I'm currently renting a 1 Bd. apartment about 1000 sq. ft. where the "heat is included". The electric bill was extremely high one month (used 900 kWh). I found out that the community is run on gas heat, but noticed that there's a Heat Pump listed in the breaker box, which may be drawing electricity. I'm currently testing the electric meter not using heat one day, and heat the next day to see if there's a jump in usage.

If it turns out that using heat is causing a large usage of electricity, does the landlord pay at least part of my electric bill? What if they refuse if I offer them the evidence? Any advice how to proceed here?

EDIT: I did a test: one day no heat. used up 6 kWh. Next day kept heat on most of the day, used 21 kWh. So its looks like the heat is using up 70% of the electricity

Contract: "Lessee(s) responsible for electricity, cable/wifi and gas (for stove) utilities. Heat on this unit is included. The Lessee shall pay, as they become due, all bills for electricity and other utilities, whether they are used for furnishing heat or other purposes."

  • 9
    Your lease is what governs the relationship and what will be used if you have a dispute over who pays. Read it carefully. You may find the answer there.
    – JohnFx
    Mar 10, 2022 at 4:22
  • For the record, it was cold here last month and we used the heat pump quite a bit. This month, not so much. The difference in the two bills was $2.
    – Pete B.
    Mar 10, 2022 at 14:39
  • the lease just says "heat is included in rent". even if the heat is 10% of the electric bill, can i ask the landlord to cover that?
    – ono
    Mar 10, 2022 at 15:05
  • 3
    You can ask, but "heat is included" is pretty vague. You don't buy "heat" - you buy electricity or gas that creates heat. So it's not clear exactly how that is enforced.
    – D Stanley
    Mar 10, 2022 at 15:16
  • 1
    These are great questions to ask when you're signing the lease. Not so great to ask now... also great question to ask the previous tenant.
    – Joe
    Mar 11, 2022 at 0:00

2 Answers 2


"Heat included" most likely means that the owner pays the natural gas bill, which powers (presumably) the hot water heater and possibly other appliances. It's less likely that the owner (or even the power company) can distinguish heat pump usage from other electric use. Check the lease agreement to see if it's defined there.

Note that it's not uncommon to have a hybrid heating unit with an electric heat pump AND a gas-powered "emergency" gas heater. The heat pump is more efficient when it's just chilly, but not effective when it's very cold (less heat to "pump" from the outside air). If the heat pump can't bring the air up to temperature, the gas backup kicks in.

If your thermostat has an "aux" or "emer" heat mode you might try it instead of the "normal" heat. You'll be using gas instead of electric, but it may heat faster (less time usage) and it won't affect your electric bill as much. Make sure it's a gas backup, though - if it's an electric backup, you'll just make the electric bill worse.

But, talk to your landlord and see if you can't work something out. A good landlord should be willing to give a small break for a month or two rather then lose a tenant.

  • Checked some reading between days using heat and not using heat. The difference is at least 50% electricity usage from heat. This is around $150 extra I'm paying for heat a month, when I was told "heat is included"
    – ono
    Mar 10, 2022 at 15:07
  • yep. from electric meter readings, running heat is using 70% of the electricity in the apartment
    – ono
    Mar 10, 2022 at 22:54

You need to clarify a few things:

  • "heat is included"
  • community is run on gas heat
  • a Heat Pump listed in the breaker box

If you aren't sure if there is a heat pump or not, that also means that you are also not clear if there is required annual maintenance. It also means that the air filters haven't been changed in a while.

Talk to your landlord to determine the source of the warm air, how that air is produced and who is responsible for checking on the performance of the system. This is true no matter who is ultimately responsible for the monthly bill.

The landlord wants to protect their investment, the bill payer doesn't want to pay a higher rate due to poor performance because of skipped maintenance.

While this is being worked out you can also discuss how this is billed.

  • 1
    There's definitely a heat pump. The filter doesn't look like its been changed in years.
    – ono
    Mar 10, 2022 at 22:52

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