Luckily in the Bay Area most months of the year we rip open the PG&E bill and pay it without much thought.
Not so in my house yesterday, as the $377.41 whopper sits on my desk in all of its fat almost-$400 ridiculousness, up more than $100 from last month.
While our 1960s three-bedroom one-story ranch hasn't had any fancy weatherizing done to it, we did get new windows and a sliding glass door put in, along with updated appliances, but apparently that's not enough to keep our costs down when the temperatures drop.
So I logged on to PG&E's online gas tracker, a cool tool you can use to see whether you can reduce your consumption enough to get a 20 percent credit on your bill.
I wish I had checked out this deal earlier — it's ending in 23 days — but there's still time left.
Just enter your account number and zip code on the site (you need to have a SmartMeter), and you'll get a graphic showing you where your therms are at during the current billing period.
A term is a unit of energy that measures natural gas. Roughly, according to PG&E one therm runs a central gas furnace for 1.8 hours. If we get ours down from in-the-red 2.99 to 2.43 therms we'll qualify for partial credit.
Being the extremely competitive person I am, I say GAME ON, PG&E. I'm getting those therms down even more to get that 20 percent discount on my February or March bill.
PG&E offers a program called CARE that gives a monthly discount to qualifying families. There's also one-time help, or you can balance out your payments over the year to avoid the unpleasant December surprise.
Visit http://www.pge.com/wintercredit/ for energy saving tips.
Post what your bill is this month in the comments, and we'll enter you into a drawing for a Patch snuggie to keep you warm while you turn down your thermostat.