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Gas bill – Conversion Factor

By 3 September 2014 13

ActewAGL suddenly changed our Conversion Factor from about 0.6 to 0.9 and claims that all of a sudden we are using about 60% more Units than our previous bill (even though someone moved out of our place 3 months ago and was not replaced).

ActewAGL have reissued an old bill and a issued new one which sees our cost go from $100 a quarter to over $250.

We live in an apartment that only uses gas to heat the hot water and we all have our own gas meters beside our apartments.

They claim an “issue with our gas meter” means they had to make some adjustments.

How can I confirm it is a fair Conversion Factor and how can I ensure they are getting a correct meter reading? Last quarter’s bill had an “Actual” reading and this quarter is an “Estimate”.

I talked to my agent, my strata manager and my BC and they say that only ActewAGL have access to my meter.

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13 Responses to
Gas bill – Conversion Factor
Pork Hunt 11:00 am
03 Sep 14
#1

There is a chance your gas meter is in your ceiling space. Look for a wee man hole , open it and read the meter your self.

AR610 11:39 am
03 Sep 14
#2

I worked for ActewAGL in their call centre for a number of years, and have explained the conversion factor hundreds of times. The company didn’t (well when I was working there) have a standard spiel about this, so I went and used my science degree and did some research and this is basically what it is:

An adjustment made to account for atmospheric pressure and ambient temperatures. As atmospheric pressure increases or decreases, so does the density of the gas. Temperature also makes the gas expand and contract. Denser gas has more gas molecules per cubic meter, and therefore contains more energy. Gas meters measure in cubic meters, and do not account for the density of the gas. The conversion factor is used to do what the meter can’t, that is, account for the density of the gas.

In Canberra it is usually in the regeon of 0.9, so the adjusted bill looks closer to what it should be. 0.6 is way to low.

Antagonist 5:22 pm
03 Sep 14
#3

AR610 said :

An adjustment made to account for atmospheric pressure and ambient temperatures. As atmospheric pressure increases or decreases, so does the density of the gas. Temperature also makes the gas expand and contract. Denser gas has more gas molecules per cubic meter, and therefore contains more energy. Gas meters measure in cubic meters, and do not account for the density of the gas. The conversion factor is used to do what the meter can’t, that is, account for the density of the gas.

In Canberra it is usually in the regeon of 0.9, so the adjusted bill looks closer to what it should be. 0.6 is way to low.

I am also a scientist (with a chemistry major). The problem with your explanation is that it does not take account of the gas being in a pipeline under pressures far greater than atmospheric pressure. In these pipelines, atmospheric pressure has no effect at all. Also, the temperature of the pipeline gases is relatively constant because the pipes are underground at depths where diurnal temperature variation will have little/no effect – even seasonal temperature variation is negligible.

dungfungus 8:04 am
04 Sep 14
#4

Antagonist said :

AR610 said :

An adjustment made to account for atmospheric pressure and ambient temperatures. As atmospheric pressure increases or decreases, so does the density of the gas. Temperature also makes the gas expand and contract. Denser gas has more gas molecules per cubic meter, and therefore contains more energy. Gas meters measure in cubic meters, and do not account for the density of the gas. The conversion factor is used to do what the meter can’t, that is, account for the density of the gas.

In Canberra it is usually in the regeon of 0.9, so the adjusted bill looks closer to what it should be. 0.6 is way to low.

I am also a scientist (with a chemistry major). The problem with your explanation is that it does not take account of the gas being in a pipeline under pressures far greater than atmospheric pressure. In these pipelines, atmospheric pressure has no effect at all. Also, the temperature of the pipeline gases is relatively constant because the pipes are underground at depths where diurnal temperature variation will have little/no effect – even seasonal temperature variation is negligible.

Has that theory been peer reviewed?

davo101 3:03 pm
04 Sep 14
#5

Antagonist said :

I am also a scientist (with a chemistry major). The problem with your explanation is that it does not take account of the gas being in a pipeline under pressures far greater than atmospheric pressure. In these pipelines, atmospheric pressure has no effect at all. Also, the temperature of the pipeline gases is relatively constant because the pipes are underground at depths where diurnal temperature variation will have little/no effect – even seasonal temperature variation is negligible.

Well I’m only an engineer…but it does have an effect. Gas pressures in pipe lines can be quite high but domestic gas is not. Just upstream of the gas meter there is a gas regulator which limits the pressure in your house’s gas system to 2.5 kPa (office buildings have higher pressures, the one I work in has a 5 kPa regulator). Since Canberra is about 600 m above sea level the prevailing pressure is about 92.9 kPa so the absolute pressure in your gas pipe is 95.4 kPa. Given that monthly average atmospheric pressures can range +/- 1 kPa then the absolute pressure would range between 94.5~96.5 kPa. If gas pipes were buried deep enough then yes there would be no seasonal variation in temperature, but they aren’t. According to a Dutch report gas temperatures are about 3 degrees warmer than ambient in winter and 3 degrees cooler in summer, so in Canberra this would be an annual range of 9 degrees. Combining these together give a range for the conversion factor of 0.92 to 0.98 for Canberra.

However I don’t think this is the “conversion factor” that the OP is asking about. It sounds like you might have a communal hot water system. In which case you don’t have a gas meter that reads cubic metres rather a hot water meter that reads litres. The conversion factor is then MJ per litre and 0.6 is bad and 0.9 really bad.

Antagonist 4:09 pm
04 Sep 14
#6

dungfungus said :

Antagonist said :

AR610 said :

An adjustment made to account for atmospheric pressure and ambient temperatures. As atmospheric pressure increases or decreases, so does the density of the gas. Temperature also makes the gas expand and contract. Denser gas has more gas molecules per cubic meter, and therefore contains more energy. Gas meters measure in cubic meters, and do not account for the density of the gas. The conversion factor is used to do what the meter can’t, that is, account for the density of the gas.

In Canberra it is usually in the regeon of 0.9, so the adjusted bill looks closer to what it should be. 0.6 is way to low.

I am also a scientist (with a chemistry major). The problem with your explanation is that it does not take account of the gas being in a pipeline under pressures far greater than atmospheric pressure. In these pipelines, atmospheric pressure has no effect at all. Also, the temperature of the pipeline gases is relatively constant because the pipes are underground at depths where diurnal temperature variation will have little/no effect – even seasonal temperature variation is negligible.

Has that theory been peer reviewed?

It is not theory. It is Ideal Gas Law which is a combination of Boyle’s Law, Charles’ Law and Avagadro’s Law. Gay-Lussac’s Law is probably also applicable here as well.

dungfungus 4:22 pm
04 Sep 14
#7

davo101 said :

Antagonist said :

I am also a scientist (with a chemistry major). The problem with your explanation is that it does not take account of the gas being in a pipeline under pressures far greater than atmospheric pressure. In these pipelines, atmospheric pressure has no effect at all. Also, the temperature of the pipeline gases is relatively constant because the pipes are underground at depths where diurnal temperature variation will have little/no effect – even seasonal temperature variation is negligible.

Well I’m only an engineer…but it does have an effect. Gas pressures in pipe lines can be quite high but domestic gas is not. Just upstream of the gas meter there is a gas regulator which limits the pressure in your house’s gas system to 2.5 kPa (office buildings have higher pressures, the one I work in has a 5 kPa regulator). Since Canberra is about 600 m above sea level the prevailing pressure is about 92.9 kPa so the absolute pressure in your gas pipe is 95.4 kPa. Given that monthly average atmospheric pressures can range +/- 1 kPa then the absolute pressure would range between 94.5~96.5 kPa. If gas pipes were buried deep enough then yes there would be no seasonal variation in temperature, but they aren’t. According to a Dutch report gas temperatures are about 3 degrees warmer than ambient in winter and 3 degrees cooler in summer, so in Canberra this would be an annual range of 9 degrees. Combining these together give a range for the conversion factor of 0.92 to 0.98 for Canberra.

However I don’t think this is the “conversion factor” that the OP is asking about. It sounds like you might have a communal hot water system. In which case you don’t have a gas meter that reads cubic metres rather a hot water meter that reads litres. The conversion factor is then MJ per litre and 0.6 is bad and 0.9 really bad.

See? Experts never agree.

Antagonist 4:25 pm
04 Sep 14
#8

davo101 said :

Antagonist said :

I am also a scientist (with a chemistry major). The problem with your explanation is that it does not take account of the gas being in a pipeline under pressures far greater than atmospheric pressure. In these pipelines, atmospheric pressure has no effect at all. Also, the temperature of the pipeline gases is relatively constant because the pipes are underground at depths where diurnal temperature variation will have little/no effect – even seasonal temperature variation is negligible.

Well I’m only an engineer…but it does have an effect. Gas pressures in pipe lines can be quite high but domestic gas is not. Just upstream of the gas meter there is a gas regulator which limits the pressure in your house’s gas system to 2.5 kPa (office buildings have higher pressures, the one I work in has a 5 kPa regulator). Since Canberra is about 600 m above sea level the prevailing pressure is about 92.9 kPa so the absolute pressure in your gas pipe is 95.4 kPa. Given that monthly average atmospheric pressures can range +/- 1 kPa then the absolute pressure would range between 94.5~96.5 kPa. If gas pipes were buried deep enough then yes there would be no seasonal variation in temperature, but they aren’t. According to a Dutch report gas temperatures are about 3 degrees warmer than ambient in winter and 3 degrees cooler in summer, so in Canberra this would be an annual range of 9 degrees. Combining these together give a range for the conversion factor of 0.92 to 0.98 for Canberra.

However I don’t think this is the “conversion factor” that the OP is asking about. It sounds like you might have a communal hot water system. In which case you don’t have a gas meter that reads cubic metres rather a hot water meter that reads litres. The conversion factor is then MJ per litre and 0.6 is bad and 0.9 really bad.

I am happy to be corrected, but I still do not think atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature provides sufficient explanation of the conversion factor – especially a jump from 0.6 to 0.9. But it was enlightening to hear the view of an engineer none the less.

davo101 3:04 pm
05 Sep 14
#9

Antagonist said :

but I still do not think atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature provides sufficient explanation of the conversion factor – especially a jump from 0.6 to 0.9.

Yeap, that’s what I said. I had a look at my bills and the values seems to be just the same thing repeated each year, going from 0.953 in Summer up to 0.995 in Winter. As I suggested 0.9 is too low to be a volume correction factor. I’m guessing that we are probably talking about a communal hot water system so the problem is something else.

Canberroid 4:14 pm
05 Sep 14
#10

dungfungus said :

davo101 said :

Antagonist said :

I am also a scientist (with a chemistry major). The problem with your explanation is that it does not take account of the gas being in a pipeline under pressures far greater than atmospheric pressure. In these pipelines, atmospheric pressure has no effect at all. Also, the temperature of the pipeline gases is relatively constant because the pipes are underground at depths where diurnal temperature variation will have little/no effect – even seasonal temperature variation is negligible.

Well I’m only an engineer…but it does have an effect. Gas pressures in pipe lines can be quite high but domestic gas is not. Just upstream of the gas meter there is a gas regulator which limits the pressure in your house’s gas system to 2.5 kPa (office buildings have higher pressures, the one I work in has a 5 kPa regulator). Since Canberra is about 600 m above sea level the prevailing pressure is about 92.9 kPa so the absolute pressure in your gas pipe is 95.4 kPa. Given that monthly average atmospheric pressures can range +/- 1 kPa then the absolute pressure would range between 94.5~96.5 kPa. If gas pipes were buried deep enough then yes there would be no seasonal variation in temperature, but they aren’t. According to a Dutch report gas temperatures are about 3 degrees warmer than ambient in winter and 3 degrees cooler in summer, so in Canberra this would be an annual range of 9 degrees. Combining these together give a range for the conversion factor of 0.92 to 0.98 for Canberra.

However I don’t think this is the “conversion factor” that the OP is asking about. It sounds like you might have a communal hot water system. In which case you don’t have a gas meter that reads cubic metres rather a hot water meter that reads litres. The conversion factor is then MJ per litre and 0.6 is bad and 0.9 really bad.

See? Experts never agree.

Better just pick the most convenient option.

moneypenny2612 9:06 pm
05 Sep 14
#11

I use gas via a communal hot water system so (as I understand it) my hot water consumption is converted into gas consumption.

I have no idea how they do it, but FWIW the conversion factor on my recent gas bills is around 0.37.

davo101 10:14 am
08 Sep 14
#12

moneypenny2612 said :

I use gas via a communal hot water system so (as I understand it) my hot water consumption is converted into gas consumption.

I have no idea how they do it, but FWIW the conversion factor on my recent gas bills is around 0.37.

ACTEWAGL has a page on how it works.

Antagonist 11:00 am
08 Sep 14
#13

davo101 said :

moneypenny2612 said :

I use gas via a communal hot water system so (as I understand it) my hot water consumption is converted into gas consumption.

I have no idea how they do it, but FWIW the conversion factor on my recent gas bills is around 0.37.

ACTEWAGL has a page on how it works.

Thanks, Davo. Learned something new.

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