In November I noticed that my heating bill had more than doubled in cost. And at first I chalked it up to a fluke in billing and thought perhaps the next billing would be back to normal. But when the next 2 successive months were just as high I really started to get irritated. How could my electrical bill jump over 100% when I hadn’t changed my lifestyle in anyway, in fact it should be less since I hadn’t turned on the heater and had been using blankets to warm my shivering body. You can’t tell me I’ve been paying $100 a month to live in an ice box. So I decided to call the utility company and ask them what was going on. When I relayed the situation and told them I didn’t understand why my bill had gone up they started to ask me a series of questions. “Do you have a big screen TV in the house?” “No”, “Do you leave a desktop computer on during the day?” “No”, “Have you turned your heaters on this winter?” “No”. “You haven’t turned your heater on once?” “No I have not.” “Then how do you stay warm?” “I used blankets.” “You only use blankets?” At this point I could hear the doubt in the voice of the operator. I knew she didn’t believe any of my answers and I can kind of understand this because I’m sure they get plenty of callers who call and complain about their bill when they’re watching TV 12hrs a day while cooking a microwave meal every 20min and watching porn on their computers. I get it; the world is full of liars. “Well it looks like your usage has gone up.” NO SHIZ SHERLOCK!! Is what I wanted to yell but it doesn’t make any sense because I haven’t turned on any heaters or started using my electronics 24hrs a day. “Well you have a smart meter so there is no way it can be an error.” “Well can you send someone out to check the meter to make sure it’s working correctly?” “In 5 days we’ll send out a tech and in 21 days we’ll get back to you with the result.” OH GREAT!! So in a month when the next billing cycle is over I’ll have an answer and once again pay another $60 in excessive usage. SCREW THAT! So I decided to contact my property manager. I email a repair request for the water heater because that’s the only thing I think it can be. Sandie (the gem of a woman) says she’s no longer managing my property and I have a new contract Andre. I’m actually relieved because I never really liked her anyway. Andre calls me about the water heater and then I tell him the predicament. “What do you use to stay warm?” “Blankets” Is this so hard to believe people? You know before heaters were even invented people used blankets and sweaters to stay warm. I don’t see how this is such a farfetched concept. He then tells me he’ll talk to the landlord and get back to me with his answer. A day goes past with no answer, another day goes past. I email him again, “Did the owner come to a decision about the electricity?” “He wants to see your bill showing the $40 a month and a breakdown of 2 bills.” ARE YOU SERIOUS??? What?……….he thinks I’m lying. That I’m just calling him to bother him because I like when stuff doesn’t work correctly in my apartment? That I want to get the electrician over to install my new flat screen TV and put a huge antenna on my roof and install a switch to my new Jacuzzi tub? Luckily I had printed off exactly what he had asked for earlier that day to show a coworker of mine and get his opinion. A day goes past without an answer. I email him the next, “Did the owner make a decision?” “He’ll have someone contact you in 3 days.” 3 DAYS!!! Why can’t he just call me now? This really isn’t that hard. I just need to schedule an appointment. At the end of 3 days I finally get a call. I tell him to come the following Tuesday. At this point I started to trouble shoot the problem myself. I turned off all the breakers to my house and left for an entire day to rule out the prospect of my meter being tapped. The numbers didn’t move so I knew it wasn’t that.
Tuesday comes around and the guy is 45min late to the house. He then proceeds to shut of breakers, lights; unplug appliances trying to figure out what was wrong. He asks me if I’ve used the heating system. “You mean the wall units? No I haven’t touched them.” “No the central heating system.” “WHAT? I have central heating?” Apparently in my condo I have what’s known as ‘radiant heating’ where there are coils above my ceiling that dissipate heat through the drywall. “You’ve got to be kidding me?” “No, it’s from the 70s.” Here I was under the impression that the ghetto dials on the walls were abandoned and not working because I didn’t see any grilles or registers that pushed air out into the room. One of the dials on the wall was turned to 70 and the other 2 were off. OH CRAP!!! That means if these things really do work then I’ve had one coil trying to heat this whole freaking house. But if that’s the case then why wasn’t my apartment warm in any capacity? And when we had those cold days in summer how come the bill wasn’t higher? I turned down the dial to off and the electrician then shut off one breaker that was pulling more amps than all the rest. He said it doesn’t look like it’s connected to anything so we’ll leave the breaker off for the rest of the month and see if my bill is lower. At this point I’m hoping that the breaker has a short in it or has gone bad so then I can blame that for causing my bill to be higher. I would hate to have paid $300 dollars for my own stupidity. But I guess at least in know now I have a heating system that could potentially short out and burn down my entire condo. That’s a peace of mind I’m glad to have.