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Power Bills for Your Home : Something to watch out for in the first year after a House Build
The first summer after we moved into the 'Big House' (as we affectionately called it), we got two enormous Power Bills -- $830.07 from the Electric Company and $985.54 from the Gas Company.
What was really infuriating about the whole thing was that we could easily have avoided these huge year-end bills if we had known the little secret that these Big Companies don't bother their shirt to tell you, the consumer.
It turns out that the Electric Company (as far as I can tell, this is standard practice for most Big Gas and Electric Companies) and the Gas Company send you monthly bills based on an Estimate (based on the average use per house in your State or Province, according to them, but calculated by a rowdy group of monkeys, from what I can gather...ha,ha,ha!).
So when we first moved into our new house last September (can't believe it's been almost a whole year here...), these companies were sending out regular bills and I was paying them diligently, as always. We had absolutely no reason to think they had no clue how to bill us, or how much energy we were actually using...
When I asked them about this stooopid system of Estimation, and sending us bills for waaaaay under what we were using, they said we should have known we weren't paying enough, called them, and had our bills increased. Yes, that's good advice -- who doesn't regularly call up their Service Providers to see if they can't just pay a little more?? Puh-leeease!
And just for the record, the bills ranged from $66.65 when we first moved in to $251.12 for the gas, and we live in the Land of Oil & Gas, so those numbers didn't seem odd. The Electrical bills ranged from $22.78 when we first moved in to $136.88
At first, I just thought, "Wow, I really designed an Energy-Efficient house!" Then the bills went to their normal amounts (what we expected to pay, and the bills had the little bar chart with the usage amount each month -- we had no idea you had to read the tiny little letters underneath the chart that says it's just an Estimation. Even so, Estimation isn't exactly Rocket Science, and the Companies could easily use a system that took into account the Square Footage of a home, but no, that's not their job, apparently.
I got Dwight to show me how to go out and read my own meters. I took some pictures so I can pass this info onto my readers so you can read your own Gas and Electrical Meters and phone in your information to your own individual companies. This is supposed to be the key to being billed accurately, especially when you move into a brand new home.
Here's what your Gasline will look like outside your house. I'll have to download the new gasline and electrial line pictures from my camera for you. The jist of it is to have a good look at all of the little dials on each of the meters. There is a series of dials, and you read the number that the arrow is closest to on each dial, from left to right. Record the number and call it in to your respective gas and electrical companies.
Now, with a new house, it's a good idea to start doing your own readings when you first move into your new home. The number will be on the back of the bill. If you can use the Internet, all the better. Either way, you'll be in charge of what's going on, and even though you'll probably pay more per month, at least it'll be an accurate reflection of your actual energy use, and not some crazy estimation. That should prevent an enormous bill the following summer.
Here's a great and easy idea to increase your Air Conditioning and Heating Output -- this is just a Pop-Up Register. They cost a tiny bit more than the flat registers, but they increase the Airflow by at least 25%. Frankly, I think this has increased our Air Flow with the Air Conditioner by 50%, but either way, it's a huge increase in cooling or heating output, and that'll save you some money and keep everyone's lights on (now that we all know the lights can actually go out from overuse!). You just remove the old Registers and replace them with the Pop-Up Registers. I'll try to get an ad for you to buy them through this site, but until then, you should be able to get them at your local Hardware Store. I'm sure you'll be able to get them at The Home Depot.
< > This is a cool new Auction feature from Home Depot that I think you'll get a kick out of -- and a great deal, too. The Home Depot Auction. Everyday, a new item goes up for auction, with bidding starting at one dollar! <Will your bid be the one? Visit Homedepot.ca for the Daily Auction! >
Here's another good reason to exchange your current Registers, especially if they're metal. When Aidan was a baby, he just about cut his thumb off in the metal register. As you can imagine, I baby-proofed our last house, but I had never heard of a problem associated with Floor Registers. Aidan started to crawl at 6 months, and the third day of this new crawling adventure, he found the Register on the Floor in our Bedroom, immediately stuck his thumb down it and it got caught and slit open on the way back out. I was about 2 feet from him, and it happened in the space of a few seconds. His little thumb was hanging there, so I wrapped it all up and whipped him straight down to the doctor who bandaged him all up. I was very concerned that he might lose the functioning of his thumb, but he was young enough that his little body healed completely. Very frightening, though. We immediately went out and bought the Plastic Registers and replaced all the metal ones. If you know any new parents, or you are a new parent, take note to add this to your baby-proofing methods.
Here's a little something to take your mind off your crazy new power bills...!
Are you worried about another Power Outage or getting ready for yet another storm?? We are constantly running out of batteries (those little 4 year olds go through a LOT of Batteries!ha,ha!), so here's a useful link for you.
Speaking of Power Outages, I've been checking into Wind and Solar Power Systems for a while, now. Dwight is particularly interested in Ground Heat (Geo-thermal Heating...). There must be a great way to create our own Power, so I'll let you know what I discover -- I'm just a little Researcher -- I really, really love to research all sorts of stuff! I'm like an Information Junkie (More Information, Less Heroin! Now there's a good motto! ha,ha,ha! I'm kidding about the heroin, of course, and please don't write to me about the dangers of mixing information with heroin...! haha!).
Wind Power is my favorite Topic, right now, right after 'you know what', which reminds me, Sex in the City starts it's new season up here in the Boonies (they make Canadians wait and wait for the really great shows ... some kind of reward for living in Canada...no, wait, that's all the extra taxes you get to pay... Hey, when we came back from our trip down to L.A. this summer, I thought they should have had a giant sign at the Border "Thanks for Coming Back!" Then in little letters, it could say something like, "Here's a Pound of Canadian Back Bacon -- Please Consider Staying!"...We're always soooo polite! ha,ha,ha!
I desperately wanted a Generator right before 'The New Millenium'! Remember, everyone was panicked about the stroke of Midnight, 2000?? I had the whole thing all planned out -- we'd hook up the trailer and get as far away as possible...I figured the Mountains would be nice and safe! Well, it turned out to be quite a dull New Year's Eve (as they all have been for quite some time, now... perhaps this year will be better! I'm always hopeful that something good will happen!), and then I had a lot of extra batteries around the house! ha,ha,ha!
Anyway, now we don't have that as a concern, but there are the Power Outages, Storms, stuff we all know but I don't want to say 'out loud' that we have to worry about and be prepared for... so if you're thinking a Generator might work for you, check these out!
You know what I think would be waaaay cool? If you could get a Generator with a Solar Panel or Windmill of some Sort, so that you could generate your own Energy ... Now that would be neat!
I'm on the look-out for some useful sites so we can all learn more about Wind and Sun Power Generation (and Geo-Thermal Heat...).
And you can buy pretty much anything else at Canadian Tire,
too, eh!! ha,ha!
Home Power Magazine, The Hands-On Journal Of Home-Made Power
Download current issue at http://www.homepower.com -- This is a good site for Wind and Sun Power Generation -- check it out!
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