Author Topic: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!  (Read 5292 times)

fallstoclimb

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Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« on: November 11, 2015, 07:42:21 AM »
I'm only now starting to actually LOOK at our gas and electric bill.  I don't really understand the finances of our utilities in general -- I know we have terrible insulation but our bill is never really over $100/month and we are always rated as using less energy than our efficient neighbors. There is only two of us but I'm kind of a temperature wuss in winter so this has long baffled me.

Anyway.  I've been telling people for years that we have both gas and electric utilities.  But now that I'm looking at our bill, all of our gas readings are 0 therms.  So....do we NOT have gas utilities?  Relatedly, we have a gas stove.  So by definition that means we have at least one gas utilities.....right??

We are fairly new homeowners and are not good at understanding this stuff!  The reason I'm bringing this up is we pay our gas & electric company a $13 gas delivery charge every month, but since we use 0 therms they seem to not be delivering any gas.  Do we have gas hookup we are not using?  Is this a charge I should try to get removed?   

Making Cents

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2015, 07:53:07 AM »
OK, I can't check to see what kind of heat you have...maybe electric but a gas stove? (Usually it's the opposite if you have both--weird.) But I can say that when we had gas heat there were options for delivery -- a flat fee per month to keep a full tank or a pay as you go deal (usually pricier for most people). So if you verify you are on electric and there's no screw-up with your low bill, you might call and see if there is an option just call them up and pay for gas delivery when you need it rather than have scheduled delivery. I'm guessing the $13 is for someone to come out and check your tank every month, regardless of whether they top it off or not. That's a legitimate charge, but one you might be able to cancel.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2015, 07:55:18 AM »
If your gas stove works, you have gas delivery - or a secret propane tank somewhere that somehow hasn't run out.

How does your furnace work? Does it run on gas? Depending on what month's bill you are looking at, you might not have much usage.

OK, I can't check to see what kind of heat you have...maybe electric but a gas stove? (Usually it's the opposite if you have both--weird.) But I can say that when we had gas heat there were options for delivery -- a flat fee per month to keep a full tank or a pay as you go deal (usually pricier for most people). So if you verify you are on electric and there's no screw-up with your low bill, you might call and see if there is an option just call them up and pay for gas delivery when you need it rather than have scheduled delivery. I'm guessing the $13 is for someone to come out and check your tank every month, regardless of whether they top it off or not. That's a legitimate charge, but one you might be able to cancel.

You seem to be talking about propane, not natural gas.

Making Cents

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2015, 07:59:06 AM »
Oops... shows what I know!

fallstoclimb

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2015, 08:08:49 AM »
Haha right. I figured that meant we had gas somewhere / somehow. I'm pretty sure there's no secret propane tank!  Is this something I should worry about (the 0 therm usage) or just let slide?

Pretty sure our heat is electric -- I'm not sure how you check, but our kWh monthly usage jumps from about 250-350 in the fall and spring to ~500-550 in the winter & summer - so that must be heating and cooling.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2015, 08:27:36 AM »
My electric usage goes up in the winter despite having gas heat, because even my steam furnace uses some electricity. If you have a crappy fan or a full filter your electric usage could go up substantially even with gas heat.

All you need to know is if there's a chimney attached to your furnace, and you're not paying for oil delivery. It sounds like you might have a heat pump doing your heating and cooling. In that case I would work out the math of canceling gas service and getting an electric stove.

teen persuasion

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2015, 08:50:45 AM »
I'd start poking around outside and down in the basement.  Is there a gas meter?  Does the meter change value/spin/whatever (sorry, I don't have NG at my house, can't remember exactly how it looks from childhood home)?  What kind of heat do you have: forced air, baseboard registers, radiators?  What about your water heater (electric, gas, oil)?

It's possible that your base gas bill includes a small # of base therms, and you are not exceeding that.  If your stove is gas, and has flame, you must have some kind of gas hookup.  It could be LP, that's what we have for our stove.

nobody123

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2015, 08:51:14 AM »
I'm only now starting to actually LOOK at our gas and electric bill.  I don't really understand the finances of our utilities in general -- I know we have terrible insulation but our bill is never really over $100/month and we are always rated as using less energy than our efficient neighbors. There is only two of us but I'm kind of a temperature wuss in winter so this has long baffled me.

Anyway.  I've been telling people for years that we have both gas and electric utilities.  But now that I'm looking at our bill, all of our gas readings are 0 therms.  So....do we NOT have gas utilities?  Relatedly, we have a gas stove.  So by definition that means we have at least one gas utilities.....right??

We are fairly new homeowners and are not good at understanding this stuff!  The reason I'm bringing this up is we pay our gas & electric company a $13 gas delivery charge every month, but since we use 0 therms they seem to not be delivering any gas.  Do we have gas hookup we are not using?  Is this a charge I should try to get removed?   

How on earth do you not know what type of heat you have?  I suggest finding out quickly, you need to know where the gas shutoff valves are in case of an emergency / device malfunction.

You will get a service fee every month regardless of how much gas you actually use because they have to maintain the gas lines that run to your house, run a billing department, etc.  I pay about $11/month even when I don't use any gas in the summer (only a gas furnace and fireplace).

If your only gas appliance is the stove, you'd have to swap it out with an electric model before you could have the gas shut off and eliminate that bill.  Depending on the house, you may not have a 240V line run to that spot, so you'd have to pay an electrician to rough that in as well, and properly cap off the gas line if you're not capable of doing that yourself.


seattlecyclone

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2015, 08:58:03 AM »
A "therm" is a large enough unit of gas that you might not use a whole one in a typical month with just the stove. If your meter doesn't show larger units than that, you just might not be billed for any during some months.

Uturn

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 08:59:55 AM »
Good Lord, find out now.  If you don't know what a gas meter looks like or gas shutoff valves, ask someone to show you.  What if you do have gas and walk in one day after work and smell sulfur?  Do you know how or where to shut off your gas?  Are you just going to ignore it and hope it goes away?  If you do have a gas furnace, do you also have CO2 detectors? 

Gas is not dangerous, unless you don't know anything about using it. 

fallstoclimb

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2015, 09:33:25 AM »
Good Lord, find out now.  If you don't know what a gas meter looks like or gas shutoff valves, ask someone to show you.  What if you do have gas and walk in one day after work and smell sulfur?  Do you know how or where to shut off your gas?  Are you just going to ignore it and hope it goes away?  If you do have a gas furnace, do you also have CO2 detectors? 

Jesus, of course I'm not going to ignore it and hope it goes away!  I'm not an idiot!  I'd grab the pets, get out of the house, and call the utility company.  I'm pretty sure that's what they tell you to do regardless. 

And yes, we do have CO2 detectors.

A "therm" is a large enough unit of gas that you might not use a whole one in a typical month with just the stove. If your meter doesn't show larger units than that, you just might not be billed for any during some months.

OK, this makes sense to me, and was basically what I was hoping to hear.  Thanks!!

hops

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2015, 09:52:06 AM »
I'd grab the pets, get out of the house, and call the utility company.  I'm pretty sure that's what they tell you to do regardless. 

The utility company might also instruct you to shut off the gas yourself. My partner's mother had to do that once to prevent an explosion; the utility company dispatched a driver but he wouldn't have arrived in time. Do you have a main valve on the side of your house? In the wake of a natural disaster, you'd want to be able to shut things off yourself.

Spork

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2015, 09:59:44 AM »
Haha right. I figured that meant we had gas somewhere / somehow. I'm pretty sure there's no secret propane tank!  Is this something I should worry about (the 0 therm usage) or just let slide?

If you don't know, don't be so sure.  Our tank is under ground.  The only thing remotely obvious is a man hole cover where they fill it.

If you want to be sure, walk around your house (or in your basement if you have one).  You should see an entry point.  If natural gas, there will likely be a meter.  If propane, there will likely just be a regulator to drop the pressure (no meter.)

This can be complicated sometimes by a remote meter.  My mother in law's natural gas meter is about a block away from her house (because that is where the gas service ends on her road).  Where it enters her house there is just a pipe that comes out of the ground and goes into the brick (with no regulator).

andy85

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2015, 10:38:07 AM »
Haha right. I figured that meant we had gas somewhere / somehow. I'm pretty sure there's no secret propane tank!  Is this something I should worry about (the 0 therm usage) or just let slide?

Pretty sure our heat is electric -- I'm not sure how you check, but our kWh monthly usage jumps from about 250-350 in the fall and spring to ~500-550 in the winter & summer - so that must be heating and cooling.
I work for a utility company...been in customer service, billing, and meter reading.

If you do in fact have gas appliances (didnt read this thread to closely) and have been using them, then yes, you need to contact the utility company. Sounds like you may have a stopped meter if you are using gas. If this is the case then prepare to have a larger bill in your future b/c they will estimate your gas usage based on the previous usage at that property. And no, you can't do anything about it. Legally, (for us anyways), as a company, we are required by law to charge for gas used regardless if the meter is stopped...even if it means estimating a bill. Our estimates tend to be fairly close though. Also, if its a super large bill you may be able to go on an installment plan if you dont feel like paying it all up front.

edit: just read the comment about therms...great point. we measure gas usage in ccf...appears that 1 therm equals 99.98ccf, which is enough to run a stove for like 2 years..lol. so he may be correct, you may be using so little that it just hasn't registered yet.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 10:42:09 AM by andy85 »

Uturn

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Re: Super dumb question about my gas and electric bill!
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2015, 11:36:15 AM »
  I'm not an idiot!  I'd grab the pets, get out of the house, and call the utility company.  I'm pretty sure that's what they tell you to do regardless. 


I'm actually not trying to sound too harsh, but anyone who does not know how to turn off the gas/water/electricity in their home and does not seem to care that they don't know how, is an idiot.  Have you ever seen a house blow up due to gas problems?   Having your family in the yard isn't going to save them.  I once had the house across the street blow up from a leak and the force was enough to do damage to my house. 

I'm not saying you need to become a plumber or electrician, but knowing how to shut off services can save you tons of cash in an emergency.  Or keep a minor problem from becoming an emergency.