need advice please!!

8 Replies

I apologise if this is miss subjected... I am currently a tenet in the upper apartment of a two apartment home. I would consider it to be a small two bedroom. I live in New York so our winters are pretty cold, but my natural gas bill was at least $300-$400 a month this winter. The only thing that uses natural gas is our heat and I never thought about it until the tenet below us told me he only pays $75 a month for gas and electric. There are two furnaces in our basement (the basement is split in two and the furnaces are on our side) but my husband discovered that the other tenets furnace was never even turned on all winter. I called our gas and electric company and all they could tell me was that there are two meters at the house, but they cannot tell me if the other is used.

So I guess what my question is, is if it is possible the lower tenet somehow uses our heat, and where to go from here to find out?

Also, for some reason the landlord said we cannot get to our gas meter and if we needed it read, he would have to do it. The only thing I can assume is that the gas meters are on the other side of the basement.

The house is pretty old, but we can here everything from down stairs if we listen near the heat vent. Is it possible that all of the vents throughout the house are connected so the lower tenet realised he can just live off our heat passing through?

My husband brought up the gas bill to our landlord and he said "it's something I will have to look into on my own time". So not much help.

Thank you for reading my helpless rant of confusion! Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Usually heat rises and the apartment above would pick up extra heat.

Its been a long winter in many areas your furnace may not be as efficient as the other.

Your gas bill has usage ,some times they over estimate usage and not go by actual reading of meter. Just match the bill to the correct meter.

Follow the gas line from your meter if its in basement and see which furnace it goes to could go to both but its doubtful.

I have ran across ductwork that a clown didn't install right and someone was getting free heat and air in a bedroom and bath.

How much do you trust the landlord? How committed are you to staying?

You've raised a problem for the landlord, you may get more timely responses if you offer some solutions. I wouldn't threaten to move out unless that is your likely solution, but be firm about timely resolution. A property inspector is not very expensive and could be negotiated to a lower rate if they are just looking at that one issue, if your landlord isn't very handy. You could offer to pay in exchange for being there and getting a copy of the report if desired. Is a 50/50 split on utilities acceptable until it can get fixed if it is a big issue?

Interesting issue.

Thank you for your responses! Rich, I cannot get to my gas meter our landlord has made it very clear to us that (for some reason) if we need a reading, he has to do it...Otherwise, following the gas lines is a good idea, thank you. Our furnace is only a few years old. It is interesting that you bring up "bad ductwork" because our landlord actually said that he recently "spent a lot of money to put in a new system", so that may be the case. Thank you.

Michele, I am very committed to our landlord, and had trust in him until this issue arose. I feel like he is very against us having any involvement or interest in the gas meter or the excessive heat costs. The tenet below us has lived there for ten years so I worry that if he somehow figured out how to use our heat, that our landlord may not have a clue about it. I did some research and if in fact both apartments run off just our heat it is illeagal, but the landlord is responsible for the past utility bills and to get it fixed. My concern is, if it is something the other tenet did, I would feel terrible for getting our landlord in trouble, because I do want to stay. I think I may call and pay for an inspector to check it out like you had mentioned.

Thank you for your replies, they both gave me things to consider!

It sounds like you have access to the furnace, and thus to the ductwork going to your apartment. One way to find out if that ductwork is also going to your neighbor's apartment might be to close your vents, turn off the heat and turn on the fan, and place a stink bomb (egg and vinegar, see in the exhaust draft. It will stink up your place, but if you see the downstairs neighbor come running out of his apartment, then you'll know what's going on.

Updated almost 5 years ago

I should add that this probably isn't a good idea in these paranoid times. Even though it would be harmless, you'd probably end up on the national news.

I doubt the downstairs tenant knowingly modified the duct system to heat his place with your air. If he had, he would have to be a fool of biblical proportions to tell you how little he paid in heat.

Sounds like you feel your landlord is being shifty. Put your request in writing that an independent 3rd party (licenses HVAC), paid for by you, verify function and layout of the heating systems. Provide a reasonable deadline to allow this (a few weeks) in your written request. If the landlord fails comply post back and about how to handle your situation.

Ask your utility for a free energy audit. They'll find out where your heat is going.

I actually love the stink bomb idea, but I think I might call and do the energy audit and/or the paid inspector. Thank you all!

The only reason I think the tenet has something to do with it is because he is far more shifty than my landlord. I just don't understand how the tenet went all winter without even turning on his furnace, unless he knew he wouldn't have to. Also, I forgot to mention, there was one freezing day that my husband was at work and our pilot went out. I witnessed the lower tenet have a space heater dropped off, but he obviously didn't call the landlord to fix it or even ask for access to his furnace. So I know he knows that he uses our heat.

I will definitely make the necessary phone calls now that I have an idea of who to contact. Thank you all so very much!

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