I'm at a loss. I can't figure out why my gas bill is as high as it is,
while my neighbor's bills are MUCH lower.
I moved into this house a couple years ago and I've had sticker shock
every time the gas bill arrives. The new house matches my old one as
far as appliances as I brought them with me. The only difference is
the furnace and water heater.
As an example; the largest bill I've ever had at my old house was $125
where the largest bill to date at the new house was $320. The house is
bigger by 600sqft but that should only account for winter bills...
I use to think the old furnace was the culprit but my bills are high
all year around. (I even replaced it without much effect) A typical
bill at the old house was $12-$20... the new house never has a bill
below $100, even when the furnace is off all month!
I started suspecting that the meter was bad so I had NIPSCO come out
and check it several times until they replaced it on my insistance. It
didn't help. While they were there they checked of leaks too.
I just talked to the old owner of the house and found out that he too
had the meter swapped. So even he knew something was up.
So my gas bill last month was $101 and my neighbor's bills average $25.
I don't know what to do next. The only thing left to try is replacing
the water heater but I can't imagine that it is even capable of using
that much gas.
The NIPSCO guy shut the water heater off for 20 minutes and checked the
meter. No gas was used. This weekend I'm going to shut it off for a
few hours and see if the meter moves. When I relight the water heater
I'm going to see how much it consumes over X amount of time in case
it's a leak after the shut off valve.
In the meantime, I'm open to any suggestions. If my natural gas bill
goes down, I might be able to fill my car up with the savings!
Thanks for reading this long post.
Never heard of this with gas, water and electricity yes a long time ago.
Turning your meter off is not the way to find out where the gas is going.
Leave the meter on and turn off ALL of the appliance valves. If the meter
moves now you know there is either a leak or another load.
If it is the water heater it would be running all of the time. I once had a
hot water line broken under the kitchen floor, gas bill went from 30 in the
summer to 70. Since the water heater was next to the washer it was pretty
easy to figure out that it was running all of the time. Water bill took a
leap as well.
I had a customer that bought 20 acres of land with a barn and a huge home on
it. I was called in when the kitchen was being remodeled and they needed new
electrical circuits. I went to the service and found no main but 6 200 amp
fusible switches. Ok a bit strange but nothing wrong so far. One switch had
no wires on it so we labeled it as a spare. Kitchen had a panel, barn had
two panels and the sleeping area of the house had a panel. That left one
switch unaccounted for, we continued with the remodel and the owner got the
first electric bill, well over $400.00 and it was not even hot yet in the
Arizona desert. Second bill was over $600.00. Owner was really upset. Rumors
had it that the previous owner was a drug dealer and there was a underground
storage room. I got a tracker and started chasing down the wires. Got to
the mystery wires and they ran straight off the property heading into
another development of homes. I waited until dark, I then turned off the
switch and low and behold the neighbors homes all when dark. I removed the
wiring from the switch and cut it off close to the concrete so it could
never be re connected again, per the owners orders. Electric bill dropped
to the $200 range.
Utility meters are historically accurate. I have seen 3 bad electrical
meters in 35 years. One was bad toward the customer. State regulators take a
dim view of a utility not having accurate equipment. I will bet you either
find another load or a leak.. I am betting on the load.
Yes turns out one of the neighbors was the original "developer" of all the
land. He at one time was trying to build a resort. Hence the service with
fusible disconnects. Time went by and he "forgot" that there was a need for
him to get his own electrical service. The water was shared by all of the
parcels. The other property owners took him to court and he got his hand
slapped. As near as I could find out it had been that way for 10-12 years.
I guess the previous owner just did not notice or care about the electric
My house was similar. Its a newer house along with 4 other houes on the
block. Same builder. The house next door was not finished and while
nobody occupied the house we bought, he ran power lines from it to the
house next door to power the sump and work tools, etc.
We even put it in our purchase agreement that he could keep it for a few
months and would pay us. He wasnt drawing much juice as nobody lived
there, but we had to hold his nuts to the fire to get it disconnected,
lol. It was a cobbled up extension coard so I could have unplugged it
at anytime, but the basement would have flooded in that house. He just
got lazy I guess.
If you live in a condo, it may be that you're paying for some
common-area gas usage that's pretty constant. I'd look for another
load too, although it's hard to find because you can't separate the
feeds like you can with electricity.
In a local case, I discovered a condo owner was paying for common-area
electricity. In this case, the utility company stepped in, credited
the unit owner the estimated value of the electricity, and billed the
estimated amount to the condo association. If it's another load, your
gas company may be willing to do the same. In our case, it's state
law. You can research "Theft of Services" for your state.
Well, DOH! What are you waiting for? An old, inefficient burner
combined with a sizable poorly insulated tank could account for a lot.
Also, you could be leaking hot water somewhere and that's keeping the
heater running more than it should.
You said the gas co checked for leaks and didn't find any already. If
there were a leak of such size as you're noting, the place would have
blown up already. The testers they use find ppm quantities so a sizable
leak would have awakened the dead.
You think that a water heater can make a $70-80 difference? Everyone I
talked to said no way. I'm thinking about replacing the water heater
anyway and see what difference it makes.
As for the gas leak, what if it was underground? I'm on a slab (both
old and new houses) and I've been wondering if a leak under the slab
wouldn't be as detectable.
Another way to check that would be to have a pressure test done.
And to Tom's reply, If it was an estimated bill it would eventually
catch up with me and I'd eventually have a low bill. In living here
2.5 years, I've never had a "low" bill.
Depends on the rates, obviously...but I'd think it possible, yes.
If the meter didn't register any flow and their sniffer didn't find any
hint, I'd think a leak of any size at all highly improbably. In general
the level will be lower, of course, but the slab isn't totally
impermeable and there are the penetrations where the pipe has to come in
as well. I assume they did do a sniff test inside as well as outside?
There's a lot of good feedback so far. I should look for a way to
pressure test the hot water lines in the house. Since I'm out in the
county I would think that I'd hear my water pump running at night if it
was a water leak. I'm not sure if there's a way to log the duty cycle.
Do you think it'd be worth while to see how much gas is used by the
water heater on a per minute basis? Maybe I could do the same test on
a different water heater (friends) and compare the results. I'm
guessing if I drain all the hot water and fill with cold I can time the
refresh cycle to get a therm per minute number for each water heater.
It'd also be good to time the refreash cycle.
I'm going to look for a date of manufacture on the water heater tonight
and if it's old enough I might just kick it to the curb... but I'll
wait until with weekend's "leak" test in hopes of finding another load.
Does code allow for gas lines under a slab? I would do more
troubleshooting before spending money on a water heater that may not be
the problem. What about ceiling insulation. Is it good? Lots of heat can
go up though the ceiling.
It may be the water heater, but not a gas leak. What about the water itself.
I saw a setup a neighbor made to have warm water for washing his car. He put
both hot and cold water to the outside faucet. I guess it was nice having
the warm water and regulating it from inside, but when the valves inside
were left opened, the hot water began to flow across into the cold water
lines in the house. Flush the toilet, use some hot water.
It is possible that a faucet in the house is not closing properly between
the hot and cold lines even though the water is not flowing out. It would
heat all the lines as the hot water moved through the system.
Do the readings on your meter match those on your bill? Perhaps the meter
reader has been estimating your bill every month rather than actually
reading the meter. Is the meter hard to get to...I can imagine the reader
estimating a couple of times and then being afraid to actually read the
meter because of the big discrepancy between actual and estimated readings.
I had a big water bill once and when I checked the meter against the bill
there was a big difference. Water company swore that the meter had been
actually read but when I insisted on a new reading I got an amended bill
that was substantially less. And I lived in an apartment once...electric
was pretty cheap even though it was Arizona and hotter than blazes..When the
A/C ;quit, we found out that my A/C was wired to the upstairs apartment and
vice versa. The bachelors upstairs had been sleeping on the balcony to try
to keep their electric bill down. When they got their electric shut off due
to none payment, I lost my A/C.
I doubt you have a leak after the shut off on the water heater or you
wouldn't be here to post to this newsgroup. Is the neighbors bill a valid
comparison...he isn't running an all Electric house, is he?
1) What's the temperature of your water? Fill up a glass and stick in a meat
2) Any teenagers in the house?
3) How long's the average shower?
4) On the side of the water heater is tube from the pressure relief valve.
I've seen houses where that was extended to the edge of the floating slab
basement floor. If it was leaking, you'd never know it.
While you're at it, tell everyone not to use any water during that time
and see if your water meter indicates any usage. (Just put the lid down
on the toilets and leave whatever's deposited there until you are done
with the measurement. <G>)
When I relight the water heater
Ok. Go step by step. First you didn't say anything
about how big the house, how many people live
there, or how many gas appliances are in use, and
you didn't indicate if you moved a long ways from
your previous house. Also, you seem to indicate
that the water heater is separate and not part of
a hot water furnace. Is the furnace air or hot
water? and is the water heater tied into it?
Your bill includes two (or three ) parts, the cu
ft of gas used, the (conversion rate to therms)
and the cost rate per therm. So if you are
comparing with you previous house, you need to
compare both the amount of gas used and cost per
Your first step is to carefully compare old house
with new house, both amount of gas used and the
I will tell you what my house is like--1500 sq ft,
1 gas furnace (air), 1 gas water heater, 2 older
people, and I take a long shower of about 30
minutes each day, my wife doesn't shower as long.
She washes clothes 1 a week (3-4 loads) and
washes a dish washer full 2-3 times a week. All
of the gas use in July and in August was for hot
water only. 11 Therms (1200 cf)in July and 10
therms (1100 cf) in August for a July cost of
$12.33 and a August cost of $11.44.
Second, check your water usage, (compare the old
house with the new house usage). Is it
reasonable or is there possibly a big water leak
which could be from the hot water line, meaning
you are heating water but it is being dumped.
Third, you already tested the meter over a short
period, now test it over a longer period. The
meter is probably ok, so you are really testing
use of gas. Turn the gas off at the meter for at
least a day, or better, a longer period week.
Maybe when you go on vacation. And, if possible
turn the water off at the same time. Then check
the gas meter change and the water meter change.
How much gas are you being billed for in July and
August? I would think anything over 20 therms
would indicate leaks or highly wasteful use if it
is all for hot water.
Okay, to answer your questions. 2 adults and a 2 year old live here.
air furnace, stove, dryer and water heater. The stove and dryer came
from our old house which is about 2 miles away. My home is a 1700 sqft
brick ranch. Since I have a well, I pump my own water and I can hear
when it's on. It does not come on without us using water. Also, that
would imply that the burner runs non-stop. Since I'm on a slab it's in
the hallway that I pass regularly and I can hear that it's not on all
My August bill said I used 73 therms (72ccf) with my bill being $101.25
I took pictures of the flame and outside of the water heater. The
pilot flame was fairly large but I didn't get any pictures of it. You
can see the pics here...
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