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Discussion Starter #1
What could cause electricity usage to spike 3 times its highest monthly usage if it is not a faulty meter, usage patterns did not change, no appliances were added or broke down, and the usage drops back down again the next month?

I understand that if usage patterns did remain high, it could be a faulty appliance, outlet, or cord. I tested each room by turning off the circuits one by one, watching the meter dial, and it would slow on different rooms each time but consistently speed up once the kitchen circuit was turned back on. The meter tester said usage was coming out to about 17 KwH per day, which he said was high for only having the fridge, a halogen light, an incandescent light, and a micothermic heater running. However, that comes out to about my monthly average of 510 KwH per month, and the spike I am talking about was for 2,670 KwH in one month. Even with the amount averaged over two months to accommodate the estimate the company does every-other-month, that spike would have been no less than 2,400 KwH in one month, and my all-time high in summer with 3 ACs running was 800 KwH.

Could the utility company have caused a surge? I asked the meter tester if someone could be tapping into my electricity, and he said no. I mentioned to the solar guy who I talked to after this incident that maybe someone had hooked something up to my outdoor outlet and used it (maybe to charge a car?). He did not think anyone would be so audacious on such a busy road, but if they had, would I have any recourse? Or would I be stuck filing a police report for a possible theft with no evidence and no efforts being put into solving it?
 

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Misread meter? The next month would be extra low as it caught up on high read or extra high the next month if it was read low previously.
 

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Or do they depend on Estimated Usage and only read the meter every quarter?
 

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What type of meter do you have?

The original , must be read manually, One that reports to the POCO monthly,
One where they drive by , no need to stop, just push a button on their scanner, and it reports?

All could be mis read by a less than attentive employee.



ED
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
@ Joed & jlhaslip: Thank you for responding. :vs_cool: I opted out of the smart meter, so here in Southern California they punish us by estimating the read every-other-month (estimating low so the next month we get pushed into higher tiers and charged more for the seemingly higher monthly usage). That means they would have had to either misread five months ago.

This is how my usage looks:

  • 2017 Mar Read: 60,820 Used: 2,666
  • 2017 Feb Estimated: 58,154 Used: 356
  • 2017 Jan Read: 57,798 Used: 577
  • 2016 Dec Estimated: 57,221 Used: 324
  • 2016 Nov Read: 56,897 Used: 309
I checked the 2017 Mar meter read, and it was correct. I did not check 2017 Jan, so I don't know if it was or not. Assuming it was wrong and November's was right, it's possible that could work out, with the 5 months total usage coming to 3,923 KwH, or an average of 784.6 KwH per month. That's still high, equal to my highest usage over the 9 years I have lived in the same place (note my 2016 Nov usage was just 309 KwH), and that would be sustained over 5 months. It seems unrealistic, but possible. If there is NO other way the usage could have spiked, nothing the electricity company could be responsible for, and I get left holding the bill, I guess I would have to make the argument that they must have messed up in February and need to adjust the tiered billing because that is a significant difference for that much energy.
 

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Take a picture of your meter now. Let us see the reading. Meters can be tricky to read if you don't understand them.
 

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What happens if for some reason
the meter was not physically read ?
Do they go with a estimate or guestimate
based on previous usage.

Also -
what happens if the dial is half way between numbers
do they use lowest or highest
 

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That meter reads 61633. So it looks like your reading was good and you are going to have high reading again this month. You are already at 820 used.

Have someone watch the spinning wheel and start turning off breakers until you see it slow down. You will probably find one breaker that makes a significant difference.

When reading the dial you go with the lower when it is between. If it is close you have to look at the dial before it. In this example the left dial is on the 6. If the one to the right was between the 0&9 then it be 59. Since it is between 1&2 it is read as 61.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
My March meter read was done on 3/15/17, and this meter picture is from today, 5/5/17. That's 820 KwH was used over 1.67 months/51 days--so around 485 for one month. Even at 820 in a single month, that would be normal for a high month, but 1/3 of the March bill, or 1/2 based on the March and February bills averaged out, or roughly equivalent if they did indeed misread January and I have been having consistently high usage suddenly since November. :vs_frown:

I watched the dial as I turned off the circuit breakers one-by-one, and it slows at different rooms each time.

That meter reads 61633. So it looks like your reading was good and you are going to have high reading again this month. You are already at 820 used.

Have someone watch the spinning wheel and start turning off breakers until you see it slow down. You will probably find one breaker that makes a significant difference.
 

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QUOTE [I watched the dial as I turned off the circuit breakers one-by-one, and it slows at different rooms each time.]

Is there any breakers which have a significant effect on the speed of the dial.
in essence the largest loads ?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
QUOTE
Is there any breakers which have a significant effect on the speed of the dial.
in essence the largest loads ?
Sorry, I did not explain that well at all. Three different times I turned off the circuit breakers one-by-one, pausing for around 1/2 to 1 minute after each breaker, and noted each time when the dial slowed. Most of the breakers didn't cause a noticeable change in the speed of the dial, but each time it slowed significantly on a different room, so there wasn't any one breaker which consistently impacted the speed of the dial. I turned them off in the same order so that I wouldn't have an uncontrolled variable in the order of the process. I paid special attention to my kitchen, since I read that faulty fridges could cause problems, and I tried turning off just the kitchen a time or two, and it didn't make a difference in that independent test, but it was one of the rooms in the four complete tests I ran that did slow the dial when switched off. Consequently, my fridge is running normally--no unusual activity. In one of the other complete tests, turning off the breaker for one of the bedrooms slowed the dial, and in the last test, the other bedroom slowed the dial.

Also, note that my usage is not spiking now and was never higher than about 750 KwH monthly and was usually closer to 500 KwH prior.
 

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You didn't post your location. Are you in one the north east regions getting rained on? Do you have a sump pump that could be running excessively? If the discharge pipe is broken close to the house the water could be flowing back into the pit.
What were the rooms you noted that made the most difference in the dial speed?
Any underground cables to light posts? detached garage? If the cable is damaged it could be leaking to ground.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I am in Southern California, and although we did finally have a rainy winter this year, we don't have a pump or discharge pipe. I don't know about any underground cables but don't think so since the house is 80 years old and the electricity and phone wires run overhead and attach at the roof. We do have a detached garage, but the wiring to that feeds in through the ceiling as well. The rooms were: kitchen, bedroom 1, and bedroom 2. Since my usage has been normal since the March bill, would it still be one of those issues?

You didn't post your location. Are you in one the north east regions getting rained on? Do you have a sump pump that could be running excessively? If the discharge pipe is broken close to the house the water could be flowing back into the pit.
What were the rooms you noted that made the most difference in the dial speed?
Any underground cables to light posts? detached garage? If the cable is damaged it could be leaking to ground.
 
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