Profile picture for LCfire

Can I ask to see the electricity bill when buying a house?

I'm buying a big (3700 sqft) house and am a bit nervous.  We don't need it that big, but it's a great deal.  I'm worried about the electric bill being too high (South Louisiana A/C bill can be a killer).  Can I ask the homeowner to show me past 12 month electric bill to see how efficient the house is? 
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July 01 2011 - US
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Best Answer
Sure you can ask, and they will probably provide it but the sellers don't have to provide it.  
No offense but if you are about to buy a new house and worried about the electric bills being too high, it is probably not the right out for you and probably out of your price range if you are worried before you even buy it.   And if that is not the case, then consider making the house more efficient with improvments.
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July 02 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
If the owner does not have the electricity information, the past tenant is gone and the utility won't give you an estimate of costs, you have no other place to go for the information. 

 You could ask a nearby neighbor with a similar house, but that will only be a very rough guide. Personal usage patterns can dramatically change the bill even for the same house.
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May 31
Profile picture for zuser20140531103208627
I have tried contacting the electric company and they will not give me any information on how much the electric bills have been for the properly I am considering leasing. I really need to know so I can make a decision between this properly and an apartment. What can I do?  The previous tenants are long gone so I can't get the information from them and the owner does not have it.
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May 31
You can call the local electric company in my part of the country. But if the utility expense is a factor then maybe you are buying to much house. Other things will also cost more if it is a larger home then you need.
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July 07 2011
You could ask and if they dont provide one ,you might contact the local power company and tell them you are thinking of buying a house at xyz address and get an average kilowatt useage for 12 months.
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July 04 2011
Yes, you can ask the sellers for their utility bills, but they will only reflect their lifestyle, which may not necessarily be your own.  If you have serious concerns about the utiltities, the very best thing to do is to have an energy audit done when you do the Home Inspection.  Not only will this indicate the the energy efficiency of the property but they may also give you ideas as to how to improve to make improvements.  Good luck! 
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July 04 2011
Some utility providers may provide the average usage per property when requested keeping in mind that the average would be based on previous occupants' behavior.
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July 02 2011
You most definitely can.  Many agents have that information already available from the owners for times like this
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July 02 2011

Of course you can and you should. Just remember that your consumption may be diferent from the seller. Still you can ask what temperature they like to keep in the home and how much do they use appliances like stove and dryer.

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July 02 2011
Good Question .. Of couse you should ask for this (electric bills), however the sellers consumption of electricity may be different than yours.
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July 02 2011

The elctric bill might not be the only cost of a big house.  How about the water bill and maintenance of the lawn?  Who is going to clean the "big" house? 

David Cooper

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July 02 2011
Profile picture for snoopysdad
Everybody already gave You good advice....

I'd ask the seller/seller's agent 1st, & if there were a 'problem' (or if they weren't in the home a year or more) then pursue contacting the utility directly, most prettry freely share this information.

In Addition to Susan's Idea of Solar, don't hesitate to look at the addition of VAWT wind turbines too. They Aren't the "giant" 3 bladed monstrosities You're probably thinking of, and several of my clients are getting checks back from their energy supplier now. All of these folks were in the same neighborhood and bought from "pacwind", the same company that formerl put a VAWT generator on top of Jay Leno's Garage in California. They aren't 'eyesores' and pay for themselves pretty quickly, although this company was bought out by another earlier this year. Saving on electrical costs simply doesn't compare to 'zero dollars per month' and even better...a Check each month. Solar and wind both also have significant tax and rebate savings. Check with "DSIRE" online for Your area in LA for what's available out there and don't forget to explore getting a Solar Hot Water Heater...on average 30+% of electric bills are wrapped up in those devices.
-HTH
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July 02 2011
Great advice! You might also phone your provider and ask them to compute your current usage for the additional SF. That way, the guesstimate is based on the way you use your utilities. Good luck with your purchase and remember to use those energy saving bulbs and any solar options that might be available!
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July 02 2011
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Although energy consumption is partially related to the building envelope, building location, natural shading, fixtures installed... energy consumption is exceptionally dependent on patterns of energy usage by the occupants.  What lights do they leave on?  What temperatures do they set thermostats at?  When do they open and close windows and draperies?  How have they chosen to lamp various lighting fixtures?  Do they leave computers running?  Do they uses additional electric heat?  What is the efficiency of their refrigerator?  Do they keep the door to the refrigerator closed, or is it opened frequently?

Sure, start with a year's info or more from the previous occupant's energy patterns; but then run your own numbers.

The biggest issue is the building envelope calculations.  The State of California website, energy webpage has good information on that.
energy.ca.gov

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July 02 2011

Contact your agent and have him request that from the other agent. If the seller is serious they should have no problem providing that. You may want to also ask for a couple statements so you can estimate what it would be in the winter vs the summer. Also keep in mind that most electric providers offer discounts for green appliances and also AC controls. The AC controls saves money by shutting down during peak hours or those hours where others are using high amounts.

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July 02 2011
Good day,

I agree with my fellow colleagues: You should ask for the bills from your Agent (He will contact the Agent for the seller to get that information for you) if the home ha been vancant for a long time and it is a REO (Bank Owned) then contact the utility company and ask for that there as they are not confidential.

Happy buying!
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July 02 2011


Absolutely! You can ask your agent to get copies of previous bills from the sellers or you can usually call the electric company and ask for that information. To the best of my knowledge that is not confidential. Remember, your daily routine/habits may increase or decrease the bill! How many people live in the home now vs. how many people will you have living in the home?... things to factor into your calculation! Great question and good luck on your purchase!



 



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July 02 2011
Great suggestions on this thread, get the 12 month history and like Dan said, get the heat bill history too. Since it is July, you may want to go in the house around 4:00 and check what the thermostat is set on. I would guess it would be set around 75 or lower in order to make the house feel good while you are in it so if it's set to 75 but the room temp is showing 77, then it's not able to meet the demand for whatever reason ( unit size, insulation, windows, etc ). 
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July 02 2011
Thanks for your question "LCfire".

You can ask for the bills from the seller but you can also contact any utility company and ask for them as they are not confidential.

Good luck, hope this helps.  Oh, smart move too!
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July 02 2011
Here in Oregon you are able to find out what the average monthly cost was at an address by calling the electric companies and asking, they have always freely given me that information.
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July 01 2011
Here in Nevada you are now required to provide the last 12 months energy bills when selling a house for just the reason you are asking.  Also buyers can get this information by calling the local provider and give street address and will be given the monthy amounts for the last year.  Try that for your house and see if they will provide it and then compare those numbers to any you get from the home seller.  Others have provided great suggestions that I aagree with as no 2 families will have the same consumption rates based on life style.
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July 01 2011
Profile picture for the_country_hick
Ask not only for one bill but for a year or 2. Include a request for the heat bill also. Do not forget to inquire about what kind of insulation the house has. Some insulation is very effective, other types are not.

This is a very important thing to find out. However, finding out that they did something different from normal could greatly affect what they spend.

For some other things to consider look below.
"Questions I would ask when purchasing any property."

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July 01 2011
Good points.  The newer the home, the more likely it will be more energy efficient and keep the electric consumption down.   

Keep in mind your personal habits and usage will greatly impact the bills.  Examples:  I built 2 nearly identically configured homes side by side at the end of a cul-de-sac, both in the 4000sf range.  The smaller home ended up with bills sometimes pushing $800-900, the larger, $120-180 per month.  The smaller home had an active family, attorney working in a room that became an office with full western sun exposure in the pm, AC cranked 24/7 as well as 3 plazmas and a fountain pump.  The larger home owner rarely watched TV, windows open always, full pm shade from 100 year old oaks
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July 01 2011
Profile picture for Michael Helton
You can also ask for an energy audit, which lists all the appliances with their energy ratings, types of insulation/ windows and other items.

Just be careful to compare apples to apples because everyone has different heating/cooling needs so a high energy bill isnt necessarily a bad thing.  For example, if they had an older person livign in the home, or a home office they might run the hvac much more than you ever would.
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July 01 2011
Absolutely. In some cases the home sellers will have that information already available @ Open Houses, etc.
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July 01 2011
 
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