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February Heating Cost Way Up

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My electricity bill from February was a bit of a shock. I have a one bedroom apartment, approximately 700 square feet. To heat this space (and to use any electronic devices) last month, I’ll have to pay $236. That must be the highest amount I’ve ever paid for electricity in one month. The bill provides some useful information, though. The average temperature in February was 27 degreed Fahrenheit, compared to 40 degrees last February and 43 degrees more recently in January.

I have to say that I haven’t been energy-efficient lately. Here are some of the issues I’ll try to deal with for the remainder of the winter and I’ll keep in mind next year, where ever I may be.

* I haven’t been careful when leaving the apartment in the morning to turn off the heat. I am pretty sure I left the heat on for an entire weekend I was out of town.

* Cold air enters my apartments underneath my front door, around my window (I only have one window in the apartment, and it’s in the bedroom), and around the sliding door to my balcony. A quick trip to Home Depot for less than $20 in materials should fix these problems. When I get a chance, I’ll pick up weather stripping for the door and plastic to cover the window.

* I usually keep my thermostat at 70-72 degrees, and it’s still not warm enough for me. I could lower the thermostat and wear more layers of clothing. I could lower the thermostat even further for the time I go to sleep.

* While I generally turn off all my appliances when not in use, in some cases, power still goes to the devices. I should turn off the power strips when I’m not watching television or using a computer.

Now, I’m not a complete waster of energy. I do use compact fluorescent light bulbs in most of my lamps. I use my dishwasher infrequently. Obviously, this isn’t enough. I just checked my records in Quicken; my February 2007 expense of $236 unseated the previous high score, $199, a tie between February 2004 and March 2004.

Published or updated March 8, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Adil

Just so you know, turning off the power strips will do nothing to save you electricity. The amount of power used by devices when they’re supposedly off is negligible.

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avatar Nick

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Our heating bill this month was double the previous month. I guess that’s what we get for having a December with consistent 60-degree days.

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avatar MrsBart

Wow! That is a lot of money! I live in a 760 square foot condo in Massachusetts. I was upset about my $85 electric bill (which is heat, hot water and all electric). I’m so glad I’ve done so much toward energy efficiency! (I wear sweaters and wool socks and enjoy 62 degrees when I’m home.)

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avatar anon

I understand your shellshock. I just moved from North Carolina up to New Jersey, and I nearly fell over when I got my first electricity bill- $189 for a 600 sq ft apartment (as compared to $30 max down in NC) But that’s to be expected- just wish it wasn’t such a shock!

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avatar tinyhands

I’m all-electric too (heat, water, kitchen) and my Jan/Feb bill was the highest ever. I reprogrammed my thermostat (programmable digital unit) to more closely correlate to when I’m home and need heat. I started opening the blinds when I leave the house and closing them when I get home to capture heat from sunlight. I also shut off a halogen torchiere light that I had on a timer to light up the place in the evenings, although I found that it illuminated a room for hours that I merely passed-through when I came home. Compact fluorescent may be in my near future as well, but I might need to replace some fixtures (notably bathroom) first.

I’m going to have to find some cheap ways to cool off the place soon, as summer is fast approaching the south.

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avatar Tight Fisted Miser

That seems pretty high. The heating bill for my one bedroom apartment was $40. The highest bill this winter was $60. If it weren’t for my apartment having single-pane aluminum frame windows my bill would probably be even less.

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avatar Jerry

I would look at installing a programmable thermostat if possible. They are not hard at all to install, it took me all of fifteen minutes. We have it at 70 from 6-8 and 5-10. The rest of the time it’s at 60.

I’m not sure where you’re located, but our last gas bill was ~$250 in Michigan. Average outside temp was 18, this was 1500 square feet or so with two bedrooms closed off.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Jerry: I’d love to have a programmable thermostat. Unfortunately, I don’t own the apartment, only rent. I’m not sure if they’d appreciate me changing what they have installed in the apartment.

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avatar Jerry

You can always ask the landlord/front desk. Most places don’t care what you do as long as it’s back to stock when you leave.

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avatar Tammy

Goodness, I was happy to see my light bill go down to $95 this month from $125 – I just put in another 100 gallons of oil though to heat my small house here in Maine. That’s $500 in heathing oil in 30 days. Good thing it’s March.

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avatar Debt Free

Flexo,
How old is your appt.? Age could be a major factor in its energy efficiency. Insulation, double pane windows with energy efficient frames, the age of the appliances, are all major contributing factors to your electricity usage. In addition, you guys are suffering from a seriously cold winter over there. The amount of energy required to heat your 700 sq ft when it’s 40 deg is way less than when it’s 27. Brrr. Good god, man, throw on a sweater or something!

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avatar The Digerati Life

I was stunned when I got a bill of $700 for gas and electricity. I do have some square footage to cover though, and I had visitors over who used laptops, computers, heaters all day round. It was tough for me to budget when there were long term guests around.

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avatar rrenee

Don’t even get me started on February bill. I don’t make that much money so I am very careful with my money and keep my heat low. Well, Jan. is usually my highest bill. Last month it was $130. Live in a two story house, nothing elaborate. Well guess what my bill was $203 this month. I kept my heat like I did for my Jan. bill and it was $70 more. This is so maddening. I have not had a bill this high since I bought my house 13 years ago. They stated that the cost of delivery charge of gas was higher. I do have a programable thermostat so I just don’t get it. When I leave the house I put the heat down to 60. It’s been kind of mild where I live at now, so when I leave the house I turn off the heat. This is the most frustating bill I have.

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avatar Blaine Moore (First Time Home Owner)

I pay around $40-$50 per month, and our average temperatures in February were around 0°-10°F. Of course, we only use electric heat in the bathroom when we shower and in our mattress pad, and we leave our thermostat at 58° when we are home and awake, and around 54° when we are not in the house or are sleeping.

Next year I definately plan on getting plastic for the windows. By the time I went to buy it, they weren’t available anymore. We did have a giant hole in our basement, but that was in December and only lasted a few days until we were able to replace our door.

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