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illcendiary
Dec 4, 2005

Damn, this is good coffee.

I live alone in a 670 square foot 1 bed/1 bath apartment in Houston, TX. While I do own a computer, HDTV, and stereo system, I use them sparingly as I am generally at work or out of the apartment. Additionally, I am not at all picky about the ambient temperature in my apartment and as such use the air conditioner and heater at most for one total hour out of the day.

Despite this, my electric bill came in last month at $125. I have friends who live in larger apartments and are less frugal with their air conditioner use and pay about half of this. On top of this, I do not have a washer or dryer in my apartment.

Am I getting screwed on my electric bill? And if so, how can I go about fixing this?

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scotty
Oct 12, 2006

asdfghjkl;


Definitely getting screwed. You could possibly call them and ask to see your last couple months readings and then have them check if they're accurate. I know when I lived in an apartment complex, they used to take the readings from the street and a few times we accidentally got charged someone else's usage.

GodsGiftToWomen
Jan 26, 2004
Providing women with sexual pleasure since 1983

I used 497 kWh on my last cycle and was only charged $67.16 USD. I have a similarly sized apartment but possibly higher energy demands (heater running often, computers, washer/dryer).

If it was your first month of having an electric bill there may be a deposit included on it in addition. Mine was $50 or so.

Sawyer9000
Oct 15, 2005

Using power or being used by power... is that not a problem... of the heart?

Kind of. Houston has what seems like hundreds of utility companies and if your apartment doesn't force you to use Reliant or something there are a ton of discount options out there. I think we use Amigo Energy and they charge something like 8-9 cents a kilowatt hour. The bigger companies can go as high as 15. We paid like 90 this month and that's for a two bedroom with a bunch of electronic poo poo we never turn off.

Also allot of companies wont actually charge you by the kilowatt but instead give you a bill based on what they think you will use in that month based on the area/use in the past blah blah.

illcendiary
Dec 4, 2005

Damn, this is good coffee.

Here are some figures that I got from my last statement:

code:
735 kWh used

First 600 kWh @ $0.154 = 92.44
Next  135 kWh @ $0.138 = 18.63
This plus surcharges comes out to $125.00. Is this a normal amount of energy to be using in such a small apartment?

My provider is TXU energy. I'm not sure if this is their normal rate, I'm probably paying a little bit higher since I am on a contract-free month-to-month basis. I wouldn't be surprised if my apartment has an exclusive contract with them, they do the same with a cable company.

illcendiary fucked around with this message at Jan 15, 2010 around 20:03

Carleton
Sep 9, 2004
Living in the Midwest kinda sucks.

I wish that my electric bill was that low!

Are you sure that your heater wasn't on more then you think it was? It's been really cold and electric heaters cost a SHITLOAD to run, for example once in Ottawa I had a $600 bill in a similar sized apartment that had electric baseboard heating.

Now that I see your bill, that isn't ALOT of electricity, but you are paying more then twice what I pay in Shreveport. So you're getting screwed but its on the pricing, not the amount you used.

GodsGiftToWomen
Jan 26, 2004
Providing women with sexual pleasure since 1983

looks high to me
we had the heater on for all of December, computers, washer and dryer usage for two people, electricity needs for two people
same size apartment
at 200 less kWh than you

sample of the breakdown of my bill

Distribution-Customer Chg $ 5.50
Delivery Charges
Distribution-Energy Chg
497 kW h @ $ 0.02212600 11.00
Delivery Riders 5.46
Total Delivery Charges $ 16.46
Generation Charges
Generation Energy Chg
497 kW h @ $ 0.04023800 20.00
Rider FPP 19.41
Rider AAC 3.25
Rider TCR 2.54
Total Generation Charges $ 45.20
=67.16

Elephanthead
Sep 11, 2008


Sometimes they read the meters wrong. You can call them and do a manual meter read and they will tell you if that is the case. Your neighbors could be leeching your juice also.

illcendiary
Dec 4, 2005

Damn, this is good coffee.

Thanks for all the information guys. I submitted an email via the TXU website, and if their response isn't sufficient (I don't imagine it will be), I'll arrange a phone call and try to resolve the matter.

It's pretty infuriating to know that I have been deliberately freezing my rear end off these past few weeks to try and keep my energy bills low, and yet I still manage to have to pay more than twice what seems to be normal.

mzandrea
Dec 17, 2001
hay guys, hows about I post a bunch of spoilers no-one wants to see then act like a smarmy douchebag when I get called on it?

I live in Austin, in a similar size apartment, and in December, I used 697kWh. I use blow dryers, straightners, charge my ipod and phone, run my dryer, two computers, in other words, I use a lot of energy. So, if yours was only 600kWh, that's pretty good.

Edit: Or was your bill for 735kWh? To be fair, that cold snap we had in December had my thermostat pretty much off. I live in an indoor downtown condo, so the heat from the hallways naturally make my apartment warm. Almost too warm. In the summers I peak at like 1200kWh.

mzandrea fucked around with this message at Jan 15, 2010 around 20:51

Schweig und tanze
May 22, 2007

STUBBSSSSS INNNNNN SPACEEEE!



Good luck. At least in Houston you have options for providers. Here in NJ, it's PSEG or nothing, and the meter in our old-rear end house is inside in the basement. So we have to get estimated bills for 3 months before they'll allow us to arrange a Saturday reading (although the guy almost never shows up even if we do schedule it), so even though we keep the house at a loving frigid 65 degrees we get really fun $500/month energy bills all winter.

Thank god we're replacing the roof and siding and will have an outdoor meter reading thingie installed. gently caress PSEG.

LogisticEarth
Mar 28, 2004

Yeah pal? Well, you don't have a tongue but that don't stop me having to SHUT YOU UP!

^^^ The culperit might be your old-rear end house having an old-rear end heating system. Not PSEG. Their rates aren't really all that out of line in my experience.


Back to the OP:
Here's a question: Is TXU Energy the local power company, or is it one of those sketchy "utility management" companies that some apartment complexes/realtor groups use? I ask because my girlfriends' old apartment used one of the management companies, while mine went directly to the local power company. Her bill was usually over three times mine despite her having a very small place, no computer, and no TV use.

LogisticEarth fucked around with this message at Jan 15, 2010 around 23:53

adorai
Nov 2, 2002

10/27/04 Never forget

I have a 1500 sq foot condo in the middle of illinois and my budget bill amount is $120 a month, every month.

Drheat
Feb 20, 2008


Do you have your own electric hot water heater? or is hot water provided by the building? If you have your own water heater, a simple dripping hot water faucet could be the cause of your troubles.

skipdogg
Nov 29, 2004
Resident SRT-4 Expert


Holy poo poo, 15+ cents/kWh. That's insane.

Here's my bill from CPS in San Antonio

code:
Electric
Residential All Electric
Service Availability Charge$7.27
Energy Charge 600 kWh x $0.06175$37.05
Energy Charge 163 kWh x $0.05175$8.44
Fuel Adjustment 763 kWh x $0.00284$2.17
Regulatory Adj 763 kWh x $0.00452$3.45 $3.45
Total Electric Bill (Non-Taxable)$58.38
I used 763 kWh and basically never turned the AC or heat on last month. Those HDTV's suck down the juice, and mine is on a good part of the day.

Goober Peas
Jun 30, 2007

Walk without rhythm


735 kWh in a barely used 670 sq ft apartment is about 2x what it should be...I have an 1100 sq ft house and average 750 kWh each month.

I would make sure they're actually reading the meter rather than estimating. Our local utility tells us when the next reading date is scheduled; if I forget to unlock the gate, I end up with an estimated bill based upon an historic average of my usage. In an apartment, they would be basing it on prior tenants usage.

b0ng
Jan 16, 2004

ASK ME HOW SOCIAL SERVICES FEELS ABOUT BUYING AND SELLING HARD DRUGS THROUGH THE POSTAL SERVICE WITH KIDS IN THE HOUSE! I GOT RICH SCAMMING THE INTERNET WITH MY HARD DRUGS BY MAIL BUSINESS, AND SO CAN YOU!


LogisticEarth posted:

^^^ The culperit might be your old-rear end house having an old-rear end heating system. Not PSEG. Their rates aren't really all that out of line in my experience.


Back to the OP:
Here's a question: Is TXU Energy the local power company, or is it one of those sketchy "utility management" companies that some apartment complexes/realtor groups use? I ask because my girlfriends' old apartment used one of the management companies, while mine went directly to the local power company. Her bill was usually over three times mine despite her having a very small place, no computer, and no TV use.

TXU is a legitimate company out here. I live in a house in Houston and we have many neighbors who use TXU as well as my parents who own a house in a subdivison near us. Their rates are pretty high though.

Ill, I'd change providers. $.15 per KWh is pretty high, even for around here.

konok
May 26, 2008


I live in a 2br apartment with my computer always on, 2 tvs and multiple game consoles on standby, the heat/AC on 75 degrees always, and all of the lights always on except for when i go to sleep or am on vacation, and my bill almost never reaches $100. So yeah, you're probably getting major screwed.

Edit: This is 700 KwH or so on average.

razz
Dec 26, 2005

Queen of Maceration


I definitely think that is too high. I lived in a drafty-rear end five bedroom, two story house with some roommates (in Kansas, with super-cold winters and super-cold summers), and that's more than our electric bill was. Our combined electric/gas bill was usually about $200 during the shittier weather months.

DaveSauce
Feb 15, 2004
Oh, how awkward.

Call the power company. If you're in an apartment, there's a possibility you're being charged for someone else's meter. If you request that they check things out they'll probably send someone by to do a manual read. If you explain to them that there's no possible way for you to have a bill that high they might investigate and find something wrong. It's not uncommon for meters to be switched in apartment buildings for one reason or another.

My first several months in my current apartment I was enjoying unusually low electricity bills...on the order of $15/month for a 2br apartment (our heat is provided via boiler from the complex so it's free). Then one month we got a nice big $300 power bill. The reason was because we were being charged for the adjacent apartment. When we moved in, they must have complained about the $40-50 power bills, so they probably called and got poo poo fixed...which stuck us with a huge bill for back charges. Which is perfectly legal because electric companies in MN can backcharge for misread meters for up to a year prior to them discovering the fact.

All this happened because we're in unit 102, but it should be 101. 101 is a 1br, and ours is a 2br. 101 used to be the office until (I'm guessing) the adjacent building bought this one and used their office as a common office for both buildings, so they turned 101 in this building into a rental unit. So now in this building the units are numbered 102, 101, 103, 104, etc. Why the previous building owner did something as asinine as change unit numbering to make the office unit 101 is beyond me.

Not only has this caused problems with the electric bill, but one time the cable company decided to cut the line going to our unit for shits and giggles. It was probably labeled as 101 at the junction box, so a tech doing an audit saw it and decided to just cut the loving line clean. It took a week (3 visits) for the tech monkeys at Comcast to figure this out, and even then it was by dumb luck because there was another tech here already. They probably did a continuity check with our unit's jack and the junction box, which probably couldn't have been done with only 1 tech.

There are a few dozen other problems I've had to deal with (unrelated to the unit numbering) but that's for another day...

thrawn86
May 26, 2006

Sure, I got a secret. More than one...

currently paying 12c/kwh for alabama power. if you live in a leaky apartment with an old heater than translates in 150$ power bills for a <500sq ft. 1br.

The Slaughter
Jan 28, 2002

cat scratch fever

holy poo poo. i feel spoiled to pay like 7 cents a kwh in seattle, wa.
I used to work for the electric/gas company here, and I don't think your usage is too crazy out of line, but it is a lot for one person in a small apartment. However, your habits might indicate a lot.. If you have an old fridge from the 70s that is using a ton of power, you take 20 minute showers and do laundry 5 times a week, things start making a bit more sense. It's hard to know. The meters themselves read quite accurately, and around here are read automatically, but you can manually read your meter and see if it is close to what was on your bill. But either way, you're getting raped at 15 cents per kwh. fuckin hell that's high.

Internetjack
Sep 15, 2007


The national average daily consumption is 25 kwh a day. Almost exactly what you are using, but the national average household has 4 people in it. So, your consumption is a bit high. Based on your appliance description though, it seems not unusual. Buy something like the Killawatt meter if you want to find out what specific appliances are sucking the most power.

Your rates are a bit high, but I don't know what is normal for Texas. In the pacific northwest we have tons of hydro power which keeps rates down. I pay just over 6 cents a kwh.

If you can't get better rates, or it isn't a misread by the power company, try to find ways to cut your consumption. Often power companies will offer a free evaluation of your place, pointing out that more efficient lighting, better windows, insulation, more modern appliances, etc will cut your consumption significantly. If you have some 30 year old refrigerator or water heater, there are often state and federal plans available that will subsidize some of the cost of buying newer, more effecient appliances.

GreenTrench
Jun 19, 2004

Has anyone seen me?

Schweig und tanze posted:

Good luck. At least in Houston you have options for providers. Here in NJ, it's PSEG or nothing, and the meter in our old-rear end house is inside in the basement. So we have to get estimated bills for 3 months before they'll allow us to arrange a Saturday reading (although the guy almost never shows up even if we do schedule it), so even though we keep the house at a loving frigid 65 degrees we get really fun $500/month energy bills all winter.

Thank god we're replacing the roof and siding and will have an outdoor meter reading thingie installed. gently caress PSEG.

PSEG is the provider, but you can purchase electricity from some other entity. You can also request PSEG to install a phone line to the meter, or you can do the meter readings yourself.

PSEG is horrible for other reasons (Yay ACE and JCP&L)

Oil!
Nov 5, 2008

Der's e'rl in dem der hills!


illcendiary posted:

Here are some figures that I got from my last statement:

code:
735 kWh used

First 600 kWh @ $0.154 = 92.44
Next  135 kWh @ $0.138 = 18.63
This plus surcharges comes out to $125.00. Is this a normal amount of energy to be using in such a small apartment?

My provider is TXU energy. I'm not sure if this is their normal rate, I'm probably paying a little bit higher since I am on a contract-free month-to-month basis. I wouldn't be surprised if my apartment has an exclusive contract with them, they do the same with a cable company.

I am also in Houston and using 800kWh @ $0.118 = $94.40

Mister Kingdom
Dec 14, 2005

It was horrible...horrible.
Like a chicken.


I have an 800 square foot apartment and when I first moved in (July '07), my first electric bill was $160!

Thankfully, the complex replaced all of the HVAC units about a year later and my biggest bill has been $105 in the summer. I switched to budget billing and pay $73.00 per month and will "settle up" in the 12th month. Here's my latest bill:



Right now I'm paying $.0987/kWh (it goes up to about $.11 in the summer). Any electronic device I don't need running overnight gets its power strip turned off. I figure I save about $8 per month doing this.

Wasse
Jan 16, 2010


That seems really high. I have multiple electronics running way more then they should (like 2 computers on 24/7), and my bills are ~$80 in the winter.

Purple Worm
Apr 7, 2008

Thank you for making such consistently excellent posts. I hope you don't mind me replacing your quote from Gandhi with this message of appreciation. I am going to stop trolling because of how much you inspire me. I hope you have a wonderful day.

The wiring could be wrong, so you are paying for another apartment's electricity and they are paying for yours.

Or your apartment is also paying to heat and light the basement or the hallways or something.

Turn absolutely everything off, even unplug your digital alarm clock and refrigerator, then go see if the little wheel measuring electricity usage for your apartment is still spinning.

Schweig und tanze
May 22, 2007

STUBBSSSSS INNNNNN SPACEEEE!



LogisticEarth posted:

^^^ The culperit might be your old-rear end house having an old-rear end heating system. Not PSEG. Their rates aren't really all that out of line in my experience.


Back to the OP:
Here's a question: Is TXU Energy the local power company, or is it one of those sketchy "utility management" companies that some apartment complexes/realtor groups use? I ask because my girlfriends' old apartment used one of the management companies, while mine went directly to the local power company. Her bill was usually over three times mine despite her having a very small place, no computer, and no TV use.

Well, part of it is that the house is old and currently poorly isolated, but it's mostly that their estimated readings are ridiculous - when we do finally get them here to read the meter after a couple of months, we're able to see just how much we've overpaid. We went from Nov 08 to June 09 without an in-person reading, and after they did read it we had a $700 credit and didn't pay a single energy bill until this month. Also, if you call in a reading, it's still considered an estimated one. I can't wait till we get an outdoor reader thing installed.

Cuchulainn
May 19, 2007
It's like hide and seek, only with guns.

That seems like a lot of energy (and a high price per KWH as well). I have a 1600sq/ft house and pay little to no attention to energy consumption (although I guess I should), and used around 900KWH last month. I'm also paying just under 8 cents per KWH.

potee
Jul 23, 2007

Or, you know.

Not fine.


Helmet posted:

Turn absolutely everything off, even unplug your digital alarm clock and refrigerator, then go see if the little wheel measuring electricity usage for your apartment is still spinning.

Do this, and shut the main breaker off too. I was away from my apartment for a month once, and shut the breaker off before I left. Imagine my suprise when I still had a $30 bill, and my meter was still moving. Apparently my meter was the one running all the lights in the hallways and outside.

Also, I'm in western Mass and I pay I think 11.8 cents per kWh, but after taxes and various fees for not living in the 15th century it's 14.7 per kWh.

moneyfrog
Jul 7, 2009

Good news!

The way things work out here in central Missouri is that you pay the city directly for electricity, water, sewer, and trash service. Because it is set up this way, I can call the city and ask for a listing of a property's previous utility costs. This helps renters avoid properties that bleed money.

Do you have any idea if there's something similar with your electric company? If you can compare your cost to that of a previous tenant, you might be able to narrow down the problem.

Magnificent Quiver
May 8, 2003



One time I got a $200 electric bill while living in one room of a house, with a computer, a box fan, and some CFL lightbulbs. I assumed that either someone was stealing power, or the contractors my landlord was always sending over used a shitload of power for their equipment.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







Magnificent Quiver posted:

One time I got a $200 electric bill while living in one room of a house, with a computer, a box fan, and some CFL lightbulbs. I assumed that either someone was stealing power, or the contractors my landlord was always sending over used a shitload of power for their equipment.
Electric companies don't bill you for the energy you use, not directly. They bill you in advance for the energy they think you'll use the next month, and then check the meter every month (or two) and adjust their estimates for next month based on that, and based on what was used last year at the same address.

The OP's bills are about twice what I'd expect, but so are the rates they're charging him. (seriously, 15 cents per kWh in Texas?? That's robbery!) I don't think the bill is at all unreasonable or out of the ordinary besides the high rates; it sucks, but energy is expensive and it all adds up. Or cheap, depending on how you look at it. I'd check the bill, check the meter with the main breaker turned off, etc, but there may not be any errors at all. If it's just an overestimate in the billing because the tenants last year used a gently caress-ton of power, next month's bill will be smaller. You can also manually take readings and phone them in, and they'll adjust your next bill for you.

grover fucked around with this message at Jan 17, 2010 around 04:30

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

Hey, sugar. What's kraken?


grover posted:

(seriously, 15 cents per kWh in Texas?? That's robbery!)

That's pretty much TXU in a nutshell. They're terrible.

OP, if you aren't being forced to use TXU by your property manager (like I was), then shop around. Their rates are by far the highest and they also shut my power off more than once on accident.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







FYI: @ $0.154/kWh:

A 60W bulb 24/7 = $6.65/month
6x60W bulbs 8hrs/day = $13.30/month
A 200W PC 24/7 = $22.17/month
A 1500W space heater 24/7 = $166.32/month
A 1500W air conditioner 24/7 = $166.32/month
A 15 minute hot shower/day = ~$30/month

It all adds up. Space heaters and small AC units cost a poo poo-ton to run. A compact fluorescent bulb will pay for itself in a month at the rates you're paying (13W vice 60W). Are you running SETI@home or folding@home? They might seem free, but the electrical costs are very real, as PCs draw WAY more power at full load than at idle.

grover fucked around with this message at Jan 17, 2010 around 14:36

DrBouvenstein
Feb 28, 2007

I think I'm a doctor, but that doesn't make me a doctor. This fancy avatar does.


A lot of electric companies do "estimated readings" where they guess what you used based on past usage, then when they finally do come and read the meter, they adjust the next bill to compensate for what they were wrong about. I once had a power company not check for meter for almost three months...the months in question? July, August, and part of September. I had like $45 dollar bills for July and August, and then got with over $200 in September when they took an actual reading, since being summer and all, I had the AC going.

So that could be the reason...they were "guessing" for the past month or two, and had to adjust when they finally came out and read it.

Magnificent Quiver
May 8, 2003



grover posted:

Electric companies don't bill you for the energy you use, not directly. They bill you in advance for the energy they think you'll use the next month, and then check the meter every month (or two) and adjust their estimates for next month based on that, and based on what was used last year at the same address.

So what's their angle on it when my 5 roommates leave for the summer in May, I pay $30 in June, and then $200 in July?

DrBouvenstein posted:

So that could be the reason...they were "guessing" for the past month or two, and had to adjust when they finally came out and read it.

Still seems weird though. For example, say the bill was $100 when there were 6 people in the house with AC and stuff. Then the next month I'm all alone with a box fan and a PC and pay $30. Then the next month nothing's changed and I pay $200.

But yeah I see what you're saying - if they underestimated the power we used in March, April, May, they may have tried to make up for it when they actually sent a guy out.

Magnificent Quiver fucked around with this message at Jan 17, 2010 around 22:23

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grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







Magnificent Quiver posted:

So what's their angle on it when my 5 roommates leave for the summer in May, I pay $30 in June, and then $200 in July?
Their angle will be "pay it or sit in the dark." They just don't give a gently caress. If they did, billing would be more realistic.

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