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CarpeMofo 08-22-2012 10:20 AM

Electric Company Saying I use More Power Than I Do
 
I live in a total electric house. I have been getting electric bills for a thousand dollars for one month. The electric company charges ten cents per kilowatt hour. So in order for my bill to be this high, my house would have to be using about 12-13 kilowatts at all times non-stop. I simply can't account for that much power. They have come out and made sure the meter was working properly (they say it is). I don't have anything that uses huge amounts of power outside of the normal. The only thing I have that is the least bit out of the ordinary is a water pump for well water. But my neighbors have the same thing and there bills are a third of what mine are. Does anyone have any idea what could be going on?

J. V. 08-22-2012 10:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CarpeMofo (Post 993950)
But my neighbors have the same thing and there bills are a third of what mine are. Does anyone have any idea what could be going on?

How big is your house? What are your appliances?
Google "how to read a meter". Learn how to read your own meter and check their numbers against yours.
Also, power theft is very popular. See if anyone next to you has had their power turned off lately?
How long has this problem been apparent? We need more information to be of any help.

eclark 08-22-2012 11:11 AM

got streetlights near you? I just saw a story where a woman in CT was charged by the power utility for the streetlight(s) in front of her house for over a decade.

Also, if you shut off your main breaker, does the meter keep spinning?

jbfan 08-22-2012 11:21 AM

Heatpump?
Footvalve on the well could be leaking and the pump runs all the time.
Water heating elements.

Turn the main off and see if the meter stops.

Bugman1400 08-22-2012 11:32 AM

I used to read electric meters for a living and now I work in engineering. There are many reasons why your bill may be higher than normal. It is common for the meter reader to mis-read the meter for one month. However, if the meter is read too high and resulted in a high bill then, it will usually read too low the next month and the bill will be alot lower. You can certainly call customer service and request a re-read but, you still need to pay the original bill by the due date or they will cut you off and that will cause you to pay more for the cut off/cut on request.

I also agree that you should learn how to read your own meter as a check of the bill when you receive it in the mail. The reading will be on the bill.

hammerlane 08-22-2012 11:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jbfan (Post 993989)
Turn the main off and see if the meter stops.

Best idea.

joed 08-22-2012 02:40 PM

Any underground cables to thing like light pole or out buildings? Could be a ground short.

mpoulton 08-22-2012 04:39 PM

13kW average load is insanely high for a normal house. Very few types of malfunctioning loads could account for that. The water heater is usually the first suspect for unusually high electric bills, since a hot water leak can add a few hundred a month to the power bill. But this is too high for that to be an explanation. There are really only two good possibilities I think: If you have electric heat (or backup "strip heat" or emergency heat for a heat pump), your HVAC system may be malfunctioning and running both the heat and the air conditioning at the same time. That's the best way to burn through really crazy amounts of power, and 13kW average is not exceptional at all for that problem. The other possibility is an underground feeder with a ground fault. If you have any outbuildings that have subpanels in them with a 50A or more underground feeder, it may have a major ground fault and be leaking several kW into the earth. I think the heating malfunction is more likely.

allendk 08-22-2012 04:44 PM

Buy a product called energy detective they are $150 you will get the ifo you need to track down your useage.

mpoulton 08-22-2012 06:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by allendk (Post 994131)
Buy a product called energy detective they are $150 you will get the ifo you need to track down your useage.

That's not a very practical or useful approach to troubleshooting this problem. It may be a good tool for fine-tuning your energy use in the long run when your home's electrical system is functioning properly. But this guy's electrical system definitely has something very wrong gong on. A simple clamp-on ammeter (less than half that price) would be much more useful for troubleshooting this since he will need to measure current on branch circuits, not just on the service.

jbfan 08-22-2012 06:56 PM

A hot water leak and a well pump could add to this pretty fast.

Bugman1400 08-22-2012 07:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mpoulton (Post 994128)
13kW average load is insanely high for a normal house. Very few types of malfunctioning loads could account for that. The water heater is usually the first suspect for unusually high electric bills, since a hot water leak can add a few hundred a month to the power bill. But this is too high for that to be an explanation. There are really only two good possibilities I think: If you have electric heat (or backup "strip heat" or emergency heat for a heat pump), your HVAC system may be malfunctioning and running both the heat and the air conditioning at the same time. That's the best way to burn through really crazy amounts of power, and 13kW average is not exceptional at all for that problem. The other possibility is an underground feeder with a ground fault. If you have any outbuildings that have subpanels in them with a 50A or more underground feeder, it may have a major ground fault and be leaking several kW into the earth. I think the heating malfunction is more likely.

The ground fault is not probable. You would get a breaker trip or a house fire way before next month's bill. It is possible for the heat strip and the A/C to be on at the same time because I've actually seen that happen. The problem is most folks can sense something is wrong because the house won't cool down even on 85 degree days. They then call the HVAC guy and he quickly figures it out. My vote is still with a meter mis-read. This can usually be confirmed on next month's bill.

joed 08-22-2012 07:45 PM

The OP said bills. I would take that to mean more than one and a misread is not likely for more than one.

bernie963 08-22-2012 08:06 PM

Having worked as a cust service rep for an electric utility I understand the situation. My advice is to shut off individual breakers one at a time while watching the meter and seeing if it slows down. you may have to do this several times when the meter is running fast to isolate the problem. I would start with the larger breakers first. a/c, heat pump, hot water heater and then down to smaller circuits. have someone at the meter and another at the breakers using cell phone to coordinate. my guess is bad foot valve on well pump. is the pump always running???

bernie

Bugman1400 08-22-2012 09:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bernie963 (Post 994303)
Having worked as a cust service rep for an electric utility I understand the situation. My advice is to shut off individual breakers one at a time while watching the meter and seeing if it slows down. you may have to do this several times when the meter is running fast to isolate the problem. I would start with the larger breakers first. a/c, heat pump, hot water heater and then down to smaller circuits. have someone at the meter and another at the breakers using cell phone to coordinate. my guess is bad foot valve on well pump. is the pump always running???

bernie

The math does not support your theory. What HP do you think typical wells are.....1HP? So, at 1HP, you get 746 watts x 24 hours a day x 30 days = 537,120 watt-hours which equals 537.12 kwatt-hours. At 10 cents a kwh, that equals an extra $53.71 a month.....a far cry from $1000 even if I was off by a factor of 2 (for a 2HP well pump running 24 hours a day).


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