Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

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BogleMelon
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Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am

I live in a humble 2 bedroom apartment with my wife (no kids). I used to pay an average of $85 per month in electricity and gas for the past 3 years.
All of a sudden, 3 months earlier, I start to get crazy $135 and $125 bills! Our consumption hasn't changed. Same routine every day, every week, every month. And even comparing winter months of 2019 to winter months of 2018, it is still too high (over 50% higher consumption)!

I also have a friend who is living in the same building (family of four), in a bigger 3-bed apartment, same utility company, and still pays 30% lower than I pay.

I have checked the meter reading vs what is mentioned in the bill, and it was close enough (actual readings not estimates).

What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free? Any laws on my side here, or it is all up to the utility company decide whether they choose to help or not?

Edit to add information:
- Heating is gas.

Code: Select all

2018 1st quarter consumption:
Jan: 504 KWH + 38.696 Therms
Feb: 424 KWH + 33.264 Therms
March: 301 KWH + 25.527 Therms
2018 Q1 total: 1229 KWH + 97.487 TH

2019 1st quarter consumption:
Jan: 567 KWH (12.5% more than Jan 2018) + 39.84 Th (3% increase, I am ok with that)
Feb: 516 KWH (21.7% more) + 38.845 Th (16.8% more)
Mar: 464 KwH (54.15% more!!!!) + 36.625 Th (43.5% more "avg temp this March was lower than last year, so I am ok with that one)
 2019 Q1 total: 1547 KWH (25.88% more) + 115.31 Therms (18.28%)
Last edited by BogleMelon on Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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lthenderson
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by lthenderson » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:06 am

Where do you live? I live in the Midwest where we had the coldest winter in 80 years.

Are you being charged for the same rate as before for both electric and gas? Our electrical utility is applying to the state board for a 25% increase on the base rate. Comparing it to other peoples bills might now work as many utility companies have programs where they estimate yearly usage and you pay an even monthly rate vs. paying for what you use as you use it.

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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:12 am

lthenderson wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:06 am
Where do you live? I live in the Midwest where we had the coldest winter in 80 years.

Are you being charged for the same rate as before for both electric and gas? Our electrical utility is applying to the state board for a 25% increase on the base rate. Comparing it to other peoples bills might now work as many utility companies have programs where they estimate yearly usage and you pay an even monthly rate vs. paying for what you use as you use it.
I live in NJ
The winter theory doesn't explain why someone else with more space to warm up, paying lower than I do
Yes, they have that even program, but that is just mental accounting, my consumption in kWh will be the same regardless of how I will pay it off. I have no problem (cashflow wise) to pay the bill after all.
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:19 am

Just so it's clear, you're comparing USAGE, i.e. kWh and CCF, not cost, right?

If it's actual consumption, not billed rate, then you look at specifics. For example, if you have gas heat, is the gas bill up in the coldest months as compared to last year? And the electric would be up to run the fan when the furnace is blowing heat?

Our gas usage, for the period ending 2/22, is up 18% in usage over last year.

If the electric is up, but not the gas, then starting looking at things like the refrigerator, any heavy draw appliances, etc.

Your comparison to your friend's bill seems to be in cost, not usage. In an apartment building, it also matters if the units are on the ground floor, or the top floor (heat rises) or exposed to external winds (corner unit).

Lastly, compare yours and your friends usage prior to this increase and see how they compared.
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by vineviz » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:53 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am
What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free? Any laws on my side here, or it is all up to the utility company decide whether they choose to help or not?
If the readings are accurate and your rates haven't changed, the most likely culprit IMHO is an appliance that is no longer working correctly. It'd have to be something large with a motor and/or compressor, so probably a refrigerator, washer/dryer, or - more likely - your HVAC system.

If you haven't had your HVAC serviced since the bills increased, I'd probably call in a technician you know and trust.

You could probably diagnose other appliances using a Kill A Watt meter by comparing actual electricity consumption versus some "normal" benchmark.
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researcher
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by researcher » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:05 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am
And even comparing winter months of 2019 to winter months of 2018, it is still too high (over 50% higher consumption)!

What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free? Any laws on my side here, or it is all up to the utility company decide whether they choose to help or not?
As others have mentioned, you need to focus on actual consumption/usage, not the dollar amount of your bill.

Do you have gas, electric, or both? What type of heating do you have? Is your consumption up just in the winter, or in the summer as well?

My guess is a combination of two things...
- Your heat source is not working properly and needs to be serviced/replaced
- You had a harsher winter this year and required more energy

If the meter is working properly, I don't know why you think the utility company should bear any responsibility. They don't control what goes on inside your apartment.

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:08 am

researcher wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:05 am
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am
And even comparing winter months of 2019 to winter months of 2018, it is still too high (over 50% higher consumption)!

What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free? Any laws on my side here, or it is all up to the utility company decide whether they choose to help or not?
As others have mentioned, you need to focus on actual consumption/usage, not the dollar amount of your bill.

Do you have gas, electric, or both? What type of heating do you have? Is your consumption up just in the winter, or in the summer as well?

My guess is a combination of two things...
- Your heat source is not working properly and needs to be serviced/replaced
- You had a harsher winter this year and required more energy

If the meter is working properly, I don't know why you think the utility company should bear any responsibility. They don't control what goes on inside your apartment.
Consumption in KWH is high as well, not just the dollar.
My heat is a gas system.
How can I be sure that the meter is not faulty and that it doesn't rotate faster than it should be? Shouldn't that be something the utility company should answer?
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researcher
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by researcher » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:10 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:12 am
I live in NJ
The winter theory doesn't explain why someone else with more space to warm up, paying lower than I do.
Yes, they have that even program, but that is just mental accounting, my consumption in kWh will be the same regardless of how I will pay it off.
It sounds like you are comparing your monthly bill amount to your neighbor's, which is a completely meaningless metric.
You need to look at the actual energy consumption, not the dollar amount.

Since your neighbor is on even billing, they will pay say $100 every month, all year round.
If you are on actual billing, you might pay $125 in winter months, but only $50/month the rest of the year.

quantAndHold
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by quantAndHold » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:16 am

Electric meters don’t often break. If the electric company just happened to install a new meter at the time your usage went up, you might be onto something.

More likely, though, is either you’re using an electric space heater because it’s been cold, or your fridge is having difficulties. How much is your fridge running?

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by onourway » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:18 am

The answer will be somewhere in the actual number of kWhr/Therms consumed and the rate at which you were charged. Without knowing which of those changed and by how much, we can’t help much.

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:21 am

researcher wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:10 am
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:12 am
I live in NJ
The winter theory doesn't explain why someone else with more space to warm up, paying lower than I do.
Yes, they have that even program, but that is just mental accounting, my consumption in kWh will be the same regardless of how I will pay it off.
It sounds like you are comparing your monthly bill amount to your neighbor's, which is a completely meaningless metric.
You need to look at the actual energy consumption, not the dollar amount.

Since your neighbor is on even billing, they will pay say $100 every month, all year round.
If you are on actual billing, you might pay $125 in winter months, but only $50/month the rest of the year.
"They" referring to the utility company not my neighbor. see the quoted post i was responding at
And I am not that dump. Sure i compared the actual Kwh. same thing
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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:22 am

quantAndHold wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:16 am

How much is your fridge running?
How could i figure that out? Thanks!
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Kenkat
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by Kenkat » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:25 am

You can also buy a meter device you plug in-line that will tell you how much each device is pulling in watts. This might let you check things like the refrigerator, etc. Kill A Watt is one brand but there are many others.

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by researcher » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:26 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:08 am
Consumption in KWH is high as well, not just the dollar.
My heat is a gas system.
How can I be sure that the meter is not faulty and that it doesn't rotate faster than it should be? Shouldn't that be something the utility company should answer?
So is your increased consumption coming from the electric (kWh) or the natural gas (Ccf)?
You reference only the electric consumption (kWh), so I assume that is driving the higher consumption, not the gas. Is that correct?

You can very easily determine if the gas meter is faulty. Simply shut off anything that runs on gas, and see if the meter continues to run. If it does, then shut off the gas main coming in the house. If it continues to run, you've isolated the leak between the meter and the shut off. I assume you could also ask the gas company to do a meter check as well.

Since electric can't "leak", there should be little concern about a faulty meter. However, you can do the same thing I suggested above. Turn off/unplug everything and see if the meter continues to run.

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:28 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am
I live in a humble 2 bedroom apartment with my wife (no kids). I used to pay an average of $85 per month in electricity and gas for the past 3 years.
All of a sudden, 3 months earlier, I start to get crazy $135 and $125 bills! Our consumption hasn't changed. Same routine every day, every week, every month. And even comparing winter months of 2019 to winter months of 2018, it is still too high (over 50% higher consumption)!
I also have a friend who is living in the same building (family of four), in a bigger 3-bed apartment, same utility company, and still pays 30% lower than I pay.
I have checked the meter reading vs what is mentioned in the bill, and it was close enough (actual readings not estimates).
What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free? Any laws on my side here, or it is all up to the utility company decide whether they choose to help or not?
Have BOTH gas and electric gone up?

Do you have an account and pay utility companies directly, or is it passed along from the landlord?

For electricity, can you see and watch the meter? Maybe turn everything off that you can - and see if something is drawing current?

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by NoVa Lurker » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:34 am

If your usage is up, there could be lots of reasons, which we wouldn't be able to figure out over the internet. The things that have already been mentioned seem most likely. A few other possible culprits, in addition to what has already been mentioned: maybe a small crack or opening has grown bigger, creating a draft near your thermostat, so it's running your heat more than it has in past winters; a gas regulator (at the meter) got old and is letting more gas flow than is needed; if you have shared walls, a neighbor is running less heat than in past years (maybe a neighboring unit is vacant, or they are taking a long vacation and left the heat at 55F all the time?), so you have to make up the difference, which could especially affect pipes in the walls that run hot water. The gas regulator at the meter would probably be your utility's responsibility, but they might not come out and check it unless you had a good reason to believe it's a problem - maybe check the age on the regulator, and if it's old, you can call and ask them how frequently they replace their regulators?

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by motorcyclesarecool » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:15 am

Your bill should state the calculated usage. If electric usage is inexplicably increased, call an electrician, you may have a short. If your gas usage is up, you should have a qualified professional check for a leak.
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by livesoft » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:16 am

Apply some Common Sense.

You should be able to turn off all your heating and electricity or at least the appliances for a few days. Maybe your neighbor has tapped into your electricity wires or gas lines and is using your utilities? :twisted: Or maybe your water heater is leaking and the leak/drain pan drains outside somewhere that you cannot detect unless you go looking.

Since you are renting have you talked to the property managers?
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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:24 am

livesoft wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:16 am

Since you are renting have you talked to the property managers?
I just emailed them now. Doubt they would care or do anything.
It is difficult to me to go to the room where all the meters are locked for all the tenants. Last time I needed to confirm the reading, it took a lot back and forth emails to convince the manager to let me in (he was convinced that the utility company should be the one to unlock the door for me :oops: ), finally he entered himself, captured a picture of the meter with the readings and emailed it to me.

Not sure how can I get him to agree to give me unlimited access to that room to run tests and see if the meter is stopping when it should be stopped.
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by corysold » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:40 am

Is your furnace in your unit? Have you changed filters? Clogged filters can increase usage by quite a bit.

What floor are you on? Has a tenant below you or a neighbor changed in the past year? Perhaps you were getting some residual heat from a neighbor and a new neighbor keeps their home cooler?

Have you gotten a new TV or large appliance?

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:42 am

Do you have a gas or electric hot water heater? A sump pump?

Your gas fluctuations look reasonable for a colder winter. Not sure I'd trust your neighbor's claim that there usage didn't change. Maybe ask a few others?
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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:44 am

bhsince87 wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:42 am


Not sure I'd trust your neighbor's claim that there usage didn't change.
I saw his bills
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by KlangFool » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:08 am
researcher wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:05 am
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am
And even comparing winter months of 2019 to winter months of 2018, it is still too high (over 50% higher consumption)!

What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free? Any laws on my side here, or it is all up to the utility company decide whether they choose to help or not?
As others have mentioned, you need to focus on actual consumption/usage, not the dollar amount of your bill.

Do you have gas, electric, or both? What type of heating do you have? Is your consumption up just in the winter, or in the summer as well?

My guess is a combination of two things...
- Your heat source is not working properly and needs to be serviced/replaced
- You had a harsher winter this year and required more energy

If the meter is working properly, I don't know why you think the utility company should bear any responsibility. They don't control what goes on inside your apartment.
Consumption in KWH is high as well, not just the dollar.
My heat is a gas system.
How can I be sure that the meter is not faulty and that it doesn't rotate faster than it should be? Shouldn't that be something the utility company should answer?
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by RL1013 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:53 am

Did you increase the hotness knob of your hot water heater? I did that once and the next bill was a nasty surprise. Did you put something near your thermostat to cover it up? That would cause it to work overtime. Usually the bill breaks the full bill amount down to electric and natural gas. Which one of this is going up?

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by JoeRetire » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:55 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am
What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free?
Call your utility company.

Explain your concern. Ask what they can do. Ask if it is free or not.

My utility company will come out and examine your house for free. They will offer tips on reducing energy consumption, will sometimes replace light bulbs with more efficient bulbs, and offer discount coupons for larger expenses.

When my neighbor had them come out they showed him how much heat he was losing around his windows.

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by GoldStar » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:07 pm

That seems like a lot of electricity use for a 2-bedroom apartment that isn't electricity heated. Perhaps your refrigerator coils need cleaning or you have an appliance issue.
Is hot water heater gas or electric? Is the water heater in a cold basement somewhere?
Is stove gas or electric?

You said you have the same routine as last year but I would think it through to make sure (Are you cooking more meals in the oven than you were a year ago? Are one of you showering at home that was showering at a gym a year ago? Small differences like these can make a big difference).
A colder winter could explain the gas difference (if your heat is definitely gas) but not the electric difference (unless you have an electric water heater in a cold place). Even last year - seeing a 200 KWH difference between months (Jan and March) seems odd to me if you aren't using electric for heat.

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.


Since March isn't even half over yet, a "March bill" is most of February.

OP still hasn't conveyed whether heating system is gas or electricity that I see.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by KlangFool » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:11 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.
RickBoglehead,

Yes, but usually not 200KWH increases.

KlangFool

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:18 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:11 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.
RickBoglehead,

Yes, but usually not 200KWH increases.

KlangFool
I won't profess to be an expert on HVAC systems, but my October daily kWH (no heat running) was 20.2 kwH per day. My Jan/Feb usage was 26.9 kWH per day. That's an increase of 33.2% in electricity usage, ALL due to heating with two gas furnaces.

So a 33% increase in a heating season is not at all a surprise to me.
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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.


Since March isn't even half over yet, a "March bill" is most of February.

OP still hasn't conveyed whether heating system is gas or electricity that I see.
It is gas. The heater is outside locked in a small room in the balacony
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:21 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm
It is gas. The heater is outside locked in a small room in the balacony
Then I suspect your increase in electricity usage, year over year, is due to the severe cold days we had, which caused your furnace to run more, with a fan powered by electricity. Note that if it's a heat pump, the "emergency heat" for a heat pump pure electricity.
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fortfun
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by fortfun » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:22 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:01 am
I live in a humble 2 bedroom apartment with my wife (no kids). I used to pay an average of $85 per month in electricity and gas for the past 3 years.
All of a sudden, 3 months earlier, I start to get crazy $135 and $125 bills! Our consumption hasn't changed. Same routine every day, every week, every month. And even comparing winter months of 2019 to winter months of 2018, it is still too high (over 50% higher consumption)!

I also have a friend who is living in the same building (family of four), in a bigger 3-bed apartment, same utility company, and still pays 30% lower than I pay.

I have checked the meter reading vs what is mentioned in the bill, and it was close enough (actual readings not estimates).

What else can I do? Can I call the utility company asking them to come over and check if something is wrong? And is that visit usually free? Any laws on my side here, or it is all up to the utility company decide whether they choose to help or not?

Edit to add information:
- Heating is gas.

Code: Select all

2018 1st quarter consumption:
Jan: 504 KWH + 38.696 Therms
Feb: 424 KWH + 33.264 Therms
March: 301 KWH + 25.527 Therms
2018 Q1 total: 1229 KWH + 97.487 TH

2019 1st quarter consumption:
Jan: 567 KWH (12.5% more than Jan 2018) + 39.84 Th (3% increase, I am ok with that)
Feb: 516 KWH (21.7% more) + 38.845 Th (16.8% more)
Mar: 464 KwH (54.15% more!!!!) + 36.625 Th (43.5% more "avg temp this March was lower than last year, so I am ok with that one)
 2019 Q1 total: 1547 KWH (25.88% more) + 115.31 Therms (18.28%)
Has anyone plugged in a space heater? I know people, including family, can be sneaky about them. Baking more cookies, doing more laundry, is the refrigerator door closing tightly, etc? As someone else said, the fan on your gas furnace uses a lot of electricity. This winter is colder than previous winters. That could have something to do with it.

KlangFool
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by KlangFool » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:25 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.


Since March isn't even half over yet, a "March bill" is most of February.

OP still hasn't conveyed whether heating system is gas or electricity that I see.
It is gas. The heater is outside locked in a small room in the balacony
Compare your gas usage and electric usage. Do they go up at the same time? If they do, it is a heating related issue.

KlangFool

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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:25 pm
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.


Since March isn't even half over yet, a "March bill" is most of February.

OP still hasn't conveyed whether heating system is gas or electricity that I see.
It is gas. The heater is outside locked in a small room in the balacony
Compare your gas usage and electric usage. Do they go up at the same time? If they do, it is a heating related issue.

KlangFool
It looked so!!
As a renter, what are my options then? What to ask from the maintenance team exactly?
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

PVW
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by PVW » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:31 pm

Unlikely, but somebody could have tapped into your line and be stealing electricity. Shut off your main breaker and see if your electric meter stops.

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greg24
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by greg24 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:34 pm

Cold weather can force people to stay home more often, resulting in higher electricity usage.

My power bills have a variable amount of days per bill. Sometimes it can be as low as 26 or 27, sometimes as high as 33 or 34, resulting in some billing swings.

You keep making the neighbor comparison. Have you seen that neighbors 2018 bills compared to 2019? Maybe they're seeing the same fluctuations.

KlangFool
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by KlangFool » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:38 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:25 pm
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.


Since March isn't even half over yet, a "March bill" is most of February.

OP still hasn't conveyed whether heating system is gas or electricity that I see.
It is gas. The heater is outside locked in a small room in the balacony
Compare your gas usage and electric usage. Do they go up at the same time? If they do, it is a heating related issue.

KlangFool
It looked so!!
As a renter, what are my options then? What to ask from the maintenance team exactly?
Change your air filter first. Compare the average temperature of last year Q1 versus this year Q1. It should be in your electric bill or gas bill. This might be normal.

KlangFool

Spirit Rider
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by Spirit Rider » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:56 pm

Some thoughts; Assuming you are comparing actual usage. Even with budget billing, the actual usage will be on the neighbor's bill.

What are your respective locations. The top floor, outside wall, first floor and worst case top floor/corner units will have higher heat loss than a middle floor inside unit will have.

Also, usage pattern can have a big difference. Maybe your neighbor is from Minneapolis and uses a programmable thermostat to set the temperature to 55 when they are at work, 65 when they get home and 60 while they are sleeping. While you are from the tropics and keep your temperature 75 all day long

researcher
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by researcher » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:58 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 pm
It looked so!!
As a renter, what are my options then? What to ask from the maintenance team exactly?
Based on everything you've posted, it sounds like a climate-related issue, not a maintenance issue.

It appears you have acknowledged that temperatures this winter have been colder than last year, which likely explains your increased electric/gas consumption. And as others have stated, both your gas and electric bills will increase as the weather gets colder with a forced air heating system.

It is possible that your HVAC system is simply getting older, not operating as efficiently, and/or needs to be serviced.
When was the last time you changed the furnace filter?

Topic Author
BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:00 pm

researcher wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:58 pm
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 pm
It looked so!!
As a renter, what are my options then? What to ask from the maintenance team exactly?
Based on everything you've posted, it sounds like a climate-related issue, not a maintenance issue.

It appears you have acknowledged that temperatures this winter have been colder than last year, which likely explains your increased electric/gas consumption. And as others have stated, both your gas and electric bills will increase as the weather gets colder with a forced air heating system.

It is possible that your HVAC system is simply getting older, not operating as efficiently, and/or needs to be serviced.
When was the last time you changed the furnace filter?
Based on everything you've posted, it sounds like a climate-related issue, not a maintenance issue.
I have a hard time believing that when I remember my friend's bills and how his apartment size is compared to mine (at least double).
Yes I let the maintenance people come in and change the filter every 3 months or so.
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

smitcat
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by smitcat » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:03 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:25 pm
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:48 am
BogleMelon,

If your heating system is gas, your electric usage (KWH) should not change on a colder month. But, I think you might be wrong. Based on your number, it looks like your heating system is electrically based. It changes based on the temperature of the month.

KlangFool
In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.


Since March isn't even half over yet, a "March bill" is most of February.

OP still hasn't conveyed whether heating system is gas or electricity that I see.
It is gas. The heater is outside locked in a small room in the balacony
Compare your gas usage and electric usage. Do they go up at the same time? If they do, it is a heating related issue.

KlangFool
It looked so!!
As a renter, what are my options then? What to ask from the maintenance team exactly?
I don't know about your area but where we live the utility company will come in and audit your usage for free. With those visits they bring along a more sophisticated Kill-A Watt device as well as other devices and all of your bills pre-analyzed. The results include all the usage by type as well as potential methods to reduce the bills.
Perhaps that is an option that could help.

TBillT
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by TBillT » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:07 pm

New Jersey has high elec cost.
I would even say it is better now than 1970-1990's when we lived there.
Our home was built 1978 when nat gas was banned.

>So we had oil heat,
> we saved a lot by switching to oil hot water vs. elec ( at the time oil was cheap and gas was not avail.).
> Later switched to 90% efficeint gas heat when nat gas was brought in.
> Today would do LED lights, maybe gas hot water (but oil hot water was very nice to have), insulation of course.

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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:08 pm

smitcat wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:03 pm
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:25 pm
BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:09 pm


In a force hot air system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the fan that blows the air.

In a forced hot water system where the burner is gas, electricity is used to run the pump that pushes the water through the pipes.

So electricity use does in fact increase with a gas heating system.


Since March isn't even half over yet, a "March bill" is most of February.

OP still hasn't conveyed whether heating system is gas or electricity that I see.
It is gas. The heater is outside locked in a small room in the balacony
Compare your gas usage and electric usage. Do they go up at the same time? If they do, it is a heating related issue.

KlangFool
It looked so!!
As a renter, what are my options then? What to ask from the maintenance team exactly?
I don't know about your area but where we live the utility company will come in and audit your usage for free. With those visits they bring along a more sophisticated Kill-A Watt device as well as other devices and all of your bills pre-analyzed. The results include all the usage by type as well as potential methods to reduce the bills.
Perhaps that is an option that could help.
Thank you, indeed I have just talked to the utility company, and although they gave me an altitude at the beginning of "how dare you asking us about your consumption?!" when I was persistent to ask what could they do, they provided a phone number for another company that could perform an audit. Not sure if it will be free though or not, so I will call and ask.
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by Spirit Rider » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:10 pm

researcher wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:58 pm
It is possible that your HVAC system is simply getting older, not operating as efficiently, and/or needs to be serviced.
When was the last time you changed the furnace filter?
If a gas furnace or boiler was operating this inefficiently, the OP would be dead from CO poisoning. Apartment renters often do not have any access to their HVAC systems. Even if they are individual to units, they often are in locked mechanical rooms.

The property management company would want to and be responsible for any maintenance.

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:12 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:29 pm

It looked so!!
As a renter, what are my options then? What to ask from the maintenance team exactly?
Both electric and gas went up, during the coldest month in decades. :?
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

researcher
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by researcher » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:35 pm

Spirit Rider wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:10 pm
If a gas furnace or boiler was operating this inefficiently, the OP would be dead from CO poisoning.
This is absolutely wrong.

Dirty air filter, partially clogged burners, dirty/worn blower motor...these can make a furnace run inefficiently without killing the OP.

bhsince87
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:42 pm

Assuming your fan blower is around 750 Watts, that would equate to about 4-5 hours of extra run time per day this year vs last (if I did the math right.....) That might explain the electricity usage increase.

As to why your usage went up more than your neighbor, as other mentioned, a lot of factors could go into play there. Maybe they get more sun, and/or are better insulated than your apartment. Also, they might keep their thermostat at a lower temp.

It's also possible that your apartment has developed an air leakage, and/or just has more than your neighbor. That's something a full scale energy audit would detect.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by drawpoker » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:08 pm

Is your electric meter one of the new "smart" meters? Or the old-fashioned kind where the guy comes out and actually has to "read" the meter every month?

Reason being - after we were forced here to go to the smart meters several years back I started tracking my hourly elec usage from the online service the smart meters give you now. Last year I noticed there was a big spike in the middle of the day when neither AC or heat was running, no laundry, no stove, no refrig compressor, etc. Nothing to be drawing that much kwh!

I complained to the utility there was something wrong with my meter, they denied it was possible. But, know what, that mysterious spiking in the middle of the day suddenly stopped. I can think of no other explanation than it was my complaining that put a stop to the practice.

There have been numerous reports from consumer groups ever since the smart meters came out that customer's bills increased, not decreased as promised, with the smart meter.

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BogleMelon
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:11 pm

drawpoker wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:08 pm
Is your electric meter one of the new "smart" meters? Or the old-fashioned kind where the guy comes out and actually has to "read" the meter every month?

Reason being - after we were forced here to go to the smart meters several years back I started tracking my hourly elec usage from the online service the smart meters give you now. Last year I noticed there was a big spike in the middle of the day when neither AC or heat was running, no laundry, no stove, no refrig compressor, etc. Nothing to be drawing that much kwh!

I complained to the utility there was something wrong with my meter, they denied it was possible. But, know what, that mysterious spiking in the middle of the day suddenly stopped. I can think of no other explanation than it was my complaining that put a stop to the practice.

There have been numerous reports from consumer groups ever since the smart meters came out that customer's bills increased, not decreased as promised, with the smart meter.
Mine is an old fashioned one. It was interesting to read about the smart ones though!
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

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pfrank
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Re: Utility bill hits new highs! What can I do?

Post by pfrank » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:47 pm

I had a similar issue at my house. My electrical bill increased significantly with no change in our family’s routine. The culprit? My refrigerator has a ice maker in its freezer section. It is not hooked up to water, but somehow got turned on. Took me a awhile to find it. Now my electric bill is back to normal (and the switch is taped in the off position).

Many libraries loan out Kill-A-Watt meters. Check with yours. It is a helpful tool to track down usage and phantom loads.

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