Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Changing up dealers

Lately I have been giving some serious thought to alternative energy suppliers . I had vaguely considered the concept before putting the matter on the back burner until recently, thanks to National Fuel, my local natural gas company. If they hadn’t changed out a perfectly functional meter then I wouldn’t have been forced into action. Well that's not entirely true. I'm sure I would have been spurred to action when my gas rates ate a hole in our finances. We all know how I go .
A few weeks ago there was a message left on our voicemail by National Fuel that the meter needed to be changed out, because the meter reader wasn’t able to record an accurate reading. It was @ that point where the rep from the gas company's voice started trailing off and she mumbled something about water in the dials. Then she mentioned that the meter was installed in 1976 so it was due.
Yeah, made me wonder too. I immediately assumed that our new meter would be a high tech digital version of the gray metal box that was installed. Perhaps National Fuel would install the meter that allows readings from the outside. Thus no more estimated bills because no one was home to let the meter reader in !
So I trek down to the cellar.

Cell & flashlight in hand. No canary.
There on the far foundation wall about two and half feet above the cement floor stood the meter as gray and metal as the day it was installed. No rust, no damage, no dampness, no obscured dials. Just a cobweb and a bit of mortar dust from the foundation on it's shinny gray body.
Ring ring …National Fuel Service Appointments this is Jane how may I help you?
GM Jane, I received a message that my meter needed to be changed out.
Thank you for calling let’s set up a time to do that. It only takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete the procedure. Anytime between …
Jane, ah I’m actually calling you from my cellar … standing in front of the meter. I gotta say that there’s no problem reading the dials. I could tell you the current read right now. This decision to update my meter isn’t due to the low amount of gas that we consume is it ?
Ah no, the reason given was that there was water in the dials. So let’s set up an appointment …
Any chance that the new meter is that type that can be read from the outside of my home Jane?
Ah no … so anytime between the hours for 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. …

LSS it took the guy about 17 minutes to change out my vintage 1976 meter with the updated version that stands a bit higher and more flush with the foundation wall.
Before he disconnected the old meter he had me run the furnace both before and after. He handled the water heater assuring me that he would set it back to the warm setting just above the vacation setting on the dial. He recorded the make and model of the heater along with the info on the furnace. He asked three times about my kitchen range. Gas or Electric ?

He didn’t notice any water in the dial compartment nor water inside either.

For the record the hot water heater circa 2000 is wrapped in an insulation blanket. The water temp is set @ 110. Not as hot as I'd prefer but the lower temp besides conserving gas discourages long showers. In the Summer the heater is lowered to the vacation setting. As I've written before on my posts we've always kept the thermostat down in the low 60's. During the day when I was home alone sleeping I kept it set @ 56 to 58. When the children came home from school then depending on how cold it was outside the thermostat is raised.
Now that our primary heating source is the wood stove the only time the furnace clicks on is when the stove is out like when we're not home. For those periods the furnace is set @ 48 degrees (enough to keep the pipes & family cat from freezing).

Now I have to educated myself on using an alternative natural gas supplier.
Any tips ? What exactly does one look for in an alternative utility supplier ?

Jet Blue is offering 3k bonus miles if I sigh up with an alternative supplier. would be nice to go see family in P.R. soon. Will have to read the fine print on that offer.

New bill came in @ $90 & some change. I'll dig out Dec. 2008 bill to compare.

~~ pelenaka ~~