Additional reporting by Rachel Holliday Smith

As the temperatures rise over the dog days of summer, you may notice your Con Ed bill follows the same pattern.

An electricity-guzzling air conditioner may be a culprit. The other factor could be a recent rate hike from the utility.

Because cooling relies on electricity, usage shoots up in the summer. The more energy you use, the more you pay for. 

In New York City, fossil fuels generate the vast majority of our electricity. Natural gas, which powers most of the plants that generate the electricity Con Ed buys and delivers, is a global commodity whose price goes up and down with supply and demand

In general, the greater the demand for electricity, the higher the price. The price per kilowatt-hour of electricity in greater New York hasn’t changed much compared to last year, based on data for June.

In July, the state Public Service Commission approved rate hikes for Con Ed customers, which amount to an increase of about $7 a month for the typical New York City resident, in effect as of this August. Next year, the average residential customer will see their bill increase by another $4 monthly and then $2 more in the following year.

Those increases help pay for the programs (like efficiency incentives), staffing and infrastructure Con Ed needs to deliver electricity, but not the power itself that it purchases.

But there is some good news for certain New Yorkers. Under the agreement that allowed the rate hike to move forward, eligible low-income residential customers could see their bills drop by about $3 monthly as part of the rate changes, according to Con Ed.

For more information about rising energy costs and how to navigate the rate-setting process in New York state, check out this guide by New York Focus.

How can I get financial help with my Con Ed bill, or lower my bill?

If you’ve got a huge electric bill, there are some things you can look into, and ways you can try to control your costs going forward:

  • Con Ed offers payment plans and other forms of assistance for qualifying households.
  • If you think you have an erroneous bill, file a complaint with the state Department of Public Service if you cannot resolve the issue with Con Ed directly.
  • Low-income New Yorkers can get help paying utility costs through the Home Energy Assistance Program, but be aware: Funds for the program already ran dry for 2023, as THE CITY previously reported.
  • The Utility Assistance Program (UAP) provides people who are elderly, blind, disabled or mentally impaired, or living “in a neglected or hazardous environment” with financial assistance with energy bills. Find out more here or call the city’s Department of Social Services helpline at (718) 557-1399.
  • Customers can use less electricity by keeping shades drawn and installing efficient LED lights, among other measures recommended by Con Ed.
  • Con Ed also offers financial incentives for customers to use less energy and to help property owners weatherize their homes.