Electric Heating

greenelzieDecember 18, 2008

This is going to be lengthy, I apologize ahead of time!

I moved into my apartment in August (Northern Ohio). The building is fairly old, and when I was looking at the apartment originally I was informed that they had switched from gas to electric heat in the past few years. It didn't phase me at the time, but now as we get into colder months I'm seeing some huge problems.

The heaters aren't efficient. They don't keep my apartment warm, basically, unless run on the highest setting at all times (it's a one bedroom apartment, the bathroom is tiny and the a have a "galley" kitchen, but the ceilings are high). I also don't have a gas bill, because my stove is electric and I don't pay for water. The heaters are baseboard style, except for those in the kitchen and bathroom, which are along the ceiling (heat rises, aka. not every effective).

Last month, they misread my meter and dropped a $230 bill down to $113, which still scared me. The month before that my bill was around $45. I tried to keep the heaters on lower settings, ran them only when I was at home, and turned my bedroom one on only a couple hours before I knew I'd be going to bed. A few weekends I was even at my parent's home, so the heaters stayed off.

This month my bill is about $280 and, sadly, the meter is right this time. Is this possible? Could something be wrong with the heaters or possibly with my meter? I haven't spoken with the agency I'm renting from yet, but I'd love an outside opinion!

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Unfortunately electric heating is expensive these days, and will only get worse as winter goes on, but that's what you get when renting unless you're in someone's house and they use oil.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 8:37PM
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I'm afraid you are in for a long winter my friend. It is not unusual to see that kind of a spike once the heat kicks in. I own 17 apartment units in Maine, and a few have a bit of electric heat here and there. I've seen $450/month and i've heard of worse. Based on what you said about your low usage (not even being home) you could be in for some astronomical numbers.

1. Call the electric company and get Jan/Feb for '08 and '07. They keep these numbers for these occassions.

2. Is there another apartment below you? I'd be living off of their heat if at all possible.

3. You turn on the heat a few hours BEFORE going to bed? Not anymore, your gonna have to man up a bit. I sleep with my heat off and it's set to come on 1/2 hr before i get up.

4. Tell Santa to forget about the new laptop, you're going to want some serious pajamas, wool sox and one of those silly sleeping caps.

5. Those programable thermostats really are one of the few things that pay for themselves very quickly. Especially in situations like yours.

6. Have you tried to seal off doors and windows? I know you don't own the place, but believe it or not that plastic sheeting does work. I make interior double pane storm windows, and so could you.

7. Those tall ceilings don't have ceiling fans (where you can reverse the blades) do they?

8. What's above those ceilings? Living space? Attic? Roof? If it's an attic i'd be curious to know if there's much insulation up there.

I just took care of my last all-electric attic apartment by installing a quality Renai (gas) heater. They work on the woodstove principle - all the heat comes from it and radiates (or convection heats) the rest of the apartment from that one spot. It was about $1,800 for the unit but i had to pay a bit more to run the gas up the side of the building to get there. I'm betting i pay maybe $500.00 for the whole winter with this set-up.

Is the old gas line still connested to the building? I'm sure your landlord would just LOVE to hear this suggestion - but on the other hand he's got to deal with this at some point. Who on earth would live there for 2 winters with a situation like this?

Here is a link that might be useful: Draftyoldwindow

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 12:03AM
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Some things that have helped us w/ electric heat:

* An electric balnket! I always thought these were for sissies. No, they're for efficiency! We don't even heat the bedroom but for the coldest nights. Turn on the blanket 30-45 minutes before bedtime to get the sheets nice and warm. Then turn it OFF- don't sleep with it on. By the time it's heat is fading, your body heat is taking over.

* "Equal payment plan" from the power co. They can average bills over a 12 month period, so you pay more in the summer but don't get hit with huge bills in the winter. If you haven't been there that long, they should be able (as our co. was) to estimate the installments and adjust them after a few months.

* Space heaters- the modern, oil-filled safety type that turn off if they're tipped over. In small rooms they work better than baseboards, and you can attach a timer. And you have more freedom with arranging furniture.

* macattac was right about the sleeping cap. And appropriate for any climate: nice fluffy slippers!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 11:58PM
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Wearing a knit hat around the house (or a hoodie if you do not want 'hat hair') will really help keep you warmer. Get a knit hat for sleeping that ties under your neck so it stays on.

Long underwear. I like the leg warmers that dancers wear. The thigh high ones. They don't add bulk to the hips either, so clothes still zip up. Wear them under slacks or skirt around the house. Wear them under sweats.

If you are just reading or watching tv or computer, wear some finger-less gloves. Or just cut the finger tips off of an old pair.

Crocs, the ones without the holes on top, are warmer than any slippers and don't get dirty either. I think they are safer for going up and down steps as they give more support to the foot and the soles do not get slippery on wood or vinyl like cheap fuzzy slippers.

If your baseboard heaters are not "keeping up" when it is below zero and you are still cold you can run your oven as auxillary heat since it is electric. Do not run a gas oven for heat.

Plastic over the windows will work and the shrink plastic is crystal clear to see through. I even keep it on some windows in rooms during the summer to keep out the blazing heat from the sun. You can also buy clay rope to seal the cracks around the windows. It does not look bad and will not damage the finish on wood. Tape will pull paint off and leave sticky residue and pieces bonded.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 2:10AM
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My lest months electric bill was $677.45 absolutely was ridiculus.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 7:48PM
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