$1206.67 Electric Bill

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  #1  
Old 07-25-13, 09:33 PM
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$1206.67 Electric Bill

I own a bunch of rental properties. I try to cater to college students and include free utilities, which I'm pretty tempted not to do anymore. Today's bill might be a turning point on this.

I just opened up a 1206.67 dollar electric bill for one of these places. It's lived in by three college guys and they just moved in about a month ago. Usually, electricity is about 300 dollars in the summer months.

What on EARTH could be going on over there!!! The tenants did ask that I take a look at an issue with the spray attachment on the sink and I moved that up from Monday to tomorrow. What do I need to look at to figure out what's going on and how do I ask about the bill without offending them (until I find out they're at fault).
 
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Old 07-25-13, 09:46 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Arizona......pretty hot. Sounds like the AC's were cranking. It's pretty easy to rack up big bills by running the AC's full blast.

Offend them ?!?!?!?!?! Ask them directly.
 
  #3  
Old 07-25-13, 09:49 PM
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A previous tenant who lived in this same place was from Maine and he and his buddies kept it at like 70. The bills were like 500-600 bucks a month. This is DOUBLE that.

I'm just wondering what kinda stuff might break and cause this or would there be something else, like online gaming or something which would use a lot of power?
 
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Old 07-25-13, 10:37 PM
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At that much I would wonder if they're running grow lights for a special kind of plant. Or they just have the CLAP like I do.


CLAP = Christmas Light Addiction Problem
 
  #5  
Old 07-25-13, 11:12 PM
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Okay. I really don't want to find that tomorrow and I really hope it's not what's going on.
 
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Old 07-25-13, 11:15 PM
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At that much I would wonder if they're running grow lights for a special kind of plant.
My thought exactly .
 
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Old 07-25-13, 11:22 PM
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That would be moving pretty fast if they only just moved in.
 
  #8  
Old 07-26-13, 12:46 AM
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You need to tell us the billing period (month, two months?), the rate structure (flat rate, increasing tier or what) and the kWhr rate for the electricity. It could be something simple like leaving the electric oven on 24/7 in case someone wanted to bake a frozen pizza or turning on the electric heat in the bathroom and forgetting to turn it off or several other high-power appliances going far longer than necessary.

Several years ago there were newspaper stories in my area of people having $700 monthly electrical bills during the winter. I proved that it was almost impossible to use that much electricity unless one left the heat on continuously and regulated the temperature by opening and closing windows and doors. The newspaper investigated and found out the bills were every other month, not monthly.

Doing a simple calculation, using fifteen cents as the rate for the electricity and a flat rate structure shows a continuous load of 11,000 watts. That's pretty steep and if your electricity cost is less, then the load would be higher. Grow-op does sound reasonable.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 04:08 AM
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Our provider has a feature on their website that allows us to monitor our monthly consumption in graph form. Really helpful to pinpoint when peak times of usage are and it alerts you to extra high usage from month to month if you want it to, especially like yours. My rental cabin is only occupied sporadically in the winter months, so the bill is relatively low, just keeping the heat on 55 degrees. When spring rolls around and more tenants start coming in, the usage increases accordingly, and I get an alert. Innocuous, but glad it is there.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 05:36 AM
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Short of grow lights or a meth lab, if it's an electric water heater the thermostat can be defective or a burned out element causing the other one to stay on all the time.
 
  #11  
Old 07-26-13, 06:02 AM
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I hate to say I thought grow op as well, but hate to think the worst of people right off the line.

That being said, I'm wondering if something like running the A/C with the windows open (or doors, etc) could run you up that high.
Younger people who may not have ever had to pay for utilities can be pretty wasteful.

I'll admit that when I was in college (late 90's), multiple computers, big stereo and a bunch of electronics running 24/7 did make the meter spin reasonably quickly in the rental I had (utilities included).

I'm hoping it's just wasteful kids. Would be harder to resolve, but less stressful then finding they are suburban farmers.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 07:08 AM
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Also the possibility that someone has tapped your line to feed another nearby house?
 
  #13  
Old 07-26-13, 07:38 AM
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Short of grow lights or a meth lab
Meth labs don't require electricity (criminal defense attorney, not meth cook). My first thought is AC with windows open. They could also simply be using a lot of electronics all the time. Gaming computers can use a lot of juice.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 08:04 AM
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Even a full blown, hardcore gaming system will only draw about 600 watts. And that is guessing high at 5 amps each. I have been at LAN parties with 6 systems on a 15 amp circuit before it tripped the breaker.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 08:07 AM
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Defective meter?
 
  #16  
Old 07-26-13, 08:30 AM
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When one of my house AC units was failing due to being under-pressurized (leak) it ran and ran and ran, but we only got up to about $600 for that month. Granted, there was another AC unit on the house, so the one unit wasn't doing all of the work, and we only cool the house to 80...

If I were you, I'd read through your lease agreement with them to confirm what it says, then have a nice sit-down talk with them about this, and how if they're going to abuse this then XX statement in the lease will let you opt-out of supplying their power and they'll have to establish service themselves.
 
  #17  
Old 07-26-13, 08:31 AM
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Defective meter?

Meters turn slower when they are defective from my understanding on what the electric company told me....
 
  #18  
Old 07-26-13, 09:20 AM
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The rates in my area have nearly doubled in 6 years. I'd start with Furd's suggestion and start checking rates and billing periods.

Furd

You need to tell us the billing period (month, two months?), the rate structure (flat rate, increasing tier or what) and the kWhr rate for the electricity.
Then, start looking at their living habits, thermostat settings, appliance useage and possibly opening windows for fresh air while A-C is running. Have a sit-down talk with them and show them the bills, past and present.
 
  #19  
Old 07-26-13, 10:05 AM
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Maybe an unscheduled visit or 2. If the meter is spinning wildly then knock on the door.
 
  #20  
Old 07-26-13, 10:06 AM
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Have a sit-down talk with them and show them the bills, past and present.
After checking to rule out any electrical problems - that's what I would do. I would think that once they are presented with the evidence of the sharp increase in electrical usage they would become more conscious of the their electric usage.
 
  #21  
Old 07-26-13, 10:33 AM
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A long time ago my electric bill more then doubled. My house is all gas where possible, this was mid winter and suddenly I had a bill greater than it had ever been in August when I used AC 24-7. I asked the meter be checked. The electric company informed me if they came out and found no problem they would charge me for the service call. I couldn't afford the service call if they came out and found nothing so I gave up. Between a rock and a hard place. Flash forward 20+ years and the electric company installs a new meter (change over to Smart meter). My electric bill drops by a considerable amount. Crap!
 
  #22  
Old 07-26-13, 10:46 AM
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Back in the late 80's when I lived in fla there were 4 extremely cold days one december. Because of the extra demand the power company instituted rolling brown outs which only gave me about 4-6 hrs of electricity a day. My bill doubled but when I complained they blamed in on the cold even though I had gas heat and very little electricity during the cold spell. My well even froze! When I complained, they blamed it on the cold and said I used more I had 2 choices, pay or not pay and have the juice turned off for non payment. To add insult to injury, the propane company came by and topped off everybody's tanks - at triple the normal price

I like my new digital meter! Now they have to read my meter and bill me correctly every month instead of estimating and only physically reading it 2-3 a year and then trying to bill me for not using electricity [because they over estimated my use]
 
  #23  
Old 07-26-13, 11:21 AM
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Now they have to read my meter and bill me correctly every month instead of estimating
I just had a thought. I just received a gas bill about twice as high as any gas bill I ever received in July before. As I looked at it, I remembered the gas company had been estimating my bills for 4 or 5 months because their automated meter reading system had a bad battery (at my meter in my basement). It took almost 3 months for an appointment to have someone from Landis Gyr to come out on a Saturday and change the battery. Once the reading device was working correctly again, the readings correct the past estimated readings.

Alext99, have you had any estimated bills in the last 6 months or were the bills from actual meter readings?
 
  #24  
Old 07-26-13, 01:17 PM
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In addition to the estimated vs. actual meter readings, go read the meter yourself. The utility may have misread your meter and overcharged you. This happened to my mother one time.

Bring that bill with you and ask the guys what they have been up to. If the bill is legitimate and due to their use, you might be able to recoup some of the costs from them. Talk to a lawyer first though. I think if they are being irresponsible you may have a shot at that.

My first thought was a grow-op, but I would doubt they would ask you to come over and fix the sink if they were doing that.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 01:49 PM
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If this is a month to month tenancy you have more options. Not a lawyer but in the case of a month to month I'd guess that you could give them a one month notice that in the future there would be a monthly surcharge for electricity in excess of $XX.XX amount. Even better not supply electricity.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 02:38 PM
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I think you all overwhelmed the op.....Everyone is just speculating here..... geez re read the thread....

Just a thought...
 
  #27  
Old 07-26-13, 09:48 PM
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I went over today and I did not see anything odd... The meter readings, at least the last one, seems right and man has it advanced past that. We pay 14 cents per kwh. I don't think they are growing anything they don't seem like the type and there's really no where to do it that I didn't see.

The odd thing is that I got over there and they only had turned on the swamp (the AC is a seperate control). The meter was spinning fast when I looked but I don't see anything.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 10:00 PM
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Did you write down the meter reading?
 
  #29  
Old 07-26-13, 10:10 PM
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Yes. I wrote it down. Do you suggest I read it tomorrow?
 
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Old 07-26-13, 10:12 PM
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Only if you're going back anyway. Have you compared it to the reading on the bill?

At 14 cents per kWh, that bill was for nearly 9000 kWh, or nearly 300 kWh/day for a 30 day billing cycle. We use a lot of electricity. About double what most of out neighbors use. In a high-use month we might use 1700 or 1800 kWh.

How long was the period the bill covered?
 
  #31  
Old 07-26-13, 10:20 PM
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It's now past what's on the bill.
 
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Old 07-26-13, 10:24 PM
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Of course it is. The bill should show both the reading and the day it was read. Subtract that reading from the one you wrote down today and divide by the number of days between the two readings to get kWh/day. Multiply that by 30 or 31 to see what it's running per month.
 
  #33  
Old 07-26-13, 10:33 PM
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1 month per bill. Yeah. I can read it without going in.
 
  #34  
Old 07-26-13, 10:54 PM
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Two readings on two consecutive days won't tell you as much as doing the calculation I suggested earlier will. The one day difference is just a snapshot, and might not be for a typical day.
 
  #35  
Old 07-26-13, 10:56 PM
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How many kWh/day for the billing cycle, and how many kWh/day for the time since then?
 
  #36  
Old 07-27-13, 08:14 AM
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It looks like 350kwh per day. Its been about 400kwh average per day since the billing cycle. Is there any way that there could be a short somewhere that's not blowing a breaker?
 
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Old 07-27-13, 08:18 AM
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No. By definition a short would blow a breaker. Did you answer the question is the water heater electric?
 
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Old 07-27-13, 08:36 AM
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Yes ... often if the heater is electric and there is a slab leak it will cause a high electric bill.

Look for meter spinning when all the water is off.
 
  #39  
Old 07-27-13, 09:44 AM
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Yes. There's a tankless electric water heater. What's a slab leak?
 
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Old 07-27-13, 09:49 AM
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If any of the water piping runs through or under a concrete slab, there could be a leak going unnoticed.
 
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