Information for Consumers - Electric


Electricity is an essential service for residential and business consumers alike representing a significant part of our personal and business budgets. The following provides information about electricity service and bills. For more information, please see our main Consumer Information page, or contact us.

Residential Electric Usage

Residential electricity usage can be very different from one household to the next, depending on the condition and age of the building, number of people in the household, appliance use, and other factors. If you have an electric hot water heater or use space heaters or heat tapes, your usage can be higher.

Meter Test (performed by your electric company, or by an independent testing company at cost)

If you feel that your electric bill is abnormally high, first contact your utility company. A high bill can be based on high usage, or it can be a result of unpaid charges carried forward, or other fees or charges that have been added to your bill. If your high bill seems to be based on high usage, you can request a meter test from the utility company once per year at no cost. If your electric company has checked the meter and determined that it is accurate, and confirmed there are no problems with the company's lines and facilities up to your home, it has met its responsibility.

Breaker Test (do it yourself)

If you do not have a smart meter, you can determine a rough estimate of where your usage is going by doing a breaker test. To do a breaker test: turn off all your breakers to your home or apartment (your meter should stop spinning or advancing, but if it doesn't then there could be a problem you may need an electrician to resolve); next, turn on one breaker and see how fast your meter spins or advances; then turn off that breaker and turn on the next one and see how fast your meter spins or advances. Do this for each breaker in turn (if you have an electric hot water heater and/or a well, make sure you run the hot water for awhile to get the hot water heater elements working, and/or the cold water to get the well pump going before you check those breakers). The breaker or breakers that make(s) your meter spin or advance the fastest will tell you where your usage is going. [*Please note: smart meters do not work the same way as analog meters. However, electric usage can be monitored in a different way with a smart meter.]

Usage History (request & review)

If the measures above don't help, you can review your electric usage by asking your electric company for a usage history of your account. The Consumer Affairs & Public Information (CAPI) Division is available to review your usage with you. Efficiency Vermont (EVT), the state's electric energy efficiency utility, may also be able to help identify the patterns of your electric usage.

Financial Assistance (Residential Bills)

Please see the Financial or Payment Assistance for Utility Customers page for more information about the resources that are available for financial assistance for residential consumers. (If you have received a disconnection notice you should contact your utility to try and negotiate a payment arrangement. If you need assistance after contacting the utility, Consumer Affairs & Public Information (CAPI) Division may be able to help.)

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency Charge and Programs

For information about the energy efficiency charge and the Energy Efficiency Utility Programs overseen by the Vermont Public Utility Commission (Commission), please see the Commission's webpage Energy Efficiency Utility Program.

For information about programs administered by the Vermont Department of Public Service (PSD) Planning and Energy Resources Division, please see the Efficiency page.

Smart Grid

"Smart Grid" generally refers to a class of technology (including smart meters) being used to modernize utility electricity delivery systems. Please see the Smart Grid page for more information.

State Electrical Inspections

Consumers seeking information about state electrical inspections should contact their regional office of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, Division of Fire Safety; or call toll free in Vermont 1-800-640-2106.

Going Off-Grid and Net Metering

For information about off-grid and net-metered (grid-connected) generation of electricity through renewable sources, please see the Renewables page of this website.