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As prices increase, what can you do to take control of monthly utility bills?

October 06, 2023 Jen Connors, EWEB Communications

Man caulking a window

As a customer-owned utility, EWEB does not earn a profit. The prices you pay are based on the costs to serve our community with safe, reliable water and electricity.

We work hard to manage the expenses involved in delivering power and water, but those costs are going up and by all indications, will continue to do so. The costs to generate and purchase electricity are rising in response to nationwide grid modernization efforts. Aging infrastructure needs investment. And inflation is driving up the price of equipment such as pipes (up 50% in the past two years), transformers (up 50-85%), and power poles (up 30%).

As a result, EWEB’s Board of Commissioners is considering rate changes in 2024 to help maintain reliable utility services and fund critical investments in Eugene’s water and electric infrastructure, such as replacing aging water storage tanks, strengthening pipelines, and rebuilding substations.

You can find lots of information about major factors and trends driving projected 2024 price changes on our website. While understanding the reasons behind price increases is important, it doesn’t help if you are already struggling to make ends meet. So we want to focus on ways to save money and manage your bill, and how EWEB can help.

Get help upgrading your home to reduce energy & water usage

An important way that we help customers is through efficiency and conservation programs. You can take advantage of cash rebates and zero-interest loans to upgrade insulation, windows, heating systems, water heaters, and more, all of which create year-round bill savings. For example, a super-efficient heat pump water heater can reduce hot water costs by 50%.

Rebates are enhanced for limited-income customers, often covering the full cost to upgrade.

This table shows the current efficiency assistance programs available to EWEB customers.


Product Limited Income Rebate Standard Rebate
Ductless Heat Pump Owner Occupied: $4,500
Rental:$1,000
$800
Insulation 100% of eligible program costs Up to 50% of eligible costs
Windows Owner Occupied: $20/sq ft of glass
Rental: $10/sq ft of glass
$4/sq ft of glass
Heat Pump Water Heater Owner Occupied: $1,700
Rental: $1,000
$800
Toilets $100 for 1.0 gallons-per-flush (gpf) toilets and $50 for 1.28 gallons-per-flush toilets Same

Check out energy-saving tips

The cheapest electron or gallon of water is the one you never use. There are lots of simple, low or no-cost steps to reduce your usage and make your home feel more comfortable. For example, use less hot water, keep your thermostat set at 68 or lower, and seal leaks and drafts. You can find more tips at eweb.org/SaveEnergy.

Apply for bill assistance

Our Customer Care program helps residential customers who face temporary and long-term financial difficulties. We offer an annual $280 bill credit for income-qualifying customers.

In addition to EWEB's Customer Care Program, you may also qualify for the federal LIHEAP program. LIHEAP provides financial assistance to limited income households for home heating and energy bills, and payments can be applied to electricity, gas, wood, pellets and propane.  The LIHEAP program year begins the first working day of November. Funds are distributed on a monthly cycle until depleted. To learn more about LIHEAP, visit the Lane County website.

Ask about payment options

There may be options available if you fall behind on your utility bills. Please call Customer Service at 541-685-7000 or email eweb.answers@eweb.org to see if we can assist you. A customer service representative will review your account and determine if options are available.

Is your EWEB bill “affordable?”

The average EWEB residential customer in a single-family house pays about $6 per day to power their entire home and about $2 per day for water. Of course your actual bill may be lower or higher depending on usage, which is driven by the size of your home, number of people, quality of insulation, efficiency of heating system, etc. 

Is $8 per day “affordable?” The answer varies from household to household. It’s not simply based on the cost per kilowatt hour or gallon of water charged by EWEB. Whether your EWEB bill is affordable depends in large part on your income.

Most Oregon government agencies consider a home “energy burdened” if 6% of your income is going to energy costs. If a household spends more than 10% of its income on energy, it is considered extremely energy burdened.

That’s why during the budget and rate setting process, one of the things we look at is percentage of income spent on utility bills.

As you can see from the graph below, the average Eugene household spends about 3.5% of income on energy and water bills combined. The graph also shows that while EWEB's rates are comparable with other communities in the region, the median household income in Eugene is comparatively low which means Eugene residents spend more of our income on water and electricity relative to surrounding communities.

Average electric and water utility costs as percent of median household income

How have your EWEB rates changed over time?

For several years we were able to delay projects and reduce expenses to avoid price increases. Over the last 10 years, electric prices have increased four times, and decreased or remained steady six times. Water prices also remained steady several times.

EWEB price changes over time

But the rising costs of power can't be absorbed and needed infrastructure investments can't be delayed indefinitely. Rate increases are needed to maintain reliable utility services and fund critical investments to keep the lights on and the water flowing.

Interested in learning more about how your rates are set are what you get for your money?

Because EWEB is customer-owned, utility rate-setting and other business is conducted in open public meetings. All of this information and more is available at eweb.org/RateInfo.

Related Programs

Rebates and Savings
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Reduce your energy and water waste. Our incentive programs can help with the upfront investment.

Major projects
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We're continuously working to provide you with safe, reliable services, maintain utility infrastructure, and invest in system improvements that make your services better.

EWEB commissioners
Commissioner Profiles

Commissioner Profiles

City of Eugene residents elect five commissioners to four-year terms to form the EWEB Board of Commissioners. The elected Board is responsible for overall governance of the utility.