Average 30kwh a day, seems like A LOT for my small place

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Old 10-05-16, 10:27 AM
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Average 30kwh a day, seems like A LOT for my small place

So, i moved into a cute little cottage on the water about a year ago, it's about 800sqft, 2br 1 bath. It's a rental that was originally a guest house for the main house, but, is on its own electric, water & gas meters. The Main electric meters are on the main house, then the lines drop down to two breaker boxes, one for the main house with all their breakers (150amp) and mine with just a main breaker(60amp) which then runs to my main breaker box in the garage at my cottage.

The cottage has a Tankless on demand NATURAL GAS hot water heater, a NATURAL GAS stove, no washer and dryer, a Ductless mini-split for heat and A/C and only one new fridge. Since moving in, i have switched all the lights, by my count 20 lights, to LED's. I don't leave lights on in rooms i'm not using and an careful with electric usage. No desktop computers, just tablets and laptops. It's just me living in the house, with my daughter staying over on weekends and holidays. I work from 8am - 7pm most days.

For 2015 I used 9,810KWH of electricity, averaging something like 31 kwh a DAY! I can't figure out what is using all this power. Should i bring in a electrician to see if i have a short somewhere. I just can't figure out what is using all this electricity! Anything i should look at? I thought about turning off my main breaker and seeing if the meter still 'turned', but, i have a digital meter, so, no turning.
 
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Old 10-05-16, 11:25 AM
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That could be reasonable depending on how much the mini-split runs. A poorly performing fridge can also explain high usage if the coils are dirty, the system is low on refrigerant, if it is an older inefficient design or if the auto-defrost is malfunctioning.

Does the cottage also have a well pump and/or sewage pump? A small water leak somewhere could cause the pump to cycle a lot.

Edit: One more idea... could there be pipe heat tapes installed somewhere that are stuck on? Sometimes people install these on vacation homes that are left unattended in freezing weather.
 
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Old 10-05-16, 11:40 AM
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Yes, that seems like a huge amount of power. I have a 1540 square foot home and for the last ten years I have used, on average, 12 kW-hours a day. I'm retired and home most of the time and I am also a night person so often have lights on as well as the television. In addition, I have an electric kitchen range although I rarely use more than one burner on top preferring to use a counter-top toaster oven, microwave oven or table-top appliance like a George Foreman grill.

I have my three front outside lights on a photocell so they average about 12 hours a day over the course of a year. I DO use CFL bulbs in these lamps as well as a mix of CFL, LED and standard incandescents throughout the house. I have gas water and space heating, only a window A/C in the bedroom and my shop (garage) has several eight-foot, twin-tube high output fluorescent fixtures as well as an electric welder. Like you, I live alone and rarely have lights burning in vacant rooms. I do have (electric) laundry facilities that run approximately once per week.

I detailed all that to show that I "should" be using significantly more electricity than you but instead I am using less than half as much. (BTW, I divided 9,810 kW-h by 365 days and got a daily average of 26.88, not the 31 you posted.)

Here is what I think, either there is something on "your" meter that you are unaware of OR (more likely) you have compromised insulation on one or both of the "hot" leads feeding your cottage. This compromised insulation is allowing a continuous "leakage" to the earth and is where your electricity is being lost. You could try using a clamp-on ammeter and checking all the "Grounding Electrode Conductors" (the wire from the ground rod to the service entrance) to see if there is any measurable current flow. You will need to check on BOTH services at the house as well as the grounding electrode at the cottage.
 
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Old 10-05-16, 06:13 PM
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is on its own electric, water & gas meters.
The Main electric meters are on the main house, then the lines drop down to two breaker boxes, one for the main house with all their breakers (150amp) and mine with just a main breaker(60amp) which then runs to my main breaker box in the garage at my cottage.
Are you saying your electric is metered twice or is your meter at the main house? Do you just have a submeter on the cottage or is it your billing meter?
 
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Old 10-06-16, 04:25 AM
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Your Utility Company would probably agree.

Some electric utilities will provide you with a free audit of your consumption and identifying the culprit appliance or location of the short.

I once had a non-suspect refrigerator caught consuming 14 KWH per day all by itself.
 
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Old 10-06-16, 06:23 AM
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Are you saying your electric is metered twice or is your meter at the main house? Do you just have a submeter on the cottage or is it your billing meter?
My explanation was a little strange on that. Lets see if i can explain this better.

So, with the Cottage i'm renting, there are two house on one lot. The 'Main house' and the 'Cottage'. On the side of the main house there are two meters, one for the main house and one for the cottage.

In the basement of the main house are two panels, one for the main house(150amp), with all their breakers(they also have two subpanels, but i don't think that's relevent) and a box with a single 60amp breaker for the cottage.

From that 60amp breaker, there is approx. a 150ft under ground electric line run to the garage of the cottage. At the end of that line is my 'main' panel with all my breakers.


What i think may be the issue is, there maybe a point along that 150ft where the power is 'grounding' out. OR that the owner of the main house has 'tapped' into my line somewhere between that 60amp breaker and my main box. Otherwise, i have no idea what it could be.
 
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Old 10-06-16, 06:27 AM
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I'd just about bet that there is something powered in the main house off of your meter
Who lives in the main house? renter or owner?
 
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Old 10-06-16, 09:52 AM
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You are in the unique position to actually check for unknown devices on your meter.

You'd need to know which meter is yours. Turn off your main or all your breakers in the garage.
Your meter should not be moving. If it is..... you'll need to investigate further.

You said digital meter..... there should be a dotted line that moves showing any usage.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 07:31 AM
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I'd just about bet that there is something powered in the main house off of your meter
Who lives in the main house? renter or owner?
The owner. Luckily, i'm in a much better position then you would think. This is 'family owned' property. So i rent from family. I have full access to both boxes and the whole property. I just want to make sure i know what i'm looking for before i start.

Tonight, i'm going to shut off the breaker box in the garage of the cottage for a few minutes and see if my meter still flashes. If it does, i'm going to try shutting of my 'main breaker' in the basement of the main house and make sure that makes it stop flashing. If it does atleast i can determine the problem is somewhere between the two boxes.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 11:10 AM
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Ok, after finally getting on the PSEG site, it looks like i may have been off. While my YEARLY average of 2015, broken down to a daily average IS 30kwh per day. This is closer to accurate. It makes a bit more sense since my heating is by electric heat pump.


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Old 10-10-16, 03:19 PM
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Thank you for posting the actual consumption by billing periods along with the average temperatures. Looking at these tells me that your consumption is following the average temperatures fairly closely. During the periods where supplemental heating or cooling would be minimal shows the least consumption whereas those periods when either heating or cooling would be in use show higher consumption, just as it should.

Now one thing DOES jump out and that is the billing for January of 2016 shows an average temperature of 49 degrees and a daily average consumption of 23.48 kW-hours while the billing of May, 2016 shows a slightly higher average temperature of 52 degrees (three degrees warmer) but also a significantly higher electrical usage averaging 36.56 kW-hours. This is approximately 55% more consumption when the temperature indicates the consumption should be lower. That points to a malfunctioning heat pump that is using the back-up electric heaters rather than the refrigeration system to provide the heat.

Note well that changes in lifestyle will have a significant effect upon the electrical consumption. Using a deep temperature setback with a heat pump will often be self defeating in that it will energize the electric heat when trying to recover to the normal set point temperature. Many other lifestyle changes could also be involved.
 
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Old 10-11-16, 06:40 AM
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Thank you guys for all you help. Looking at the chart, it appears that the high rate is entirely my fault. I've got to take it easy on the A/C and Heat...especially the heat. I thought the ductless mini split would work great to save money since i'm only heating the rooms i use, that doesn't seem to be the case.

I'm going to do some math over the next couple of months and try to figure out if its worth installing a supplemental natural gas heater.
 
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Old 10-11-16, 06:46 AM
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Gas, if available, is what in many cases can save money for heating air and water. That mini split may have auxiliary electric heater that really gobbles up the KWs.
 

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Old 10-11-16, 07:18 AM
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There should be a light on the thermostat that indicates when the aux heat is being used. On my HP I flipped the breaker for the heat strip [inside the air handler] to disable the aux heat. That way the aux heat won't come on if my wife fiddles with the thermostat and if it gets too cold for the heat pump to keep up - well that is a good excuse to fire up the wood stove
 
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Old 10-11-16, 11:01 AM
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It's a mini-split unit, so it probably doesn't have aux heaters. I'm guessing the winter climate is too cold for effective use of a heat pump only causing the unit to run too much at the low end of its efficiency range. You might actually save money with a space heater (electric radiator, etc) on the coldest days, but investigating some other heating fuels might be a good idea.
 
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