Friday, January 31, 2014

I've Got a Gas (Bill) Problem, St Louis: Friendly Money Tips

St. Louis weather, if you haven't noticed, is a little mercurial.  Which means, when it's Winter, my bills are inflated.  I can stand heat, but Dante got it right.  Being cold is a form of pain.  And doubly so when you have to pay for it.

I hate being cold and my body seems to have an inability to stay warm, but does that mean I really crank up the  heat?

I turn the heat down when I am out and sleeping, dress in layers, have a portable space heater, and drink warm beverages.
Even with all of this, my past gas bill from Laclede had a hefty price in the "Amount Due" column.  

So hefty that I sprung to action (read: googled), because between us I can't pay that amount again this year. 

There are a few challenges though. 
1.) I have an apartment, and while it is as homey as a house with a paid off mortgage, it is not mine.  
Which means whatever I do to outsmart the cold, I can't make lasting structural changes.  
2.) And I have to keep the ROI in mind, because someday I will be leaving and can't necessarily take my improvements along. 
3.) Googling. Websites galore tell you how to save money, but they assume a certain level of...let's call it naive thinking.  Additionally advice is geared towards home owners.  Basically I found the tips to be relatively unhelpful.  
Big challenges.

After tackling these and having a little success, I thought, why not help prevent bill shock for you?
I want you to be able to save (hopefully) many dollars.

I will post a few of the things I had not considered and have now employed.

Your Water Heater and You 

That's right, it's in your creepy basement, the water heater.
I was scared to approach mine and dial back the temperature of the heat. 
I envisioned slipping with my screw driver and getting scalded.  
Also I envisioned a scary person lurking down there, but both of these fears were needless.
(The person lurking down there was actually quite nice.)

I read that you need to remove a plate on your water heater with a flat head screwdriver to reveal the temperature knob. 
As it happens, I did not even need a screwdriver. 
This is what I found:

It was as if the water heater wanted to be condescending.  Hot, Warm, Vacation.
(Really water heater?  You think I go on Vacation? More like Stay-cation.)
I turned the knob and hope that next week my new bill will show an improvement.

Am I taking cold showers?  How is the water temperature now?
Not terrible.  Some days the water is hotter than others. It is not scalding hot but not cold and in the long run my skin is probably better off.

How have your bills this season been?  Have you stumbled across any great tips you'd like to share?

Check out this site if you want to learn more.