Utility bills...Grrrrrrrrrrr!

topsiebeezelbubJuly 7, 2011

Anyone else about to move because of the utility bills? Huntsville. Al. is switching over to a new system and no longer will do budget billing...(that is each month is the same amount, then at the settle up time you owe or get back a bit.) My bills are outrageous for 2 little old ladies... usually around $800.00 a month, and keeps going up, though we use less and less. I found out I pay a higher sewer rate because my late husband put in a second meter for outside water. They said it would save more than the $1000.00 the new meter cost...what a lie!

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That amount seems pretty high to me. Have you had an energy audit? Our bill are maybe 1/3 of that for a decent size "old" home and a family of 3.

As for "budget billing" - just do it yourself. In the "cheap" months, put aside what you would on the budget plan and then you'll have the money on the more expensive months.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 1:51PM
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You need to be more specific. Is the $800 solely your electric bill? Or is this everything? (power, gas, water, sewer, garbage, cable, phone). If a combination, break down which bills are which and which ones you have a problem with. Assuming electricity is a problem, are you on Huntsville Utilities? If so, it's TVA, and should run less than those of us in the state on Alabama Power. Does any portion of this reflect the "catch-up" that will be inevitable as the company ceases levelied billing? Is your house all electric? And how large is the house? Window units or CH&A? Age and condition of the CH&A? Where do you keep the thermostat set?

Regarding the water and sewer, you're just going to have to have a conversation with the powers that be. Find out exactly what you're paying for. It doesn't make sense that you pay a higher sewer "rate" because of the separate yard meter. Of course there could be some sort of a clean water assessment that has been added, but you'll have to ask the questions.

I'm on Alabama Power. I have a 2,000 square foot house with lots of glass and little insulation, and a virtually flat roof with large skylights. I keep the thermostat between 76 and 82. My power bill was $148 last month (about 12 cents per KWH). This is on an HVAC unit that was replaced in 2010.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:01PM
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Lots of factors that come into play. How many square feet of living space do you have (that you heat/cool)? Do you have a programmable thermostat? Does your house have insulation, especially in the roof or attic? Do you run the water a lot? (Long showers, watering the yard, leaky toilets, etc.) Do you still have the old metal windows?

Like Jakabedy asked, are you including cable, phone, etc? Many people can do without cable and save over $100/month.
If you provide more information, people can be more specific with advice.

I agree that $800 is a lot.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:47PM
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Gracious no, it doesn't cover cable, phone or internet. We are very frugal with power. In winter its about 69 in the house, about 80 in summer. In winter the gas and electricity are about $300.00 each, then add water, sewer, garbage and tax. The house is big, but we never go upstairs anymore, as my mom is 92, and there are 2 seperate heat/air units for the up and down, so we only heat 1/2 the house. In spring and fall the bill is much lower than winter, so that's why I like the budget billing...no surprises. We always got a little back.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 7:59PM
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The A/C of course is electric, I'm assuming you have gas heat and no electric space heaters? That's what we have. The gas is much higher in the winter, and the elctric much higher in the summer. In your case, the $300 for electric in the winter seems way out of line. Our electric bill is about $100-125 for the non-summer months. And we have two computers and printers that run all the time, and lots of electronics that stay plugged in all the time.

You don't say that your gas is high year-round, but if it is that needs to be checked as well. Our gas bill in the non-furnace months drops to maybe $35 (just the range).

Have you had your HVAC units serviced to be sure they are sized correctly and functioning properly? I would definitely contact the utilities and ask about having an audit done and having the meters checked. We live rurally, fenced with dogs, so the power company would "estimate" our usage. This became a nightmare and was clearly incorrect. They eventually installed a "smart" meter as part of an area upgrade and it sends a signal, or can be scanned from the road, or something. No more errors.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:44PM
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Topsie, I agree with Jakabedy. Something is wrong. Her suggestion that you ask the utility company to come out and take a look is spot on. You could have a leak or some other problem. A programmable thermostat helps, too. We have ours set to go down to 65 at night in the winter. Do you have an old freezer or old refrigerator? That can be a drain on electricity. See what the utility company says.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Have your gas/electric company come out and check your homes. Does the meter need replacing? Is there old appliances that use more than new ones? Could you sell and go into assisted living? If you are low income, are you eligible for aid from the utility companies? It sounds like the house is a bit too large, maybe downsizing would be a suggestion, that is why I thought of assisted living places. Do you have children that could help you with your bills--not financial -but evaluate the house and bills.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 10:31PM
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I would inquire further about the second sewer meter. Since it isn't going into a water treatment plant but into the ground then you should not be paying sewer on it. I have read blogs where people actually recommend putting in a second well for your outside water so that you don't have to pay sewer charges on water that goes outside.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:49PM
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For those that do not understand sewer rate fees. The reason there is a higher rate when a second water meter (sprinkler meter) is installed, it is because that is the "standard rate" for sewer. You do NOT pay sewer on a sprinkler meter. When you have only one meter, the sewer rate is calculated at a lower rate based on usage for outdoor water. It comes to about a 15% discount based on studies. So here is what I mean. You pay $5.42 per 1000 gallons on sewer if you have a second meter, a sprinkler meter. You are never charged for sewer on water that goes thru the sprinkler, you would only pay sewer on the regular water meter. Of if you have only one water meter, you pay $4.61 per 1000 gallons because they know that an average of about 15% of your water does not go down the sewer.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 6:45AM
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$5.42 per 1000 gallons, $4.61 per 1000 gallons that goes through the sprinkler, 15% of your water doesn't go into the sewer...

Makes me glad I live in the country. Well and septic.

And it only costs about $600 a year to heat my home here in Vermont.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 8:47AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Definitely have an energy audit. Jakabedy is spot on about the lower electric in winter. $300 is way out of line unless you are running space heaters in every room all day and night. Your $800 total seems very high as well.

As to the water and sewer fees. Our town just separated the two. We now get one bill for water and one for the sewer. Our total for the two is now a good bit higher. Used to be about $90 for three months in winter (more in summer when I water). Now, the sewer bill alone has been running $92+ for three months and the water bill around $60. I am beyond irritated. Not looking forward to the upcoming bill that will include some watering.
I hope you get everything straightened out.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 6:06PM
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The OP probably DID get everything straightened out, as the post is over two years old.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 6:50PM
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