Big electrical bill... why?

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Old 04-04-09, 04:37 PM
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Big electrical bill... why?

Here's an interesting question...

My boss owns a small warehouse (40x60?), unheated, that is rarely occupied, lights are never on, outlets not in use except for a couple things that remain plugged in all the time. A radial arm saw, table saw, and a planer.

There is a small portable heater plugged into a small insulated room that we keep at around 50F in the winter.

The boss is complaining that the electrical bill seems way to high for the amount of electricity we should be using. Of course I have no idea because I'm a carpenter not an electrician!

So is there any way that power could be used even if there is nothing running? There are long runs of romex going to lights, outlets and such... do they use a lot of power even when they are not in use? Or could there be a short somewhere that is wasting electricity but is not throwing a breaker?

The bill does seem unusually high. But I don't know what to tell him.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 04:48 PM
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Come on X..need some numbers. A small heater can pull quite a bit if it runs all the time.

Using one in my garage ran the $ up almost $30 a month, and that was only for 3-4 hrs a day.

Nothing uses power when not used if its controlled by a switch. TV's, VCR's, PC's in standby...yes...lights and outlets...no.

Might also check for people tapping off if there is anyone else around.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 05:02 PM
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Look carefully at the bill. Separate out the part dependent on the amount of power used from the fixed part. The bill could be high merely because of the fixed part.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 06:26 PM
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I'm thinking someone is tapping into your power
Any outdoor dusk-to-dawn lights?
Andy
 
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Old 04-04-09, 06:43 PM
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Some POCOs charge a minimum as John mentioned. The TVA has raised their rates substantially, then reduced them to make us feel good over the last few months. Now there is a $5 "customer charge" on our bill. So now we're being charged a monthly fee for being a customer. But give us some before and after figures, both in dollars and in kwh.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 06:56 PM
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Also most places, the KW rate is higher for commercial buildings than residential.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 07:15 PM
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All I know is that there are 560 KWh's on the bill, and that he says this is more than the bill for his whole office complex which is open 5-6 days a week. The electric bill we get from the city doesn't separate out the monthly charge from the cost of the electricity used... it's just a total.

Just to compare, I used 560 KWh here in my apartment during the same period. Running a refrig, freezer, dryer, space heaters, computer, lights, etc, etc.

The cost for commercial is about 20% higher than for residential. But electricity is so cheap here in Nebraska that I don't know what he's complaining about. $50/mo... big whoop.

No outside lights at the warehouse- there is one security light in the gable end, but the bulb must be burnt out as it hasn't worked in years.

Not sure why he's complaining to me about it. Maybe he thinks I care. Or that I'm selling black market electricity on the side. LOL
 
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Old 04-04-09, 08:54 PM
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$50 a month running the electric heater and the flat cost of the service does not sound out of line to me.

Say, your small heater is 1500 watts

560Kwh / 30days = about 18.6Kwh per day
18600/1500watts = 12.4 hrs of running per day

In an uninsulated building I can see this happening.

BTW - figure they charge a flat $10 just for the service.
560/$40 = .14 per Kwh
 
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Old 04-04-09, 09:09 PM
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Space heaters can certainly be killers. They are small in size but enormous in consumption.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 09:29 PM
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Well that's pretty much what I was thinking too, since the space heater is the only thing that's actually running from time to time. The space heater is in a room with insulated walls... insulated ceiling... but an uninsulated cement floor. And it doesn't run all the time, but in the winter it probably runs at least 50% of the time to keep the room at about 50F... like you said, probably about 12.4 hrs a day.

I guess that now that it's spring, he'll unplug the little space heater and watch the electric bill to see if the KWh drops to a level that would indicate exactly how much it's been running.

Thx for the input everyone!
 
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