Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The first electric bill

Some readers may recall that in my old rental apartment, utilities were included in the rent. It's been years since I had my own gas and electric bills, and knowing that energy costs have risen a lot since then, I was unsure how to budget for these items. I asked a few friends and came up with a rough estimate. Since my heat and hot water come from a self-contained unit in my condo, I wasn't too confident about the gas bill estimate, but for electric, I knew I probably used less than most people, so I was pretty sure it would be in line.
So last night, my first electric bill arrived, and when I opened it, my jaw dropped: $128.84 for only 3 weeks, part of which time I hadn't even moved in yet!!
This just seemed completely wacky to me, so I went downstairs to check my meter. My bill gave an estimated reading of 2421 for the billing date and 1731 as a starting actual reading. But from my own reading last night, the meter was only at 1621, a week later than the billing date. Obviously something was wrong.
So I called ConEd today-- turns out that the initial meter reading was entered wrong. Then they did an actual reading for this bill, but since the number was less than the initial reading, the computer just kicked it out and threw in an estimated number. There were charging me for 690 kwh used in 21 days, but my actual usage was only 83! So the good news is that so far, at least, I don't seem to be a profligate user of electricity. As I mentioned, this usage reflects me not having lived there the whole time, but as long as I don't start leaving all the lights on constantly, I think I can figure my real electric bills will be less than $40 a month, maybe even less than $30 a month.
So that is a relief, but I still have to worry about gas.
Uh, the gas bill, I mean.

8 comments:

Clink said...

Good call on checking the numbers! Frequently, I take what I am given without questioning. This just reminds me to be ever vigilant.

savvy saver said...

Can't you call the utility company and get the utility history on your condo? I do that with every property I evaluate for purchase - it eliminates surprises later.

Boston Gal said...

My first electric bill was high, but I expected it because I had workmen in the house that first month and they had all those power tools plugged into my electric sockets. The hardwood floor sanders had to plug into the higher voltage appliance plugs - since they are power hungry beasts :) My water bill was also high that first quarter. So even this revised bill might not be a true reflection of your usage. It will take a few months once things settle down for you to get a true feel for the utility costs.

Madame X said...

Savvy-- my condo was new construction, so there wasn't really any history, except, as Boston Gal says, whatever power was used by construction guys, floor sanders, etc.

SF Money Musings said...

good idea for calling the electricity company! my grandparents had one electricity bill that was over $100 something and they only turned on the heat once or twice during the period and for short time frames. they called the electrcity company who read the meter wrong! they reduced the bill down to $50 bucks.

Anonymous said...

so how much IS your gas bill? ... mine (in brooklyn) is 50.07 -- it seems awfully high for just the stove, but it says minimum charge is 47.20. can that be right? am i really being charged correctly for a one-bedroom apartment?

Anonymous said...

Also, aside from the gas bill question ... i'm wondering if it's right because when i moved in, the first electric bill i got was for 200 dollars. i don't know WHAT these people were doing before me ... the true bill (in June) was 60. now in winter it's down to 30. i did the same thing as you -- my own meter reading.

Madame X said...

My first gas bill might have been a little out of whack, but I think it will average out to $40-50 a month. My gas covers my heating and hot water as well as cooking gas, so if winter ever gets really cold here, it may go higher.