Wednesday, January 04, 2006

every therm is sacred



My gas bill this month was almost $300. I'm one person, with three rooms (plus kitchen and bath). And in one of them--the bedroom--the radiator doesn't actually work. And I like it relatively cold.

Serves me right, you might say, for selecting an apartment that was at the very top-end of my rent budget and was sufficiently old that it doesn't seem to have any of that newfangled stuff they call "insulation."

Suffice it to say, the divinity school students living in the dorm across the street will have even fewer opportunities to look over and see me working at my computer in only my shorts. I'm sure it was fun for them while it lasted.

To be honest, I don't even know what a "therm" is. Wikipedia says its 105 million joules. Which doesn't clear up very much. I mean, I know that a joule is the amount of energy required to lift a kilogram 100 millimeters. I weigh about 75 kilograms. So a joule would move me 1.33 millimeters. 158 therms = 16.59 billion joules = 22.12 billion millimeters of Jeremy-lift = 22.12 thousand kilometers of Jeremy-lift = enough to hoist me into the lowest reaches of space seven times a day for a month. Instead, I used this energy to keep my apartment passably warm.

But, still: is this a lot of therms to be using, comparatively speaking? And/or is the price-per-therm unusually high?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

sounds high. are you sure that isn't the bill for the whole building??

you can call the gas company and ask for the "high," "low," and "average" monthly bill for any apartment unit for the prior year (comes in handy when searching for apartments). you might call just to see if the "high" from the prior tenant was anywhere near your latest bill.

good luck.

Anonymous said...

In Omaha, our price per therm for Nov/Dec was 1.0992 and 1.3178; I think somewhere in the middle, it switched over to higher pricing. So I think your pricing is in line.

For my whole house (approx 1500 sq ft), we used 90.424 therms. I also think your usage is high. Eek.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

I believe I once had a $100+ gas bill for an efficiency apartment in Kirksville, Missouri--that was about 450 square feet and almost totally uninsulated. So it's not too hard to believe that a larger and also poorly insulated apartment would generate this bill.

Tom Bozzo said...

Did the bill report the # of degree-days? We used 115 therms for 951 degree-days from 11/3 to 12/5, in ~1750 sq. ft., w/a relatively efficient forced-air furnace and little insulation beyond whatever value the brick exterior walls have.

When Suzanne lived on Keyes Ave. in a house with a very inefficient boiler, I recall hearing about titanic gas bills -- $500 or so -- back when fuel prices were less than half current levels. Adjusting for natural gas price inflation, your bill may not be out of line with that.

The fuel price suggests your utility was not very well hedged, but otherwise is not out of line with what I understand spot prices in the NE to have been. FYI, you pay a slightly lower customer charge than you'd see from MGE, but the per-therm distribution charges are a lot less here. Score one for the Midwest!

Anonymous said...

My last gas bill was 170 therms (for about 1200 sq. ft or so) @ 1.07 per therm. I keep reading that gas bills are running about 40 % higher than usual this year. Combine that with a cold November/December, and your bill is probably, unfortunately, right.
-Andrea

Tom Bozzo said...

Jeremy, let me add, best blog post title, ever.

Anonymous said...

I agree. That's an "LOL" title.

Anonymous said...

Call them out to do a meter reading, with you there. Then insulate your place temporarily; look for drafts. What floor are you on (heat rises and upper floors are generally less expensive). If it stays at $300/mo., you are getting screwed.

Now I've got that song running through my head too.

Anonymous said...

Also, do you have a fireplace? Those things suck warm air out the chimney, and are not helpful in heating a place.

Anonymous said...

Don't assume you're being gypped. We're all paying through the nose this year.
When you go to work, turn thermostat down to 58.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

You are turning it down at night, right?

I could crochet you a nightcap. :p

Wendy said...

In St Louis, LaClede Gas says the average cost per therm is apparently $1.00427. We used 105.4 therms last month, with 834 degree days, whatever that means.

I have a 2 story, 2 bedroom condo apartment that's probably 90 years old or so. We keep the thermostat set at 62 degrees-- Brr! I keep a space heater downstairs for whenever anyone is watching TV in the livingroom. The upstairs stays toasty just fine.

Nice to see that gas is actually pretty cheap here! We all felt like we were getting ripped off since prices are 1/3 higher than last year.

jeremy said...

Tom: Thanks!

Anon 6pm: Did you read my recent post where I fretted over the term "mulligan."

RWS: As splendid as I'm sure your nightcap would be, there's no way I could fall asleep if my head was swaddled in something.

Wendy: Thanks. Much in the Midwest is cheaper.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

I did manage to sleep in a hat when the heat went off in the previously mentioned efficiency for two days at the beginning of February, but I think I was only able to do so because I was pretty sure that the alternative was death. In general, I've never thought nightcaps sounded very appealing.

Anonymous said...

Alas, as 'mulligan' has revealed the dastardly fact, I must confess I do not always read your blogs carefully and completely. Yet still I comment on and on.

Anon 6:00 PM