a higher than what actually was used.    

5.       Why does my utility bill seem to be so high?

There are a couple points to consider:

  • The number of service days in the month.  This is printed on your utility bill next to the meter read.  Is your bill for 30 days, 32 days, or even 35 days? Typical days of service are 30 but that does sometimes vary.  
  • Electric reads are taken approximately on the 15th of the month with water reads immediately after.  If you look at the weather from 7/15/21 through 8/15/21 it was extremely hot, which resulted in higher bills for most.  Our unusually hot summer has made air conditioners work harder to maintain your desired temperature. The same event occurs in the really cold months, your furnace has to work harder to maintain a 72 degrees indoor temp when it is 15 degrees outside than when it is 55 degrees outside.  
  • How much are you watering your lawn and when are you watering?   

6.       I have been on vacation, why does my utility bill not reflect that?

Hot water heaters, refrigerators, and freezers etc. all draw electricity when occupants are home or away.  Be sure to place your thermostats and appliances on vacation mode when available or manually adjust your temperature settings while away.   

Check your watering schedule to ensure you are using water efficiently.  

7.       Is there assistance for my utility bill available?

Yes, there is assistance available.  Please see our utilities page on this website for contact information for Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP) and Cheney Outreach Center.  Additionally, if you have been affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a program available at Cheney Outreach Center to apply for assistance.  

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