QUESTION TYPE: Paradox – Exception
PARADOX: Jimmy has a new, efficient heater, but his gas bills have increased.
ANALYSIS: Note that the stimulus says Jimmy’s gas bill increased. It didn’t say that the rate of gas used by the water heater increased. So there are a few possibilities:
- Other appliances in the home now use more gas.
- Some outside factor has greatly increased the need for hot water.
- The price of gas has gone up. (Even if Jimmy’s gas usage has gone down.)
- CORRECT. I actually thought this explained it. I read it like C: this must mean other gas usage has gone up.
But that doesn’t need to be so. Imagine these before and after gas usage stats:
* Before: 100 units of gas. 50 by the water heater.
* After: 60 units of gas, 10 by the water heater.
In this situation, the heater accounts for a smaller percentage of gas used by the household. But overall gas usage has also gone down. So this is still a confusing situation: why has the gas bill gone up? (A paradox answer must explain in all numerical hypotheticals, not just some)
- If Jimmy’s uncle takes long hot showers, that would increase hot water usage. (And therefore account for the increase in gas usage to heat that water. More efficient usage is still usage.)
- An additional gas appliance accounts for the increase in gas bills. The water heater could be using less gas, but other appliances use more.
- The stimulus didn’t say Jimmy used more gas. It said he paid more for it. This answer explains why.
- The cold weather is an external factor which caused an increase in usage. It may be the new heater was more efficient, but usage increased enough to offset this.
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