As most of you know, I left my full-time job to travel in March of this year. The freedom has been great, but there is still anxiety of taking care of my house while I’m gone. I wrote about some actions that I do, but I’m still fairly limited to what I can do from abroad.
One of my biggest concerns is the electric bill. I have electric heat and for those that are unaware, the electric bill is highly dependent on how much the heat is turned on. In the spring and fall months, I really bank on the fact that the heat is under-utilized to compensate for the use in the winter time.
The two roommates who I had for the past year are fantastic at minimizing their heat use. On the other hand, the roommate that replaced me in the basement has been using the heat on and off since September, which is something I never used to do when I lived in the basement. Now granted he’s in the basement and it’s a bit cooler, but it doesn’t mean that the heat needs to be turned up to 70 degrees when the outside ambient temperature and room temperature is 65 to 68 degrees. I strongly feel that the heat shouldn’t be turned on. I don’t want to raise the issue of controlling the thermostat and telling he needs to take off his skirt and put a pair of pants on. , He He needs to feel comfortable, so I can’t argue much.
Here’s a breakdown of my 2013 electric bill month-by-month.
I paid a grand total of $1,671.26 when I was living in the basement. I tend to have an active life style and never really turned on the heat until early to mid December.
Here’s my electric bill for 2014/15 for the months when I moved out to travel and my roommate replaced me in my basement room.
I expect to pay around $2,992.70 on the electric bill for the year.
Nov, Dec, Jan, and Feb didn’t happen yet. To forecast the electric bill for these months, I looked at the bill for the time period when my roommate replaced myself in the basement, which was from March to Oct. I then compared it to my previous year’s electric bill over the same period. I determined there was an average increase of 70%. I then applied this average increase to the electric bill for Nov, Dec, Jan, and Feb of 2013 to forecast my electric bill for the rest of 2014 and first few months of 2015.
This means, I’ll be spending $1,321.44($2992.70 – $1,671.26) more on the electric bill per year to make an extra $7,200 a year. The $7,200 is computed from the monthly rent I’m collecting from the roommate($600) in my basement room times 12 months(12x$600). Despite his usage being higher, I’m still profiting overall, but one can see how it’s directly cutting into my bottom line. The justification I’m making with the increased bill is I’m still breaking even with the cost of ownership of the house. In other words, I’m not loosing money.
IS IT WORTH AN ARGUMENT?
Additionally, I don’t think arguing about 2 or 4 degree on the thermostat is an argument I want to take on. It’s a small battle. In short, if he’s that cold, he’s cold. I’d like to raise the issue that if he’s cold, he should put on sweat pants and a long sleeve shirt versus turning up the heat as the first measure. His laziness to acknowledge this is what’s killing me. Maybe I should bring it up, maybe I shouldn’t, I don’t want to attack his lifestyle, but it’s taking away any padding away from my budget.
The good thing is that this roommate does pay his rent on-time and in full for the past 8 months, so he’s reliable in that sense.
As for my other two roommates, I’m grateful they aren’t so liberal with the heat and to my knowledge have not turned on the heat yet. I can’t imagine if I had three roommates who are heat snobs, my electric bill would be a sore spot.
FIXED RENT VERSUS SPLITTING UTLITIES
This is one of the pit falls of pricing a room for a fixed amount. I liked the fixed amount because I know how much I’m receiving every month. Likewise, my roommates will know how much to budget for rent each month. Additionally, there’s three roommates so had I gone with dividing the utilities, there could be bad sentiment against another roommate for being careless with the the utility usage leading to higher costs for everyone.
Lastly, when I’m not traveling, I’m couch surfing on my own couch because there’s no extra bedrooms. If my roommates were splitting the utilities amongst the three of them, I certainly would be considered a free loader. I’m benefitting in that way from the fixed rent price scheme.
For those that have a fixed rent price scheme, is there a utility bill that concerns you like my electric bill?
Do you think it’s worth arguing about?