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Gas Heating costs
Old 02-13-2009, 11:02 PM   #1
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Gas Heating costs

my tenant informed me that last months gas bill was almost $400...any ideas what could be going on? 1st floor of a 2-family Burnham gas boiler about 6-7 years old, forced hot water with radiators..all double pane Harvey windows.The gas company called requesting that the meters be changed since they were 8 years old..could this be causing the spike...I wouldn't think so..

Also, what kind of maintenance is needed for these units? My plumber tells me that all that's needed is to blow out the venturi tubes and check the flame for the right mixture (mostly blue with yellow tips)

Any ideas?
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:19 PM   #2
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A little more info?

Do you live in South Florida or Barrow Alaska?

Is $400 low or high?

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Old 02-14-2009, 08:59 AM   #3
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I live in the Boston area. yes, $400 is high for an apartment. probably about 1000 sq.ft. It's been a cold winter, but this is still a lot. The gas bill for my place last month was $258 and my house is 2300 sq.ft. I do have a pellet stove to supplement that in my family room
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Old 02-14-2009, 09:08 AM   #4
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2500 square foot Colonial in SE Michigan, 12" insulation in attic, pretty well sealed. Last two bills about $325. Used to be under $100 before natural gas price run up.

I keep temp at 68 during the day, 60 at night.
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Old 02-14-2009, 09:15 AM   #5
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There was a recent article in the Washington Post that talked about complaints in Maryland and Virgina about high heating bills. The article went on to explain that deregulated utilities sought to hedge their fuel costs by signing futures contracts to lock in fuel prices. The contracts signed when oil was at $140 a barrel are just now coming through with deliveries. It may be a few years until home heating prices reflect the current $40 per barrel price.

Do you know if your utility was deregulated?
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Old 02-14-2009, 09:19 AM   #6
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I would be checking history to see how may units were consumed during the period in question and comparing that to previous winter months as well as the current cost per unit.
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Old 02-14-2009, 09:54 AM   #7
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Tenant? Were the windows closed? Was the door properly closed? Some people don't realize the common sense influence of leaving doors and windows open on their utility bills.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:03 AM   #8
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Maryland's utilities raised their rates around 70% in one year.

We have 2 electric heat pumps. We have about 4000 square feet to heat, and keep our house at 54 degrees in the winter (we also carry around space heaters, which the cats adore, and use an electric blanket on our bed and the cats' daytime bed). The rest of our utility use is extremely conservative.

January's electric bill from Baltimore Gas & Electric was $600.00. My friend, with a similar sized/aged home and gas heat, keeps her house in the 60's and paid $450 total for gas and electric. Which leads me to suspect that gas heat is cheaper (unfortunately, the gas line ends about 3/4 of a mile from our home).

Of course the immediate thought is, "Do we need new furnace/heat pumps?" but the $600 was a big spike from December's $360 bill, and the main difference was that the heat pumps ran sporadically in December but almost continually in January.

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Old 02-14-2009, 10:53 AM   #9
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Tenant? Were the windows closed? Was the door properly closed? Some people don't realize the common sense influence of leaving doors and windows open on their utility bills.

Yes, I checked that windows were latched etc. Do you people with gas burners/boilers get them serviced every year, and what's involved?
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:38 AM   #10
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Yes, I checked that windows were latched etc. Do you people with gas burners/boilers get them serviced every year, and what's involved?

I have an old tech gas furnace and all I do is keep the filter clean and oil the blower motor yearly. For the past 20 years, no professional service.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:51 PM   #11
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yes, gas furnaces/boilers are terrific from a landlords perspective..almost nothing ever goes wrong that's why I'm wondering what's going on with this one.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:57 PM   #12
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I would be checking history to see how may units were consumed during the period in question and comparing that to previous winter months as well as the current cost per unit.

This is a good advice! I will be on the phone with the gas company on Tuesday.. THanks.
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Old 02-14-2009, 03:25 PM   #13
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The gas company should have a "history" of ccf used since the meter was installed (old one and the new one). For a reference we are in Central Ohio, live in a Ranch Still Condo with three levels (total of about 3,800 heated SF) and used 94 ccf in December and 123 ccf in January or 2008/9 which compares closely with previous same months in previous years. We use a "set back" thermostat (65 degrees from 8am to 6 pm then to 55 degrees daily).
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Old 02-14-2009, 05:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Maryland's utilities raised their rates around 70% in one year.

We have 2 electric heat pumps. We have about 4000 square feet to heat, and keep our house at 54 degrees in the winter (we also carry around space heaters, which the cats adore, and use an electric blanket on our bed and the cats' daytime bed). The rest of our utility use is extremely conservative.

January's electric bill from Baltimore Gas & Electric was $600.00. My friend, with a similar sized/aged home and gas heat, keeps her house in the 60's and paid $450 total for gas and electric. Which leads me to suspect that gas heat is cheaper (unfortunately, the gas line ends about 3/4 of a mile from our home).

Of course the immediate thought is, "Do we need new furnace/heat pumps?" but the $600 was a big spike from December's $360 bill, and the main difference was that the heat pumps ran sporadically in December but almost continually in January.
$600 seems high, especially with the house kept at 54 degrees. Did you look at your KWH usage and, also, the number of days covered by the billing? Our day count varies by as many as 5 per billing. Also, did you use the space heaters as much in December? They can consume a fair amount of electricity.

I just got my electric bill (Jan 9 - Feb 9) today. Our climate is comparable to yours, and our house is about the same size with two heat pumps (about 10 years-old) as well. The bill was $321 for 3400 KWH. We use electric for everything. Dominion raised electric rates about 17% last year. We keep our house at 68 degrees. Last month's bill was $266 for the same number of days, but 2800 KWH.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Maryland's utilities raised their rates around 70% in one year.

We have 2 electric heat pumps. We have about 4000 square feet to heat, and keep our house at 54 degrees in the winter (we also carry around space heaters, which the cats adore, and use an electric blanket on our bed and the cats' daytime bed). The rest of our utility use is extremely conservative.

January's electric bill from Baltimore Gas & Electric was $600.00. My friend, with a similar sized/aged home and gas heat, keeps her house in the 60's and paid $450 total for gas and electric. Which leads me to suspect that gas heat is cheaper (unfortunately, the gas line ends about 3/4 of a mile from our home).

Of course the immediate thought is, "Do we need new furnace/heat pumps?" but the $600 was a big spike from December's $360 bill, and the main difference was that the heat pumps ran sporadically in December but almost continually in January.

Amethyst
We're in similar shape as you, home is smaller, Gas Heat downstairs and a money pump for upstairs.....both served by Baltimore Gas and Electric. We're probably going to go to all gas. If I set the t-stat like you do, I'd be living here alone........

I track heating degrees (or avg temp), therms, and KWh's. This info is available from the utility and the newspaper. Last winter, for example was 15% warmer than usual, while this year has run 10% colder...that's an increase of over 25% yr to yr, not including the increase in the cost of energy.
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Old 02-15-2009, 01:00 AM   #16
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We have 2 electric heat pumps. We have about 4000 square feet to heat, and keep our house at 54 degrees in the winter (we also carry around space heaters, which the cats adore, and use an electric blanket on our bed and the cats' daytime bed). The rest of our utility use is extremely conservative.
As you may know, when the outside temperatures get low (below about 30 degrees) your heat pump can no longer extract sufficient heat from the air to warm the air in your home, so it stops functioning as a heat pump and the resistance elements inside your unit start provide your heat (your thermostat might have a little light that tells you when this is happening). These elements work just the same as the ones on your toaster or the portable space heaters you are using. They cost a lot to run.

Yes, it generally costs much less to heat with natural gas than with electricity. Propane is more expensive than natural gas, but usually cheaper than electricity. If you want to stay with electricity and if you have room for the ground loops outside your home, look into a ground-coupled (or "geothermal") heat pump. They can be costly to install, but much cheaper to run for both heating and cooling

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Old 02-15-2009, 07:21 PM   #17
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The price of natural gas has spiked this year. Now that said the cold spell that we had last month in New England and the Northeast heck even down to the middle atlantic had people using way more gas to heat the houses. Temps below zero for a few days can dramatically raise the monthly bill. Your furnaces were running basically 24/7 for a good part of the month. Even down here in NC our daily temp for 08 jan was 46 degrees the 09 jan avg temp was 38. And a 219 dollar bill for a 2700 sf house new with real good windows and insulation. The bill a year ago was 175. 1.40 a therm now. Expensive stuff these days.
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:17 AM   #18
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The price of natural gas has spiked this year. Now that said the cold spell that we had last month in New England and the Northeast heck even down to the middle atlantic had people using way more gas to heat the houses. Temps below zero for a few days can dramatically raise the monthly bill. Your furnaces were running basically 24/7 for a good part of the month. Even down here in NC our daily temp for 08 jan was 46 degrees the 09 jan avg temp was 38. And a 219 dollar bill for a 2700 sf house new with real good windows and insulation. The bill a year ago was 175. 1.40 a therm now. Expensive stuff these days.
Strange pricing. Here in Central Ohio looking at these two bills we paid $1.42726 per CCF on the 8/22/08 bill and on the last bill 1/26/09 the cost was $0.94627 per CCF - about a 33% DECREASE.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:26 AM   #19
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It would appear there could be several things.

Increase in gas use. i.e. the open windows.
Higher gas cost.
Gas Co. did not read meter and estimated bill either current month or previous month.
Broken meter.
A gas leak. Light a match and go looking. Hmmm.... most likely not the best method. Call the gas co. and see if they can use a sniffer.

Along with comparing previous years bills for usage, I would also try to survey the neighbors and see if they have similar readings.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:42 AM   #20
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The bill was an actual bill. Can a faulty meter actually track a Higher reading?
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