Is my gas bill too high and/or is my landlord shady? We get charged a ton for "indirect" charges by a non-PGW company and must write our checks payable to the landlord, not the utility. I also pay the same amount every month, and am
in some budget plan that makes the amount due the same each month. Several residents (me included) think this is some sort of way for the landlord to rip us off.
You can see three examples here
(I've removed identifying information about myself).
You will notice that I pay $81.25 every month. After commiserating with others in this apartment complex, they also pay the same every month regardless of their actual usage (or non-usage). We have little to no ability to control the thermostat in the winter months. You'll see that the majority of gas usage each month is "indirect," meaning, according to the utility company: "the heat radiated from the shared boiler and the building heat distribution pipes... For residents that maintain the lowest thermostat settings during cold weather, and for many additional residents during mild months, the indirect heat allocation may be greater than the direct heat allocation" (see here
1. Is it fair to be charged so much for something over which we have no control? I fear the answer is yes, but this rubs many of us the wrong way since no matter what we do with the thermostat, we have no control of the heat in the winter months.
2. Is a CCF charge of $1.91 high? I paid $1.36 per CCF at my old apartment, when I did have PGW service (on a small furnace in my unit, not a boiler).
3. Is the adjustment/credit on my current bills which brings it down to $81.25 every month the result of some arcane regulation to ensure PA residents don't pay exorbitant utility costs, or is it a gimmick to make me feel like they're doing me a favor while still pocketing $81.25 every month?
Overall, the landlord has exhibited several other behaviors that are highly shady, unethical, or that just cut corners (e.g. one of my closets was painted shut when I moved in). Several other residents have experienced far worse. Several of us feel that something is up with these high gas bills when we have no control over the actual usage (we've tried -- I get heat in the winter no matter whether my thermostat is jacked up or all the way down). Furthermore, we must write our gas bill checks payable to the landlord, not the utility
. This only increases our suspicion that we are being ripped off.
I know that at one point complaints were made to some authorities, but nothing has come of it. Apparently one new resident called PGW to try to turn on gas service, not knowing it was handled by this other company, and the PGW representative had some sort of difficulty sensing/finding our building in their database of possible properties.
Any insights are welcome, especially if I'm just overreacting about the difference between boilers and furnaces. It's just that the track record with this landlord has been bad in several other areas, so we have some reason to be suspicious.