unbelievable electric bill

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Old 08-20-13, 07:06 AM
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Unhappy unbelievable electric bill

Just bought a 7 year old all electric house with a Monitron electric boiler and Megastor indirect water heater. Our bill for July was $150. That is with no airconditioning and only 1 person in the house. The house has hydronic radiant floor heating, but this was not used in July. We have researched the winter bills, and even with a wood burning stove the previous owner's winter average was around $350-$400 a month (we live close to Santa Fe New Mexico).

Other friends and neighbors (without AC) paid $60-$80 for their July bills. So why is our electric bill 2X theirs? I thought (when we bought the house) that electric boilers were efficient. I am not a "handy" person and am very distressed with this.

We talked to the power company, and they said "that is above normal". We had an audit, and the guy couldn't find any anomalies. But he just had my wife turn on stuff while he stared at the meter. I don't know if they ran hot water long enough to start the boiler.

We can hear the boiler start up randomly during the day. Some of the pumps associated with the boiler and indirect heater are very hot.

How do we diagnose this? What professionals do we try to find? And are there any suggestions besides lowering the hot water temperature (we've already done that)?


Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 07:18 AM
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I thought (when we bought the house) that electric boilers were efficient.
Electric heating is 100% efficient. Nothing is lost up the chimney. Every heating dollar you spend, you get it in heat. However, electric is not the most effective way to heat.

Your boiler and circulator pump will cycle to keep the indirect storage tank hot. That's normal.
I see you already turned the temperature down.

I don't have any suggestions but perhaps one of the pro's in this forum can help you.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 08:07 AM
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I don't think there is much you can do. I suppose the meter could have been read incorrectly? Compare the current meter reading to the reading on your bill.

How many days were in the billing cycle? What are you paying for electric power - divide the $150 by the number of kilowatt-hours in the billing cycle. Do your neighbors, with lower bills, use resistance heating or heat pumps?

Electric resistance heating is a very costly way to heat.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 08:34 AM
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I am not an expert but $150 and no AC is a ridiculous power bill for July. I would look closely at your boiler setup as it's one of the few things capable of using that much current. I'd also confirm that there are no high usage appliances stuck on like a burner or oven element in the stove, a toaster oven or coffee maker. Are you on a well or city water? If on a well I would find out if the well pump is shutting off.

If you have an old fashioned analog electric meter that spins I would go out and watch it. Then have someone in the house flip off the circuit breakers one by one until you find one that causes the meter to spin noticeably slower. That will tell you what circuit is using so much power. Unfortunately this simple test is more difficult to do with modern digital meters. Many of them have a small bar graph on the display that represents the old fashioned wheel and you need a stopwatch and patience. Here is a website that will give you more information.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 08:52 AM
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Your comparing your house to your neighbors, but are all the variables the same? Same # of people in the household, same heating system, same schedule, same sq. foot house? $150 isn't bad for electric, at least compared to mine. We're 2 people, oil heat & hot water, >2000 sq feet. Electric runs us just under $100 in the winter, this summer it shot up just over $300 during a heat wave. Oil runs us around $300/month. (900 gallons year) We're only 2 people.

Comparing that to your #rs, your in pretty good shape!
 
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Old 08-20-13, 10:27 AM
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Unhappy

This is unbelievable electric bills...
2 people 1600 square foot house.
68000 BTU electric boiler

We do have a hot tub as well but its only been in for the last year or so. ( ~$40.00/month additional in cold months)

Date Amount Your Usage (KWH)
8/8/2013 $233.50 2,062
7/11/2013 $262.14 2,329
6/11/2013 $231.71 2,046
5/10/2013 $202.53 1,867
4/10/2013 $487.01 4,639
3/12/2013 $682.38 6,394
2/8/2013 $627.68 5,857
1/11/2013 $662.23 6,179
12/10/2012 $535.23 4,973
11/7/2012 $368.44 3,389
10/9/2012 $193.72 1,734
9/10/2012 $289.86 2,521
8/8/2012 $258.51 2,237
7/11/2012 $295.36 2,643
6/8/2012 $195.54 1,789
5/9/2012 $191.79 1,848
4/11/2012 $209.30 2,026
3/9/2012 $427.03 4,315
2/10/2012 $488.40 5,174
1/11/2012 $492.81 5,512
12/9/2011 $343.03 3,797
11/8/2011 $258.72 2,831
10/10/2011 $189.56 2,042
9/8/2011 $213.45 2,185
8/9/2011 $213.64 2,187
7/12/2011 $199.05 2,029
6/10/2011 $155.54 1,558
5/11/2011 $148.97 1,580
4/11/2011 $316.14 3,489
3/11/2011 $403.44 4,489
2/10/2011 $566.35 6,355
1/12/2011 $787.51 8,434
12/9/2010 $556.30 5,760
11/5/2010 $193.65 1,929
10/11/2010 $189.65 1,887
9/9/2010 $176.14 1,651

I am in the process of getting quotes to install Gas boiler now as well as reworking the attic to increase insulation values.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-20-13 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 08-20-13, 10:48 AM
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Would also suggest a gas water heater or maybe as a temporary effort to reduce electric use install a gas water heater first and shut the boiler off when not needed.

Edit: Please ignore. Confused Franks post with the O/Ps
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-20-13 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 08-20-13, 11:55 AM
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I am in the process of getting quotes to install Gas boiler now
This will be natural gas or propane? If you have natural gas available, I have to wonder why electric resistance heat was installed. But, I inferred that your neighbors have electric heat, as well.

If you are intending to switch to propane, run the numbers first so that you are not surprised with those fuel bills. 1 kWh = 3414 Btu. Propane heating value = 92,500 Btu/gal. For a propane boiler, crank in efficiency, maybe 75% or so.

Propane is derived from the refining of petroleum, so its price is subject to some of the same variables as heating oil. There is a glut of natural gas in North America, and it will be the least expensive fuel where it is available.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 03:27 PM
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I've Mixed Up the O.P. (pmaynard) With Frank S.

Ignore my last post (#8) - I was confused. It's Frank in Virginia who is going to switch to gas (presumably natural gas, I hope), not the O.P. who lives in New Mexico. Sorry.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 03:57 PM
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Gee I made the same mistake.
 
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Old 08-20-13, 05:25 PM
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Sorry guys i didn't mean to hijack the thread.....
My apologies.

And yes I'm getting quotes for natural gas boiler to replace my 1962 Electro Pak 68000 btu kilowatt eater!!
 
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Old 08-22-13, 05:26 PM
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Circulator pumps for the various heating zones should not be coming on. Even so, gravity flow may exist causing a small amount of boilet water to circulate through the zones, which wastes energy during the summer. If you have the latter problem you may need to install a shutoff valve in the master heat pipe coming out of the boiler.

You might also consider putting insulation blankets on the boiler. To operate the indirect domestic water heater the entire boiler contents as well as the hot water tank contents has to be kept hot. For a large boiler there is considerable surface area that will be losing heat 24/7.
 
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Old 08-22-13, 07:26 PM
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Ummm...

If you have the latter problem you may need to install a shutoff valve in the master heat pipe coming out of the boiler.
If thermosiphon is in fact a problem, and there isn't enough information given to determine if it is or is not, if one were going to modify the piping, a 'shutoff valve' is not the correct solution. A flow control valve (weighted disk type) is what should be installed... but not until the problem is understood and this is known to be the correct solution.

You might also consider putting insulation blankets on the boiler
No. Just don't do it. There are a number of hazards associated with this. It is not a good idea.

To operate the indirect domestic water heater the entire boiler contents as well as the hot water tank contents has to be kept hot.
Sorry, that is not so. There is no reason that a boiler operating an indirect water heater has to be kept hot all the time.
 
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