Home energy monitor?

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Old 05-22-05, 04:05 PM
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Home energy monitor?

Guys I am having an energy loss that I can't figure out! I have replaced everything in my house electrical except the heat pump which does not figure in this post, so please don't use it as a focal point or even mention it since I know I have a problem there but it has not been on for over a month! I am talking about this months bill, ONLY!
My neighbors have the same basic size house as mine, there electricity bill is about 1/2 of mine! They have used heat this past month, I used none! They wash cloths about every other day, I do them 4 times a month (I'm single). I have heard every conceivable answer to this problem you can imagine so I am NOT looking for opinions that I would have to answer, it has been done, and yes, the electric company has been here (looks great to us!).

I have heard there is an electronic item you can hook up to various items like a stereo, Fridge, whatever that will tell you the monthly usage estimates along with other data. What is it, does it handle 220 and 110, I need a brand name recommendation or a specific item to get. Can you help?
Changeling
 
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Old 05-22-05, 04:30 PM
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this is probably the wrong page for this question I would guess at that you have a ground somewhere in your hisouse( typo but kinda hip hop hunh!!!)
I am low voltage only so I would suggest hiring an electrician check it out this is not something to play around with. House fires kill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Old 05-22-05, 07:34 PM
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I'm going to do you a favor, and transfer this thread to the electrical forum. I can tell you to try the simplest trick: Turn off everything in the house, then go look at the meter, then turn off breakers, one by one, until the rate of the number change/wheel spin drops to little or nothing. The odds are you may have a hotwater heater, or refrigerator that's pulling a lot of power. Those two items are the most power consumptive items in a home, outside of climate control.
 
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Old 05-23-05, 07:22 AM
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Years ago, in an apartment I was renting, I suddenly had a HUGE jump in my electric bill one month. I called the landlord. They came out and did some checking and found that one of the elements in the water heater had failed. The other element was then working non-stop to try to keep warm water.

A symptom will be that your hot water doesn't last as long as usual. Being single, that would be easy to not notice.

Go look at you meter, watch how fast it spins, then shut off the breaker (or pull the fuses if its an old home) to the water heater. Now check the meter. Do this when you have NOT been using hot water for a while.


Of course, you might also want to find out whether your neighbors appliances are all electrical, or if they have gas appliances where you have electrical. A gas water heater might drop your electric bill $30 a month, but will, of course, raise the gas bill...Be sure your electric bill comparisons are apple to apple.
 
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Old 05-23-05, 07:30 AM
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This is two products used by some for 120V equipment.
http://www.dom.com/products/wattsup/wattsup_basic.jsp
http://www.p3international.com/produ.../P4400-CE.html

I'm not aware of a consumer model for 240V.

You can purchase a clamp-on amp-probe and measure amperage and compare to the nameplate on the equipment, no matter the voltage.
 
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Old 05-24-05, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HandyRon
This is two products used by some for 120V equipment.
http://www.dom.com/products/wattsup/wattsup_basic.jsp
http://www.p3international.com/produ.../P4400-CE.html

I'm not aware of a consumer model for 240V.

You can purchase a clamp-on amp-probe and measure amperage and compare to the nameplate on the equipment, no matter the voltage.
Ron thanks for the two links I'll buy one for the 120 stuff, do you happen to know if they work very well ?

My "BIG" problem is I don't know anything about electricity and need someone to really lay it out for me.
The Refrigerator is 110 I think but the heat pump and hotwater tank are 220!
I don't know what a clamp-on amp- probe is!
With one of them will I be able to figure out over time say a day, week, what, power I am consuming? What do they cost, can you recommend a cheap one that will do what I am talking about?

Sorry for all the questions but I am really getting screwed and I can't figure out where the problem is.
Changeling
 
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Old 05-24-05, 01:31 PM
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Guys first off I would like to apologize for my abrupt manner in my opening post, but this has been going on for about 3 years now!!
My neighbors electrical configuration of there house is "exactly" the same as mine, hot water tank, heat pump, etc, are all the same "ELECTRIC".

I got so pissed off last year that bought the following equipment with the lowest energy figures I could find :
1. Hot water tank, the best Lowe's had. Top of the line whirlpool. Energy Star rating! Lifetime warranty.
2. Best refrigerator Maytag had with lowest energy figures. Energy Star rating!
3. Best Maytag dishwasher with lowest energy rating. Energy Star rating!
4. Maytag stove Top of Line Energy star rating.
5. Whirlpool's lowest energy rated washing machine, energy star rated.
6. My dryer is 20 years old. works great, used about 4 time a month!

The outcome after all this, my electric bill went up!!!!!!!!!!!!
How would you feel??????
Changeling

PS, I gave everything but the water tank to a dirt poor family in a town near where I live, even helped them install. There electric bill went down about 30 percent! They are just plain tickled to death!!!
 
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Old 05-24-05, 01:47 PM
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You may also try testing the individual cirscuits using a Clamp-On AC Ammeter. $19.99 at Radio Shack. It would at least tell what circuit the biggest draw is on.

http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...%5Fid=22%2D602
 
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Old 05-24-05, 09:38 PM
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Is your electric meter in a hard to reach spot? Do you have a large dog in the yard. If yes to either, your problem may be that they are simply _estimating_ your consumption (estimated bills nearly always average high).
 
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Old 05-25-05, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by deep6blue
You may also try testing the individual cirscuits using a Clamp-On AC Ammeter. $19.99 at Radio Shack. It would at least tell what circuit the biggest draw is on.

http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...%5Fid=22%2D602

Deep6blue, thanks, I'll pick it up tomorrow, it's in stock.

MrRonFL, They estimate one month, not the next, and so on.

The meter will be a start. I will get back to you guys when I have the meter. Thanks to everyone, with your help I feel i can solve this problem.
Changeling
 
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Old 05-25-05, 06:23 PM
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The clamp on amp meter will require you to work with live circuits. I don't know that someone who nothing about electricity should be trying to use one.
 
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Old 05-26-05, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by joed
The clamp on amp meter will require you to work with live circuits. I don't know that someone who nothing about electricity should be trying to use one.
I bought the ampmeter this morning. I will read the instructions completely then clear exactly what I will do here, before I do it.
Changeling
 
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Old 05-27-05, 11:06 PM
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I work for a utility and high bills are usually one or more of several categories.

One, the meter is fast. This is very rare (contrary to popular belief), but if the utility has already come out, I'll assume they tested it.

Two, a billing error. I had the identical problem you have except with the water bill. It turned out the utility was reading the neighbors meter and billing me and vice-versa. Check the reading on your bill versus your meter.

Three, an appliance you are expecting to work automatically, isn't (regardless of whether it is new or not). Examples can be a leak in the hot water pipes that causes the heater H2O heater to run constantly, a well that is waterlogged (or leaking) that runs constantly, low freon in an AC unit, a rupture in the AC duct work, etc. I have seen actual cases where strip heat was running at the same time as the air conditioning.

You have a meter already (the one on the house you are getting billed off of). Read it every day and see how much energy has been consumed on a daily basis. On days you see a significant increase, try to remember if it was laundry day, cooking for a date, etc. to get a handle on where your increases are.

If you want to take it a step further, use the house meter to monitor your appliances. The meter will have a designation on the nameplate of "Kh". Usually it is 7.2, but it might be 3.6, 12, etc. In any case, this represents the energy in watts that each revolution of the disk represents. For example, if the "Kh" is 7.2, then every time the disk completes a full revolution, you have used 7.2 watts.

Turn everything off except, say, the AC. With it running, take a stop watch and clock ten revolutions of the meter disk. Then plug it into this equation.

(3600 X Kh X number of revolutions) divided by (time in seconds X 1000)

Example.....the meter has a Kh of 7.2 and you clock ten revolutions of the meter disk at 100 seconds.

(3600 X 7.2 X 10 revolutions) divided by (100 sec. X 1000) = 2.592 Kwh

If your utility charges 10 cents a Kwh, then this appliance will cost you 25.92 cents for every hour it runs during the month. If it runs on the average of 8 hours a day for 30 days a month (25.92 cents/hr. X8hrs. X 30days), it will have cost you $62.20/month.
 
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Old 05-28-05, 08:56 AM
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WFO,
Excellent suggestions!
 
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Old 05-28-05, 01:18 PM
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WFO, I have tried some of the things you mention, but not all. I copied your post and sent it to my email address. I will do exactly what you say to the letter, and report on my findings. However read the following and explain this to me.

My neighbor spent January through March 2004 in Florida. The house was closed up hot water tank emptied , Etc,. The only thing left on was the heat pump set at 55 degrees, a 7.5 cu foot freezer and a light in the living room that came on and off several times in the evening. The refrigerator was emtied and shut off. I had the only key to the house.
His electric bill went up slightly higher from the previous year for those same months months. The electric bill showing the electricity used agreed with the meter, showing the increase also and was correct for what they were billed.
When he returned from Florida he went through the roof and spent the next few weeks arguing with the company. Finally they sent out a representative who set down with them to explain things, he showed, and verified that the house had been near totally shut down and threatened court action. They immediately refunded all but the basic estimated charge for those months.
Am I implying something, yes! That is why I want an aftermarket check on equipment not controlled by them.
Changeling
 
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Old 05-28-05, 03:10 PM
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Just for clarification.....did the actual usage go up? (ie-did he actually use more Kwh). Or did the rate change and he's just paying more for the same usage? When Texas was forced to deregulate, we had to unbundle our rate structure. The end result was that everybodys' minimum bill went from around $9.00 up to around $25.00. Ain't government interference great?

But I digress.....

I'm surprised that his utility company caved in like that (unless, like you say, they had something to hide). We calibrate our meters to within 0.2 percent accuracy (the Texas standards require an error of over 2 percent before a billing adjutment is required). The basic rotating disk kwh meter is a very accurate and stable device that usually errs to the customers advantage (ie-slows down) when it does err.

Now, having said that, anything electromechanical can go bad. We are required to offer a meter test (on request) for free once every five years. On occassion when someone doubts our honesty, we offer to let them select a third party testing outfit (there are many) to come do the test provided the customer pays for it if the meter proves to be accurate. I don't know if your utility will allow that, but it can't hurt to ask. I hesitate to suggest this because, as I previously mentioned, it just isn't very often that a meter speeds up appreciably.

The reason I suggested timing the meter in the first place was because it is a KWH meter, meaning it registers the very value that you are being billed for. If you go out and buy a clamp on ammeter/volltmeter, you can calculate the kva usage (ie-volts times amps), but it will not take into account the power factor of any of your motor loads. If you still want to try this method, a reasonable rule of thumb would be to multiply any volt X amp reading by 80% to convert to watts (this would apply to motor loads like compressors; for resistive loads like incandescent lighting, clothes dryers, and H2O heater elements, go ahead and use volts X amps).

Hope this didn't just make it more confusing. Good luck!
 
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Old 05-29-05, 12:45 PM
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"Just for clarification.....did the actual usage go up? (ie-did he actually use more Kwh). Or did the rate change and he's just paying more for the same usage? When Texas was forced to deregulate, we had to unbundle our rate structure. The end result was that everybodys' minimum bill went from around $9.00 up to around $25.00. Ain't government interference great?"

WFO I just went over and asked him to be sure. His actual usage went up! No, the rate was the same. I thought he was going to bite my head off when I asked, he is still extremely "perturbed" at them and has absolutely no trust in them whatsoever.
That is not all that has happened ! Usually are electric bills are sent every two months, but this past year they started billing everyone every month. If you double my monthly bills they come up to another increase over the old two month billing cycle. There reason for this was to save money and be able to pass it along to us the customers, well they passed it to us alright!!

Is there anyway I can hook up a meter to the inside (or have it done) of my house that keeps track of the kwh's as they are supposed to do?
Changeling
 
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Old 05-29-05, 06:58 PM
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I don't know how expensive it would be but you could install CTs(current transformers) onto your main feeed wires and have a meter connected to them. They look like donuts that the feed wire goes though and measure the current.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by joed
I don't know how expensive it would be but you could install CTs(current transformers) onto your main feeed wires and have a meter connected to them. They look like donuts that the feed wire goes though and measure the current.
My neighbor has a friend that is an electrician, he is going to see what the guy would charge to do both his and my house. Only problem is, this guy is one of the biggest donkeys I have ever seen and we don't exactly see eye on anything, so he might do it for my neighbor but I have a feeling, not for me.
Changeling
 
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Old 05-30-05, 08:57 PM
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Quote;

" My neighbors have the same basic size house as mine, their electricity bill is about 1/2 of mine!"

I hesitate to mention this, but their meter might be slow. Of course, if you mention this and the utility comes out to speed theirs up, there is usually a murder involved.

Getting back to your original question. Our utility has "appliance meters" which are literally meters that you plug in series with appliances like an AC window unit or clothes dryer to monitor the consumption of that particular device. See if the utility has anything like that. Again, this puts you back in the position of trusting your utility. As this comes under the heading of the "fox guarding the hen house" I can understand your position. From a personal point of experience, however, both utilities that I have worked for have been scrupulously honest in their handling of meter tests.

I'm at a loss as to what to tell you. I know that here we have a "fuel charge" that represents the fluctuating cost of fuel to generate the electricity and it can change dramatically from month to month (euphemistically we call it a "power cost recovery factor"). The end result being that a person's bill goes up without their usage going up.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 10:54 PM
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Maybe a leaking underground wire somewhere?
 
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Old 05-31-05, 01:13 PM
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First off I am wide open to any suggestions that any one wants to make.

I will contact the electric company and ask if they have the appliance meters. But off hand I bet the answer is no! They offer "no" consumer incentive for new energy efficient equipment whatsoever, they will not do any "PM" maintenance unless a line is actually broken. Every year we end up with extended periods of total electric loss due to ice storms, wind, whatever. they may be from 1 to 3-5 days! Then they call in the surrounding states utility guys to get things back on line. I talked to some guys here from Pennsylvania that actually started laughing at my utility company when asked about "PM"1

Question: These devices that you hook to any of your 115 appliances, why does it not work for 220 stuff?
Changeling
 
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Old 05-31-05, 01:39 PM
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I think the strategy presented four days ago by WFO is the best approach. Rather than try to acquire and attach some expensive meter, use the one you already have. I.e., use your utility meter itself as a usage meter. By shutting everything in your house off (I suggest you use the breakers to do this to reduce the chance you'll overlook something), and then turning things on one at a time, you can see how much energy everything is using. This approach will also allow you to judge the accuracy of the meter. For example, if you turn everything off except for ten 100-watt bulbs, you should be registering one kilowatt. Go out and time the revolutions on your meter and see if indeed it is registering one kilowatt as it should. The result may not match exactly, of course, since depending on conditions, a 100-watt bulb may not use exactly 100 watts. But it should be generally close.

Appliances that cycle may take hours rather than minutes to properly evaluate. For example, to evaluate your water heater, choose a time when no hot water has been used for several hours (so that the tank is fully up to temperature). Shut off everything except your water heater, record the meter reading, and go to dinner and a a movie. Record the reading and time difference when you get home. If the usage is more than a trivial amount, you may have a hot water leak. You can use the same technique with a refrigerator or freezer.
 
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Old 05-31-05, 03:34 PM
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It's also possible that your neighbor's meter is bad or slow and yours is correct. My boss recently told me that a POCO guy showed up at his house a few weeks ago stating that his usage was flagged as "abnormally low", and they had to check his meter base for tampering. Turns out one of the mechanical wheels in his meter would stick every other revolution or so. The POCO inspector let my boss watch the broken meter as the wheel stuck, so it was obvious he wasn't being lied to.

After the new meter was installed, his bill went up some 40%; but it was really what he owed anyway. Perhaps your neighbor has a defective meter and is therefore a poor benchmark for your usage.

Out of curiosity, would you post some of the actual usage numbers (kWH per month) from your power bill so we can make some rough comparisons?
 
 

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