Crazy High Natural Gas Bill No One Can Explain

loribee2May 1, 2010

X posted over on the Home Repair Forum:

Hi, I typically hang at the gardeners forum, but had something strange happen to us this month and wonder if anyone here might know what it could be.

Yesterday, we got our gas/electric bill only to discover that we had used 140 therms of gas last month. Our average is less than half that. In fact, we have never ever used anything close to that in the 3 years we've owned this house. I called PGE, she had me read the meter and we determined that in the week between the meter reading and today, our usage is back to normal levels. Thus, there doesn't seem to be a current gas leak anywhere that could explain it.

The only thing we did this month was have a new water heater installed. It was installed by a licensed plumber (reputable one we've used for years). It's the same size and model as the old one, only 20 years newer which should be more efficient. In the process, he also replaced all the surrounding plumbing including the gas line from the house to the unit.

Does anyone think it's possible that the plumber could have somehow blew through 70 therms of gas while installing the new heater? We called and asked and he said no, but really, what is he going to say?

Any other ideas on what could cause our gas to mysteriously double one month out of the blue, then return to normal? Our plan is to continue checking the meter weekly, but we are scratching our heads over what could have caused this!

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A Therm is 100 cubic feet of gas.

1 cubic foot of gas equals about 1000BTH/hr.

If you use 70 Therms of gas in a typical month, that is equivalent to about 7 million BTU's of gas between billing cycles.

(I live in a 2500sf all gas home and use roughly 45 Therms per month).

That said, unless you left all you gas appliances running 24/7 there is no way you could have actually used that much gas in the month.

And while it is sure the plumber needed to purge the lines he newly connected, it is extremely unlikley that he used 7000 cubic feet of gas in doing so.

It would normally take only a few cubic feet of gas at best to purge existing lines.

Only explanation I have is that the metering equipment failed during the shutdown and restart measuring 2x the amount of gas that was used by you during billing periods.

Either that or PGE has gone to a bimonthly billing cycle.

Did the plumber spill 7000 cubic feet of gas during his work?

I don't think so...unless he feels you shortchanged him somehow and maliciously left your gas running to the atmosphere in order to get even.

Personally, I think it is a metering failure on the gas company's side.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 10:38AM
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Thanks so much for this information. Our home is only 1300 sq ft and the only thing we have that runs on gas is the water heater, furnace and stove/oven. My husband keeps maintaining that even with the water heater in the garage, they would have smelled that much gas. I'm going to have him call PG&E. Don't know if we'll get anywhere, but it's worth a shot. That's $150 we weren't expecting to have to pay!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 10:45AM
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Okay, so I owe you a big $140 THANK YOU! I printed your message for my husband. He called PGE back. We got a different person than I talked to yesterday. This one said right up front it couldn't be right. Had hubby re-read our meter and determined they read the meter wrong. They've credited our account.

I swear, this is the best forum ever!! Thanks so much for taking the time to help us out. It is greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 12:45PM
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You are very welcome.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 1:08PM
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