Gas furnace

My elderly mom owns a three family home with one gas burner and pays for the tenants' heat/hot water bills. To make matters worse there's a thermometer in each tenants' apartment so they're able to control the temperature settings. Mom lives on a small fixed income and her heat/hot water bills are astronomical -- even worse this winter than in past years due to the extreme cold weather here in the northeast.
My questions is: Do 2 additional gas burners have to be installed in order to have separate billing for these apartments or is it possible to monitor heat/hot water consumption with the one existing burner. I've been unable to get through to our local utilities company due to the extreme cold and any advice on this would be appreciated.
thanks, Nanette
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I recomend a locking tamper box that covers the thermostat so the tennant cant adjust it, set it at the legal required temperature and leave it. Here in Chgo the required legal temp is 68 daytime 66 night time. I just bought a good one at Ace that is tamperproof, some are not , they could allow a small piece of wire to be inserted to tamper with the thermostat. Set your water heater to a temperature needed to shower. At the showerhead all that is needed is 93 to 96 degrees. Any more and you will have to add cold water to your shower, A waiste of energy. Radio Shack sells an accurate remote thermometer that can have 3 remotes and recordes high and low temperatures , good for monitoring. As far as separarte bills yes you need separate systems, Monitoring is best and cheapest for the least investment. If tennants Demand a higher than normal temp make them pay a percentage for every degree they want their apt higher, Say 3 %. to 4% of the divided bill. One main super effeicent system may be in order. Also a more effecient water heater. New thermostats in your mothers apt could be instaled that are remotes. and control tennants heat. There are many ways to control tennanrts, Remember, tennants will never tell you if its to warm , and for many it never is, unless they pay the bill. You didnt say if its Air. water , or steam heat. They all have unique problems for monitoring and being sure tennants dont cheat you. Do you have low flow shower heads, sink areators, Over Christmas I had a boiler malfunction at a 16 unit and the temperatures reached 100 for a week. NO tennant called, I went out and found most of the windows open. Its up to you to control your situation.
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So there's one furnace that has 3 separate control boxes? Or is there a furnace for each family space? Same with water heater - is it shared or are there separate water heaters for each space?
What kind of agreement does she have with the tenants? Rent + electric, rent + utilities, ??
If there are separate heaters/furnaces, the gas company should be able to separate out the gas piping as it comes into the home and set each family up with its own meter.
If there aren't separate heaters/furnaces, your mom will probably have to change her lease agreement to include a portion of the gas/water bill be paid by tenant or raise rent to accommodate for the winter increases.
I'm sure someone else out there has other suggestions...
Matty
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I can't tell from your message what the physical set up is. To get separate bills from the gas company, you need separate furnaces and hot water heaters.
If it is a zoned system it would be possible to approximate the gas usage, but the equipment to do it would likely outweigh any benefit.
There are also some question about what may be done due to the rent agreements and the local regulations.
I suggest you start with the rent agreements and the local regulations. Either of those may stop you cold.
If my guesses are correct there is little that can be done from a practical stand point. The only out is to raise the rent. You might even be able to arrange some sort of discount for those months with less than a given energy cost for the whole meter.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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You don't say where you're located. In many States, it's illegal for a Landlord to bill for utilities. It's called sub-metering and it's a no-no. The only way to get tennants to pay their own utilities is to legally seperate their utilities from your moms.
You mention they all have seperate thermostats, that's a good start if their heat is hot-water based, the cost to do this might be less than you think.
An 3-4 room apartment could be heated via baseboards fed from a gas 60-80 gallon domestic hot water heater. The same water heater provides the hot water as well if the heating pipes and circulator conform to potable water standards.
You didn't mention if the tennants also have seperate electric? Another way to go would be to convert each apartment to electric heat as the tennants vacate. But that might force her to decrease the rent as the electric bills would be astronomical.
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