Study: Auto-pay Utility Customers Use More Power

May 4, 2015

Duke University research shows that power customers use more electricity if they've enrolled in automatic payments.
Credit Mark Turnauckas / Flickr

A study from Duke University shows that customers use up to eight percent more electricity when they use automatic payments to cover their monthly bills.

Steven Sexton teaches public policy and economics. He says auto-pay keeps costs down for companies, and is convenient for customers. But it means they can lose track of their costs.

"The customer no longer has to confront those prices or look at that price information, because their payments will be transmitted, regardless of whether they look at their bills."

Sexton recommends requiring customers to confirm each monthly payment, or to at least warn them they might lose track of expenses on auto-pay.

Sexton’s findings appear in this month's issue of the journal “Review of Economics and Statistics."