The Top 5 (Non-weather) Reasons for Fluctuating Utility Costs

Decode your utility bills with this guide to the top five non-weather reasons for changing utility rates.
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Molly McBeath, Content Writer, utiliVisor
Jun 21, 2024 (5 min read)

5 Things That Impact Your Utility Costs

Seasonal swings in weather aren’t the only reasons why your utility expenses can change from month to month. Here are the top reasons for variations in readings and billing totals.

1. Move-ins/outs

Changes in tenants have the potential to change utility consumption in two ways: (i) change in consumption behavior because the new tenant is very different from the previous one and (ii) changes in lease terms that affect your common area allocation. If we think tenant turnover explains a variation, we include that information in the cover letter of your billing package.

2. Readings beyond reasonable thresholds
Every billing period, we look at meter usage history and check to see the lowest and the highest usage a meter has ever recorded. If the usage for the most recent period is outside this range, we first determine how outside of the range it is. If, for example, the reading is the highest it’s ever been but only slightly higher than usual, we note this situation in the variance analysis appendix in your billing package. If a reading is significantly higher (or lower) compared to the history (and we’ve verified the reading was accurate), then we contact you right away to determine if there is a likely explanation.

3. Rate changes
Though they don’t change often (aside from seasonal changes to electricity and steam), utility companies do raise rates. Your cover letter will indicate if a rate change from your utility provider is affecting your billing totals.

4. Changes in billing period length
This reason for cost variability only pertains to manually read meters. Unlike remote systems, which are read at frequent intervals (usually every 15 minutes), manually readings may not be taken at exactly the same time interval every billing period due to access issues, holiday and vacation schedules, and other realities of life. If 4 fewer or 4 additional days occur in the current billing period compared with the last one, your billed amounts will reflect that difference.

5. Faulty meters
Meters go on the fritz like any other piece of equipment. A meter well outside of normal readings will be noted in the cover letter and should be evaluated by an experienced technician. (Lost data represented by nulls, zeroes, repeats, and other non-readings are not always a result of a faulty meter and are estimated as a weighted average of previous readings.)

Have questions about your billing package?

If you're a utiliVisor client, reach out to your billing analyst, whose name and contact info is at the bottom of your monthly cover letter. If that info isn’t handy, contact our main office and we’ll get you answers.

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About utiliVisor

Your tenant submetering and energy plant optimization services are an essential part of your operation. You deserve personalized energy insights from a team that knows buildings from the inside out, applies IoT technology and is energized by providing you with accurate data and energy optimization insights. When you need experience, expertise, and service, you need utiliVisor on your side, delivering consistent energy and cost-saving strategies to you. What more can our 40 years of experience and historical data do for you? Call utiliVisor at 212-260-4800 or visit