$350 heating bill! what to do?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by shecky, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    my 1100 sq. ft apartment just gave me a $350 heating bill for the last 30 days (gas bill for hot water baseboard heat). i am wondering what i can do to drop this as much as possible. i am on the 1st floor of a 3 floor, 2 apartment house, so i know i am helping to heat the upstairs as well as my own place. i was thinking about getting some of that clear film you tape over the windows and then use a hairdryer on to make it taut. i keep my heat at about 68 degrees on the thermostat and i live in New England so it gets cold outside.
  2. gauchogolfer macrumors 603


    Jan 28, 2005
    American Riviera
    Wear sweaters. :p

    Apart from that, I have no idea about heating efficiency, since we don't have seasons here.
  3. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    Something seems fishy about that bill to me. Granted, I'm in North Carolina, but my bill for 3,000 square feet has never been more than $200. Is it possible there was an error? Is someone else's heat being added accidentally to your meter? There may be a way to ask the power company to audit your bill.
  4. shecky thread starter Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    i should note a few things:

    its a fairly old house, so there are lots of little cracks and holes about, i guess i will need to go try and caulk all of these.

    i also pay for the gas-fired clothes dryer on that bill (both apartments use it, the other apartment pays for electricity on the washing machine).

    i am fairly certain the house in general is not insulated very well.
  5. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    I lived in Ohio for a short period of time, on the first floor of a three floor house. One month the heating bill was $425... after that we learned to keep the heat pretty low, but it was still over $300.
  6. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
  7. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005

    first, that bill sounds wrong, or at least, your part of it is wrong. you are definitely paying for upstairs. turn the heat down to 68 or 69 F and wear thicker clothing - sweaters and slippers/crocs/shoes.

    as for filling in cracks, that is the landlords responsibility so i would check with them. is this bill directly from them? i'd like to see their bill without a question.

    sealing the windows is a great idea as most of the cracks will be around the windows. especially if they are older windows which were most likely made of wood and are rotten/broken down.

    if that doesn't work, is moving an option? $350 is alot of coin and could be used to find a place where everything is all inclusive? I don't know if that's how it works in NE, but it does in Canada. That would help you.

    Good luck,
  8. m.jakey macrumors newbie

    May 14, 2007
    Berkshire County
    Cutting down on drafts and heat loss with caulk, fillers( for example behind electrical switch and outlet plates) and using the shrink wrap on windows will all help.

    If the baseboard heat is set up in zones with valves for shutting off or down various rooms that can help too by lowering heat in rooms that aren't being used and turning it back on when they are.

    Using an elctric space heater can be a help or a trade off or a net loss depending on yur electric rates and how good the heater works and for what rooms.

    If you have one room you spend a lot of time in during the coldest parts of the day you can augment(and also then lower) the overall heat with an electric space heater. Be sure to research what kind you buy, if you do, for safety and effectiveness.

    I hope you are able to bring the cost down; they are getting very bad. I am paying about 750 a month for oil to heat my small house and the mortgage payment is only 250.
  9. seamuskrat macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2003
    New Jersey USA

    I lived in an old farmhouse in CT and its $$$ for heat.
    1. Water baseboard heating is among the least efficient.
    2. Draft6s are killing you.
    3. Older homes have poor insulation.

    A few easy steps.

    Get door and window snakes. Basically beanbags to stop drafts. That is affordable, and easy. The film may also help.

    For about $30.00 you can get a programmable thermostat. Easy to instal. MAybe the landlord will buy it for ya. 68 should be low enough for substantial savings.

    Check the water heater. Your heat is powered by a boiler or perhaps a water heater. If either are old, then its so inefficient you loose and waste so much to heat.

    Also, if you live in a multi family house, make sure you are not paying the boiler bill for all units. Often a multi family is set up with 1 main boiler for all baseboard heat in entire structure or each floor has a local water heater. You may have the one boiler for the entire place, in which case your landlord needs to make ammends. If ist a water heat for each apartment, then wrap it. For about $20.00 you can wrap insulation around it.

    So stop drafts, and insulate what you can as a renter.

    Check into the boiler situation. I would not be surprised if you have the boiler in the basement that powers the hot water for the heat in all of the house. Unless you see three devices, I do not see how they can separate out the oil/gas usage for a furnace/boiler 3 ways unless its evenly divided. And $1000 is way too much.

    One last thought. It could be that a recent oil delivery was made. That is like filling a 300 to 600 gallon tank. If that is the case, it may last the season. But as a renter, the lanlord should amortize this to tenents monthly. i.e. if you have 3 months left you bought 12 months of fuel. So look into that.

    Good luck.
  10. Jschultz macrumors 6502a


    Mar 14, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Mine was that expensive once, but we use natural gas. I've since learned that I will not die if I set the heat to 64 degrees. My fiancee is not happy about it at all, but she doesn't pay the utilities! Lately, my bills have been significantly lower.
  11. MovieCutter macrumors 68040


    May 3, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Get an XBox 360 and a Mac Pro. They'll heat your house up real good. :cool:
  12. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    The suggestions on caulking, blocking under-door drafts, and window films are all good.

    One additional thing you might consider if you don't already have something like it is thermal curtains. There are many varieties you can buy, or you can make your own--anything from an old curtain to fancier things like sewing a space blanket or sheet of flexible plastic foam between two heavy sheets. Covering your windows with something well insulated like these at night or when the weather is really miserable should help, particularly if you go the extra step and put a strip of velcro around the window frame to completely seal the curtain to the wall (reducing the air getting past the curtain).

    Also, if you're not already, turning the thermostat way down (say, 60F) when you're asleep will save some energy, and you probably won't notice if you have a nice comforter (except for the morning when it'll be chilly getting out of bed).
  13. silbeej macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2007
    How many windows do you have? They sell this stuff for windows which is like the plastic wrap for food, you tape around the molding that goes around the windows, and then attach this plastic and shrink wrap it with a hair dryer. This will remove a lot of the cold air that commonly gets in around old windows, especially if you do not have storm windows.
  14. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Ooh, I know this game:

    Move around more


    eat more. :D
  15. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to turn down from 10:00 pm (or whenever you go to sleep) to 5:00 pm (or whenever you get home. It will be warmer from 5:00 till 10:00 (the only time you are really ever in the house without being covered up under the blankets in bed).

    If you don't have one... just turn it down 5 degrees before you leave, and up 5 degrees when you get home.

    This technique will likely save you 10% or so on your bill.

    I would also suggest wearing warmer clothes and turning your thermostat down a few degrees.

    I would also suggest getting a small space heater to run for a few hours in the living room (or wherever you hang out at night time) so you only have to heat that one area as opposed to the entire apartment.

    Just a few ideas!
  16. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    This doesn't really get to the root of the problem, but you might try to get on a budget plan so you spread the heating cost over the full year. I suspect that in the summer you pay maybe $20 in gas.
  17. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    There have been some great suggestions here.

    I will add/expound upon a couple..

    They are ugly, but those window films work. Windows are a common source of drafts, particularly in old homes. This pretty much takes them out of the equation as much as possible.

    Make sure you have a thermal blanket around the water heater (you can get these cheaply from a hardware store/chain).

    And finally.. if I read correctly, you pay for the dry and they pay for the washing machine? You're getting killed there. A dryer uses WAY more energy than a washing machine.. and since your dryer is gas, you're screwed. You'll have to come up with an equitable way to share out the cost of that (and the washer).
  18. ErikCLDR macrumors 68000

    Jan 14, 2007
    Consider yourself lucky and put on some more clothes. Using that film stuff should help some.
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Find a girlfriend.....a big one. There's more to love and cuddle with.
  20. themadchemist macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2003
    Chi Town
  21. ::Lisa:: macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    Do you have a gas cooker? If so, use lids always, you don't have to turn the gas up so much if you do use lids. If you don't, then you have to turn it up to compensate = wet condensation room + unnecessary gas use.

    I keep my heating at 68f (20c) also and my bill for a 3 bedroom house is £35 a month ($70 USD) and I'm disabled so stay at home with heating on most the day. What I would suggest in trying to cut down is...

    • Do you work? If so, leave the heating off all day, set it so it comes up about 30-20 mins before you come home, so you come home to a warm house.
    • Turn your thermostat down 1 degree, you would be amazed how much energy this actually saves, Turn it down even more and wear sweaters if you can bear that
    • As above with the pans suggestion
    • Fit an insulating jacket to your hot water cylinder
    • Insulate hot water pipes, especially the ones between the boiler and hot water cylinder.
    • Seal up any drafts in doors and windows using draft excluders. For smaller jobs use stick on draft excluding tape, which is available from your local DIY stores.
    • Ensure that your radiators are always bled (removing trapped air). If not, it makes the boiler work harder = more money. If you have a digital boiler, always ensure you reset it after removing the trapped air out of the radiators.
  22. ::Lisa:: macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    As a temporary tip you can use bubble wrap. It works well and you can even use it as your insulation. Bubble wrap is a very, very good insulation. It works like wall cavity with the air trapped inside (but I guess you knew that anyway).
  23. Daveman Deluxe macrumors 68000

    Daveman Deluxe

    Jun 17, 2003
    Corvallis, Oregon
    You're getting screwed. Unless I'm very mistaken, a dryer requires WAY more energy than a washing machine.
  24. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    try getting a space heater as well. It is handy in a large home because then you can really turn down the heat and heat only like the bed room. It helps some but as for the bill unlike what others are saying I will say I could believe it if the insulation is crap.

    But compared to previous yearly heating bills it might not be so surprising. I will say with crap insulation in about a home a little 1200 sq ft. I had a heating bill of 160 with the thing set at 62 or so degrees. Out side stayed below 40 at the high most of the time under 30 that month.♦
  25. Iscariot macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2007
    Turn the heat completely off when you're not at home, and turn it down low when you're in bed.

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