read your utility bill

Utility companies – we love to hate them, however sometimes we can win a battle. 

My last battle with the local provider – Con Edison – was in 2006 – almost ten months after I had moved to my current residence in the lower Hudson River Valley.  This apt is a little bit larger than the one I had previously in Park Slope but it is MUCH WORSE insulated.  The first winter I had no programmable thermostat and tried to keep the apt at around 68–70 which meant running the furnace 24/7 esp in Jan and Feb and most of March.  However, I had not really paid attention to the Con Ed bills which was for both gas and electric – and therefore went blissfully ignorant along paying the bills and thinking all was well.

Until the May bill  – which had a balance of over $1000 due for the gas.  After recovering, I had a series of conversations with several Customer Service Representatives and finally we figured out that because the GAS meters are in the locked basement for six months the meter reader had NOT bothered to try to read it and had not even reported that he/she couldn’t get in.  Then someone must of realized it or the meter reader got in and wham!

After more intense conversations during which I had to point out that it was THEIR fault, they finally deigned to allow me to pay the bill off over several months.  So at that point I begin to carefully follow the gas meter reading schedule (you can find it by logging into your Con Ed account) and actually entered my monthly reading.  I then was told that the landlord had provided a key to the reader (or so I thought).  (The electric meter is on the outside of the house).

Each month I would check and see that the gas meter reading was listed as ACTUAL and not ESTIMATED.  However for some reason over the last two months I slipped and didn’t notice – until this month.

At some point in August Con Ed sent letters saying they were replacing the reading mechanism on the gas meters to enable the readings to be done electronically… (not sure if the electric were replaced as well).  My area was due for replacement in Sept.   Eventually one day in Sept I happened to see the Con Ed truck outside our building and found a woman worker and let her in the basement.  As this was the week of my gas meter reading I thought – great, no more need to worry about that.  Then when my bill arrived for September I was a little surprised that the amount seemed a bit higher than normal (although most of September was warmer and so the window fans stayed on more than usual). 

Monday, I was filing papers and was looking at the Con Ed bill and FINALLY noticed that the amount for the last month was an estimated amount.  After checking the REAL reading on the gas meter it turned out that Con Ed had overestimated to the amount of 100 therms – my reading was 9079 on Monday and the LAST bill (Sept 14) was 9113.  AND then I saw that the LAST TWO readings had been estimated – so the last REAL reading was in July and both the Aug and Sept bills were over charged.

Gas Reading:

September 14, 2009 Estimated Reading 9113
August 13, 2009 Estimated Reading 9087

The next meter reading is scheduled for: Wednesday, October 14, 2009.

Luckily my reading for the October bill is this week (today in fact) and so I went on line and entered the correct meter reading – which the website was not happy about – making me enter it in twice as it was such a difference from their last reading.  Then had a conversation with a rep who agreed with me!!! and then offered to call me back today (the actual reading date) and record the reading officially and proceed from there.  We agreed on a time – and amazingly she called back.  The reading was up one therm.  They are crediting my account for the last two months errors and the extra will be applied to my electric bill.

We also confirmed (after she went thru many different people) that the meters have been replaced and they will be electronically read – in fact this week would be the first one.  Apparently they were replaced at the end of Sept.   However, I will continue to monitor the readings and record what I find.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket?


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