CARLSBAD, Calif. — If you’re an SDG&E customer with non-smart meter, you may want to double check your bills.
"It's a little frustrating that we had to figure this all out on our own, and kind of make those adjustments on our own," said Vanessa Gorney.
Gorney bought a four-bedroom home in Carlsbad in August of last year. It has a pool, something she and her family used often, which resulted in high SDG&E bills since gas is needed to heat it.
"It was probably around $500. Which, you know, we kind of expected because it was summertime. And we were excited to have the pool. And, you know, we were heating it a lot," said Gorney.
What Gorney didn't expect was for her bills to skyrocket during winter months when she says she didn't use the pool at all.
"The energy bills just seemed to get higher so that was concerning to us."
From November through February, her bills ranged from around $800 to over a thousand.
"I know that there was a rate increase that SDG&E had with gas. So that kind of accounted for that. But it didn't make sense. Our usage was the same every month when we weren't using hardly any gas," said Gorney.
Gorney contacted SDG&E, who sent someone out to look for leaks.
They didn't find any.
That's when she discovered her meter isn't a smart one, meaning a technician has to come out and manually check it every other month.
The months in between are estimated based on prior usage.
Gorney started checking her own meter and found those estimates were way off.
"And so in the end, when we actually figured out how much gas we have been using, it was about 130 therms over the course of three months, but they had charged us for 600 therms.
Gorney says she waited on the phone with SDG&E for hours trying to prove her case. She succeeded, and received a bill credit for $1,278.52.
A spokesperson SDG&E said estimates are based on the same month from the year prior, not the last reading and since Gorney had just moved into the home, those estimated months were based on usage from the previous owner, which was higher.
SDG&E says eventually her bills would have been resolved.
As for Gorney, she says ratepayers need to understand their bills and be their own advocates.
SDG&E says less than a half percent of its customers have non-smart meters.
Gorney is getting a smart meter installed next week.
Watch Related: Full interview | CBS 8 sits down with SDG&E to discuss rising costs, frustrated customers (Feb 22, 2022)