Thursday, April 12, 2007

Saving $$$$$$

In yesterday's post, I said I would explain why we rented a jack hammer attachment. The below photo shows why.

Side porch after manual jack hammer.

This is the results after two weekends of using a jack hammer on the side entry porch. The porch was poured in 1960 according to the inscription on the landing.

Side porch gone after using jack hammer attachment on skid steer.

This took 45 minutes. Roger ran the jack hammer and while I pulled the chunks of concrete out of the way. This yielded a large pile of concrete on the driveway. Last weekend between snowflakes, we loaded 2/3 of the concrete into the utility trailer with the idea that it would go to the landfill on Monday. Then I remembered Freecycle. Sunday night I posted an entry offering concrete chunks for fill. By Tuesday I had received 5 replies to my offer. The concrete chunks are gone and it didn't cost of a penny nor did it contribute to filling a landfill. I also found out that if you have an asphalt plant in your area they will take concrete for free as long as there isn't any re bar or wire in it.

Speaking of saving a buck. When we first got the house the utility bills were huge and hardly anything was plugged in, plus the heat was turned down. I went to the circuit breaker box and threw the main disconnect, then went outside and checked my meter. Since everything was disconnected the meter shouldn't be moving at ALL. That wasn't the case. It was spinning like a top. Slowly for half a revolution and then very fast for two revolutions. The next day I called Consumer Energy . After relaying my story to their customer service person, I was told it would be 3 weeks before they could come and check out my meter problem and that I would have to be there between the hours of 9am and noon. I thought that was strange since the meter is outside, but on the appointed day I was there at 9am and waited until noon. Nobody showed. I called their customer service again, this time I was told there was no reason for me to be there and that they would get to it when they had available people. I was a little hot under the collar to say the least. As I sat in my car, on the phone with customer service, I noticed how awful looking the gas meter was. So I asked "what do I have to do to get a new gas meter?" She asked if I could smell gas and I thought for a moment....hmmmmmmm...I have smelled gas in the I said "yes, I smell gas". "SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT OUT." Well, someone did come right out. Thirty minutes tops. I explained to the guy what had happened and he agreed that it was ugly but in order for him to change it, it had to leak. He sprayed it with soapy water and intially there were no leaks. After talking a bit, I happened to look over and saw a huge pile of foam on one of the fittings. Yea!...we have a leak!!!!! He agreed to bring a new meter the next day. I asked him about some copper tubing and a valve that were located on our side of the meter. He didn't know what it was for, possibly a gas grill or lamp post? I told him to install the new meter without hooking that up. Two days later we had a nice new shiny grey meter. Three weeks later we received our new electric meter. I checked to make sure it wasn't spinning when disconnected and sure enough it was stopped dead in it's tracks. Plus, when it did spin, it barely moved. Now the fun begins.

I contacted Consumer Energy customer service department. Explained to them that due to their faulty equipment I was overcharged. I also told them that I had to wait 6 weeks from the time I filed my compliant until the time they fixed it. I mentioned that "if I was calling to tell you my meter wasn't spinning, you would be in my driveway before I hung up." So for my troubles they credited my account $25.00. LOL To make a long story short, every couple of months I would call and threaten them with the Energy Commission. They were able to use the new consumption figures to give me credit for the overcharging. From March to October I paid $0.00 for my electricity.

New gas meter hidden behind spiral juniper and ladder.

In the fall while planting shrubs around the gas meter, we dug up the copper tubing. We found that the tubing previously fed a greenhouse located in what is now a vacant lot next to our home. When we first noticed the tubing, the valve was half open. We have no way of knowing how much natural gas was leaked into the ground.