Author Topic: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal  (Read 6014 times)

Natcat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« on: January 03, 2015, 04:20:05 PM »
My electric bill for my new apartment is absolutely astronomical considering it's supposedly heat included. In past places I've spent $60 every two months (don't have the KWH) which is lower than average here in Atlantic Canada. My most recent bill is $177 for 29 days before tax, WTH! I'm freaking out/pissed off. The KWH per day is 40.4. I'm lost for words.

My friend has a 3 level duplex that she heats with electric baseboards and only spends $133 per month. My finances house averages $230 every 2 months (heated by oil).

Now to put things into perspective these are the details:

2 people in household
Each take short daily hot water showers (5 to 7 minutes max)
3 laundry loads weekly in cold water and dryer used sparingly
Dishwasher rarely used
Not many electronics
Geothermal heat/air conditioning included in rent. But electricity to run the blower is not.

HELP! What the h*** is going on here? What can I do? The usual energy savings tips will only put a dent in this ridiculousness.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 04:22:09 PM by Natcat »

TerriM

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2015, 04:28:03 PM »
Can you identify where the problem is?  Is it that you're being overcharged per Kilowatt, or that something in the apartment is draining power?

If the latter, I'd suggest getting a Kill-o-watt
http://www.amazon.com/P3-P4400-Electricity-Usage-Monitor/dp/B00009MDBU

I'd also suggest turning *EVERYTHING* off in the apartment--unplug it all, fridge included, and making sure that your meter isn't spinning.  It's possible that either someone else is on your line (unlikely, but don't rule it out) or that the meter is broken.  Kid you not, I've seen a broken meter spin with everything off--neighbor's water meter broke and was spinning like she was using the sprinklers or something--they'd even called her to tell her she had a leak.  We finally shut off *everything* and concluded that either we should be seeing a big puddle in the 7 feet of dirt in front of us or the meter was broken.  The water company finally came out and replaced the meter.

Natcat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2015, 02:44:22 PM »
The meter has been reread and it was correct. After further investigating it turns out that the supposed free geothermal heat is not actually free. It's written into the lease that we pay to run the geothermal unit which the landlord explained was just a fun to pull the heat up from the main geothermal unit in the basement. Everyone else in the building are receiving crazy high electric bills.

What should I do? What's the worst that could happen if I break the lease?

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8463
  • Registered member
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2015, 03:51:00 PM »
The meter has been reread and it was correct. After further investigating it turns out that the supposed free geothermal heat is not actually free. It's written into the lease that we pay to run the geothermal unit which the landlord explained was just a fun to pull the heat up from the main geothermal unit in the basement. Everyone else in the building are receiving crazy high electric bills.

What should I do? What's the worst that could happen if I break the lease?

I still don't understand how a geothermal pump could use more than 1KW unless it had a heating element in it.

zoltani

  • Guest
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2015, 04:13:48 PM »
An average or 1.7 KW/hour seems like a lot! Are you running a grow op?


Natcat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2015, 01:04:01 PM »
An average or 1.7 KW/hour seems like a lot! Are you running a grow op?

Nope! That's why I'm flabbergasted. Dumbfounded. And the owner of the building informed me that the other tenants are getting $200+ electric bills every month. Free heat and air conditioning my a**!
What should I do? My name is on the lease and I'm afraid they will come after me for the rent owed on the remaining months of the lease.

Natcat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2015, 01:06:16 PM »
The meter has been reread and it was correct. After further investigating it turns out that the supposed free geothermal heat is not actually free. It's written into the lease that we pay to run the geothermal unit which the landlord explained was just a fun to pull the heat up from the main geothermal unit in the basement. Everyone else in the building are receiving crazy high electric bills.

What should I do? What's the worst that could happen if I break the lease?

I still don't understand how a geothermal pump could use more than 1KW unless it had a heating element in it.

It runs 220 on the electrical panel and the landlord mentioned something about freon in the unit. SO thinks there must be a compressor in it. That's all I know, I'm not tech savvy.

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6230
  • Location: BC
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2015, 01:28:00 PM »
Ah,

I think I know what is happening.   A lot of Candadain Geothermal units are a combination of geothermal for 80% to 95% of the heat / cooling, and then in extreme whether conditions have a back up heater of some sort to keep your unit at a certain temperature.  this could be a heating coil or whatever.

I don't know much about A/C but there may be electric backup A/C as well.
Refrigerant or fluid like glycol or water, perhaps even freon?  might be normal in the unit, if it is not an air to air type exchanger.  (e.g., ground or water is used as the heat sink / heat gain source). 

Our whole house fan for our traditional natural gas furnance (that runs when the furnace runs, or when we have it set to fan only to circulate air) takes $40-$60 per month in electric bills, at 10cent/KWH, for a 2 storey home.  If you do not have a variable rate fan, then yours is all on or all off (DC fan), and likely drawing this much even if no supplemental heating is involved.

How is the electric for the main geothermal unit in the basement paid / metered? Separate meter landlord pays and you just run your unit?
Can you get the make and model of the fan / equipment in your unit?  You should be able to find out if you have a top up heater / chiller in there, and could cut costs drastically by letting temps fall when it is cold outside, and the basement unit is only putting out 15'C heat..

I would research what you can do to reduce these costs -- like turning it way down, fan is not running continously, etc.   If you can not reduce the costs, just start letting your landlord know that you will be trying to find a new place, and why.  Maybe he will help you end your lease sooner if you talk about the money bind and desire to keep up payments but will have trouble eventually...

Next time, I guess you ask to see typical monthly electrical bill before signing lease...   People do that when buying houses, so I don't see why renting should be different.


dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8463
  • Registered member
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2015, 10:00:01 PM »
Ah,

I think I know what is happening.   A lot of Candadain Geothermal units are a combination of geothermal for 80% to 95% of the heat / cooling, and then in extreme whether conditions have a back up heater of some sort to keep your unit at a certain temperature.  this could be a heating coil or whatever.

I don't know much about A/C but there may be electric backup A/C as well.
Refrigerant or fluid like glycol or water, perhaps even freon?  might be normal in the unit, if it is not an air to air type exchanger.  (e.g., ground or water is used as the heat sink / heat gain source). 

Our whole house fan for our traditional natural gas furnance (that runs when the furnace runs, or when we have it set to fan only to circulate air) takes $40-$60 per month in electric bills, at 10cent/KWH, for a 2 storey home.  If you do not have a variable rate fan, then yours is all on or all off (DC fan), and likely drawing this much even if no supplemental heating is involved.

How is the electric for the main geothermal unit in the basement paid / metered? Separate meter landlord pays and you just run your unit?
Can you get the make and model of the fan / equipment in your unit?  You should be able to find out if you have a top up heater / chiller in there, and could cut costs drastically by letting temps fall when it is cold outside, and the basement unit is only putting out 15'C heat..

I would research what you can do to reduce these costs -- like turning it way down, fan is not running continously, etc.   If you can not reduce the costs, just start letting your landlord know that you will be trying to find a new place, and why.  Maybe he will help you end your lease sooner if you talk about the money bind and desire to keep up payments but will have trouble eventually...

Next time, I guess you ask to see typical monthly electrical bill before signing lease...   People do that when buying houses, so I don't see why renting should be different.

It's all starting to make more sense (even though I'm still too lazy to actually google how geothermal works).

I was thinking there must be like a hot spring or something's.

Now it sounds like the landlord runs a loop underground that gets you, say, 60 degrees f.  Your unit has a heat pump that pumps coldness into the loop during the winter or heat into the loop during the summer.

For a place that was billed (at least implied)  as free heating, I'd be pissed too.  Maybe check with a local tenants rights clinic?  Ask the landlord to reduce rent based on this misrepresentation?  Not really sure just spitballing

Either way try to find out how it actually works. It doesn't sound any more efficient than a regular heat pump so I wonder why it was installed!

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6230
  • Location: BC
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2015, 10:36:13 PM »
I did a quick google search.   

http://www.canbio.ca/upload/documents/pellet-info-note-5-pellets-vs.-heat-pumps-revjr.pdf
http://www.geo-exchange.ca/en/UserAttachments/article81_Final%20Stats%20Report%202011%20-%20February%206,%202012_E.pdf

I also found out that
1) 80% of GHP heat pumps installed in canada come with auxillary heaters (usually coils or back up nat. gas mini furnace)
2) If you have an air system to deliver heat (instead of in floor, which does not cool very well) the ducts are larger as the air is not as hot as a furnace and you need to move a much higher volume of air to heat your home.    (e.g., let's support 50% more air volume than my home)
3) NB electricity costs are 10.25 cents / kwh   -- so your fan costs alone may be running from $60 to $90 per month.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8463
  • Registered member
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2015, 01:18:35 AM »
I did a quick google search.   

http://www.canbio.ca/upload/documents/pellet-info-note-5-pellets-vs.-heat-pumps-revjr.pdf
http://www.geo-exchange.ca/en/UserAttachments/article81_Final%20Stats%20Report%202011%20-%20February%206,%202012_E.pdf

I also found out that
1) 80% of GHP heat pumps installed in canada come with auxillary heaters (usually coils or back up nat. gas mini furnace)
2) If you have an air system to deliver heat (instead of in floor, which does not cool very well) the ducts are larger as the air is not as hot as a furnace and you need to move a much higher volume of air to heat your home.    (e.g., let's support 50% more air volume than my home)
3) NB electricity costs are 10.25 cents / kwh   -- so your fan costs alone may be running from $60 to $90 per month.

Interesting.  Nat, if you do have a heat pump make sure "emergency heat" or "Em heat" is OFF on the thermostat.  Turning on those resistors can really add up, but sometimes it gets turned on by accident.  I can't imagine a geothermal heat pump system would ever need emergency heat.

superathlete

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2015, 05:39:37 AM »
Good discussion on the geothermal.  Can you see your hot water lines from the heater to every faucet, shower, washing machine, etc.?

If there is a leak in hot water and you have an electric hot water heater, this can really add up.

teen persuasion

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2015, 07:31:38 AM »
The meter has been reread and it was correct. After further investigating it turns out that the supposed free geothermal heat is not actually free. It's written into the lease that we pay to run the geothermal unit which the landlord explained was just a fun to pull the heat up from the main geothermal unit in the basement. Everyone else in the building are receiving crazy high electric bills.

What should I do? What's the worst that could happen if I break the lease?

I still don't understand how a geothermal pump could use more than 1KW unless it had a heating element in it.

It runs 220 on the electrical panel and the landlord mentioned something about freon in the unit. SO thinks there must be a compressor in it. That's all I know, I'm not tech savvy.
 

My town's town hall has a geothermal system, using a well rather than a ground source loop.  They weren't pleased to find that the electric bills were more than expected.  Turns out it was due to the resistance backup heating, when the geothermal couldn't provide enough heat on cold days.  We are in WNY, it's not a surprise that we have cold days!

If it runs 220 on the electric panel, you probably have an electric supplemental heating unit somewhere you are running.  I don't think just a blower would require a 220 line.  If everyone has high bills, then that implies that everyone runs their own supplemental heating unit.  That sounds like a lot of duplication of equipment in what should be a central unit.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8463
  • Registered member
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2015, 09:01:54 AM »
The meter has been reread and it was correct. After further investigating it turns out that the supposed free geothermal heat is not actually free. It's written into the lease that we pay to run the geothermal unit which the landlord explained was just a fun to pull the heat up from the main geothermal unit in the basement. Everyone else in the building are receiving crazy high electric bills.

What should I do? What's the worst that could happen if I break the lease?

I still don't understand how a geothermal pump could use more than 1KW unless it had a heating element in it.

It runs 220 on the electrical panel and the landlord mentioned something about freon in the unit. SO thinks there must be a compressor in it. That's all I know, I'm not tech savvy.
 

My town's town hall has a geothermal system, using a well rather than a ground source loop.  They weren't pleased to find that the electric bills were more than expected.  Turns out it was due to the resistance backup heating, when the geothermal couldn't provide enough heat on cold days.  We are in WNY, it's not a surprise that we have cold days!

If it runs 220 on the electric panel, you probably have an electric supplemental heating unit somewhere you are running.  I don't think just a blower would require a 220 line.  If everyone has high bills, then that implies that everyone runs their own supplemental heating unit.  That sounds like a lot of duplication of equipment in what should be a central unit.

Still, wouldn't you expect the bill to be lower than the fiance w/ baseboard electric heat?  If no fix is found, better to just put a space heater in the room you're in

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2015, 09:11:44 AM »
I would definitely keep looking into the unit. Maybe post the actual text of the explanation you got on heating costs prior to signing a lease.


Maybe look into whether you can turn off the supplemental heat at the source. Let your landlord know you will use space heaters as needed, but you want to know the cost of the geothermal separate of the supplemental heating coil.


Find out more about your hot water heater, what kind, insulation, location, etc.


How well is the house insulated, are you in newer or older construction?


We don't know enough to know whether you are getting screwed or not, but figure it out early, don't wait until you have been there months...

Natcat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2015, 06:23:30 PM »
I would definitely keep looking into the unit. Maybe post the actual text of the explanation you got on heating costs prior to signing a lease.


Maybe look into whether you can turn off the supplemental heat at the source. Let your landlord know you will use space heaters as needed, but you want to know the cost of the geothermal separate of the supplemental heating coil.


Find out more about your hot water heater, what kind, insulation, location, etc.


How well is the house insulated, are you in newer or older construction?


We don't know enough to know whether you are getting screwed or not, but figure it out early, don't wait until you have been there months...

The wording in the lease states the heat is included. Flip to the next page and electricity to run the geothermal unit is listed as not included.

Apparently there isn't a supplemental heat source as it was mentioned that they were thinking of installing a heating coil in the units.

Building is brand new, less than a year old. Should be well insulated.

Natcat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2015, 06:31:27 PM »
Dragoncar, I've called the tenancy board and I was told I would have to go through a whole hearing process. This I do not have high hopes for as the lease does state that I'm responsible for the electricity to run the geothermal unit. The owner is likely covered even though the lease also states heat is included. Seems a little contradictory doesn't it?
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 06:38:01 PM by Natcat »

Singularity

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 68
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2015, 08:10:08 PM »
Yes it is contradictory.  How about you organize the other tenants and consult with a lawyer if he would represent all of you.  Free or low cost consolidation find out does he think you have a case. 
What remedy do you want? 

teen persuasion

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1054
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2015, 09:50:27 PM »
I would definitely keep looking into the unit. Maybe post the actual text of the explanation you got on heating costs prior to signing a lease.


Maybe look into whether you can turn off the supplemental heat at the source. Let your landlord know you will use space heaters as needed, but you want to know the cost of the geothermal separate of the supplemental heating coil.


Find out more about your hot water heater, what kind, insulation, location, etc.


How well is the house insulated, are you in newer or older construction?


We don't know enough to know whether you are getting screwed or not, but figure it out early, don't wait until you have been there months...

The wording in the lease states the heat is included. Flip to the next page and electricity to run the geothermal unit is listed as not included.

Apparently there isn't a supplemental heat source as it was mentioned that they were thinking of installing a heating coil in the units.

Building is brand new, less than a year old. Should be well insulated.

If the building is brand new, less than a year old, this is the first heating season for everyone in the building, there is no real history here.  What were electric bills like before heating season began?  What about when cooling (is there a cooling season there - we don't need AC in WNY, really)?

I feel like something doesn't add up.  The unit doesn't have supplemental heating now, but the bills are high.  Why are they considering adding it?  Does the system not generate enough heat?

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8463
  • Registered member
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2015, 10:48:34 PM »
I would definitely keep looking into the unit. Maybe post the actual text of the explanation you got on heating costs prior to signing a lease.


Maybe look into whether you can turn off the supplemental heat at the source. Let your landlord know you will use space heaters as needed, but you want to know the cost of the geothermal separate of the supplemental heating coil.


Find out more about your hot water heater, what kind, insulation, location, etc.


How well is the house insulated, are you in newer or older construction?


We don't know enough to know whether you are getting screwed or not, but figure it out early, don't wait until you have been there months...

The wording in the lease states the heat is included. Flip to the next page and electricity to run the geothermal unit is listed as not included.

Apparently there isn't a supplemental heat source as it was mentioned that they were thinking of installing a heating coil in the units.

Building is brand new, less than a year old. Should be well insulated.

If the building is brand new, less than a year old, this is the first heating season for everyone in the building, there is no real history here.  What were electric bills like before heating season began?  What about when cooling (is there a cooling season there - we don't need AC in WNY, really)?

I feel like something doesn't add up.  The unit doesn't have supplemental heating now, but the bills are high.  Why are they considering adding it?  Does the system not generate enough heat?

Yeah, legalities aside, geothermal heat pump should be more efficient than your fiance's baseboard heat.  It's not adding up.  Can you turn off the geothermal and look at your meter?

Natcat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2015, 06:27:09 AM »
So happy to say that we (landlord and I) have worked out a deal. I've provided all of my past power bills to him for reveiw. It was clear that I went from paying roughly $80 per month to $225 when I moved from one building to the other. So he has agreed to cut me a check for the difference moving forward. Unfortunately the 1st cheque was only for $101, $45 short. But I'm making progress!

Thanks for the advice everyone!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2015, 09:05:44 AM »
My in-laws have geothermal heat that wasn't properly installed initially. So it either ran constantly or the backup ran because it wasn't getting enough from the geothermal unit. So if everybody's getting enormous bills, it may be that the geothermal system is bad.

PatStab

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 133
Re: New apartment electric bill WTH and geothermal
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2015, 10:08:34 AM »
I have geothermal heating and cooling in our home.  It's an underground loop, we were told by the seller they ran double the loop required.  We are in southern Indiana, the temp out is 20 and its been down to 15 the last few days so I'm sure the ground is frozen.  Ours is running eco heat now.  It flashes on the thermostat if auxillary heat, electric heat, is on. 

I'm wondering if they are just prorating the cost of a main system among the apartments, I doubt you have a geothermal loop for each unit.  If so you are also paying for the very high users, also are there individual electric meters.

We are heating and cooling 1800 sq ft upstairs and 1800 sq ft in the basement.  We are paying $240 balanced billing, but $40 is taxes and the outside light.  We are heavy electric users, do a couple loads of washing a day, dishwasher once or twice a day, 2 freezers, fridge, water unit cooled. I did change out all our lights, we have a ton of them, to LED.  There are 30 in the living/dining, kitchen, each was 75 watts.  The last owner was CFO at the local power utility so his bill might have been paid who knows.  I never saw so many lights.  We have a 60 gallon hot water heater but it has heat assist from the geothermal, the water is almost instant on hot as it recirculates.  Your system may not be big enough, if so the auxillary is running a lot.  I read that when the ground is very cold they don't work well.   

Our bill runs around 1800kwhs and more in the winter.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 10:10:08 AM by PatStab »