HUGE spike in electric usage! HELP!

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  #1  
Old 09-23-13, 12:18 PM
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HUGE spike in electric usage! HELP!

Looking for some advice on a very unexpected spike in my electrical usage.

We just moved into a house in April (3000 sq ft) and so far no issues with the electric service other than some frequent power outages (neighbors say its "normal"). It has been a mild summer so with the AC running occasionally and no change in lifestyle we have averaged about 900 to 1300 kwh of usage per month. There has only been one of the meter readings that was estimated and the following month an actual reading only increased the previous by 30 kwh (averaged about 900 kwh per month for two months).

Then this last month, POW! 6300 kwh of usage! Actual reading the previous month to an actual reading this month. Heart attack!! 200 kwh per day average! There was no changes in the house. Temperature for the month was actually cooler than the month before so AC usage was similar. Double checked the meter to make sure the reading was not in complete error. It was very close. 10 days after the reading it showed an increase around 400 kwh (40 kwh/day).

I called the power company and placed a "dispute" with them and they will come to check the meter sometime in the next 10 days. In the meantime I am reading the meter daily and tracking washer/dryer, AC, TV, etc. usage to try and find something that is drastically changing the power consumption. So far I am averaging 40 to 50 kwh per day. I killed the main breaker and the meter stopped turning. I understand a faulty appliance can increase consumption but by a factor of 5????? Any additional ideas out there that could cause this? Could power outages cause the meter to malfunction?

Also:
1. No, I do not have a "herbal" growing operation in my basement.
2. There are no power cords running to my neighbors "herbal" grow operations.
3. I have gas heat and gas stove.
4. AC is on a programmable thermostat.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-23-13, 12:47 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

What kind of water heater do you have?
 
  #3  
Old 09-23-13, 12:50 PM
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Forgot to add:
5. City water (not a well pump).
6. Gas water heater.
7. No powered attic fan.
 
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Old 09-23-13, 02:35 PM
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No obvious culprit. Best guess is that you've only gotten one actual meter reading since you moved in and that that caught up some usage from before that had been missed. That's a long shot though.

You can invest in a watt-hour metering system to record usage, but it's expensive. Your best strategy at this point may be to negotiate the best settlement you can and watch it going forward.
 
  #5  
Old 09-23-13, 06:33 PM
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There are kw meters that cost around $100 plus. There are both free and subscription online graphing services that work with these meters. I use the Current Cost EnviR with the USB serial port adapter and Meniscus.co.uk for free monitoring. With the meter by itself you can look at watts used with one circuit breaker at a time to see if you have a large drain.

Here is an example of what I can see for live usage (the top 1hr graph shows both legs and the bottom 24hr graph is selectable between them). You can also track Kw Hrs in graphs:



With this meter/program you can see if it is your problem or prove it's the power company.
 
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Old 09-23-13, 06:35 PM
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The only device I can think of that could possibly use that much power would be the A/C compressor.

Is it at all possible that the outside unit was running more than it should have ? I know it's a vague question. Usually you can hear the blower inside and hear the air moving but the outside unit is not heard.

Can you tell when you're inside the house when the outside unit is running ?
 
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