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Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Posted by chisue (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 9, 06 at 11:36

We received the statement for our month of December natural gas useage. December 2005 was colder than December 2004. Both bills were based on "current estimated use" following an actual reading the end of November. The gas company only reads the meter alternate months.

December 2005 over 2004: We used 51% more therms and cost was up 39%. (I've never seen a gas bill of over $500 before.)

November 2005 over 2004: We used very slightly fewer therms and cost was up 28%.

Our one-level 4-year-old house is 2900 sq feet. We are comfortable at 68 degrees daytime (14 hours) and 62 overnight (10 hours). We have two 50-gal. water heaters and a gas clothes dryer. One room has suplemental heat via under-floor tubing circulating water through a small gas boiler. We're retired, so lowering the temps during the (working) day is not an option.

Guess I was pretty much on target when I budgeted a 33% increase in gas costs for 2006. So far the electric bill has not risen dramatically.

How are your utility bills coming in?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

I'm on the budget so mine didn't change. My neighbors, on the other hand, got sticker shock when they opened theirs. I'm in an area of older homes without much insulation and old windows. We have added extra insulation and new vinyl windows. Also a digital thermostat. My neighbors got upset when I told them how much my actual bill was.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

You're in Illinois according to your profile. I'm on the central Texas coast, so that makes a difference. My most recent electric bill was $105.09 for 1,245 KWH (or something like that). The previous bill was $81. No gas, all-electric. Rate is about $0.085/KWH through the local electric co-op, which is pretty good. 2,550 sq ft house, about 2 years old. Single-person household (but I had guests one weekend on the latest bill, with a few days of 30F temps during a Texas Cold Snap, LOL.) December bill also includes some Christmas lights. Heat pump, 12 SEER (not the greatest rating). Setback thermostat, typically 70F / 62F. Whole-house tankless water heater. Two refrigerators. High-efficiency washer and dishwasher. Most lighting (but not all) is fluorescent.

My grandmother on a different electric provider was charged $241 for about 1,750 KWH, a bit less than $0.14/KWH (YIKES). $31 for gas, but I don't know how many therms. She normally uses an open gas space heater, but she's elderly and that's dangerous so I had her using the heating function on her window unit more than the gas. Her previous electric was $138 and gas was $16 -- thus the above-mentioned cold snap, and being elderly she is very sensitive to cold.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

dadoes -- I was really wondering how peoples' energy bills had *changed* on a percentage basis, since different climates will have different needs.

I wish we'd installed an electric on-demand water heater -- never heard of them until after we'd built. Our electric useage for December was 1580 kW, which cost us $130 (including $10 of taxes). Now, *that* bill is actually down from the same period 2004, by about 2%.

I'd love to see greater incentives for photovoltaic cell collectors. Then I'd go to ALL-electric and sell my excess to the electric company. We have the perfect south-facing roof for that, but the installation costs are still too high to make it pay off soon enough for retirees like us.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

I didn't look up my cost of furnace fuel delivered last spring, but a lady called from the oil dealer's office after my recent delivery, asking whether my tank was full, as the driver had delivered only about 100 litres.

When I said that I guess that I had decided well in having the tank filled late in heating season in the spring, she said that there was not a major difference - that it had been $0.749/litre in the spring and was only $0.779 now.

I was surprised, as you can imagine.

And pleased - I'm in the process of buying a replacement car.

ole joyful


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Dadoes, are you including all the taxes and fees when you computer the cost per KWH, or just the amount charged to you for the electricity alone?

It looks like you take your total bill, divided by total KWH used, so that would include many fees, taxes, etc. My gas company even has a "Customer fee" of about $10 per month. I have to pay to be their customer!


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

In December our gas bill went down 41% from December a year ago. Total: $22. That's because we are using a Sun Cloud Infrared electric heater and only used our natural gas furnace for a few days during extremely cold weather and set it very low while we were gone for a few days during the holidays. Our electric went up some, but it's not as much as our neighbor who has an identical townhouse and their gas was nearly $200. The Sun Cloud is supposed to average around $1 a day electric use. I'm anxious to see if the purchase of the Sun Cloud will pay for itself with energy savings this year, but it certainly will by next year. So far we're very pleased and are thinking of getting one for the basement as well.

We have an open floor plan with cathedral height ceilings and the Sun Cloud heats our living/dining/kitchen area. We keep our bedrooms closed off from the rest of the house.

Grainlady


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

chuckr30,

My calculation is bottom-line amount of the bill (the amount of my payment) divided by KWH used, so it does include any taxes or adjustments. My calculation IS the true cost to ME per KWH. The bill is itemized in three sections that basically are: bare cost of power my retail provider purchased from their wholesale provider, cost of the wholesaler's transmission of that power to the retailer's local distribution network, and cost of the retailer to distribute said power to my house.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Furnace oil delivered yesterday.

Paid bill this morning - $275. (incl. tax) for a month and 16 days. I had another errand right beside their office.

Waiting for the bill and then a couple of weeks till near interest being added probably would have added about 0.75 cents to my savings account.

Can't buy much gas for additional run to their office later for that amount.

Have a great money-saving week (well, what's left of it), folks. Actually, if you haven't saved any money so far this week - you have some catch-up to do between now and the weekend, right?

ole joyful


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

I use about 900kWh each year. Electric is hideously expensive out here, so that 900 kWh costs me approximately $356, which explains why I use so very little of it! The price is expected to go up again this year. Last year it went up about 14%.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Took a look at my electric and gas bills again. My electric bill, from Jan 2005 to Jan 2006 went up 60%. My gas bill, from May 2005 to Jan 2006 went up about 80%. Neither calculation includes "customer fees", any taxes, or any other fees.

Also, I'm in west Michigan.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Last year I payed .06 for gas per ccf. This year it is 1.6 per ccf.


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We are on photovoltaic (solar electric), so the sunshine is still free, but the propane costs have gone up about ten percent in the last month or so. It now costs us about $64 a month to run the stove and water heater instead of the $58 a month previously. We already have a Paloma instantaneous water heater, so I'm not sure how we could use less gas unless we figured out some sort of wood burning water heater?


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Insulating the pipes between the water heater and the taps might allow you to turn down the temperature a few degrees, depending on how far the heater is from the taps. I suspect the returns are modest, but so is the investment of time and money for pipe lagging.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Our gas bill was astronomical...not sure if it was due to the rise in price, or because we used it almost exclusively throughout Dec/Jan for heat. We have a wood stove but couldn't get wood! Luckily we had a mild winter, or we'd be in really poor shape.

Our electricity was ok, it actually dropped a bit. What steams me most, tho, is the cable bill (ok, not a utility but a monthly bill I lump in there). It's gone up 30-40% and seems there is an increase every 6 months!


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Gas prices have jumped 34% here in my city in S CA, all across the board. The city wants to put in an LNG terminal here and we don't want it, so I think they are trying to strongarm us. Also, have you noticed that your Dec. electric bill always jumps, even if you were away and did not have any holiday lights, etc. I think they just give themselves a little bonus.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

We didn't use our gas furnace the entire month of January (live in Kansas) other than to keep the fan on constantly, which helps circulate the air and keep the temperature fairly constant in all the rooms (including the basement) of our townhouse.

Our only heat source was the Sun Cloud infrared space heater which heats the open-floor plan with cathedrel ceiling living/dining/kitchen area. Keep the two bedrooms and master bath, and laundry doors shut and unheated.

Our (just received) natural gas bill was $19 (neighbors - exact same townhome - almost $200) and our electric was $82 (neighbors $172). The gas represents the amount used for hot water. And even there I've figured out how to save some money. I heat water in an electric kettle to wash up dishes not put in the dishwasher and counters/table rather than using hot water out of the hot water tank. It takes about 5 cups of boiling water to do "clean up" after a meal (I do use a small plastic tub instead of a full sink of water) and we eat 3 meals a day here.

Think how long it takes for the hot water to get to the kitchen and how much water goes down the drain (so we also had a much lower water bill). Then all that water in the hot water tank is displaced with cold water, which kicks the hot water heater on to bring the contents of the 40 gallon tank back up to temperature - all for 5 cups of hot water. And an electric kettle will heat water quicker and use less energy than on a stove or in a microwave.

I also just got a Solar Oven, so I hope to be able to lower the electric even more. We have plenty of sunshine for cooking/baking.

January was warmer than Dec. and I was able to hang clothes out on the line most of January - that also helps save a lot of electricity.

I made window quilts to cover all the windows - unless the sun is shining in a window, they are covered tightly to prevent energy loss when the temperatures are cold and there's a lot of wind blowing. They will also be beneficial in the summer to keep heat out. (Just google Window Quilts and you'll find instructions.)

If you do what you've done, you'll get what you got. That goes for saving energy - and it doesn't look like the prices are going to go down anytime soon.

I may have done some rather off-the-wall things, but most of them are doable for anyone who would like to save on their energy bills.

Grainlady


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

I just paid the bills and was thinking that the gas bill wasn't too bad until it hit me that January was a record setting warm month here! Although it lessened the impact on rates, we're still at $1.35/therm for gas and about 14/KWH for electricity which is up about 30% I'd guess for gas. I haven't looked back but I think electricity hasn't changed too much, though maybe 10%?

So we just grin and bear it I guess. I've done a lot to conserve and it's paid off. There's more to do in little ways that I'll work on as I can. Not sure that I want to spend the bucks for replacement windows. Have to do some calculations on whether there's a payback that's worthwhile or not.

I'd still rather just move! :)


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

i have my January electric bill in front of me right now.

2600sq ft house, 4 people and 2 dogs, and we used 4270 KHW from 12/16 to 1/16, previous month was 4490 KWH! the house is all electric, except that we have a gas dryer. 2 HVAC systems, one for the front of the house and one for the bedrooms/baths. plus i had a ton of christmas lights up(approx 9000 lights running 6 hours a day), so they were in use both of the preivous 2 billing cycles.

we just bought the house last March, so i have no previous year to compare to. the LP tank was put in back in April, and it had 75 gallons in it then. as of last week end, it still had about 40 gallons, so gas is negligible.

i bought new digital T-STATs this weekend so i can kill the system when we are at work. the house is already actually more comfortable than it has been, and we should see pretty good savings by not running teh almost 40kwh load of both heaters all the time. we also use the fireplace with a blower almost every night to help heat the front of the house. both T-stats are set to 70 when we are home, and 60 when we are gone. the old tsats stayed at 68 all the time, but they were flakey at best.

price of electricity= 0.08 per kwh, fuel adj =0.020009 per kwh.

most of our lights have been changed over to CFL, with the exception of the kitchen and baths. those will be changed over as the bulbs blow. one bath fixture has 6 100w bulbs in it, and another has 4 100w bulbs, but these are not on much more than 30 mins a day total.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

For December 2005 my natural gas bill was (2000 sq ft heated/cooled) $201.00. Two electric heaters later, the bill for January was $62.00. I haven't gotten the electric bill yet. It's budgeted, so it shouldn't be too bad.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

OKAY, here is my LAST 19 months worth of bills. The reason I'm posting is b/c I live in MA in a 2600 sq ft colonial basement,2 levels & attic. The gas is sooo high. Anyway the last 3 months are bill has gone down b/c I have been leaving the heat on 60 & we got all new replacement windows (had original 1902 drafty old windows) They weren't all installed until end of Dec. Also on this latest bill it said the price was going down from 1.35 therm to 1.24 therm, so that's good news!!! Anyway just wanted to share, the bill is still high but I'm happy to have 360.00 over 500.00 anyday!!!

Bill date days therms amount
2/17/2006 28 2/22/2006 204 $366.97
1/20/2006 32 1/24/2006 218 $420.25
12/19/2005 32 12/21/2005 253 $486.59
11/17/2005 28 11/21/2005 72 $139.15
10/20/2005 30 10/24/2005 23 $44.56
9/20/2005 32 9/23/2005 17 $26.06
8/19/2005 31 8/23/2005 15 $21.56
7/19/2005 29 7/22/2005 19 $24.49
6/20/2005 32 6/21/2005 33 $36.18
5/19/2005 29 5/20/2005 34 $42.94
4/20/2005 33 4/21/2005 130 $195.43
3/18/2005 28 3/22/2005 304 $434.99
2/18/2005 28 2/22/2005 316 $451.93
1/21/2005 34 1/24/2005 365 $522.18
12/18/2004 30 12/21/2004 196 $280.34
11/18/2004 29 11/19/2004 115 $147.59
10/20/2004 28 10/22/2004 20 $24.09
9/22/2004 33 9/23/2004 19 $23.95
8/20/2004 30 8/24/2004 19 $23.45


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

I was incorrect about the previous rates, this was in small print on my current bill:

For gas consumption from November 1, 2005 to April 30, 2006 , winter
gas rates will be in effect. The Gas Supply Charge has decreased from
last month's charge of $1.4384 per CCF to $1.2398 per CCF . The
decrease is due to lower projected gas commodity costs.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

A couple people now have mentioned being on budget and suggested that being on the budget helper plan gives the same cost or the like. It almost sounded like thinking that your bill is cheaper than the neighbors. That's a myth the utility companies like to pass on to increase their sales!

"Budget", however it's called in your area (here they call it "Budget Helper") is nothing more than a payment plan on an estimated bill. Generally your estimate will be about 20% more than the estimated cost of the fuel and historical useage. You will still pay the same rate and same dollars as your neighbors based on your respective useage. You'll pay more dollars in the summer months and less in the winter months so you have a payment that is the same for most months of the year. The utility companies goal is two months where you don't have a payment due and friends have been excited until I point out that my bill for those two months were only a few dollars.

If you use more than the budget estimated, you'll definitely pay for it. You don't get it for free. And you do not get better rates than anyone else, nor do you eliminate fees. And if you're late on your payment, you're penalized the same (usually, though sometimes some companies will forgive a penalty). And you probably won't realize it since many people don't read the bill as to what they're using. The bad part of a budget plan is few if any people are cognizant of what it's costing them, what they're using or if anything has made a difference.

I used budget for one year after some roommates left me some incredible bills and after one year I said this is ridiculous! I know how to handle my money. I don't spend every dime I have just because I have a dime in my pocket. Plus I objected to paying $50/month in the summer when my gas use was $5! I went off budget and will never go back. Even if I get another place I'll research the utility history and have an idea of what to expect. People really do have a lot of control over their utility bills. More than they think.

I hope I misunderstood the comments made. I hope that people in this forum are well-enough informed to know what the pitfalls of the budget plan are and don't get stung by the utility companies. There can be reasons to use budget, but there's hazards by doing so. Be informed. Make informed decisions. First step to saving money!

FWIW, the gas company wanted to put me on budget this year for $169/month starting last October. My actual gas bills since were about $40 (Oct), $60 (Nov), $110 (Dec), $186 (Jan) and the one I just paid was $142. So in the end I would have paid them $845 for $538 use. So far they'd have $300 of my money interest-free and it would be rising. Even my checking account pays a couple percent interest. Why give it to them for free? Like I said, there's no way I'd go on budget. I'll keep my money and pay my bills when I accumulate them, thank you.

A new twist was that they offered a plan where I would not be charged more than a certain amount but the fine print said I couldn't use more than 10% more than the previous year or 10% more than an average of the previous 5 years or I'd be penalized. The rate wasn't even good! Needless to say I didn't get sucked in on that one either!


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cynic, i used budget billing at our old house for our gas and electricity. the house was a rental, and not insulated well at all. summer the electric bill was 500.00, but less than 100.00 in winter. gas ran 9.00 during the summer, and 500 in the winter. we used budget billing to even both out, as my wife was pregnant and with other preivous medical bills we could not afford the large bills each month. we paid the EXACT same amount as if we were paying normal bills, but the payments were spread more evenly.

my grandmother uses budget billing since she is on a fixed income and cannot afford a single month bill of 500 or 600 dollars.

if you "budget" yourself for a set amount, you can pay your bills much easier than if you have a 1 month increase of 300 to 400 % over normal bill amounts.

sure you pay more during months you actually used the utility less, but you PAY LESS during the months you used it more. most people think this is saving money, but all it is truly is defering payments or in some cases paying in advance.

prior to budget billing, several of my elderly family members would take out small loans just to cover their utility bills during July-August and Dec-February. since these were personal loans, they paid 10% or more in interest. they come out MUCH better using budget billing. these are poor country folks who never made enough money to save any, they literally lived hand to mouth most of their lives.

that being said, it is not for everyone. some people are prone to waste more since they do not "think" they are using that much. but once the next average cycle starts their bills will increase accordingly.

my current POCO does not do budget billing, and if they did i would not sign up for it for at least another year. due to some issues with electric central heaters and AC being left on, and other energy wasters, our electric bill has been between 400 and 500 a month the last few months. we cut it drastically this last month, and Feb was the coldest month so far. but the prior amount have really skewed the average, so we would be paying way more than necessary at first. but once these have had time to roll off the averaging period, i would gladly sign up if they did start budget billing.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Cynic,
I am well aware that I'm not "saving" any money by being on the budget plan but I do get to enjoy a much lower gas bill in the highest usage months. I live in the freezing snowy Northeast state of Ma. My house was built in 1902 it was insulated again about 20 years ago and I just got new windows. The bill is still high but it has gone down. I'd rather pay more in the summer than I need to than get a shocker in the winter. We used to get bills in the 4-500.00 range as you can see in my previous post. This is my first year on the budget, in our area they do re-evaluate the plan every 4 months and adjust it accordingly. So if we are using less gas b/c of our new windows then the bill will go down instead of letting us pay it for the year and owing us 300.00.

You do make good points for somebody that doesn't understand how the plan works. I would hope that people would research and know what it was they were signing up for as utility bills are nothing to take lightly.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

My gas bill is much lower than my neighbors, budget or not. My bill shows my actual amount and the amount I owe as a budget customer. My gas bill was only $57.00, while my neighbors was over $300.00. In the summer I pay nothing. They are still paying off their winter bills.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

After several years of large price increases, I have discovered that electric is to go up about 18% and gas around 25%. Last year we saw increases of around 14% on both, so the accumulated increase from just a few years ago is large. It's starting to concern a lot of people. I allready know people who can't afford to use their central heating, and that was before the price went up.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

Hi bry,

A colonial, here - living nestled among the Great Lakes in the second largest country in the world (some say largest, but I think China is larger).

If you think that it gets cold there - try it around here.

But - I pay about 86 cents Cdn. per litre for gasoline and slightly lower than that for furnace oil. 4.55 litres per Imp. gal. (3.85 per US gal.).

Something like 5 - 7 cents per kw for power, also.

However - if I want to go somewhere - it's usually quite a journey, e.g. 1,600 mi. to visit my brother, on the Prairies.

So - my complaints should be somewhat minor, no?

Hope you're having a great week (it is the same day over there, isn't it?).

ole joyful


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

I am disgusted. I live in Southern California and it's just hubby and I in a 2500 sf house. Our current electric bill was $600!!! I almost died when I got it. Last month was $400. I think our electric heater is too far from the main bathroom. We had the circ pump going all day, but we just put it on a timer. Also we've changed over all our appliance to energy star in the past couple years but that hasn't helped. We used a heat pump for warmth, and we have the thermostat on fairly low. I am at my witt's end here. We'll have to sit in the dark before long. I cannot seem to get the dang bill down no matter how hard I try.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

cburtt, does your utility offer energy audits? That might be one way of identifying what is causing your greatest energy usage.


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

mpls area here. 2500sq/ft 70's vintage multilevel. we average about 1000kwhrs/month. usually under $100. we replaced an older 19cu/ft SBS fridge with a 22CF bottom freezer model and our elec bill dropped an average of 10%/month. our gas budget helper is $130 now. it used to be about $80 3-5 yrs ago. so a 50% cost increase is annoying. I always assumed a townhouse owner could turn off their heat and absorb the neighbors heat. that might be overstating it but to have a $40 gas bill while the next unit has $200 does not make sense.


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Minneapolis area here as well. 30-year-old 1800-sq-ft rambler with just me in the house (and occasional entertainment). The electric bill (200 KwH) came to $23 and the gas bill (non-budget) came to about $70. It probably was a typical (winter) month (though this has been a very warm winter). Every appliance here that can be Energy Star (short of the furnace) is; almost every light that goes on for any length of time is a (compact) fluorescent, I use a setback thermostat with a top setting of 67 degrees (I like it cool), and there's still a fair amount of "phantom load" here that I haven't tracked down and killed off. It's actually kind of nice to see that investment in energy-saving products produces results; it's not just marketing hype.


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After reading all of the different comments, I decided to look to see what our propane heating costs have done. The unit price actually went down quite a bit from January to March....From $1.95/gal to $1.66/gal. Wow, was that a surprise based on not much reduction in fuel gas prices. I live in North Central Oregon. Our electricity is thru the local coop & they haven't raised prices for quite some time now. Lucky us (for the time-being at least).


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

steve o,

So you're a Minesotan, as well (as "cynic").

I wondered a while ago on another thread where cynic had made a comment what made Minnesotans so smart - is it something in the air?

The water?

Maybe it's simply a matter of - a couple of them seem to think quite a bit the way that I do.

Which is - always right, of course!

ole joyful


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You betcha, I'm a Minnesotan. :-)

I don't know about "so smart," though -- especially when the temperature has been below zero for a week in the winter and we're not hibernating ...


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

O Steve!

Yes - not hibernating in winter is a bit hard to "bear".

o j


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RE: Post Your Utility Cost Increases

so does the sun cloud heater do a good job grainlady?
i am thinking seriously about getting one for the up coming heating season. we have a newer propane furnace but living in northern michigan can get pretty cold .and need something to help out.


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We are on the Budget Plan and our bill actually went down for this period. 2 years ago we put it all new vinyl windows and last year we insulated the attic. I'm hoping the decrease is a direct reflection of the money we spent! Next will be replacing the original 55 year old furnace!!


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Propane went up again. No surprise but almost 30% on a contracted price. In 1999 -- we paid $500 for the contract. This year, it was $1450.

Too bad our salaries didn't go up that much!

We are also replacing our windows -- but with wood. Might have to paint but they are definitely more energy efficient that the aluminum ones that we had. And a much classier look for the 110-year-old girl. She deserves it!

Cathy


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Utilites went up 35 percent here where I am.

I am on the budget plan billing. I DO understand exactly what that is. Yes, I know it is not going to save me any money but the reason I chose it is because I have all my monthly bills automatically deducted from my checking account.

This way the monthly deductions are always the same and I don't have to scramble every month to move money from one account to another to make sure there is enough to cover a bill that is going to fluctuate from $30 to $180 depending on what month it is. It's not that I don't have the money for the big bills when they rol in, it's just less of a headache to do it this way. I can just put the same amount of money in my "utility" checking account every month and forget about it.

I like the budget billing for another reason. This way they always get paid on time, ie; the payments do not ever get "lost in the mail" and incur late payment fees. I don't know if our US postal service is screwed up or if companies just say "Oh, we didn't get your payment on time." so they can charge late fees and interest. I mail things on time and every once and a while some payment seems to get delayed in the mail. I have to take the company's word for it that they didn't get it by the due date. Grrrr. Credit card companies seem to be notorious for this tactic. By using automatic deduction, I solved that problem AND I am saving all those 39 cent stamps I used to use when mailing them. Frugal.

There is another "budget" type plan offered in my area. It is a plan where you lock in your RATE. There is a lot of fine print that would negate just about ANY actual saving. Like for instance if your USAGE goes up you get kicked off the plan and pay a penalty. This may be done to prevent abuse of the plan, but since the last few seasons we have had *record breaking* warmer winters I was SURE we were due for a long cold snap come one of the next winters, and of course everybody's usage would go up giving them the excuse to penalize everyone. As cynic pointed out too, the rates were not all that good anyway - about 20 percent MORE.


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