We are sure you will be pleased with this agreement.
July 6, 2010 10:10 AM   Subscribe

What is a fair way to estimate, over an entire year, the proportion of an electrical bill that is being used for electrical heating? (Previously)

The management company got back to me, is this a fair estimate of electrical use for heating? This is based on one hydro/electric bill for the months of April and June.

BC Hydro provided us with the following, approximately 40% of the BC Hydro bill owing is from Electric Heat, as well, they provided a appliance calculator to further determine an approximate amount:

You can find attached the appliance calculator reference, which shows the following:

Watts: 1500
Quantity: 4 heaters
Average hours per week: 14(approximately 2 hours a day)

Dollars per year: $262.00 (Dollars per month: $262.00/12= $21.83/month)

Based on what the BC Hydro representative mentioned, 40% of the bill being electric heat, the calculation would be:

40% of $96.28 =38.52 / 63 days = $19.26/month

We have averaged out the two approximate monthly costs for the “electric heat” of the BC Hydro bill, and offer the rent at a reduced rate by $20.00/month.

We are sure you will be pleased with this agreement.

Although intuitively it feels like they're lowballing me, I'm inclined to take this settlement as a compromise between lawyering up and not receiving any concessions. I fully realize that the summer months do not require heating (oh do I realize that), but is heating during Winter going to be exponentially more than late Spring?
posted by porpoise to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would compare the bills from months when you use the heat a lot (winter) to when you don't (summer). Your electric consumption in months when you'd barely be using the heat or the air conditioning (do you have AC?) should give you a baseline for how much your other electric usage is; then compare that to how much you spend in the winter months to ddetermine how much of that is heat. It's hard to do this without numbers; if you don't have them (it sounds like you moved in recently), can you talk to other tenants who might? Presumably the other tenants are in the same situation.

Their number of "average hours per week" there seems a bit arbitrary.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:29 AM on July 6, 2010

I'd just get some hard facts and install a kill-a-watt.

Monitor your usage over 'x period of time' and then calculate your overall usage.
posted by matty at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2010

oh, and if you're using a hard-wired whole house system, then you can install an energy detective on your breaker panel to the fuses wired to the heating system.
posted by matty at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2010

It would have been more accurate to use bills from January and June, so yeah I think you've been low-balled. My experience has been more like 60% heat, 40% other averaged over a year.
posted by lunaazul at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2010

The 40% number seems arbitrary, as does the 2 hrs/day average. The hydro company has no way of knowing how much electricity went to the heaters. Where are they getting these numbers?

Can BC Hydro provide you (or the landlord) with a billing history for your apt.? If you can get that, it should be fairly straightforward to do this estimate. The summer bills are probably not a good baseline because they might include some use of window AC units. However, there are probably periods in the spring and fall during which neither heat nor AC is being used. Those are the months I'd use as a baseline, and I'd attribute any consumption over that baseline level between fall and spring to be heating costs.
posted by jon1270 at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: The problem is that the building is brand new. No previous tenants.

Yes, the 2 hours/day is extremely arbitrary. I should have also asked: is there an authority I can appeal to regarding "minimum recommended amount of heating" for residential spaces?
posted by porpoise at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2010

Undoubtedly the 40% is the utility-wide average, perhaps for apartments, or maybe in general. BC Hydro's very into demand-side management and I'm certain they've studied consumption patterns to figure out where the energy is going. The number sounds reasonable to me. It's not necessarily true in your case, though.

There is a BC Hydro 'Analyze your home' feature which you can access under 'my account'. You have to join "Team Power Smart" first. Then you fill out a detailed questionnaire - supposedly it takes 45 minutes or so. I haven't done it but I found it by Googling. If you look at the Sample Report, you'll see it provides more detailed information.

I doubt you'll get a number terribly different from 40%. However, is $20/month going to be equal to 40% of your annual bill? That depends on how much you use your heater. Frankly, I would just call BC Hydro and ask them for advice and whether they think this is reasonable. In my experience they have good customer service and they should be able to help you.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2010

It sounds as if an accurate calculation will be nearly impossible at this point. Rather than relying on averages and guesses, why not agree to an estimated amount such as the one they propose, and also agree on some method to make a retroactive adjustment a year from now, when useful data is available?

In the long run, the only accurate way to do this is to install a separate meter for the heating circuit(s).
posted by jon1270 at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2010

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