When Pressure and Temperature Must Be Considered

Two years ago, we moved into a new apartment complex—we’re on the first floor, with one unit beneath us. Our downstairs neighbors recently complained to management about the loud jumping noises my kid made when playing WWE on my bed. But I generally like having an apartment beneath us because the heat they generate keeps my costs low. Imagine my chagrin this week when I received an $84 bill from National Grid. The bill showed that we typically average 4 or 5 therms a month. But in March, we used 15. In April, 29. I don’t even know what a therm is, but there’s no way we tripled our use in one month and then tripled it again. I called National Grid, convinced I was heating the fuddy-duddies downstairs (and their annoying large dog that barks at all hours). The guy at National Grid said, “Let me look into your account history to see what’s going on…” When he came back after putting me on hold, he said, “Ma’am, your gas meter broke back in 2007 and we just replaced it in March. So your bill is now showing your actual therm usage. Before that, we were just estimating. So you’ve actually been getting a pretty good deal.” What? No natural gas conspiracy? I’m not paying to heat that stupid dog’s waterbed? “Well, you should have told me,” I said. “And I haven’t lived here since 2007.” What else could I say? I was so ready to get someone doing something. And now I was just left paying the $84 bill. When I went outside that night, I walked by the line of gas meters at the base of the building. I noticed one shiny, new meter, marked with my apartment number. And I could see it spinning.