Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Lessons from the Gas Bill

It's that time again, when the first gas bill of the sezon grzewczy ('heating season') drops into the letterbox.

As I wrote the last time PGNiG billed me for gas, the way the billing is calculated has been changed. What counts now is not how many cubic metres of gas we burn in our boilers and stoves, but how many kilowatt hours of energy we consume.

My father explained why this is actually good news for the consumer - gas comes in different calorific flavours; sometimes it burns well (catching the first time when we light our gas hobs in the kitchen); at other times the hob is going 'click click click' and nothing happens, and once it does catch, the flame dies when we release the knob too early.

As PGNiG gets most of its gas from the belligerent Mr Putin and his Gazprom (a gas company attached to a massive army), the quality of the gas needs to be checked. So with each bill, we get a calculation as to how many kilowatt hours of energy can be extracted from a cubic metre of gas. The other good thing about sending gas bills this way, says my father, is it allows you to compare gas bills to electricity bills, which also come in kilowatt hours. A 40-Watt bulb, burning for 25 hours, consumes one kilowatt-hour.

In this gas bill, the conversion factor showing how much energy expressed in kilowatt hours is extracted out of each cubic metre of gas is 11.21. Last time it was 11.18. So Mr Putin has actually been sending us better quality gas - but if things get rough, his minions could send PGNiG gas of lower calorific value. Or just air thinly blended with hydrocarbon. But because the Polish consumer now pays for the energy extracted from the gas rather than simply cubic metres burned, the new way of measuring our gas consumption protects us from potential machlojki.

So the gas bill may be harder to read, but it's worth the effort to work out what's really going on. The billing dates are different - in the past, the gas bill would be for two months (from the first day of one month to the last day of the second month). Now, it jumps (this gas bill was for a ten-week period). I hope it will now settle down back into a bi-monthly rhythm. Still, working it out in an Excel spreadsheet, as I've been doing for the past eight years, allows you to easily analyse and compare the true state of things.

Looking back at October and November last year and comparing the same 61-day period this year, I make a heart-warming discovery - our gas usage this year is a full 29.9% lower! WOW! Was it the warm autumn? Or a conscious effort on our part to save gas and thus reduce the amount of money Gazprom can pass to the Kremlin to spend on rockets and bombs and bullets?

One way or another, efforts are being made to keep lowering the gas bill. Draughts are being eliminated by placing blankets under doors. A new trapdoor to the attic with reflective aluminium foil and expanded polystyrene is being constructed for us by Pan Wiesław. And a small downward adjustment to the thermostats keeps the house comfortable without it ever being allowed to get too hot.

PGNiG customers - do keep a sharp eye on your gas bill, do what you can to limit your usage. It's good for your wallet, it's good for the environment, it's good for geopolitics.

This time last year:
Keep watching Ukraine...

This time two years ago:
Gripes about our telecoms operator
[two years later, the bill is halved, the quality vastly improved.]

This time three years ago:
Jeremy Clarkson suggests shooting civil servants dead in front of their families

This time four years ago:
Chaos as first snow disrupts rail travel

This time five years ago:
A walk to work
[how Jeziorki has changed since then!]

This time seven years ago:
Act One, Scene One - A Blasted Heath


Bob said...

Interesting post.

And other things Poles can do and I don't understand why they don't is to boycott Lukoil petrol stations - Russian owned as I understand.

AndrzejK said...

Just one point. As far as I am aware the charge for supplying the gas to your "punkt odbioru" is still indexed by the same factor as the cost of the gas itself. Now the cost of transmission is not dependant on the price of gas but the economics of the infrastructure. And why o why is there a seperate charge as if the consume had the option to collect the gas (or electricity) from the supplier?