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Old 03-03-2010, 08:35 AM   #1
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Moved into our first house in Sept 09, electric forced air furnace, electric hot water tank, etc.

Got our first big surprise after December with a pretty sizable bill, were using an average of 110 kWh/day during Nov-Dec. That was the cold part of the winter here too, so we attributed it a bit to that.

January's bill came and we had knocked our daily use down to 77 kWh/day by dropping the temperature at night (auto thermostat), ensuring everything is off before bed, not leaving lights on, etc etc. Beautiful!

Just got February's today and we're up to 125 kWh/day! The temperature has been warmer than January so can't see the furnace running any more (guess it'd probably be the same, we didn't change the programming at all). There haven't been any other major changes that we can think of that could attribute an almost 40% increase in use.


So, any suggestions on what to look for? Is there any chance that the furnace or hot water heater is on it's way out and starting to draw way more energy?


Thanks in advance for any advice

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Old 03-03-2010, 08:48 AM   #2
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Where are you located ?

Do you have a heat pump ?
Sump pump ?
Water pump ?

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Old 03-03-2010, 09:26 AM   #3
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


This might come as a huge surprise to you. http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/computers.html

Big Color TV's also eat up electricity. Did you watch the full 17 days of the Olympics?
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:53 AM   #4
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


I just went thru a similar experience, and turned out my 2nd refrigerator was running constantly. The defrosting tubes and the defrost timer had gone bad causing the compressor to run constantly. Replacing those parts and the fridge operating nomaly cut my electric back by 1/3.
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Old 03-03-2010, 10:33 AM   #5
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


One month I had a out-sized bill - went looking and found the pool pump time had gone bad and was running excessively. Explore similar items you may have - pumps, motors, appliences, etc.
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Old 03-03-2010, 05:45 PM   #6
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Live in Okanagan, BC, Canada.

No sump pumps, heat pumps or water pumps (on muni water).

Did have the Olympics on but overall, the TV wasn't on much more than it usually is (32" tubed tv).

We have the one main fridge in the kitchen that kicks on and off as expected and a upright freezer in the garage that I'm not usually around. I'll keep an eye on that and see if it's cycling.


That's interesting about the computer using that much energy. We've got a laptop that'll go to sleep if left on w/o use and I try to unplug it at night so it's not always drawing energy.


I'm going to start tracking consumption day-to-day and see what little changes do (ie. drop the temperature at night 1 degree, wrap the electric hot water tank, etc). I imagine that the lions share of the use is from the furnace running?

Last edited by burnt03; 03-03-2010 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 03-03-2010, 05:51 PM   #7
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Ah, electric heat - we use ~52kwh a day without electric heat- HW is electric
Does not surpise me to see a bill that high with electric heat

But if you conserved & then it went up again that is surprising
Do you know what kind of insulation is in the walls ?
Are you sure it was warmer on average ?
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Old 03-03-2010, 06:01 PM   #8
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Believe the walls are 2x6 framing, 16" centres. I think that's R-20?

Took a look at the Environment Canada website and got the following average info:

Dec -5 deg C (23F)
Jan 0 deg C (32F)
Feb 2.1 deg C (35.5F)


Another thing I just found out, in tiny letters on last month's bill (the lower bill), I find "this bill is an estimate". It looks as though they're using numbers from the previous owner from the past year. He was a single guy while I've got a wife and 2 kids.

So that explains that discrepancy, but still sort of surprised at the jump from 110 to 125 since it was colder and we had the heat set a fair bit higher in December too.
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Old 03-03-2010, 06:09 PM   #9
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Ah...I hate estimated bills
Always threw off my calculations too
My last house was gas heat but I put in a nice soapstone wood stove & heated with that
One estimated gas bill was more then I use in 6 months
It took them 3 months to straighten it out

One thing you can do to track useage is read the meter at the same time/day each month
I would read the meter myself & I only paid them what I used
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Old 03-04-2010, 12:17 AM   #10
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Normally you have the option of either doing nothing and allowing them to estimate your usage or check the numbers on your meter and tell them what it says. They'll verify it, of course, but it could keep you from riding the bill rollercoaster. You could also consider the equal payment plan AKA budget billing.

I feel your pain though. I moved from a 900sq ft house to a big leaky 1700sq ft house with a much older gas furnace and my Jan & Feb gas bills have been $360 and $430 - add in my electric and I'm over $500/mo!
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:02 PM   #11
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


I think its your electric heat. In southern Ontario, I used 247 cubic meters of natural gas in January. I calculate that equals 2606 kWh, which equals 90 kWh per day (29 billing days). Lets say 85% of that gas was for heat. That gives 76 kWh per day equivalent I used for heat.

You might want to compare with your neigbors, but your numbers don't look out of line.
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Old 03-05-2010, 01:36 AM   #12
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


All these problems are solved the same way. You have to look at your system in a sequential manner and then turn off a circuit and monitor your result. But I got to think the number of possibilities are few

Heat
Hot tub or water heaters
appliances with motors

Are you heating unused areas? How is your insulation, house envelope, windows, doors etc

I worked in a house once where the ducts under the house were no longer connected to the heater vents. Literally the furnace heated the crawl space and it warmed the floor. A few hours later and all the heated air went into the house not under it.

You may may have an opportunity to invest in some improvements with a direct payback in reduced energy usage. Go into your attic and see if there is about a foot of insulation. If not this is the best bang for the buck. good luck
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Old 03-05-2010, 03:17 AM   #13
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Electrical Bill way up, any ideas?


Check all your electric bills. Make sure which ones are actual meter reads, and which ones are estimates.

Also, as strange as it may sound to you. Check your air filter. A dirty restricting air filter can raise your heating bill a lot.

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