New York City is notorious for being expensive, and electricity costs are no different. But if your utility bills from Con Edison have been higher than usual, you’re not alone. Recently, some New Yorkers saw their Con Ed bills double or triple in just one month, despite there being no differences in usage from the last month.

Here’s the deal about why your Con Edison bill is so high, and what you can do about it.

Brief History of Con Ed Energy Costs in NYC

Across the country, utility rates are on the rise. In January, the national average electric rate was up 8 percent from the previous year, while New York State saw an increase of 15 percent. New York City is notorious for its energy prices, with New Yorkers paying an average of 35 to 40 percent more for electricity than the rest of the country – despite being very energy efficient.

If you pay an electric bill in NYC, we don’t have to tell you that Con Ed’s rates have been increasing for years. In 2019, the average residential bill at 300 kWh was $65.42, and in 2021, it was $73.11.

These rate increases are a result of Con Ed’s operating costs being passed on to customers. The costs associated with maintaining electrical infrastructure and with delivering energy to a densely populated area are high, and they continue to grow as the system requires further upgrades. Plus, most of our electricity comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which will always be subject to the volatility of the market.

Are you a homeowner in NYC looking to switch to clean energy? Get Started with Solar

Why are energy bills so high right now?

In January and February, many New Yorkers were hit with sticker shock when they received their electric bills. Con Ed customers across the city saw their bills double or even triple, despite using no more energy than the months before. 

On your Con Edison bill, you have two main charges: supply and delivery. The delivery charge is the cost of transporting energy into your home and is regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The supply charge is the cost Con Ed pays for the energy it transports to you. Neither Con Ed nor the PSC sets these rates, as they’re subject to the energy market as a whole. 

The recent spike in electric bills was due to a sudden increase in supply charges, not delivery. Around 70 percent of the electricity used in NYC is powered by natural gas, which has been more expensive for the past several months due to the pandemic and the war in Eastern Europe. Con Ed sells energy to you at cost – it’s not legally allowed to profit from the sale of electricity – so in this case, it’s not all Con Ed’s fault.

However, the Gov. Kathy Hochul called on Con Edison to reform its billing practices after this surge came as such a shock to customers, particularly those who were already financially strained due to the pandemic.

Are these soaring electric costs here to stay?

At this point, the recent surge has begun to level out. But one thing is clear: the cost of electricity is on the rise across the board, and major rate hikes are bound to happen again. The price of natural gas will always rise and fall with supply and demand. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time that you’ll be left wondering why your Con Edison bill is so high.

Plus: although Con Ed’s not allowed to profit from the supply of electricity, it can raise its delivery rate. And it’s been doing just that. In 2020, the PSC approved a three-year incremental increase in electric rates totaling 13.5 percent. In February of 2022, Con Ed requested another increase of 11.2 percent starting in 2023. The reasoning behind these increases is to fund infrastructure upgrades and invest in clean energy initiatives. 

But there’s a better way to invest in clean energy as a homeowner. Take control of your energy costs by installing rooftop solar.

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How can New Yorkers combat high electric bills?

It may feel like the cost of electricity is out of your control. The solutions can vary depending on your home situation and income level. But no matter what your situation, there are some things you can consider doing to help offset your energy usage and monthly bills. 

Brooklyn brownstone homes with solar panels
Solar is an excellent way for homeowners to avoid rising Con Ed rates.

1. Invest in Solar Energy

As a solar installation company, we would be remiss not to mention solar energy as a solution to combating electric bills. If you’re a homeowner in NYC, installing solar on your roof is the single best way to cut down on your electric bill. In fact, many of our customers’ systems produce enough energy to eliminate their electricity charges from Con Ed altogether. After your solar panel installation, you’ll reduce your reliance on Con Ed and on fossil fuels, and you’ll have access to free, renewable energy for decades. 

If you’re looking for energy independence, solar is the answer. Learn About Residential Solar

But, we recognize that not everyone has the ability to invest in rooftop solar. There are other ways to incorporate solar into your life. For example, our friends at Grouphug Solar created a solar panel window charger that’s perfect for that south-facing window in your apartment.

2. Use Energy Efficient Appliances

When it comes to the energy consumption of household appliances, the solution is not always clean cut. Appliances responsible for heating, cooling, refrigeration, hot water heating, and laundry are huge energy users, but they’re also necessities. So what’s the solution?

Investing in energy efficient appliances can make a big difference in your home’s energy usage and therefore, your electricity bill. If you own a home, upgrading to an air source heat pump or a heat pump water heater could be good options. Using Energy Star washing machines and refrigerators can help too. 

This applies to smaller appliances, too. There are energy efficient lighting, dehumidifiers, window AC units, fans, and even laptops on the market that can make an impact on your home’s electricity usage.

3. Consider Your Everyday Usage

Regardless of home situation or budget, there’s a lot of little things we can all do to be more conscious of our energy consumption. Here’s a few small ways you can make a difference in your usage everyday:

  • Turn off lights and appliances when they’re not in use and when you’re not at home.
  • Be mindful of the temperature you keep your home. According to NYSERDA, each degree above 75°F that you set your air conditioner’s thermostat saves you 3 percent of the energy used to cool your home.
  • Take advantage of insulation and shades to keep your home warm and cold naturally.
  • Run your dishwasher in the morning or evening to avoid adding to electricity demand in the middle of the day.
  • Wash your laundry in cold water, and opt to air dry your garments.

Does Con Edison have sustainability initiatives?

Con Edison has been developing sustainability initiatives for several years. In 2021, it committed to 100% clean electricity by 2040. To that end, it has made progress towards the electrification of buildings and transportation, and building out numerous solar and wind projects across the country.

We’re glad that one of NYC’s main utility companies is committing to sustainability goals, as any progress towards clean energy is positive in the long run. But, these initiatives will translate to higher and higher bills from Con Ed for years to come. 

You can avoid the continued volatility of Con Ed bills by installing solar on your home. By investing in your own solar energy system, you’ll be able to take advantage of clean energy right away – no waiting on Con Ed to make its system upgrades, and no unexpected rate hikes in the meantime. Rooftop solar gives you energy independence. Why pay Con Ed for clean energy in the future, when you could produce it in your own home right now?

If You’ve Been Considering Solar, The Time is Now

The cost of energy in NYC has been on the rise for years, and will continue to grow in the future. Though the most recent surge has leveled out, it’s bound to happen again. But if you own a home in NYC, installing solar on your roof will allow you to avoid increasing electric rates for decades to come – just one of the many advantages of solar energy!

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