For many years, the standard for calculating energy bills is to charge the customer for the amount of energy consumed in the billing period. Consequently, energy bills are usually very high for the coldest month of the year and, for those customers with air conditioning, very high during the summer months. If the utility meter is not read each month, as is typically the case, the energy consumption will be estimated based on past usage patterns and the weather.
The standard practice for paying bills is to either pay by check and mail to the utility company or pay in person (by check or cash) at one of the utility company's designated payment centers. In recent years, many utility companies have decreased the number of payment centers; some utility companies have completely eliminated payment centers.
Utility companies offer a number of options for calculating monthly energy bills and for paying the bills. Whenever an option is selected, the customer is never committed to continuing with that option for either bill calculation or bill payment. A customer can always choose to revert to the standard or select a different option at any time.
The specific options for bill calculations and bill payment vary from one utility company to another. Contact your electricity and gas utility companies to inquire of the options available to you and the specific details of each option. Some utility companies require that your existing account must be paid in full before you can select a different billing or payment option.