Vacant apartment high electricity bill!

28 Replies

Hello,

My apartment has been vacant last couple of months.The first vacant the electric utility bill came around $150 and I noticed that the central AC furnace was on so I turned it off immediately but to my shock the second vacant month the bill came around $250.

Barring a refrigerator nothing is on in the apartment, my apartment utility bill is

lower than that where the appliances including central ac run frequently. Any thoughts on what could be causing this spike in utility bill?appreciate your inputs.

Thanks

@Peter Morgan Flip the breakers off and see if the meter is still moving. Without knowing the apartment and its wiring hard to trouble shoot. The things that draw power are water heaters, and appliance. Make sure a neighbor is stealing the power either but going to have to spend time there and looking at the meter to see where the power is going. 

Best Of Luck Mate!

@Chris Davidson

Thank you. I see energy company used estimated reading as opposed to actual reading, I am trying to understand what that means.Will call the energy company on Monday.

Take the actual meter reading and give them those numbers.  They don't always read the meter and often estimate based off the usage at the same time last year. Then when they do an actual reading, the adjust the pricing.  If the only thing plugged in is a fridge (no heat or hot water), turn the panel off.  Unplug the fridge and leave the doors open.

Prop the frig and freezer door open and turn off your electricity at the main switch.  If the neighbor complains that their xxx does not work you now know what is wired into your place instead of their apartment.

@John Teachout

I was thinking about selling my multifamily this summer as I need to move out of state due to my job so I did not aggressively pursue for any tenants but now I am thinking if I should manage the rental from remotely.

Originally posted by @Peter Morgan :

@Theresa Harris

Thank you! But I am very curious why they do that? If I had missed this excess increase in electric bill , I would end up paying excess bill?

 It is because they can't read all of the meters every month, so if they do it every two, it averages out.  If the estimate was high this time, when they actually read the meter next month, your bill would have been lower.  Imagine you use 200 W each month (no clue and making up numbers...and units) and the meter read 10,000 last time they read it.  For July they thought you used 300 W based on an estimate.  When they read the meter for Aug, they would see that it reads 14,000 (200 for each of July and Aug) added to the last reading.  And they'd charge you for 100 W because they estimated the meter read 13,000 at the end of July.

Originally posted by @Peter Morgan :

@John Teachout

I was thinking about selling my multifamily this summer as I need to move out of state due to my job so I did not aggressively pursue for any tenants but now I am thinking if I should manage the rental from remotely.

 Is this one unit in a multifamily and you own the entire building?  If so, that may be the problem.  Something isn't wired right and the panel from the vacant unit is supplying power to another unit as well.

@Theresa Harris

This should have been the case even when the tenant was there and the tenant never complained about excessive electricity bill when he was there for two years, I think it could well be based on an estimate from past year in July, I will talk to the energy company on Monday and see what is going on.

If I were you, I would pay a visit and figure this out myself. I assume this is a long-distance rental you've got going on, but unless you have a PM it's very hard to know how things are going. This electricity problem could be one of many things going wrong. The obvious question is why are you allowing the rental to be vacant? Good luck.

@Alex Briones

I am still living in one of the units in the same building, I ' ve been thinking of selling as I need to move OOS due to my job but I did not know upfront when I need to move ,I felt it would be bothersome to a new tenant if I put on sale soon after they move so I did not actively pursue tenants

@Peter Morgan

Hi Peter, rather than working directly with the electric company, I would really recommend you contact your state's Public Utilities Commission and work with them to request a meter check on your behalf.* They will assign a case number, and assist you with the process. In my experience, the utility company was much more responsive to the PUC, and can help you resolve any payment issues.

Good luck!

* In Ohio, you are allowed one meter check per calendar year. Not sure about your state.

Did you check the inclusive dates? My electric bill is typically a month behind. The bill I receive the end of July actually covers early June through early July. If your bill came in high this month, it may pertain to the period before you shut the A/C off.

@Nathan G.

Yeah, I did the dates are current and reflect no occupants in unit. The only red flag I see is the numbers in the bill are estimate not actual

@Peter Morgan estimates are off the previous year.  Give them an actual or wait until they take one. As others have said you can shut off the breaker if you are not using any electric in the unit. You will still get a delivery charge but no usage charge.

And it is no problem to sell a rental with a tenant. Happens all the time.  Usually if you can deliver a single unit vacant you are marketing to investors and owner occupants. Best to get the tenant established before you move. Also you are losing money with a couple months vacancy.  Paying electric someone else could be paying etc. 

I agree with the suggestions regarding estimated readings instead of true readings.   Had a rental house that was vacant; just the frig and a porch light on.  Got a bill that I thought was excessive.  Read the meter and the numbers on the bill were way off.  Called the power company who came out and actually read the meter (this was before we had "Smart Meters" installed).  Got a second bill that reflected the true useage.

I suspect without monthly readings the power company might tend to go with the average for a particular month when tenants did live there.  If their bill was $250 a year ago (not unusual during the heat of summer) the company may "assume" this is the correct usage this time around.


Gail

@Gail K.

Thank you but what stumps me the most is that they sent me actual reading for the unit

I live in and for the unit above me which is vacant they sent estimated given all electric meters are in the same location why would they send "estimated" makes me wonder something fishy.

Yes, a bill will include what is supposed to be a reading.  However, this is not necessarily true.  It would be helpful for you to go check out the meter and confirm what has been posted on the bill is accurate.

@Peter Morgan

Complain to the electric company that the bill cannot be correct.

Have them walk you through the bill and test your ref and A/C draw.

If the electric company will not check your draw, hire an electrician to do it, and find the issue.

Could be an estimated bill. Could be the last reading was estimated too low.

When service is switched from tenant back to landlord, a reading is made. Be sure such a reading WAS made.

With an actual reading, you can do the math yourself, and decide if the numbers charged, are the numbers used.

If the numbers are accurate, someone needs to pay.

By the way, an audit of your electrical draw when breakers are off, and when breakers are on, is needed to be sure your service has not been tapped into by a neighbor. It happens.

Good luck!

Originally posted by @Peter Morgan :

Hello,

My apartment has been vacant last couple of months.The first vacant the electric utility bill came around $150 and I noticed that the central AC furnace was on so I turned it off immediately but to my shock the second vacant month the bill came around $250.

Barring a refrigerator nothing is on in the apartment, my apartment utility bill is

lower than that where the appliances including central ac run frequently. Any thoughts on what could be causing this spike in utility bill?appreciate your inputs.

Thanks

 $250?!?!?

how about this bill for 4 days.  Vacant house