Author: Gwen Brown   Published : August 30, 2019

Utility Bill -What Solar Contractors Should Know Blog Post Cover - small

Utility bill information is a prerequisite for building an accurate solar design and quote for a prospective customer. If at all possible, you want to have this information before you meet with the customer so that you can have an accurate and compelling proposal and be able to sell more effectively.

As a solar contractor, you’ll likely need to walk the customer through the information they need to provide, so it’s important that you’re well versed in the data available from the customer’s electric utility company.

That includes knowing what the company’s bills look like and how to read them, how to navigate the utility’s website to access billing information, and what types of utility rates the company offers. This will help avoid getting inaccurate numbers or having to go back to the customer for additional information because you didn’t get what you needed the first time.

In today’s article, we explore some key things to make sure you know about the customer’s utility bill and the practices of their utility company to ensure you’re getting the bill data you need. In a subsequent article, we’ll highlight different options and formats for getting customers’ utility bill data—since getting that information is a common initial barrier in the solar sales process.

Solar software from Aurora makes it easy to model your customer’s energy usage
and create an optimal solar design and proposal. See how in a live demo! 

Where Can You Find the Customer’s Total Monthly kWh Usage?

Once you get your prospective solar customers’ electricity bill, you need to know what you’re looking at. A critical piece of data you’ll be looking for is how many kilowatt hours the customer used in a given month and where this data is located on the bill. This is key because it will enable you to appropriately size the PV system for the customer’s needs and accurately estimate how much the customer will save with your solar design.

Often finding the total kilowatt hour consumption is straightforward, but other times it may require a little more work. Aurora Solar team member Elliot Goldstein encountered this firsthand in his prior role as Sales Team Lead for a leading residential solar company that sold to 16 U.S.

He explains, “Some utilities give you a 30 day historical average. You’ll then need to multiply that to get a monthly total. Others, like LADWP, give you the total kilowatt hour usage for every two months. So you literally need to divide in two. It really depends on the utility; you need to be familiar with the billing practices of the customer’s specific utility to avoid being tripped up by these kinds of nuances.”

Does the Electricity Bill Include Historical Data? If So, Where?

Many, though not all, electricity bills include historical data showing how much electricity the customer has used in past months throughout the year. This is highly valuable data as it allows you to more accurately model the customer’s energy consumption. If your customer’s utility doesn’t include historical data, you may want to consider asking for their energy usage in more than one month.

Software like Aurora, which accepts a variety of utility data formats and offers tools for estimating energy consumption in months you don’t have data for, can make your work easier. But like all modeling tools, the data you enter must be accurate in order to get accurate results. And the more months of data you can include, the more finely tuned your results will be.