Excessive electric usage

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Old 08-22-09, 10:23 PM
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Excessive electric usage

Hey everyone,

My electric bill came in at 3,300 kwh this last month and I cannot possibly figure out why. We use all CFL's for lighting, gas water heater, gas dryer.

I haven't even been running my A/C, hardly at all. The high was 74 F today.

I have a Kill-A-Watt but that only works for plugs. I could just turn off all the breakers and measure each one-by-one, but my meter is far away from the panel so it makes it tedious.

My questions are:
1. What could possibly use so much?
2. Are there any tricks to investigate and narrow down to where it's using?

Thanks!

My major draws are:
* 2 HVAC systems (one for upstairs, one for down). The down system is _brand new_ variable speed furnace.
* Dehumidifier (500 watt, 24/7)
* 2 refrigerator/freezer, both energy star
* air cleaner (300 watt, 24/7)
* electric stove/oven
* some misc electronics
 
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Old 08-23-09, 02:21 PM
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First off it is sometimes hard to tell for when you are getting billed for. Make sure of the dates to see if they are over a time when your running the A/C. Also if you are on a budget system this might be a make up month.

Your dehumidifier and air cleaner are 360kwh and 180kwh respectively. Your electric stove/oven is a rather large load so if you do a lot of cooking that will be a cause. Are you running your fan on your furnaces? 2 fridges, even energy star models, will still use power so it all adds up.

Lastly is there any other bills on that bill? I get my garbage service from the same company so that is on my electric bill as well.
 
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Old 08-23-09, 04:52 PM
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After you verify Tolan's suggestions, that the bill is correct. Do an inventory of all energy hogs. Don't worry about the clock radio, but well pumps, septic pumps, heat tapes, plus the items you mentioned and post them. We can help you add them up. I have a chart somewhere for typical use.

Also, take a look at your meter to see if it is a style where you can monitor the electrical use. The old style had the dial spinning. If you can see the use, you can flip off breakers and watch to see if one has a large effect.

Let us know
Bud
 
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Old 08-23-09, 08:35 PM
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Thanks guys. I'm pretty sure that the bill is mostly correct (meaning reflective of what the meter read - and the bill is for 30 days, electric only)

I went around and measured absolutely everything that plugs in and estimated total monthly usage at 1600 kwh, this includes basically everything (incl. the furnace, fridges, etc - doesn't include the A/C & oven/stove) Nothing like a well or septic pump.

I know I should be flipping the breakers next, the only reason I haven't done that is that the breakers are far away from the meter. I have the inductive spinning disc style meter.

Are there any tools besides the kill-a-watt that I can use to play detective?
 
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Old 08-24-09, 04:09 AM
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I have a meter with current probes that I clip on inside the electrical panel for 220 circuits. You can get a current probe for some volt/current meters. Kill-a-watt has something for international applications. just read another thread not their site so don't know the cost.

flipping breakers is probably next, and since you have the spinning disc it should be easy, not to many 220 circuits. Time the spin rate and see if any breakers make a big difference. Or check the spin rate when the ac is running. Your electric power meter is your current meter, you just have to use the breakers to get it attached where you want.

You say a new HVAC system down stairs, is it a replacement for a prior system or a new addition? If new addition, it would be adding use where you didn't see it before. How were your bills last year for this month.

Was the bill estimated or actual this month and the month prior. If your poco uses the estimate method, a low est one month results in a high actual reading the next month to catch up.

Bud
 
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Old 08-24-09, 06:12 AM
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Is it possible that your electric company only checks the meter every 2 months? Sometimes I get a huge bill (like 6000 - 7500 kWH) but some of it is catchup for the previous month. Even in the summer my bill can be around 3000 kWH on the second month. (don't have AC)
 
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Old 08-24-09, 07:33 AM
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Is your meter, by any chance, inside the home?
 
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Old 08-24-09, 09:31 AM
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A failing element in an electric water heater or a dripping hot water faucet can waste a fair amount of juice. Do you have any underground wiring to outbuildings?
 
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Old 08-24-09, 07:04 PM
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You could also use a clamp on amp meter such as this: Ideal 61-732 400AAC Clamp Ideal 732 61-732 61732 or - Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices When the wife is in full steam cooking you can take it and measure the amps. Multiply that by 240 and that will give you the watts.

A few other high draw items that are often overlooked are:
Dishwasher 1440 watts (aprox.)
Toaster 1500 watts
Microwave 1500 watts
Hair dryer 1500 watts (or more)
Coffee maker 1500 watts

As you can see, anything that creates heat is about 1500 watts or 1.5kwh per hour
 
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Old 08-26-09, 02:43 AM
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When we moved in to our house, the previous owners told us the lower element was starting to go bad fairly often in the water heater. After our small spike in elec I removed the element and I had all to do to pull it from the heater from all the sediment caked on it.

A whole bunch of crud came out and some didn't but I have replaced the WH since and no problems.
 
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Old 08-28-09, 11:01 AM
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What was your power usage for the same time period last year? The only time my bill was obviously way too high (2.5x expected amount) was due to an incorrect meter reading.

If your reading is correct, you are using about 110kwh per day. Read your meter today. Subtract the reading from you last bill. Divide that number by the number of days since the meter read date on your bill. Are you still averaging 110kwh per day? What was your usage last month and the month before? Unless you are using the A/C a lot more now (and you said you weren't), the numbers should be similar. Been doing a lot of arc welding lately?

I use Ted to monitor my energy usage. It's pretty good. It tipped me off to the fact that my water well pump was cycling about every 30 minutes due to a faulty check valve.

I will probably switch to this Brultech energy monitor at some point because it seems to be easier to tie into a home automation/monitoring system.
 
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