Usage Monitor / High Bill Questions

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Old 03-21-17, 05:57 AM
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Usage Monitor / High Bill Questions

Hoping the forum might be able to give me some insight here. My main question is about the accuracy of home energy monitor devices. I have two electrical meters, one of which I believe is for the hot water heater. No idea why we have two, just how it's been since we've moved in.

We've always had what seem like very high electric bills and in trying to get a handle on them, I've installed a monitor in each breaker box.

Both monitors are the clamp on type, one is powered by attaching to a breaker, the other just plugs into a normal outlet.

The meter in the main breaker box is a Sense, the one in the second box (which I believe is the hot water heater) is an Eyedro.

When adding up their usage stats for Kwh per day, they're always reporting less usage than what my electric bill shows. Sometimes, my Kwh usage per day is 20 or 30 Kwh higher than what those devices report.

Does anyone have any experience with how accurate a device like that normally is?
 
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Old 03-21-17, 06:29 AM
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Where are you located? What are "very high" electric bills? How is your home heated (gas, oil, heat pump, electric resistance...)?

I would trust the accuracy of the power companies meter over that of a clamp over add-on device.
 
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Old 03-21-17, 07:01 AM
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If it's a Fluke, I would trust it to be extremely accurate and precise (to at least what the spec in the owners manual states). If it's some random brand from Amazon/Ebay I really wouldn't trust it for more than a general idea of the reading.
 
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Old 03-21-17, 08:39 AM
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Nope, no Fluke meters.

We're in the Philadelphia area. Not a particularly large house, a 1400sqft ranch with a finished basement (not sure if the basement is included in the sqft). We just had the entire attic spray foam insulated last fall and switched to a high efficiency geothermal setup in December (replacing an aging oil furnace / central air unit). There is also a single room that is heated / cooled by an air source heat pump.

Our usage averages around 2000kwh per month, with the lowest (in mild months) being a bit over 1000 and the highest (hot summer months) being about 3000.

Our rate is about .16 per kwh, so our worst bills are a bit over $400 per month at times.

During the winter, the main thermostat is kept at 68 during the day and 55 from 9pm-5am. We have a nurse who stays in the single room over night to care for one of our kids, so that heat pump is on to keep her warm.

Just as a gut reaction, our usage seems high, but maybe that's just wrong. We also frequently get flyers from the power company saying that we're in the 99th percentile for usage, compared to our neighbors. Not sure how truthful that is.
 
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Old 03-21-17, 09:46 AM
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Our rate is about .16 per kwh, so our worst bills are a bit over $400 per month at times.
I will have to check our rates tonight but we are similar, 2 meters, GEO thermal (second meter for GEO & HWH), and good insulation but we have around 4200 sq ft (including basement) and our year round average bill is $219.

I also get the elec company letters telling me how much more electricity we use compared to neighbors, but I keep telling them we don't use gas (except for dryer and fireplace) so it's not apples to apples comparison.
 
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Old 03-21-17, 10:20 AM
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Even including our basement (which is part of the conditioned space in the house), our house is still a lot smaller and our bills average $305 over the past 12 months. We have no gas, so all appliances (dryer, stove, hot water) are all electric.

I'm hoping the geothermal proves to be more efficient come summer. I know we're saving on oil payments, but our electrical usage definitely went up right after we started using the geo heat in December. I suppose that's because we're using electricity to compress / generate heat (I have the backup electric resistance strip turned off).

Looking at our power usage on the power company's website, our usage definitely maps with the swings in temperature (high in summer / winter, lower in spring / fall). Our old furnace / central AC was so old that I thought a big part of our power use was from an inefficient HVAC and crappy attic insulation.

Now that we've insulated the attic and switched to geo, I was hoping for a noticeable decrease in our monthly electric bill.
 
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Old 03-21-17, 05:41 PM
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I just checked my bill, our GEO rate is 0.05 peak/0.04 off peak, and normal rate is 0.08 peak/0.07 off peak so we're a lot less.

In comparison to neighbors with gas & elec it appears we are about 30-40% lower per month avg for all utilities. If your elec rates are that high it's going to be tough to see any savings.

I'd check to see that your GEO is on the meter with the time of day/GEO rates!

Another thing we've learned. GEO is not very good at recovering from lower night time settings like gas. The slow recovery means the unit is running for hours to get back to the daytime settings.

I think our difference is like 2 degrees.
 
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Old 03-21-17, 06:43 PM
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Keep in mind that you switched from burning dinosaurs to a heat pump so you've switched the heating burden from oil to electric. Your electric bill will increase. You must consider the unburned oil cost in your equation. The only time you can make an apples to apples comparison is during the summer when it was your old AC versus your new geothermal unit. Hopefully then you'll see the more efficient, newer HVAC and insulation pay dividends.
 
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Old 03-21-17, 08:09 PM
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How are you producing hot water? Do you have an old oil fired or an electric water heater? With the geothermal system you should be getting hot water virtually for free during the warmer months.

switched to a high efficiency geothermal setup in December (replacing an aging oil furnace / central air unit).
What type of emergency heat does your system have? I have heard of geothermal systems with electric resistance emergency heat where the resistance didn't shut off causing high electric bills like you are having. Have you had the geothermal contractor out to check the unit yet?
 
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Old 03-21-17, 08:30 PM
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If you have two meters there should be two distinct rates or areas in the bill.

The typical hot water meter could be double the normal rate for daytime hours and half the rate at night. Look into that.


When I first started as an electrician.... the two meter system was very popular. We'd install a timer on the water heater so that it only heated at night and was shut off in the daytime. This was a very practical and cost saving solution.

Today.... those second meters are just about extinct in my area.

Those power reader units you are using only measure current....not actual power so inductive loads may not register accurately. Inductive loads are motors, discharge lighting, computers.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 03-21-17 at 08:46 PM.
 

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