Author Topic: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills  (Read 5259 times)

Plugra

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Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« on: July 10, 2019, 07:54:43 AM »
Just recently joined Nextdoor.com to see what my neighbors are chatting about.  It turns out they are complaining about the outrage of high utility bills.  Although the year-round average electric usage in my state is about 1000 kWh (billed at $0.12-0.13/kWh, or about $120-130 monthly), a lot of my neighbors are WAY over that level.  And it seems they use a LOT of water.


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A month ago, I received a water bill which was up to $400 for a family with 2 adults and two kids!

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I am experiencing the same thing, got a bill of $668

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$365 this month for a 1425sf 3x2. Unreal.

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My bill went from 291 this past month to 430. I know summer but havenít changed much.

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We received our utility bill yesterday and we were horrified to see that it was for $700. Over half of that was for wastewater. Usually that's only about $10. This is appalling. My husband and I live in a small apartment and it's just the two of us.

It goes on and on. There is scarcely any mention of conservation/efficiency strategies.  Instead almost everyone is blaming our "crooked" electric/water/gas company - They like being angry. 

I guess I can imagine a totally naive person who blasts the A/C 24 hrs a day, until the house is like a meat locker, running up a $300-500 electric bill ... but I can't even imagine how you could use $350/month in water without noticing that you are using a lot of water.




Sibley

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2019, 07:57:37 AM »
Suggest that they get a kill-a-watt and pass it around to check everything. My parents had an old freezer that started using 30% more power. They have since disposed of it.

And re the water - suggest they check for leaks, fix dripping faucets, running toilets, etc. It does add up.

Beyond that, they need to learn to turn things off when not in use.

GreenEggs

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2019, 08:05:39 AM »
Watering the grass uses a lot of water. 

v8rx7guy

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2019, 08:15:31 AM »
Hmmmm actually something seems a bit wrong water bills going up so much for a few of those people.  Over half of $750 for wastewater when it is typically $10?

Dogastrophe

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2019, 08:23:28 AM »
Just recently joined Nextdoor.com to see what my neighbors are chatting about.  It turns out they are complaining about the outrage of high utility bills.  Although the year-round average electric usage in my state is about 1000 kWh (billed at $0.12-0.13/kWh, or about $120-130 monthly), a lot of my neighbors are WAY over that level.  And it seems they use a LOT of water.


Quote
A month ago, I received a water bill which was up to $400 for a family with 2 adults and two kids!

Quote
I am experiencing the same thing, got a bill of $668

Quote
$365 this month for a 1425sf 3x2. Unreal.

Quote
My bill went from 291 this past month to 430. I know summer but havenít changed much.

Quote
We received our utility bill yesterday and we were horrified to see that it was for $700. Over half of that was for wastewater. Usually that's only about $10. This is appalling. My husband and I live in a small apartment and it's just the two of us.

It goes on and on. There is scarcely any mention of conservation/efficiency strategies.  Instead almost everyone is blaming our "crooked" electric/water/gas company - They like being angry. 

I guess I can imagine a totally naive person who blasts the A/C 24 hrs a day, until the house is like a meat locker, running up a $300-500 electric bill ... but I can't even imagine how you could use $350/month in water without noticing that you are using a lot of water.

Several years ago I had a co-worker who would leave the hot side bathroom faucet running 24/7 (at a slow rate) because he didn't like waiting for the hot water to come out.  He would also routinely complain about his water and electric bills.  He refused to see the connection between his bills and his actions - the utilities were just hosing us!  Can't argue with that level of stupidity.

hops

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2019, 08:28:33 AM »
Utility complaints, always a popular topic of discussion, have been temporarily replaced by property tax gripes on our Nextdoor. Occasionally the complaints make sense but frequently the comparisons miss the mark, like the neighbor who lives in a large, updated house on a huge lot griping that her taxes are higher than a neighbor's (who has a much smaller home).

Plugra

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2019, 09:29:57 AM »
Utility complaints, always a popular topic of discussion, have been temporarily replaced by property tax gripes on our Nextdoor. Occasionally the complaints make sense but frequently the comparisons miss the mark, like the neighbor who lives in a large, updated house on a huge lot griping that her taxes are higher than a neighbor's (who has a much smaller home).

I hear that too.  People complain that our property taxes are higher than in the adjacent county. And it's true that taxes are lower in the next county.  By the way, that county has terrible schools, no parks or recreation, no public transit, a crap library system, etc.  Funny how that works out.

FireHiker

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2019, 10:34:00 AM »
We got mis-billed once for water; it got sorted out eventually but it turned out they had actually read our meter incorrectly. We were worried we had a leak somewhere with the way it skyrocketed!

@Dogastrophe Sounds like that neighbor could use a tankless water heater. ;)

Just Joe

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2019, 03:36:20 PM »
When I got my first house I did alot of watering for new planting I did. My water bill was in the hundreds. Turned out that the sewer bill was derived from the water bill. No accounting for anything I did with the water hose.

That bill hurt b/c I was quite poor at the time.

Sugaree

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2019, 01:20:52 PM »
When I got my first house I did alot of watering for new planting I did. My water bill was in the hundreds. Turned out that the sewer bill was derived from the water bill. No accounting for anything I did with the water hose.

That bill hurt b/c I was quite poor at the time.


Our city offers a 20% discount on the sewer portion from June through September for watering grass and filling swimming pools.  But you have to call and ask for it.  They say that they can rescind the discount if your usage isn't higher than normal, but I'm not sure how often they actually do that.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 01:23:10 PM by Sugaree »

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2019, 07:52:09 AM »
We got mis-billed once for water; it got sorted out eventually but it turned out they had actually read our meter incorrectly. We were worried we had a leak somewhere with the way it skyrocketed!

@Dogastrophe Sounds like that neighbor could use a tankless water heater. ;)

Yeah I'm reading above and it sounds like some water billing issues, possibly.  I've filled pools and not used anywhere near $400 of water in a month.  And it also depends on where you live.  For example, at our primary, our water bill is about $140/mo which includes wastewater.  It's obnoxious and it's that much almost regardless of how much water we use.  At our second home, the water bill is $15/mo, and even with higher usage, maybe $18 - $20.  House is on septic so wastewater is $0.  It's pretty crazy the difference between houses barely a couple hours apart.

El_Mariachi

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2019, 09:56:24 AM »
I literally had this conversation with my neighbor last week

I noticed they had their AC being fixed and started chatting in the front yard

they pay 400-500 a month in just electricity!

They just have 1 unit for a fairly large 2 story home

we bought ours because it had 2 smaller ac units for each level of the house, but I also insulated the crap out of the attic and we only pay 50-150$ in electricity
but I have our thermostats programed, the average temp in our house is 75F

ysette9

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2019, 12:00:54 PM »
I canít speak highly enough about the benefits of insulation. We insulated the heck out of our house when we bought it: floors, attic, exterior walls, interior walls. I had to argue with the insulation guys and insist that yes, I did want every interior wall insulated.
I know that is not what people usually do but it is what I want, and Iím paying the bill, so blow that insulation in!

Sure, savings on electric and gas bills are nice, but the real benefit for me is comfort. It is so luxurious to not have cold feet in the winter and not have hot and cold spots all over, to say nothing of having a quiet house.

We did add AC and it does cost more than sucking it up. Thankfully with the insulation and new roof and passive attic cooling we donít have to use it all that much to stay comfortable, and the difference is my kiddos sleep at night instead of waking up to screen from overheating. That is lifestyle inflation I never stop appreciating. ;)

How does one spend $400/month on electricity? I donít even know what that would look like. 

bacchi

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2019, 12:54:47 PM »
How does one spend $400/month on electricity? I donít even know what that would look like.

Keep the thermostat at 72. All. The. Fucking. Time. Like my tenants, who complain about high electric bills.

It's amazing that people can be so clueless.

Dragonswan

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2019, 02:19:26 PM »
72!? What kind of meat locker are you living in?  75-76F in the summertime.  You'll adapt.

stoaX

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2019, 02:33:20 PM »
We got mis-billed once for water; it got sorted out eventually but it turned out they had actually read our meter incorrectly. We were worried we had a leak somewhere with the way it skyrocketed!

@Dogastrophe Sounds like that neighbor could use a tankless water heater. ;)

Yeah I'm reading above and it sounds like some water billing issues, possibly.  I've filled pools and not used anywhere near $400 of water in a month.  And it also depends on where you live.  For example, at our primary, our water bill is about $140/mo which includes wastewater.  It's obnoxious and it's that much almost regardless of how much water we use.  At our second home, the water bill is $15/mo, and even with higher usage, maybe $18 - $20.  House is on septic so wastewater is $0.  It's pretty crazy the difference between houses barely a couple hours apart.

$140 vs. $18?!?!  I guess the lesson here is that if you're going to move somewhere it would be worthwhile trying to get a handle on the utility costs, if that's possible.  But wow, what a difference!  Just for the record, I pay around $62 per month for water and sewer (and complain about it...)

jinga nation

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2019, 03:02:30 PM »
72!? What kind of meat locker are you living in?  75-76F in the summertime.  You'll adapt.
that's cold.
80F during the day if myself/wife are working at home, otherwise 82. 78-79 at night.
you'll adapt.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 03:17:40 PM by jinga nation »

Cassie

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2019, 03:03:36 PM »
Maybe they have water leaks.

Dragonswan

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2019, 03:14:33 PM »
72!? What kind of meat locker are you living in?  75-76F in the summertime.  You'll adapt.
that's cold.
80F during the day, 78-79 at night.
you'll adapt.
You're right. *hangs head in shame*
Although I like to be warmer when I sleep than when I'm awake, so can I do 80 at night and 78-79 during the day? *cue eager puppy display*

ysette9

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2019, 05:03:45 PM »
I canít sleep when it is warm at night! I need it to be 60*F or lower with the windows open, buried under a comforter. I donít know how people who live in places where it doesnít cool down at night make it.

jinga nation

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2019, 05:19:25 PM »
I canít sleep when it is warm at night! I need it to be 60*F or lower with the windows open, buried under a comforter. I donít know how people who live in places where it doesnít cool down at night make it.
that's because we don't use blankets and/or wear heavy night clothing. sleep in the nude or your undies or a tshirt/shorts, a cotton bedsheet is all you need.
you'd be surprised how the human body adapts.
the biggest hurdle is mental.

ysette9

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2019, 05:46:01 PM »
I think it is the deep-seated primal urge to be covered. I know Iíve read studies that say people sleep best when it is cool out and there is a cover on top.

Kris

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2019, 07:48:26 PM »
Yeah, I am very a/c averse and generally prefer to have the windows open up until the mid to upper nineties during the day.

That said, I really struggle to sleep without a cover over me. I sleep nude but can barely get any sleep when itís too hot to at least have a sheet over me.

Wrenchturner

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2019, 09:18:29 PM »
I heard somewhere that your body cools during sleep, and it helps you prepare for it if the ambient air is cooler.  I definitely fall asleep easier in a cooler environment.

Go to a hot climate for a while and you might get a better tolerance for the heat!  Also, ice water is your friend.  When I lived in a hot apartment I would clear out two trays of ice every evening, and they'd be ready for me again after work.

Sugaree

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2019, 06:24:47 AM »
How does one spend $400/month on electricity? I donít even know what that would look like.


It looks like living somewhere with a 30 year old HVAC unit where the average high has been 95 for the last three weeks.  Even keeping the thermostat at 83 when no one's home, 78 when people are home, and 76 at night (with a cool blast at 74 for ~30 minutes before bedtime) it's looking like we're going to have a bill somewhere between $350 and $400 this month.  We average about $230/month. 

GreenEggs

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2019, 06:54:29 AM »

I like it cool when I sleep.  If it's too warm I get sticky & restless and can't sleep.  Fans help a lot.


We recently moved to an energy hog of a home.  We moved from a very HCOL area to a LCOL area, but on the same lake.  It seemed great to be able to trade a double-wide mobile home for a McMansion with more bathrooms than bedrooms, but I didn't consider how much more the electric bills would be.  :( 


It's big with high ceilings and lots of windows.  There are 3 A/C units and it seems at least one is always running.  I'll see about getting an energy audit, but I don't know if there's a lot we can do to improve it.  I'm thinking the cooler months will be much more affordable since we don't mind being a little chilly.  Wearing sweaters & drinking hot tea & coffee is good with us. 


Maybe the best solution is to sell the place to some other "lucky sucker" in a few years.  ;) 
 

LaineyAZ

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #26 on: August 20, 2019, 07:31:43 AM »
I canít speak highly enough about the benefits of insulation. We insulated the heck out of our house when we bought it: floors, attic, exterior walls, interior walls. I had to argue with the insulation guys and insist that yes, I did want every interior wall insulated.
I know that is not what people usually do but it is what I want, and Iím paying the bill, so blow that insulation in!

Sure, savings on electric and gas bills are nice, but the real benefit for me is comfort. It is so luxurious to not have cold feet in the winter and not have hot and cold spots all over, to say nothing of having a quiet house.
...

Definitely agree about interior walls being insulated; specifically, in my case, the bathrooms.  When I had the 2 bathrooms in my 1970s house completely gutted during a renovation, I paid extra for insulation to be added.  It dramatically decreased noise and increased comfort level.  Utility bill only dropped slightly, but I'd still highly recommend doing it.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 07:33:36 AM by LaineyAZ »

ysette9

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2019, 07:40:07 AM »
How does one spend $400/month on electricity? I donít even know what that would look like.


It looks like living somewhere with a 30 year old HVAC unit where the average high has been 95 for the last three weeks.  Even keeping the thermostat at 83 when no one's home, 78 when people are home, and 76 at night (with a cool blast at 74 for ~30 minutes before bedtime) it's looking like we're going to have a bill somewhere between $350 and $400 this month.  We average about $230/month.
My deepest sympathies. That sounds rough.

Sugaree

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2019, 08:02:28 AM »
How does one spend $400/month on electricity? I donít even know what that would look like.


It looks like living somewhere with a 30 year old HVAC unit where the average high has been 95 for the last three weeks.  Even keeping the thermostat at 83 when no one's home, 78 when people are home, and 76 at night (with a cool blast at 74 for ~30 minutes before bedtime) it's looking like we're going to have a bill somewhere between $350 and $400 this month.  We average about $230/month.

My deepest sympathies. That sounds rough.

It is what it is.  We had insulation blown in last year when the roof was replaced.  I'd like to add some more, but I suspect that the HVAC unit will be next to go out.  We replaced both capacitors and the motor a couple of months ago, which is how I know it was manufactured in July of 1989.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 08:13:53 AM by Sugaree »

ysette9

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2019, 08:25:49 AM »
How does one spend $400/month on electricity? I donít even know what that would look like.


It looks like living somewhere with a 30 year old HVAC unit where the average high has been 95 for the last three weeks.  Even keeping the thermostat at 83 when no one's home, 78 when people are home, and 76 at night (with a cool blast at 74 for ~30 minutes before bedtime) it's looking like we're going to have a bill somewhere between $350 and $400 this month.  We average about $230/month.

My deepest sympathies. That sounds rough.

It is what it is.  We had insulation blown in last year when the roof was replaced.  I'd like to add some more, but I suspect that the HVAC unit will be next to go out.  We replaced both capacitors and the motor a couple of months ago, which is how I know it was manufactured in July of 1989.
I think my sympathies were more for the weather than you are enduring as that isnít something that you can fix by throwing money at it.

slugline

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2019, 09:23:01 AM »
How does one spend $400/month on electricity? I donít even know what that would look like.

I've seen it. I moved into a 50-year-old house with electric heat (not unusual in Houston) and discovered how drafty it was during the first winter the hard way. Before the end of winter I had all the drafts plugged and replaced the "dumb" thermostat with a programmable one. I don't want to see a bill that high ever again!

EricEng

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #31 on: August 20, 2019, 04:31:22 PM »
I hate our utility bills.  Water is a fixed $100 + high per gallon cost.  So even if we use no water, $100/month!  My family of 4 averages 2.5k gallons a month including grass, so I think we are doing pretty good, but still $160/month water bill.

So we end up paying about 6 cents per gallon while most people pay .1 penny per gallon.  Almost cheaper to just get water delivered like you would for a pool, that averages 5-10 cents per gallon.

2sk22

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #32 on: August 20, 2019, 05:17:33 PM »
I hate our utility bills.  Water is a fixed $100 + high per gallon cost.  So even if we use no water, $100/month!  My family of 4 averages 2.5k gallons a month including grass, so I think we are doing pretty good, but still $160/month water bill.

So we end up paying about 6 cents per gallon while most people pay .1 penny per gallon.  Almost cheaper to just get water delivered like you would for a pool, that averages 5-10 cents per gallon.

Wow - even in summer, our water bill here in New Jersey is barely $75 per month. It's about $40 per month otherwise

caleb

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #33 on: August 20, 2019, 06:59:29 PM »
Hmmmm actually something seems a bit wrong water bills going up so much for a few of those people.  Over half of $750 for wastewater when it is typically $10?

Either this is an error, or someone seriously needs to lay off the Taco Bell.

stoaX

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #34 on: August 21, 2019, 01:45:52 PM »
I hate our utility bills.  Water is a fixed $100 + high per gallon cost.  So even if we use no water, $100/month!  My family of 4 averages 2.5k gallons a month including grass, so I think we are doing pretty good, but still $160/month water bill.

So we end up paying about 6 cents per gallon while most people pay .1 penny per gallon.  Almost cheaper to just get water delivered like you would for a pool, that averages 5-10 cents per gallon.

Wow - even in summer, our water bill here in New Jersey is barely $75 per month. It's about $40 per month otherwise

Wow is right!  I was thinking of creating a post about the $58 fixed portion of my water bill combined with a low per gallon charge and how that is a disincentive to conserve.  So scratch that idea,  I will stop complaining.

2sk22

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #35 on: August 21, 2019, 03:59:13 PM »
I hate our utility bills.  Water is a fixed $100 + high per gallon cost.  So even if we use no water, $100/month!  My family of 4 averages 2.5k gallons a month including grass, so I think we are doing pretty good, but still $160/month water bill.

So we end up paying about 6 cents per gallon while most people pay .1 penny per gallon.  Almost cheaper to just get water delivered like you would for a pool, that averages 5-10 cents per gallon.

Wow - even in summer, our water bill here in New Jersey is barely $75 per month. It's about $40 per month otherwise

Wow is right!  I was thinking of creating a post about the $58 fixed portion of my water bill combined with a low per gallon charge and how that is a disincentive to conserve.  So scratch that idea,  I will stop complaining.

I should mention that it's been extraordinarily wet for the past few summers here in the northeast. All of the reservoirs are at above average levels  (https://www.state.nj.us/dep/drought/reservoir.html) and I've barely needed to run the sprinklers. 

El_Mariachi

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Re: Neighbors gripe about high utility bills
« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2019, 10:52:33 AM »

I like it cool when I sleep.  If it's too warm I get sticky & restless and can't sleep.  Fans help a lot.


We recently moved to an energy hog of a home.  We moved from a very HCOL area to a LCOL area, but on the same lake.  It seemed great to be able to trade a double-wide mobile home for a McMansion with more bathrooms than bedrooms, but I didn't consider how much more the electric bills would be.  :( 


It's big with high ceilings and lots of windows.  There are 3 A/C units and it seems at least one is always running.  I'll see about getting an energy audit, but I don't know if there's a lot we can do to improve it.  I'm thinking the cooler months will be much more affordable since we don't mind being a little chilly.  Wearing sweaters & drinking hot tea & coffee is good with us. 


Maybe the best solution is to sell the place to some other "lucky sucker" in a few years.  ;)

same I cant sleep if its hot

I bet the energy audit will help out a lot
A lot of these mcmansions are built so fast and the contractors just dont care and dont add much insulation

In our first home, the water in the second bathroom shower/tub never ever got hot during the winter

the washing machine/dryer shared the wet wall with that bathroom, it had an access hatch so I looked at the pipes for the shower, 1) no insulation on the pipes, 2) no insulation on the wall, 3) no insulation on the dryer vent....

I threw a ton of insulation down there, insulated the pipes and then spray a bunch of foam insulation in there, afterwards it got super hot fairly quickly, win win