What to do when your electric bill is abnormally high

My bills come during the first week of the month, and while most are consistent amounts, power and water are variable. I always feel anxiety as I refresh my electricity company’s app. I expect December to be a low-consumption month, if only because I spend many days over at my parents. So it was to my shock that I found my bill was almost 9 times as high as my usual monthly average (a jump from ₱2.6k to ₱18.2k). Read on to find out what to do in these situations.

  1. Note your past and present electric meter readings.
  2. Physically check your electric meter to confirm. Take pictures as proof.
  3. Submit a dispute, schedule an appointment with your electricity company

1. Note your past and present electric meter readings.

As a recap, the main driver of your electric bill is the month’s reading of your consumption (in kilowatt-hours), which is read from your electric meter. This is taken from the current reading minus last month’s reading. A lot of electric meters are not reset every month, and therefore show the cumulative reading of consumption from when it first started reading or is reset. This is the reason why monthly consumption is the increment from last month’s reading to the current month’s reading.

Your electric bill will show the three numbers: past and current readings, and monthly consumption. The monthly consumption, as mentioned, should tie up as the current – past reading, and is the driver of your bill. This means that you should expect a charge rate per kilowatt-hour, and your bill will be the sum of each charge rate times your consumption.

Your consumption for the month should be the first number you look at because without any special circumstances, your consumption should not change widely month on month. You should always have an idea of the range your consumption takes, and then consider seasonal drivers. One example of this is summer, where air conditioners will work harder due to higher outside temperatures. Christmas season for many people means a jump due to Christmas lights and parties. Also take into consideration any one-offs that may happen, let’s say the use of an oven for a bake sale or such.

Knowing all this should tell you if anything is amiss. This means that even if considering jumps due to seasonality or any one-offs, your bill is widely different from its average, you should start investigating.

2. Physically check your electric meter to confirm. Take pictures as proof.

As good practice, you should know where your electric meter is. Often electric meters are under lock and key to avoid tampering, so it might not be in an easily accessible place. Compare your electric meter reading to that of the bill. Reading is simple when you have a digital meter, but for a manual, this is a quick recap. You will find several dials on a row and each one corresponds to one digit read from left to right. Digits are read as the lower of two numbers when an arrow is in between. This is read as 1632:

When you read your meter, you cannot expect it to be exactly as in the meter. This is because your bill’s reading was done a few days before your bill. You should however expect it to be a bit higher, as a result of the few days’ consumption in between.

In my case, I had the following on my bill

  •  Current Reading: 3,058
  • Previous Reading: 1,399
  • Actual Consumption: 1,659 kWh

My monthly consumptions plays around the 250kWh – 300kWh range, so I expected a current reading of about 1,675 kwh. That current reading was very suspicious. Upon checking my electric meter, I found the reading is 1,623. This is inconsistent with the reading because if the reading were right, I would find a reading higher than 3,058. 1,632 would also result in a reading of 233kWh, which is in my range of expectations given I was not in the house for a few days in December. At this point, I began to appreciate the cumulative reading function of meters, because it added a layer of checking. If meters were reset, I would not have any trace of the reading.

In cases like mine, it is important to take photos as proof.

3. Submit a dispute, schedule an appointment with your electricity company

Lastly, submit this as a dispute. Customer complaints are lodged on customercare@meralco.com.ph, and it helps to cc the Energy Regulatory Commission (consumer@erc.gov.ph) and the Presidential Complaint Center (pcc@malacanang.gov.ph). Alternatively, you can visit the Meralco Branch. Either way, be sure to have the following ready:

  • Name, Meralco account number, and address
  • Previous and current bills
  • Photo of your meter’s current reading
  • A statement requesting them to do a proper reading


There are many other cases that can happen, and Basta sa Bahay will discuss these other cases. This experience is straightforward since it was simple to find proof for a misread electric reading. 

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