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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I noticed a strange discrepancy between what I think I am using and what the utility was telling me. I've been here years, never seen this before. I am not the only renter here. I made a rather large change and only saw my light bill increase in that month that I made that change. So by then I knew something was wrong. Originally, I thought I had a bad appliance. So I started keeping a closer eye on things. Time passed. There is no bad appliance.

In the time since, I have seen strange transient events. Lights behaving strangely, single circuits losing power when others do not, kwh being gobbled in a very brief period when I did not do anything overt to make it happen. The neighbours are troublemakers, and they've previously interfered with other services of mine (this I heard from the company). Now, based on what I know and have by now, I can make a strong case to say I shouldn't have been pulling what I was earlier this year. But more is always better. This is the last shred of ambiguity there is. As I see it, the best thing is to sense the wire directly for the tank, and this way I will know that it can't be the tank itself doing it on that circuit when I learn there's been draw I can't explain.
 

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It sounds like each tenant has separate meters which should only serve your unit. Is each unit completely self-contained in terms of electrical use; i.e. does everybody have their own water heater, furnace, a/c, etc.? Theft of utilities is not unheard of by bad tenants.
 

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Have you noticed an increase in Hot water temp at the faucet?
If a thermostat has gone wonky and using more power when it shouldn't be on, the water temp will tell the story.
 

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I can somewhat sympathize with the OP for his reasoning to know his usage. I lived in an apartment (quad) last century, and my electric bill was higher than I thought it should be. I went to the meter bank and only saw 4 meters. The common usage receptacles, including lighting, laundry and hallway receptacles were coming through MY meter. I opened my panel and turned off all the breakers to those areas. I got a quick response to say the least.
 

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As the property owner of the buidling I own and rent out, I am not allowed to touch the electrical system . Only licensed electricians. Has your actual usage gone up or just the dollar amount.? price of electricity is goin up and in some places a lot. For me from 22 cents /kWh now to 36 cents /kWh in January. Maybe scale build up in the tank so it is not working as efficiently ?
 

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@chandler48 absolutely nailed the correct answer #18.

You are a renter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Have you noticed an increase in Hot water temp at the faucet?
If a thermostat has gone wonky and using more power when it shouldn't be on, the water temp will tell the story.
Nothing like that, no.

When you notice a heavy power draw and suspect it's something other than your water heater, just switch the WH breaker off and see if the power draw stops or continues. You'll have your answer.
This won't tell me for certain that it's the WH, and I've observed that circuit having two minds. I think clamping the wire in the WH might be easier than I thought it would be. I am reluctant to go there, but that's something I can maybe feasibly do that doesn't require damaging anything. As a result of this thread, I had a look at a few WH panels and there's a fair amount of wire there to work with. A smaller clamp could probably do it.

As the property owner of the buidling I own and rent out, I am not allowed to touch the electrical system . Only licensed electricians. Has your actual usage gone up or just the dollar amount.? price of electricity is goin up and in some places a lot. For me from 22 cents /kWh now to 36 cents /kWh in January. Maybe scale build up in the tank so it is not working as efficiently ?
KW/H I am working with, ignoring dollar figure.

So is there any method anyone knows of that I might use to get a reading from that wire without damaging the sheath, or opening the unit?
 

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This won't tell me for certain that it's the WH,
It will tell you for certain if the power draw you're reading off the meter is something else, which is what I thought you were trying to accomplish. It will tell you as much as clamping the meter on the wire at the WH or the panel. If you switch off the breaker, the power going to the WH is zero. If there's still a major power draw that's not anywhere else in your apartment, then somebody is stealing your electricity. If not, maybe you're just using more hot water than you think you are.
 

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So is there any method anyone knows of that I might use to get a reading from that wire without damaging the sheath, or opening the unit?
It’s not as simple as using a clamp meter on a single conductor, but there are various DIY electronics prototyping systems that could use 3-axis magnetometers to sense the magnetic field being generated by the current. Here is one such project implemented for the “Micro Bit” board.

 

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I noticed a strange discrepancy between what I think I am using and what the utility was telling me. I've been here years, never seen this before. I am not the only renter here. I made a rather large change and only saw my light bill increase in that month that I made that change.
FINALLY. The "X" is revealed. OK, that's something we can work with.

The neighbours are troublemakers, and they've previously interfered with other services of mine (this I heard from the company). Now, based on what I know and have by now, I can make a strong case to say I shouldn't have been pulling what I was earlier this year. But more is always better.
That doesn't get you anything though. What on earth are you going to say? "I put a home-made Frobistein hoozit on my dingledongle, AND THEREFORE YOU ARE STEALING"?

Good thing Reagan closed all the asylums or you'd get a rubber room. Ask John Nash. It doesn't matter if you're right if nobody understands that you're right. And they do not want to understand.

That is why Y doesn't matter; Y only brings you to a bad end.

So back to the X. Contact your landlord and ask if it's OK to install a Sense, Curb or other retail home energy monitor that clamps each branch circuit. Recognized-name gear sold in retail stores, not some dodgy hackerspace garbage. And if the landlord says OK, then ask "Who's your electrician?" And just like that it's done.

I leave it to you to figure out if the cost of installation < = > the money you are losing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
It will tell you for certain if the power draw you're reading off the meter is something else, which is what I thought you were trying to accomplish. It will tell you as much as clamping the meter on the wire at the WH or the panel. If you switch off the breaker, the power going to the WH is zero. If there's still a major power draw that's not anywhere else in your apartment, then somebody is stealing your electricity. If not, maybe you're just using more hot water than you think you are.
I'm concerned they tampered with the wires somewhere along the path from the panel. I only became more concerned of this once the lights started behaving weirdly and power started cutting off for single circuits only, while other areas in the place were unaffected (and it wasn't the breaker tripping).


What does this mean?
Sometimes it behaves normally, as I would expect based on my actions. Other times it behaves completely unlike what I expect, and it's like I ran a bunch of hot water but I didn't.

FINALLY. The "X" is revealed. OK, that's something we can work with.



That doesn't get you anything though. What on earth are you going to say? "I put a home-made Frobistein hoozit on my dingledongle, AND THEREFORE YOU ARE STEALING"?

Good thing Reagan closed all the asylums or you'd get a rubber room. Ask John Nash. It doesn't matter if you're right if nobody understands that you're right. And they do not want to understand.

That is why Y doesn't matter; Y only brings you to a bad end.

So back to the X. Contact your landlord and ask if it's OK to install a Sense, Curb or other retail home energy monitor that clamps each branch circuit. Recognized-name gear sold in retail stores, not some dodgy hackerspace garbage. And if the landlord says OK, then ask "Who's your electrician?" And just like that it's done.

I leave it to you to figure out if the cost of installation < = > the money you are losing.
I've been looking at a few, but as you say, it's added expense.

I think the thread might be starting to run its course, thanks for the replies & insights everyone.
 

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I'm concerned they tampered with the wires somewhere along the path from the panel. I only became more concerned of this once the lights started behaving weirdly and power started cutting off for single circuits only, while other areas in the place were unaffected (and it wasn't the breaker tripping).
When it starts behaving weirdly, turn off all of your major electrical appliances and the WH breaker, then check your meter. If it's shows power being used, then start turning off breakers, one at a time, and recheck the meter after each one. Take note of which breaker stops the power flow.
 

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I'm concerned they tampered with the wires somewhere along the path from the panel. I only became more concerned of this once the lights started behaving weirdly and power started cutting off for single circuits only, while other areas in the place were unaffected (and it wasn't the breaker tripping).
This may be too late, but you're not going to make much headway on this on your own. Call an electrician! If someone is tampering with your wiring/meter, it's a crime. The electrician can document this and get the power company involved. Getting into it yourself is a bad idea, not only because you lack experience and could injure/kill yourself, but also to ensure that your tampering doesn't muddy the waters. Also, you may be able to recoup the cost of the electrician from your landlord if tampering is discovered.
 

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This may be too late, but you're not going to make much headway on this on your own. Call an electrician! If someone is tampering with your wiring/meter, it's a crime. The electrician can document this and get the power company involved. Getting into it yourself is a bad idea, not only because you lack experience and could injure/kill yourself, but also to ensure that your tampering doesn't muddy the waters. Also, you may be able to recoup the cost of the electrician from your landlord if tampering is discovered.
In most places he would recoup the costs of any charges for stolen power from the utility because he was charged for power he did not receive. It is their problem to try to recover the cost of that electricity usage from the thief.

If the thief has tapped your wiring they probably did it incompetently and that is why your lights and so forth behave erratically when the tap is drawing current. Another possibility is that during the connection of the tap the neutral has become disarranged.

What it would seem you need is a recording current meter. You can rent those but that isn't inexpensive. A recording multimeter with a plug in current sensing clamp could also give you the information that you want. You may want to record the entire load and then record just the water heater to see if they peak at the same time. Best thing to do would be to install sensors on both the entire load and the water heater at the same time.

Tom Horne
 
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