5 minute read • October 24, 2023

Managing Gas Bills: Understanding Estimated vs. Actual Readings for Building Owners


As a building owner, one of the most important aspects of managing your properties is staying on top of your utility bills. Gas bills are a significant expense and it’s crucial to ensure that you are accurately billed for your fuel usage. In some cases, particularly when you do not have a smart gas meter, you may receive an estimated bill from your gas supplier. This can cause confusion and lack of clarity regarding how much usage you are actually being billed for. Read further for an explanation of what estimated gas bills are and how to obtain actual readings to ensure that you’re only paying for what you use.

What Are Estimated Gas Bills?

An estimated gas bill is when your gas supplier makes an approximation of how much gas your building has used and bills you accordingly. This is typically calculated based on your past usage patterns, seasonal variations, and other factors. An estimated bill is not completely accurate, and therefore, your original bill will be higher or lower than the actual usage. 

The next month, the utility company should send an actual usage bill, which will result in either a refund for what was overpaid, or a higher bill for the usage above the estimated amount. It often takes longer than a month to receive the corrected bill. Suppliers such as Con Edison, PSE&G and National Grid may issue estimated gas bills when they are unable to obtain actual meter readings due to accessibility issues, malfunctioning meters, or other reasons.

Why Are Estimated Gas Bills A Problem?

Estimated gas bills can be overwhelming for building owners to work through, as they do not accurately reflect actual gas usage. This results in overpayment or underpayment, which can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Overpayment can strain your budget, although you will get refunded eventually. Underpayment can result in a larger bill when actual readings are obtained, which can create cash flow issues. 

Additionally, it is quite difficult to monitor monthly fuel usage without actual readings. You can’t easily compare gas usage per month from year to year with estimated bills. Even once you receive the corrected bill, it does not have the actual readings from each month. Rather, it will have the readings from a few months lumped together and there is no way of knowing what the real usage was each month. In such cases, actual consumption reports cannot be obtained and only rough estimates can be used to determine monthly usage.

If you have a boiler control with a monitoring service such as Entech Pro, you can reach out to them to help you create these gas usage consumption reports. By linking your Con Edison gas account with Entech, you can also see exactly how much fuel your boiler uses as it runs. Energy usage reports can then be generated, clearly displaying usage and pinpointing when the boiler is running inefficiently. 

Don’t have an Entech system in your multi-family building yet? Check out our website to learn why Entech’s Stealth control is your best option. You can also view case studies of how we help our clients save.

Obtaining actual gas readings can be helpful to ensure you are only paying for the gas that was used, enabling you to monitor monthly usage and have consumption reports created easily.

How Can I Get Actual Gas Readings?

Getting actual gas readings is fairly straightforward. Here are several steps you can take to get actual readings for the different suppliers listed below.

  1. Submit Meter Readings monthly by calling, emailing or visiting these websites online
  1. If you don’t have a smart gas meter, call your supplier to schedule a technician to come and install one

I Have A Smart Gas Meter, Why Am I Still Getting Estimates?

If you already have a smart gas meter and are still receiving estimated bills you may need to reset the meter or do some other troubleshooting to ensure it is programmed properly. Alternatively, there may be a connection issue preventing the readings from being transmitted properly from your smart gas meter. You should contact your supplier to get help with these issues.

Can There Be Mistakes In Actual Gas Bills?

Although it’s easy to assume that a higher gas bill is a mistake, this is often not the case. A building owner may study their bills and notice drastic differences from one month or year to the next. In such cases, it definitely should be looked into. If you experience a usage fluctuation, check with your boiler monitoring company to look into the possible root causes.

You may have an inefficiency which is burning extra fuel, such as excessive water loss or clogged boiler tubes, or your settings may be too high. 

Once you rule these things out, you can send your gas bills to an energy consultant to look over. They can help you determine if the bill is incorrect. There may be an error due to a faulty meter or a mistake on your gas supplier’s end, and they will advise you how to rectify it.

So, now you know about estimated gas bills and why they can be problematic for building owners. They do not accurately reflect the actual gas usage and result in overpayment or underpayment. If you receive estimated bills, you should try to get the actual readings. This will help ensure that you’re accurately billed for your gas usage going forward and enable you to monitor monthly gas usage more easily. Feel free to reach out to the Entech Pro team for help creating consumption reports or getting further clarity in your estimated bills.

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