We all have it. I sympathize. Gonna complain about mine.
The utility costs here are outrageous. I should have know that when heat was not included in the rent fee. My warm weather bills were for the non-use monthly charge for gas, but mostly for electricity. Even using two window air conditioners it was low during those months. My first winter bill was $70.00, an amount that my landlord assured me was what I should expect.
Shortly afterwards I had a conversation with the upstairs tenant, which she initiated. She told me to expect gas bills of $300.00 during the winter. That the insulation was crappy and her flat was impossible to heat, so she turned her furnace off and used a small space heater in her bedroom.
Alarmed? Vast understatement.
So, when next I saw my landlord, I mentioned it to him and he denied that any such thing could happen.
So, I contacted the public utility company and asked for information about the previous winter's bills. They would not help me because I am not the person who paid those bills. I explained that this was a rental unit and I was trying to plan for those expenses and they insisted that only the person who lived here then and paid those bills could have access to that information. Even the landlord would not be able to get any of that information. I asked if general information could be shared, like maybe the highest and lowest bills for the past year or something. Anything. The person with whom I was speaking said that she could do that, and the range was from $68.00 to $215.00.
I called all over the place to find someone, someplace, that could do an energy audit. I am not the owner of the building, but a couple of the places said that they could do the audit if I paid for it and obtained written permission from the landlord. The least expensive option was $500.00, and would have to include the entire building. I was pretty sure that I could get permission from the other two tenants to do this because it would benefit them and I would be paying the bill. That went nowhere because there was no landlord permission.
So, I determined that I would be as careful about using these resources as possible. I immediately turned the thermostat down to 55F and bought a tiny heater to warm up the bathroom for showers.
The next bill was $166.00. Sure, it was pretty cold, but the heat in here never got over 55-freaking-degrees. I stopped using the heater for showers. I started wearing two pairs of socks, a second t-shirt, my robe, slippers, gloves and a blanket around my shoulders. I raised the thermostat twice, to 59F, when the boys were here. They complained about how cold it was.
When the old thermostat went all kablooey, I mentioned the bills to my landlord when he was here. He told me he used good insulation and new windows and on and on. I did not query him about any of that, he just shared on his own. He told me that he keeps the thermostat at his house set to 58F and that he bought an infrared heater that keeps the place (close to 2000 sq. ft) warm and that his furnace hardly ever goes on. He suggested that I get one and that it would work beautifully because my flat is only 1000 sq. ft.
I bought one on the weekend, $75.00 on sale. I turned the thermostat to 52F, ran it during waking hours, only when I was home, not at night. I used only an up-light at night so that it was not totally dark, which is not a great hardship because it still makes me feel too vulnerable to have lamps on at night anyway.
The heater did a great job, maintaining a generous and comfortable 57F-59F temperature. It was bliss.
So, the new utility bill arrived last week. For using the heater for only a week and a half of the last billing cycle, the bill increased by $3.00.
So, thermostat still set at 52F. The furnace cycles on during the night, but there is nothing I can do about that. Both the kitchen and bathroom (no heating vents anyway) are on an outside wall and I cannot have them freeze, so I cannot go lower on the temp. Really cannot do that anyway. I am managing, but CoolCat is, well, he has all that lovely fur, but it really is too cold for either of us. I just want to cry. I would, but I no longer know how to do that.
This place is drafty and there is not any way to economically weatherproof it myself. It meets all of the housing regulations and standards, so no help there.
The frustration comes from living in the cold and the dark whilst my ex lives in luxury, gobbling up the investment he was court-ordered to divide with me. I have an excellent attorney. Unfortunately, there is no enforcement of these kinds of court orders unless one has money to make filings with the court, and the most recent copies of stuff from the ex show that a third of the investments are already gone somewhere. Just to pay the bills I have had to use more than half of my share of the proceeds of the house sale. I have been ill, CoolCat has had health needs, the stupid car required expensive repairs, new tires and insurance, and gas prices are insane. I use it only to get groceries and use the laundromat, to go mentor and to go to my volunteer gig when it is unsafe to walk, but as soon as the weather improves I am getting rid of it.
I can do all of this. I am surviving. I am just a person who is ungrateful for what I do have, which is my life, CoolCat, enough food, all that jazz. That all of this seems so unfair is only because I sometimes forget how truly lucky and fortunate I am. Damn, I work with people who would give anything to have what I have. Hell, I see even more of them walking around downtown.
I have nothing to complain about, and yet, here I am. Big girl pantie pulling time. I suck.