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Old 07-29-2008, 08:52 PM
 
207 posts, read 771,764 times
Reputation: 81

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I lived at Riata Apartments about a year ago and we had Austin Energy. Solid waste and street service/drainage were on the bill and totaled about $12/month.

If they are running 72 at night and 74 on the weekends that is where they are spending lots of money.

We would keep our 700sq. ft. apartment at 79 during the day, everyday. Cut it down to about 75 or 76 at night. Didn't have a ceiling fan so we bought a floor fan to keep air circulating. We were on the top floor and during the hottest part of the summer the bill never passed $100.
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Old 07-29-2008, 10:24 PM
 
116 posts, read 301,165 times
Reputation: 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mckellyb View Post
An apartment wouldn't likely have a garbage bill on the electric...dumpsters and all that, y'know.

Water or sewer, either. All that should be rolled into monthy rent cost as it's a bill to the complex, not the individual units. At least I've never seen an apartment with a water meter....

Their water bill is collective of all the 3 bedroom apartments in the complex split up evenly between each unit. They pay about 50-55 bucks, and you're correct, it's not in with their electric. The only thing in their electric bill is the electric, and then another charge called a fuel charge.
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Coffee Bean
659 posts, read 1,548,810 times
Reputation: 818
Quote:
Originally Posted by reverse View Post
If you have no pets that are home alone when you leave, you might as well turn the A/C off when you leave and back on when you get home. No point in cooling the place with no one there, basically just wasting energy or at least turn it up to around 82-85.
Actually - that's probably the worst thing you can do for your electric bill. It's far more energy efficient to keep your AC at a more constant temperature throughout the day - with only about 2-3 degrees variance. If you turn it off or turn it up really high when you're gone and then back down again when you get home - you're AC unit will have to work much harder and suck up much more electricity to cool your apartment. It would be better to find a middle ground temperature you can live with 24 hours a day and only change it by a couple of degrees when you're not home. My husband and I actually tested this theory because we'd read so many conflicting reports on the internet. We tried one month with turning it up to 82 degrees when we weren't home and then turning it back down when we returned and the next month we just kept it at 78 all day - the second month (which was the hotter of the two, by the way) our bill was almost $50 cheaper.

$200 is very normal for an apartment - I lived in a 3rd floor west-facing apartment for 6 years - we counted our blessings if our electric bill was ONLY $200 in the hottest part of summer. Keep in mind - in most apartments - virtually everything in the house is electric (stovetop, water heater, etc.) and the apartments were probably built with materials just barely a step above tin foil and balsa wood, so they're not exactly the best insulated living spaces.

It was helpful to us (and evident in our electric bill) when we replaced the manual thermostat with a programmable one. It more accurately measured temperature and we programmed it to go up a couple of degrees when we weren't home, and back down again about 30 minutes before we got back in the evening. We also got a thermostat that allowed us to have a different weekend program (so you can sleep later in cooler temps).

Another tip would be to unplug appliances you don't use on a regular basis - even if you're not actively using the blender or coffee maker - it still pulls amps and therefore adds to your electric bill. I would also get a good set of blinds for all windows and keep them closed during the day to keep the sun out. Go through the apartment and close vents in rooms you don't use on a regular basis (extra bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.) and pay attention to which part of the apartment gets the hottest - perhaps (if it's a bedroom) - you can just close the door to that room during the day so that it won't affect the overall temperature of the rest of the apartment.

It also wouldn't hurt to ask the apartment complex to test the unit - just to make sure it's functioning properly. And install ceiling fans wherever you can (most apartment complexes will let you just leave the ceiling fan in when you move out without charging you a fee). Fans help a lot. My husband and I would (in addition to the ceiling fans) set up table top or floor fans to help cool us off during a really hot spell - that way we could keep the electricity-sucking AC unit running at, say, 78 degrees, but still feel like it was 75 or 76 degrees with fans that use much less electricity.

Last edited by Austinitegirl; 07-30-2008 at 07:15 AM..
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:04 AM
 
76 posts, read 206,961 times
Reputation: 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Austinitegirl View Post
Actually - that's probably the worst thing you can do for your electric bill. It's far more energy efficient to keep your AC at a more constant temperature throughout the day - with only about 2-3 degrees variance. If you turn it off or turn it up really high when you're gone and then back down again when you get home - you're AC unit will have to work much harder and suck up much more electricity to cool your apartment.
Actually it does save money, but as your experience said otherwise I would bet the AC you have/had was not the right size for your place (my experience says otherwise). I would say this is more for a case by case basis, so to say that turning off your AC is the worst idea, it may have been for you it may not be for others.

Apartments have horrible units which typically aren't sized correctly and generally are the same unit for a single bedroom up to biggest apartment they offer. So yes, if the AC unit is incorrect for the space, you are probably better off just setting it 5 degrees higher when you leave but if you have a good AC unit there is no need to keep it on.

Turn AC Off If You Leave - WSJ.com
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
12,720 posts, read 28,708,888 times
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Apartments do have the option of passing on the water costs without actual meters, but I am not sure on the details (although I was a recipient when I had a work apt in Galveston a few years back).

$200, if strictly for electric, seems a little high to me. Your temps are in-line with what we have in our 2,300 sf house (programmable thermo, though), and our electric is not typically that high (just checked, for July 08 it is $207.45).

The previous posters are right-on, though - the owner of the apts is under no pressure to maintain AC equipment efficiency, since he is not paying the electric bills. And the original construction/insulation was probably subpar. All that said, though, I might check into having the AC checked. I think there are some service companies that do free checks on your system, but I am not sure if there is some recourse to have the system fixed if something is amiss, or even if you can have it checked w/o the landlords permission.

Also, in most homes, the applicances are more efficient - 'fridge, dryer, etc. Do you have a dedicated water heater? It could also be scaled-up and sucking electricity.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth, TX
369 posts, read 1,600,217 times
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I remember the idea leaving your house at temperature X all the time would save money/wear-and-tear on the A/C unit concept...from about 25 years ago.If it's a very marginal system, maybe, but if the unit can cool the cubic volume in a relatively quick period of time, you're merely keeping air cool until it can leak out.
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 12,849,550 times
Reputation: 757
temps at 72 and 74?? That's the problem. We keep ours at 79/80 all the time, and are in a 2700 sq ft house.... with the highest bill being mid $300's.

If they took the temps to 79, they would see a drastic reduction, I am sure.
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Old 07-30-2008, 03:36 PM
 
116 posts, read 301,165 times
Reputation: 36
Thanks for all the input/suggestions, guys! They do have a programable thermostat. They just got one a couple of months ago, before they put it in their bill was 230 dollars! So that has helped quite a bit already.

Oh, and their water heater is gas, not electric.
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Old 07-30-2008, 04:13 PM
 
7 posts, read 17,894 times
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I live in Austin, my thermostat never goes below 80, I live in a 1400 sq ft, 2 story house, and home office. My bill, electric only $80.....maybe it is time to start conserving so all of us can enjoy lower fuel costs. I'm not advocating you do what I do, however if your keeping your thermostat at 72-74 degrees, you have no right to complain. It is no longer a matter of being able to afford it, just because you can. There are working class families that are really struggling here because of the single polar bears driving their SUV's into the office........
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Coffee Bean
659 posts, read 1,548,810 times
Reputation: 818
Quote:
Originally Posted by reverse View Post
Apartments have horrible units which typically aren't sized correctly and generally are the same unit for a single bedroom up to biggest apartment they offer. So yes, if the AC unit is incorrect for the space, you are probably better off just setting it 5 degrees higher when you leave but if you have a good AC unit there is no need to keep it on.
Of course - that's exactly my point - apartments have crappy units and crappy insulation. Everyone on this message board advocating to turn it off seems to live in a house. People - it's not the same thing. You can cool a 2000 sq. ft. house for a fraction of the cost of cooling an apartment because the house is better i-n-s-u-l-a-t-e-d. Duh. So of course you might be able to get away with turning your unit OFF during the day when you run a much greater chance in a (better i-n-s-u-l-a-t-e-d) house of keeping most of the cool air IN. As I said in my previous post - apartments are made of cheap, thin material and practically no insulation; therefore - the cool air will leak out faster and turn your apartment into a hot box by the time you return home at the end of the day.

And of course the units aren't appropriate for the size of apartment - I've never lived in an apartment that truly provided adequate ANYTHING for their tenants (even the "luxury" apartments with huge work out facilites and nice pools). We're clearly not addressing an A/C issue from someone who lives at the top of Trump Tower - or someone who lives in a house (as the original post clearly states). So - using the parameters and information provided by the original poster - who clearly lives in a typical apartment, with a typical cheap apartment ac unit, with typical apartment insulation - turning the unit off during the day is (again) probably the worst thing they can do to solve the problem.

And let me also add (having just moved into a house after many years of apartment living) that 78 or 79 degrees in a well insulated house feels about 20 degrees cooler than 78 degrees in a hot box apartment, so sometimes turning it up that high is actually pretty miserable.
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