An unexpectedly high bill can come as a shock, and may leave you wondering why your heating costs are up. The way to avoid a surprise when you open your bill is to understand what can drive up the amount you pay for service.

  1. Weather

A big influence on the amount of energy you use to heat your home is the weather outside. When temperatures fall, your furnace has to run more often and for longer, increasing the amount of energy you use.

You can help reduce the weather’s impact on your bill by sealing air leaks that allow frigid air into your home and let the warm air out. Use caulk or weather stripping to seal leaks around windows and doors, and consider installing more energy-efficient windows and doors when remodeling.

  1. Longer bill cycles

Your bill covers a month’s worth of energy usage, but because of several factors, the exact number of days on your bill can vary from month to month. As a result, you may sometimes receive a bill that covers as many as 35 days of service, making your total larger even if your usage patterns didn’t change.

If you’re concerned about variability in your bill, DTE offers a number of programs that may be able to help manage your monthly charges.

  1. Estimated meter readings

Sometimes, especially in ice and snow, it can be difficult or impossible for us to get an actual meter reading of your usage. When that happens, we will estimate your meter reading, which can over- or underestimate your actual usage and can result in a fluctuating bill.

To ensure that your bill reflects your actual usage and not an estimated reading, it’s important to keep your meter clear of ice and snow. It’s also crucial that there is a clear, safe path to and from your meter.

  1. Increased usage

The main reason your bill may increase is, of course, simply because of using more energy. Consider: Did you raise your thermostat setting? Were you home more often? Are there more people in your home? These are just a few of the potential reasons you may have used more energy, and increased usage will increase your bill.

To keep a handle on your usage, install a programmable thermostat to make sure you’re only heating your home when people are around, and reduce the temperature at night when everyone is asleep. To stay comfortable around the house, put on an extra layer or use a blanket to stay warm without touching the thermostat. With proper use throughout the year, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 annually in energy costs.

For more tips on how to stay warm and manage your heating costs, visit

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