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Bill Brasky

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #690 on: January 25, 2010, 02:24:36 AM »

Does anybody have any tips for fighting utility bills that are too high?

I live in a one bedroom apartment and got an electric bill for $230 for the past month.
The only things that use any significant electricity are my laptop, a lamp, a few small ceiling lights, the microwave and the fridge. Thats it. My heating is through gas.

My parents have a monstrous 2 story house with many electronics plugged in/running at any given time. Multiple computers, 2 tv's, a well that takes in water based on electricity, 4 or more different people turning on lights, etc etc...and their bill was 110 for the same time period with the same company. WTF

I dont recall what the "units" were but basically the statement said that last years usage was 20 for the past tenant during this time frame. Mine was 2000.  My bill has been rising exponentially since Aug. when I moved in.

First call to them resulted in them denying any wrong-doing, tomorrow morning I am going to their physical location and demanding answers. If they do not compensate me I will refuse to pay it.

Usually they don't physically read the meter every month, they do estimates based on history of the location then do an "actual" which will adjust.  Rate hikes will effect this too, and they've all been doing rate hikes in the last year, so it may be a combination of the two - applying the rate hike (if any) on top of the estimated period.  

Air conditioners are usually the guilty culprits, if it jacked up rapidly in the fall and you're new there even a small AC unit can suck down the wattage.  

Sometimes there is a baseboard heater in a bathroom that is turned to "low" and its just running forever and you don't know about it.  

If you're living in an apartment, make sure where your meter location goes straight to your breaker box, and all the switches control shit inside your pad.  Sometimes in old houses theres a rogue switch that goes to a porch light or something weird, like an outside porch plug, and if the neighbors know about it, they may run a cord off it to power a heater.  You must be aware of where all wires go, and what they power.  So you'll need to turn all your lights on, plug stuff into all your outlets, the go to the breaker box and shut everything off.  Then, 1 by 1, come back and turn each switch on, and check what it powers.  Its really the only way to get familiar with the routing of the wiring.  If you have extra switches in the box that don't seem to power anything in your pad, leave them turned off.  

If the water heater is electric, check the dial and turn it down to as low as you can comfortably tolerate the warm water.  

Put a thermometer in your fridge for a few days and keep turning the cold setting down (less cold) until the fridge reads 36 degrees.  

The measure of 2000 kw/h versus the last tenants usage of 20 is not normal.  Ask them to audit the other accounts in the place with similar features (you probably know which others have 1BR and a single guy living in it)  Yours should be approximately what theirs is, give or take for personal habits.  They may say its confidential information, ask for a manager.  Tell the manager you have no interest in anyones personal information, but would like him/her to compare your account to others in the building.  They should be similar.  

If they insist the 2000 kw/h is correct and everyone else is using about 20/30ish, tell them you want the meter socket replaced.  You have legitimate grounds to believe there is something wrong with their meter.  (the meter socket is the glass dome part that covers all the whirly dials, and the mechanical junk inside it)  This piece just pops out of the gray box, simple.  The socket belongs to the electric company, it is their property and must be checked if it is disputed.  

My last electric bills were in the $60-70/mo range and I ran central air all summer long at 73*, and everything was electric.  I have no idea how many kw/h I was using, but it sure as fuck wasn't 2000, it was more like 100ish.  
« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 02:26:47 AM by Drifter »
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anarchir

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #691 on: January 25, 2010, 02:57:54 AM »

Air conditioners are usually the guilty culprits, if it jacked up rapidly in the fall and you're new there even a small AC unit can suck down the wattage. 
Its the middle of winter here (WI) so no AC units have been used since Aug. And even then my bill was less than 50 bucks.

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Sometimes there is a baseboard heater in a bathroom that is turned to "low" and its just running forever and you don't know about it. 
We dont have anything like that. Literally there is nothing else that can be plugged in in the place. Maybe a phone charger, a printer, and occasionally my gal's hair straightener.

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If you're living in an apartment, make sure where your meter location goes straight to your breaker box, and all the switches control shit inside your pad.  Sometimes in old houses theres a rogue switch that goes to a porch light or something weird, like an outside porch plug, and if the neighbors know about it, they may run a cord off it to power a heater.  You must be aware of where all wires go, and what they power. 
I may have to go scouting around outside then. Maybe the plugs the landlord (I live in the upper half of a house, shes downstairs) uses to power Christmas lights are wired to my meter?
Quote
 So you'll need to turn all your lights on, plug stuff into all your outlets, the go to the breaker box and shut everything off.  Then, 1 by 1, come back and turn each switch on, and check what it powers.  Its really the only way to get familiar with the routing of the wiring.  If you have extra switches in the box that don't seem to power anything in your pad, leave them turned off. 
I dont think I have access to a breaker. I think it is in the landlords basement, and when I have called her about the ridiculously high bills (other bills are unreasonably high too, but thats a different story) she says she wont do anything, I just have to talk to the utility companies.

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If the water heater is electric, check the dial and turn it down to as low as you can comfortably tolerate the warm water. 
I have about 5 minutes of warm water before it is completely gone when I take a shower. I've timed it at about 6 if I keep it lukewarm and turn the water on when I'm standing directly under the spout. I havent seen the water heater, but if a smaller version for homes exists I'd be very surprised.

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Put a thermometer in your fridge for a few days and keep turning the cold setting down until the fridge reads 36 degrees. 
I'm not sure how that helps? Turn the temp down?

Quote
They may say its confidential information, ask for a manager.  Tell the manager you have no interest in anyones personal information, but would like him/her to compare your account to others in the building.  They should be similar. 
If they insist the 2000 kw/h is correct and everyone else is using about 20/30ish, tell them you want the meter socket replaced.
When I talked to them on the phone they said multiple things which necessitate me storming their physical turf. First off, they refuse to give me a past history of any data beyond the small amount that gave me the 20 vs 2000. They claimed it was "illegal" for them to do so. Second, I wanted to speak to a manager, but they would not let me. >:( Finally, they said that the meter was actually recently replaced. This was something I had noticed on my own because the first electric bill I received was reasonable, all the rest just got outrageous as they grew and grew and grew. The first bill I noticed said meter #XXXXXXX but all the rest after that said #YYYYYYYY. I pointed this out to them thinking perhaps they were reading someone elses house or something but nope, they claimed the whole town got new meters at that time.
 
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My last electric bills were in the $60-70/mo range and I ran central air all summer long at 73*, and everything was electric.  I have no idea how many kw/h I was using, but it sure as fuck wasn't 2000, it was more like 100ish. 
I kept the AC off and stripped clothing off when it was hot, I almost always have the heat at 55 F unless my gal is around for a few days during which I temporarily crank it up to 65. I dont have anything really in my apartment that does anything and I dont even do many dishes or cooking since I work as a cook and eat the majority of my meals at work.

I was really really shocked when I saw my parents bill. If you combine their bill for the house with theirs for the barn (which uses a lot due to poor heating, heating water, lights, freezers, etc.) it still barely breaks 200 bucks.

In sum I am mostly pissed because I was told utilities (gas, water, elec, water, sewer, etc.) would come to about 150 per month when I signed the lease. Actual total last month for those: 400+.  Thats an entire paycheck, or half my total pay each month straight to these bills.  
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Bill Brasky

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #692 on: January 25, 2010, 04:52:41 AM »

If your breaker panel is in the basement, and you have no access to switches, check on the outside of the house and see how many meter sockets there are.  If there are two residences in the house there should be two glass-domed meters, one is yours and one is the landlords.  If there is only one, you are paying the electricity for the entire house. 

When you rent a duplex, the electricity is supposed to come inside in a straight line from the meter to the residence, so you have access for blown circuits - or to shut the whole fucker down in an emergency.  It shouldn't be in the basement.  Ask the landlord to see it, even if there are two glass domes - you'll be able to tell if both are active by just looking at them. 

Inside the basement, it'll run into two panels - one should power her house, and one should power your stuff.  Trace the wires, just open the doors and look.  If theres only one box, you're getting fucked.  It'd be a good reason to refuse to show you, it'd be my immediate suspicion.  (there will actually be one small box and one large box in each set-up, a master with a primary kill-switch and then that goes into the big box)  So in the properly designed rig, there would actually be four  boxes in total, small-into-big for hers, and small-into-big for yours.  Get it? 

If your water is running out that quickly, I suspect the whole house is running off one water heater.  When the utilities are all mixed up like that, its usually that the upstairs (or whichever is the renters side) is given utilities included wit the rent, and they're all the landlords responsibility.  She would charge you 600 (or whatever) and you'd have no other bill - and fueling the upstairs could be zoned off her one electric box, and one furnace.  If you're paying elec,gas,water, and have no access to any of the shit, she could've switched everything over in a situation like that into your name when you accepted the tenancy. 

There should be two furnaces, two gas meters, two electric meters, two water meters, two water heaters - all on separate utilities in the situation you describe.  Nothing should be shared.  Not one water heater, not one furnace.  Two.  No excuses.  I would tell her since the bills are so much higher than expected, you demand to check the settings on the water heater to make sure its properly adjusted.   

Even if there are two gas meters, and only one electric panel, the gas could be on the up-and-up and she's augmenting her heat with your electricity, thinking she won't get caught by a rube, since the gas is technically the primary heat source.  Maybe a little personal-sized space heater to keep the chill down, so her furnace doesn't kick on as often.  I am very suspicious of this large rise in kw/h consumption. 

Ask how many accounts are active in the house if ALL those meters are not visible or located outside.     

Don't take any shit from these people.  Know your shit and be certain of your accusations.  Wait til they're not home downstairs and give everything a thorough look.  Take pictures.  Christmas lights aren't enough to make much of a difference, if she just has a few strands like normal people. 

--

The fridge controls, down is actually warmer in many fridges = less cold, and up is colder = more cold.  It varies.  But in this case, its probably not the problem.  I was just saying to turn everything to its more efficient directions. 
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davann

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #693 on: January 25, 2010, 12:04:35 PM »

Does anybody have any tips for fighting utility bills that are too high?

I live in a one bedroom apartment and got an electric bill for $230 for the past month.
The only things that use any significant electricity are my laptop, a lamp, a few small ceiling lights, the microwave and the fridge. Thats it. My heating is through gas.

My parents have a monstrous 2 story house with many electronics plugged in/running at any given time. Multiple computers, 2 tv's, a well that takes in water based on electricity, 4 or more different people turning on lights, etc etc...and their bill was 110 for the same time period with the same company. WTF

I dont recall what the "units" were but basically the statement said that last years usage was 20 for the past tenant during this time frame. Mine was 2000.  My bill has been rising exponentially since Aug. when I moved in.

First call to them resulted in them denying any wrong-doing, tomorrow morning I am going to their physical location and demanding answers. If they do not compensate me I will refuse to pay it.

I'd suggest unplugging any and all little gadgets when not in use. Like the microwave. It is still drawing power for the clock when you are not using it. Multiply that by all the electronics you might have plugged in. Also, electric has been going up regular for awhile. Double check with your parents and verify what they are paying.

You might want to get a hold of the power company and see if they have a free home check up program.
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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #694 on: January 25, 2010, 12:13:32 PM »

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davann

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #695 on: January 25, 2010, 12:47:23 PM »

What is the best way to spend February 7th if you don't give a shit about the Super Bowl?

If the weather is nice go for a bike ride with your man. Take along a little food in a backpack and stop at a park for lunch.
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davann

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #696 on: January 25, 2010, 12:55:57 PM »

I'm I being picked on by my boss?

Set up scenario.

I had a picture of von Mises for my desktop wallpaper. The boss did not like it because he associated Mises' mustache with Hitler. I replaced it with a wallpaper of a close up of a common house fly. I thought it looked interesting since how often does one see a house fly that close up. It was neat. The boss must have come in after hours and removed it. I can sort of see the Mises one, but it boggles me that he was offended by a house fly.

Note:  I will honor his wishes as he is the boss and it is a company computer.  I just thought this was strange. Also, I thought a Mises picture would be ambiguous enough as to not offend anyone. I was right at least in the political encomic way.
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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #697 on: January 25, 2010, 02:49:52 PM »

What is the best way to spend February 7th if you don't give a shit about the Super Bowl?

If the weather is nice go for a bike ride with your man. Take along a little food in a backpack and stop at a park for lunch.

Great idea, though not during super bowl, unless you have proper gear for riding at night.
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Harry Tuttle

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #698 on: January 25, 2010, 03:06:05 PM »

I'm I being picked on by my boss?

Set up scenario.

I had a picture of von Mises for my desktop wallpaper. The boss did not like it because he associated Mises' mustache with Hitler. I replaced it with a wallpaper of a close up of a common house fly. I thought it looked interesting since how often does one see a house fly that close up. It was neat. The boss must have come in after hours and removed it. I can sort of see the Mises one, but it boggles me that he was offended by a house fly.

Note:  I will honor his wishes as he is the boss and it is a company computer.  I just thought this was strange. Also, I thought a Mises picture would be ambiguous enough as to not offend anyone. I was right at least in the political encomic way.


It sounds like you are being picked on. Once your desktop got onto his "radar" he has come to pay way too much attention to it. It is now like a gnat bugging him. If I were you, I would go completely in the other direction now to disarm him. Put up one of the following:

1) a blank wallpaper
2) your company logo
3) something that represents something to do with your company's industry
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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #699 on: January 25, 2010, 03:19:03 PM »

Does anyone want to run a half marathon through lovely Calloway Gardens this coming weekend... pretending to be me?

It's supposed to be right around freezing Sunday morning, and I don't wanna go. (I will, but don't wanna.)
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Bill Brasky

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #700 on: January 25, 2010, 03:57:52 PM »

I think your boss sounds like a douche, since the last time you mentioned him he was being an ass about upgrading to a current version of IE.  He should concentrate on more important things, micromanagement is a sign of incompetence and indicates an inability to prioritize.  In other words, those things don't matter. 

It doesn't mean he's not a Decent Chap, and slurping the morning coffee with him is a valid reason for suicide.  People are multi-layered.  But those quirks, very douche. 
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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #701 on: January 25, 2010, 04:17:30 PM »

It sounds like you are being picked on. Once your desktop got onto his "radar" he has come to pay way too much attention to it. It is now like a gnat bugging him. If I were you, I would go completely in the other direction now to disarm him. Put up one of the following:

1) a blank wallpaper
2) your company logo
3) something that represents something to do with your company's industry

Going with blank screen might be seen as smart ass. Company logo, or industry related image is better, unless your industry is food. In that case, you should avoid white bread, vanilla ice cream, and things like that.
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davann

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #702 on: January 25, 2010, 07:33:58 PM »

It defaulted to the theme color I had it on so it is basically blank. So far he has not done anything to the forest scene I have on my main/desk PC. Very odd.

The version of I.E. is determined by our Information Services department so the boss was not being a douche there. I could go get firefox but I've made it a point not to mess with the setup Info Service has configured. It is tempting but I wont.

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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #703 on: January 25, 2010, 07:44:55 PM »

What is the best way to spend February 7th if you don't give a shit about the Super Bowl?

Come to Chicago and go to see the Best Church of God: http://www.bestchurchofgod.org/.god/?72
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Re: The Question Thread
« Reply #704 on: January 25, 2010, 07:48:55 PM »

It defaulted to the theme color I had it on so it is basically blank. So far he has not done anything to the forest scene I have on my main/desk PC. Very odd.

The version of I.E. is determined by our Information Services department so the boss was not being a douche there. I could go get firefox but I've made it a point not to mess with the setup Info Service has configured. It is tempting but I wont.



At my company we're all supposed to have the exact same (company logo) wallpaper.  It's kind of dull, but I don't really spend any real amount of time staring at my desktop so it doesn't bother me all that much.  I would think a closeup of a fly should be fine.  Perhaps you could try something abstract like neat architecture or a landscape.
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