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Old 11-11-2013, 10:37 AM   #1
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Default Sticking it to the man

So I know that some of you think I've turned into some kind of hippie of late. I just want to re-assure everyone that I'm still fully capable of ******* mother nature squarely in the goat-hole, when doing so best serves my own financial interests.

Having recently re-located from California to NYC, one thing which really annoys me is the manner in which the utilities are billed in the apartment at which I live (a stereotypical hi-rise building). To wit: electricity is billed in the usual manner, at a straight metered rate which is absurdly high, while water is billed at a fixed rate, regardless of consumption.

Now, the first month that I was here was fairly unremarkable, weather-wise. Not hot, not cold. So, having not run the A/C or heat very much at all, I was shocked to receive a nearly $60 electric bill for the first month. I've in no way changed by electrical lifestyle since moving here- same two PCs running 24/7, same type of refrigerator set at the same level... If anything, I should be using less electricity as a result of replacing the 13 year old three CRT rear-projection TV with a modern LED flatscreen. How electricity can cost more in a state where they still burn coal and have functioning nuclear plants vs. one with the strictest environmental regulations and just de-commissioned fully half of their nuclear capability astounds me.

Shock turned to outrage when the first water bill came; at $45, nearly double what I'm accustomed to paying for metered service in SoCal which, need I remind you, has some of the highest water rates in North America on account of being a friggin' desert. Those of you who have never lived in the southwestern US probably can't appreciate just how much of a huge deal water is down there. It's so scare that it has to be imported from two states away. It plays a role in electoral politics, too. Remember that not only do Californians drink it and flush it down the toilet, they use it to water the crops in the state which has the highest agricultural output of any in the USA.


(rabble, rabble...)


So the gears start grinding...

The electricity is really ******* expensive as well. And with winter setting in, and electric heat in my corner apartment with ******* windows everywhere, that's going to cost some money...

And I'm being charged an outrageous amount for water, including hot water, and yet that rate is fixed no matter how much I consume.

No matter how much I consume...

And that unmetered how water? It's actually surprisingly hot. Like "you can burn yourself with this ****" hot.

Hmmmm.





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Old 11-11-2013, 10:45 AM   #2
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In for flooded apartment pics.
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:48 AM   #3
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List of places I will never, ever live.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:25 AM   #4
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I love NYC, but it does cost an absurd amount to live there. You can make $75k doing admin work with little experience and all of that money goes into your transportation and living expenses.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:30 AM   #5
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Interesting, but that fan looks a little spendy to me. I wonder if you could use a drill-powered water pump instead? Hook a fan blade to the shaft and use the water pressure to spin it?... Worth a shot maybe.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:31 AM   #6
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Your hot water comes from the water company? Not a personal hot water heater?
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:33 AM   #7
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One thing that does confuse me though: I've lived in a lot of places, some with water provided on a fixed charge, but in all those places the apartment had it's own water heater on my electricity.. Your building has a common water heater?? That seems odd.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:35 AM   #8
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Or just buy warm clothes and keep the windows open. Save money on the fridge, better cooling for the PC, and fresh NY air.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:40 AM   #9
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If only he could make the fan work off of the water pressure, now that would be genius! Well, maybe not genius, but still.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Harv View Post
If only he could make the fan work off of the water pressure, now that would be genius! Well, maybe not genius, but still.
See post #5.

If he really wanted to stick it to the man he would just start a fire, just burn garbage you find on the shitty NYC streets. Vent it to outside and you win.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:44 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Tekel View Post
Your hot water comes from the water company? Not a personal hot water heater?
Domestic hot water. A lot of buildings have a "main" boiler for hot water around here. Usually 200 gallon, but i'm not sure what a skyscraper would have. Maybe multiple general boilers and tanks.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:50 AM   #12
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See post #5.

If he really wanted to stick it to the man he would just start a fire, just burn garbage you find on the shitty NYC streets. Vent it to outside and you win.
I am dumb, but I must admit I scrolled past the gigantic picture without reading.

I was thinking more 18th century water wheel that dumps out the window though. Maybe grind some grain while he is at it. Water power!

Arizona calling out NYC up in here!
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:50 AM   #13
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Or just buy warm clothes and keep the windows open. Save money on the fridge, better cooling for the PC, and fresh NY air.
Yeah, I've been thinking about those windows too, but the solar possibilities of them specifically. A few ideas:

Simple black panels that lay on the floor by the windows and collect heat?

Or...

Make up some of those cool "solar collectors" from old soda cans and set them in front of the windows? Bonus: Recycled materials. Who says you're not a hippy?!??

Build Your Own Soda Can Solar Heater
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:53 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Harv View Post
If only he could make the fan work off of the water pressure, now that would be genius! Well, maybe not genius, but still.
No, you were right: it's ******* genius. Here's to us Harv; The Bright Boys!
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:55 AM   #15
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Yeah, I've been thinking about those windows too, but the solar possibilities of them specifically. A few ideas:

Simple black panels that lay on the floor by the windows and collect heat
Just get 3 or 4 cats and strap solar panels to their back. They always lay in the sun so you won't have to work any tricky mechanism to follow the sun.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:55 AM   #16
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No, you were right: it's ******* genius. Here's to us Harv; The Bright Boys!
Genius!
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:57 AM   #17
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Just get 3 or 4 cats and strap solar panels to their back. They always lay in the sun so you won't have to work any tricky mechanism to follow the sun.
They roll around a lot. You really need to cover them in solar panels all around the mid-section, but then they get irritable and irritable cats are never good.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
In for flooded apartment pics.
We shall see.

I've been extremely fastidious about making certain that everything is secure, leak-proof, etc. High-quality hoses and fasteners, etc. It's certainly a concern, but one which I believe I have adequately addressed.

The sink fittings shows here are for proof-of-concept. Having deemed the system to perform adequately, I am thinking about hard-wiring the setup into place using the dishwasher feed and return (I never use the damn dishwasher.)



Quote:
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List of places I will never, ever live.
This from a guy who lives in Texas...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Harv View Post
I love NYC, but it does cost an absurd amount to live there. You can make $75k doing admin work with little experience and all of that money goes into your transportation and living expenses.
Well, it's not that bad. Housing is a little expensive, but not all that much worse that some parts of Cali.

Transportation is actually cheap here, if you use your head about it. I pay $80 a month for an unlimited-rides PATH Metrocard, and $95 a year for a Citibike key. That's marginally less than I'd otherwise be paying for gasoline, insurance, taxes, etc on a car that I owned outright, and a couple of hundred a month less than a "normal" person who is either leasing or making payments on a new-ish car would be paying.

Even if I also got an unlimited-rides MTA Metrocard (NYC subway) in addition to the PATH Metrocard (PATH is the train which conjoins Hobokien to Manhattan under the Hudson river), that would only be a combined total of $192 a month, which is still far less than the average person spends on car payments / gas / insurance. Depending on how much snowfall we get this winter, I may do that for a couple of months in lieu of cycling.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinky View Post
Interesting, but that fan looks a little spendy to me. I wonder if you could use a drill-powered water pump instead? Hook a fan blade to the shaft and use the water pressure to spin it?... Worth a shot maybe.
The fan cost me $9.99 with free shipping from NewEgg: Rosewill RCA-220-BL Case Fan - Newegg.com

This is one area of the system which I believe needs to be improved. This fan just isn't moving a lot of air, and while it's adequate to keep the bedroom warm-ish at night right now, it's probably not going to cut it in a month or so when it starts to get properly cold outside.

Frankly, I chose to start with a case fan like that on the basis that I knew they were quiet, but this is one area where form is going to have to take a back seat to function. It's not like any fan I pick is going to be louder than the diesel locomotives running all night right outside my bedroom window, so in reality, fan noise isn't a huge concern. I'm thinking about upgrading to something like this: Honeywell TurboForce Air Circulator - Black : Target
or this: trueliving 9in Box Fan - Fans - Dollar General

The core height on my radiator is 9", so that's kind of my target, fan-wise. I'm open to other suggestions.

I've owned a drill pump of the sort you picture, and I can guarantee you that it would be inadequate to the task. You'd need GPM, not GPH, to turn that thing fast enough to drive a useful fan.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
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One thing that does confuse me though: I've lived in a lot of places, some with water provided on a fixed charge, but in all those places the apartment had it's own water heater on my electricity.. Your building has a common water heater?? That seems odd.
This is pretty much standard in high-rise buildings in urban areas. One huge gas-fired water heater to service all apartments. Same way it's done in large hotels.

Actually, a lot of really old buildings also have a common boiler for space heating as well. My building, however, was fitted with PTAC units when it was constructed.

I didn't have my own water heater when I live in SoCal, either. Each building in the complex (15-20 apartments per building) had one large water heater, and each apartment had two meters- one for cold and one for hot. If you lived on the end of the building furthest from the heater, and were an early riser, it took a while for the hot water to show up first thing in the morning.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:10 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Well, it's not that bad. Housing is a little expensive, but not all that much worse that some parts of Cali.

Transportation is actually cheap here, if you use your head about it. I pay $80 a month for an unlimited-rides PATH Metrocard, and $95 a year for a Citibike key. That's marginally less than I'd otherwise be paying for gasoline, insurance, taxes, etc on a car that I owned outright, and a couple of hundred a month less than a "normal" person who is either leasing or making payments on a new-ish car would be paying.

Even if I also got an unlimited-rides MTA Metrocard (NYC subway) in addition to the PATH Metrocard (PATH is the train which conjoins Hobokien to Manhattan under the Hudson river), that would only be a combined total of $192 a month, which is still far less than the average person spends on car payments / gas / insurance. Depending on how much snowfall we get this winter, I may do that for a couple of months in lieu of cycling.
Are you living in Manhattan and commuting to Jersey or vice versa? I mean if you are over the river in Jersey the living costs become much cheaper. Manhattan is pretty spendy for anything more than just a studio.

Admittedly, public transportation cost in the NYC area isn't bad. If they had spent more money on it in the last fifty years instead of the idiotic highway and bridge system it would be way way better.
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