Upwards of $1000 utility bill on 1800 sq ft rehab?

11 Replies

Hello all,

I’ve been involved in my first two flips the last few months. I just received my utility bill for one of my properties, and it was $928. The house is around 1800 sq ft, still down to the studs. The only thing other than the usual tools that are using power right now is the furnace. I was shocked at the bill, and the utility company said they suspect the furnace has been run very hot and often to create this kind of number. I am doing this remotely (so yes, two no-no’s for a first time flipper - doing two at a time, doing both remotely - it’s been quite the learning experience).  Can someone tell me if this is to be expected during a rehab once winter hits, or am I right to be a bit shocked at this number?

That seems shockingly high but if your workers have it set at 70* and there is no insulation in the house there is a good chance the furnace is running 24/7.  Maybe you should consider one of the thermostats that you can monitor via an app on your phone or at least have a programmable one installed so you know its getting turned down when nobody is at the property.

@Paul Bowers

Thank you for the input. Yes, no insulation - more than likely running 24/7 like you said for that reason.  I might explore those options you mentioned, bc I in no way expected to pay $900+ a month just on utilities alone!

it is most certainly the furnace. 

Consider asking the gc to run bullet heaters. Tell him you will pay for the kerosene. That at least will ensure that the furnace isn't left running overnight when someone forgets to shut it off at the end of the work day. 

@Tae C. Yes, I agree with @Aaron McGinnis bullet heaters work the best. Also, I remove the fuse for the furnace so it is not able to be turned on before paint. If you leave the hvac system on while they sand drywall, all that dust will clog the filter and furnace and you will have to replace the furnace.

What @Adam Abdel-Hafez said. I learned that lesson the hard way.  While I didn't have to replace the furnace, I did spend $500 getting it cleaned out for that very reason.

@Aaron McGinnis @Adam Abdel-Hafez @Kuba F.

I have never heard of a bullet heater before, I will have to look into that more. At this current juncture, I’ve asked my contractor to monitor it more closely moving forward, but if it continues to present an issue, I will have to seriously consider this option. And thanks all for the advice regarding drywall/furnace dynamic, again had absolutely no idea!

@Tae C. ,

Check the air filters, and change them frequently during renovation!     It's likely working overtime 24\7 because it's blocked.     I'd get it serviced also!

I agree with others, I would disable the central fans and furnace. You really don’t want it running at all any time a lot of work is being done that can kick up dust and dirt.

Maybe it’s just me but I would expect the contractors to provide their own fuel for their own heaters. Unless the area is really really cold it’s not that hard to work indoors with a bullet heater running even part of the time.

Yikes!  Sounds high.  Shouldn't cost that much to warm the walls down on a vacant house.  You should only have it running when someone is there and/or use portable heaters for heating quickly and directly where the work is being done.

Also, may want to consider looking for a leak somewhere if making those changes doesn't move your bill down.

There is another caveat. While drywall mud is drying you need some way to dry it, especially during a wet winter. 

Bullet heaters work whole the crew is there, when they're not you should be using dehumidifiers. 

I’m not sure what kind of quality product you build but my only word of caution would be to monitor the humidity in the house. The bullet heaters can really dry the house out and cause shrinkage in existing drywall and caulking leaving lots of cracks and gaps.... and possibly warping, checking, splitting of wood products

Whatever you do I’d make sure the on-site GC can monitor the temp/humidity in the house to mitigate any issues moving forward. You’d hate to run bullet heaters for 3 months while installing everything and then upon completion run the furnace and the humidity change cause buckling and cracking drywall seams/caulking gaps in a brand new renovation. Bullet heaters and then switching to the furnace after completion sounds like lots of call backs and repairs to me...

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