View Full Version : Need help with high gas bill.
05-01-2007, 07:04 AM
I bought my first house (Northern Ohio) and recently received my first full gas bill. We have not yet moved into the house since we have a lot to do before it is ready. We are currenly living in a condo that is about the same sq. footage as the house but the gas bill for the house was more than twice that of the condo.
The house used 74 ccf's. The house setting was (off now) 62 when we are there working and 50 when we are away.
The condo used 47 ccf's. The condo is set to 67 when we are home and 55 when away.
Please help me with all possible ways of reducing my gas bill. I know there are some are obvious things I need to do and they will be taken care of a.s.a.p. but I hope to get some help with some of the not so obvious.
*The furnace is pretty old. I'm guessing 15+ years old. How much of a savings could I see by replacing it?
*Would there be a significant savings by choosing an unregulated supplier as stated on my Columbia Gas of Ohio bill?
*I have a double layer of fiberglass insulation in the attic. Is that sufficient?
*Would I know via smell if there was a leak?
Any other recommendations would be very much appreciated. Great forum!
05-01-2007, 07:26 AM
You can have the energy company suggest things to you. They might even come and perform an energy audit of your house. Some inspectors will set up a pressure system in the house where they close all windows except one and then hitch a high powered fan to suck air into the house. Then they use what amounts to an incense stick around recessed lights and windows to look for air leaks.
At 15yrs, yr furnace is probably ripe for replacement. There are high-efficiency models now that could cut yr costs by as much as 10-15%/mo. Keep in mind, though, that this savings might be more in the winter and less in the summer. Overall, you have to weigh the cost savings vs. the cost to replace. I'd bet the payback is 5-7 years.
If you want to check for leaks yrself, start in your attic. Look for wrinkled insulation and gaps. Peel it back and look for leaks around ceiling lights. Caulk appropriately. Check that yr fixtures are IC rated if yr insulation is going to touch it.
If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when not in use.
You might consider a storm door if you get decent wind directly up against the front door. Again, that's a few hundred $$ initial cost vs. $10ish savings/mo.
An expensive but very effective thing is to replace windows with double or triple pane windows. At the time or replacement, you can also double check that the jambs and casing are properly insulated and caulked.
Curtains or blinds on windows can greatly reduce drafts and heat loss at windows.
Outlets on exterior walls can also be a source of small air leaks. There are foam inserts that you can buy to improve the insulation in these if it hasn't been done already.
If it were me, I'd probably ride out the furnace until it conks; the technology's only getting better each year.
05-01-2007, 08:24 AM
a cube has six sides, six surface planes. A house is a cube whose six sides are in direct contact with the great outdoors; all sides lose heat to the outdoors. A basement slab, on wet earth, loses a lot of heat. Four exterior walls too. Roof too. Furthermore, there are more doors to the exterior and windows, all of which leak at the seams and radiate heat through their glass and frame more than walls do.
Your condo is part of a "condo association", so you have neighbors whose living units touch yours, sharing some structure and exchanging heat across this barrier.
What is this architecture? What vertical or horizontal planes (walls ceiling or floors) are common to both you and condo neighbors? Adjoining yours. Is this a townhouse condo? An apartment condo?
Some condo dwellers are in apartments that have very little surface area facing the outdoors. One wall, or one and a half walls, facing the outside. Five of the six cube faces are therefore heated by neighbors who may leave their heat much much higher than you'd think. In your case, since your settings are cool, I'd guess that your neighbors may be subsidizing your total heat, since their settings are higher than yours in all probability. A heat gradient slopes towards you.
So now you have two shocks. One is that there are no more neighbors with warm walls that not only prevent heat from being lost to the outside, but whose higher heat is actually giving you some free heat while you live there and set your thermostat as low as you do. The second is that all houses, compared to condos, are always colder, or harder to heat, or more expensive to heat.
Double the heating costs is very normal in my experience.
05-01-2007, 09:33 AM
Get a programmable thermostat. If you have a 2-stage furnace, get a thermostat made for 2-stage furnaces. This will prevent the furnace from burning at full BTU’s when there is only a minor temperature difference to reach the desired temperature.
You should also consider installing a whole house humidifier. It will make you feel warmer at lower temperatures. We have one and it seems to allow us to set the temperature 2-3 degrees lower than when the humidifier is off.
Above all else, call the utility company and get an inspection.
05-03-2007, 08:34 PM
Thanks for the replies! Great info/advice that will be used.
joe in queens
05-04-2007, 01:15 PM
If you're contemplating replacing your equipment, switch to oil. Depending on how much your paying for natural gas, if you do a dollar per BTU (oil has nearly 40% more BTU capacity than gas) analysis of gas versus oil, I bet you'll come out better with oil. And with oil, you have REAL competition, unlike with gas, where you're beholden to a monopoly for transportation. Often, if you switch to a third party gas supplier, there are additional taxes and fees that often eat up any savings and may even cost you more.