can a malfunctioning water heater drive up electric bill?


  #1  
Old 07-24-15, 10:02 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
can a malfunctioning water heater drive up electric bill?

a friend lives on the 2nd floor of a rented house and is using NO AC this year so far. her first 15 days of the most recent billing cycle is 522 KWH used. so my guess is she will finish the month with 1000. what is really bizarre is july 10 she used 50 kwh in a day.

I had her defrost her fridge the 20th but as the chart shows, i do see a bit of a decrease . she said it had thick ice.

I cannot think of anything else in her tiny apt other than a water heater that is doing so much damage financially. she said her one kid may take a 1 hour shower but would that really use that much juice? she has no access to the basement but I was just curious if she called the landlord what he himself could do/check. I also told her check her baseboards to ensure they are off

also she pulled her july 2014 bill and it was 438 kwh compared to this years 753 and one kid actually moved out earlier this year!
 
Attached Images  
  #2  
Old 07-24-15, 02:00 PM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,624
Upvotes: 0
Received 296 Upvotes on 271 Posts
A leak somewhere in the hot water plumbing will drive up the electric or gas bill depending on the kind of water heater.

A malfunctioning all electric water heater all by itself probably won't draw significantly more power than it should without being noticed. The extra consumed power must show up somewhere as something warmer than normal.

You might try reading the electric meter in the evening and again in the morning for several days. On some of those days shut off the water heater breaker overnight. See if there is a pattern of lots more electrical use overnight when the water heater was left "on".
 
  #3  
Old 07-24-15, 02:10 PM
P
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 28,368
Received 2,323 Upvotes on 2,066 Posts
The "no AC" in the second floor of a house in July is suspicious. Are you certain it's not running or being used? Next I would suspect the refrigerator. How old is it? If it's in the process of dying it may be running a lot more than it used to to maintain the same temperature.

If the water heater had a thermostat stick on it is probably on continuously. One 2k element would use about 48kw a day which doesn't leave much room in the bill for anything else. So, if one element was stuck on you'd really know it and probably be seeing more like 70+ kwh per day. Where is the water heater? One thing you can do is see if there is any discharge from the T&P safety valve of the water heater. Don't pull the lever as they often leak after being "tested" but if nobody has complained of scalding hot water and there is no discharge from the T&P valve I doubt the problem is in the water heater.
 
  #4  
Old 07-24-15, 04:18 PM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
A 1 hour shower every day can be expensive with a standard shower head. You can set the shower to normal flow and time how long it takes to fill a quart container. Times 4 tell you how long to fill a gallon. Divide that time into 60 (60 seconds divided by your time per gallon in seconds) and you have the gallons per minute. Energy efficient shower heads are a maximum of 2.5 gallons per minute.

Then run the hot water and (if you have an oven thermometer) measure the full hot temp.

From the gallons per minute and the temp we can estimate the cost per 60 minute shower. Could be as high as $5 per shower with a regular shower head.

Does your meter have one of the large rotating dials?

Bud
 
  #5  
Old 07-24-15, 04:45 PM
V
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,195
Upvotes: 0
Received 3 Upvotes on 3 Posts
Any chance someone left the Clothes Iron turned on that day . . . . or some Hot Rollers, or a Curling Iron.

Any small heat generating appliance could have done your Friend in; especially those that are silent thieves.

I know my Photo Copier chewed up a few thousand KWHs per day if left in a stand by mode.
 
  #6  
Old 07-24-15, 06:24 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 65,985
Received 4,152 Upvotes on 3,729 Posts
A water heater could not maintain an element on continuously. The water would get hot enough to trip the thermal cutout on the upper stat killing the power.
 
  #7  
Old 07-24-15, 08:11 PM
Handyone's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: U.S.
Posts: 4,807
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
2nd floor of a rented house
AllanJ has some good ideas as far as monitoring and testing.

If you think this "tiny apt" on the 2nd floor will use 1,000 kWh this month with no air conditioner, there's something fishy going on.
Someone may be tapping into her power.

If that's not it, then she should look into replacing appliances such as old TV's, refrigerators or any freezers. Also unplug chargers and any AC Adapters for electronics (wall warts)

Don't know about PA, but CAL power companies will actually come to your home and do a review free of charge. They will even provide free services, such as weatherizing, and equipment to some qualifying households.
 
  #8  
Old 07-25-15, 01:33 PM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
she has no access to hot water heater

today she wrote

Based on our records as of 07/24/2015, you are 16 days into your current billing cycle.
Usage-to-Date
552 kwh
* Bill so far $79.09
Average daily cost
$4.94 /day
This bill cycle will end on or around
08/11/2015

so 5 bucks a day is still insane.i told her call power company so we will see
 
  #9  
Old 07-25-15, 02:20 PM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
Lucky, have her test the flow on the shower head as I suggested. A hot one hour shower with a high flow head could be $5 all by itself. Here's the numbers.
5 gallons per minute X 60 minutes X 8 pounds per gallon X 80 degree temp rise = 192,000 BTUs
Divide that by 3,412 for KW = 56 KW
At $0.10 per KW that's $5.60 per shower.

One btu will raise one pound of water one degree F.
8 pounds per gallon of water.
The water heater may be 140° but I only used 80° temp rise as the hot is mixed with cold for the shower.

At my 18 cents per KW we take very short showers with a low flow shower head.

Bud
 
  #10  
Old 07-25-15, 03:16 PM
Handyone's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: U.S.
Posts: 4,807
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Don't want to get too far off subject, but check this out:

My current bill averages about $0.32 per kWh. This is taking all tiers into consideration. Anything over 614kWh is billed at $0.42.

Welcome to California.
 
  #11  
Old 07-27-15, 06:05 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
I forwarded all these suggestions to her. I will see what she does. she did put in AC yesterday and from 330 pm to 7 am used 21 KWH and she took pics of the meter to show me

also she noticed her neighbors meter is moving slower than a (insert your favorite demeaning joke here). I said this is reason to call the power company and/or landlord.

I bet you guys in CA make more money than us PA people though lol. also I know my house would be well over 1 million based on some of the home shows I see on tv.
 
  #12  
Old 07-27-15, 10:36 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 9,887
Received 189 Upvotes on 169 Posts
It sounds like the downstairs tenant's A-C is powered from the upstairs tenant's panel.
 
  #13  
Old 08-07-15, 10:30 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
my blond friend may not be smart but sometimes she's genius..she asked me instead of unplugging everything can she just turn off all the breakers instead. I never thought of that and neither did anyone here

she just wrote to me this:


This is very interesting indeed. I shut off every single circuit breaker including the main. My dial kept spinning but neighbor's stopped; however, her porch light remained on. Now when I turned the breakers back on, my dial is now spinning much slowly and hers is going like crazy.

she also said the power company will now launch investigation
 
  #14  
Old 08-07-15, 12:14 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
Friend who is an electrician was called out because some receptacles and lights weren't working in an apartment. His first stop was the breaker box outside. He saw the electric company's red seal on the meter and went in to give them the bad news. The electric company had shut off the electric for non payment. But they protested the outlets still work on that wall in the kitchen. He had to explain someone screwed up when they wired the receptacles on the wall shared by the two apartments.
she also said the power company will now launch investigation
So not sure you have a power company problem.
 
  #15  
Old 08-07-15, 06:40 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 9,887
Received 189 Upvotes on 169 Posts
Ray is right, this sounds more like a landlord problem.
 
  #16  
Old 08-10-15, 05:26 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
I seriously doubt her landlord will give a blank lol. why would he? he's out zero money and it will only cost money to diagnose and fix. where as since the electric company owns the meters I would hope they could objectively state this is wrong and then the landlord would be forced to fix and the neighbor or power company reimburse her for all past transgressions without going to court. it seems like simple open and shut case.

I hope. her march bill was almost 500 and her neighbor has been getting a free ride too long
 
  #17  
Old 08-10-15, 05:43 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
Just my opinion. I hope the power co does get involved as they have all of the previous billing data, back who knows how far. BUT, I have doubts they will want to get involved unless forced.

What might be interesting is who missed this when the building was set up as two units. Were permits pulled and inspections performed. You might as well add as many as possible to the list of who is going to repay her for out of pocket costs plus the usual list of suffering.

There is going to be a lot of finger pointing and very little money offered voluntarily. Does she qualify for legal aide, a free lawyer. There is also senior legal assistance in some states.

Bud
 
  #18  
Old 08-10-15, 06:29 AM
V
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,195
Upvotes: 0
Received 3 Upvotes on 3 Posts
Am I correct in reading this . . . . it's being suggested that someone is hijacking power off the line between the power meter and the main circuit breaker box ?
 
  #19  
Old 08-10-15, 08:46 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
Am I correct in reading this . . . . it's being suggested that someone is hijacking power off the line between the power meter and the main circuit breaker box ?
No. That some of her neighbors circuits are being fed by hers because when the house was divided not all the circuits were correctly divided up.

If it was me I would unplug or shut off every thing in the apartment and using an amp probe determine which breakers power was still being drawn from. I'd shut the breakers off even if inconvenient for me and wait for the neighbor to start complaining to the landlord. Do it in the hottest part of the day so if the neighbors AC is from my box the message would be quickly delivered. But that's just me and I'm not really suggesting it.
 
  #20  
Old 08-10-15, 09:45 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,624
Upvotes: 0
Received 296 Upvotes on 271 Posts
I will suggest that you feel free to turn off any of your own breakers at any time without telling anyone.

Can you guess which breakers might control circuits that your neighbor can access and which breakers don't? Hint: Figure out which breaker(s) control your receptacles on the wall on that neighbors side or, for neighbors above or below, your receptacles near what you think is the neighbor's air conditioner or kitchen or laundry area.

If you find out that your meter was or is feeding other apartments you should notify the landlord quickly. Before writing any letter to your landlord containing words that you are expecting a rent discount to cover your electric bill because you are being charged for power used outside your apartment, you should write a complaint letter to the city department that regulates apartment rentals.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-10-15 at 10:01 AM.
  #21  
Old 08-10-15, 12:10 PM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
actually my belief is the meters are 'switched' since when friend killed her breakers, her neighbors meter stopped dead while 'my friends' kept spinning.
 
  #22  
Old 08-10-15, 12:18 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 16,321
Received 39 Upvotes on 31 Posts
If that is indeed the case then the power company has some serious explaining to do. Have you checked the meter number against the billing statement?
 
  #23  
Old 08-10-15, 01:22 PM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
numbers match up. I guess we will learn who has legal liability to determine correct metering of the juice.

the worst thing would indeed be if there was some sort of 'mish mash' of each person paying some of the others so I hope its cut and dried
 
  #24  
Old 08-10-15, 03:19 PM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
Get pictures of everything you can before a crew comes in and suddenly they deny any problems. It would be nice if the bills have just been swapped, makes the math much easier, but getting the other party to pay may be an issue.

Bud
 
  #25  
Old 08-12-15, 07:44 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
end of billing cycle..1032 kwh for 155 bucks...34 per day

last year was 659 kwh and 22 per day. plainly something is wrong here lol. I guess the good news is if they refuse to change it or say she's wrong. she can crank up AC and heat to max and she literally wont have to pay for it

she has a pic of the meter matching the number that is on her bill. nothing more to really take a pic of???
 
  #26  
Old 08-12-15, 08:10 AM
P
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 28,368
Received 2,323 Upvotes on 2,066 Posts
I've had a number of problems with my rental properties since Duke and Progress merged.
 
  #27  
Old 08-12-15, 09:24 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,624
Upvotes: 0
Received 296 Upvotes on 271 Posts
What probably happened is that the neighbor only had one or a few things plugged in and using a receptacle wired to your panel.

WHen you flipped off your breaker the receptacle went dead and the neighbor tried another receptacle that was her own and was live.

If the landlord refuses to fix the problem he might end up including all of the affected tenants' electricity in the rent in the form of a rent deduction approved by the city rental housing agency.
 
  #28  
Old 08-12-15, 09:32 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,624
Upvotes: 0
Received 296 Upvotes on 271 Posts
You can file a complaint when you have strong suspicion of a problem even though you do not have the exact problem found.

Next time you think that your meter is going too fast, turn off breakers one at a time while checking the meter. This is another way to narrow down on what circuit has the problem.

Leave as many breakers as possible turned off when you go out.
 
  #29  
Old 08-18-15, 05:09 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
per company confirmed switched meters from 2004 when all were replaced. contractor was paid bonuses on numbers installed, not accuracy.

result is stop paying electric now and wait 2 months for a check in the mail and the new billing to start. and while we were standing there with my friends real meter stopped, the neighbors real meter started spinning like crazy. that poor old lady is gonna get a hell of a shock with a years worth of catching up to do.

also I wasn't aware of the type of meter my friend has. it was called a recording meter. just saves 24 hours of data and sends it in then via the line. they will be replaceing with the smart meters in a few years so they can put the RF thru your brain and fry your cells and turn off the juice remotely when you don't pay. the woman tried to put a good spin on smart meters but there literally is not a single benefit to the consumer. especialy since theres no time of day plan anymore.

today will be 1st full day on the correct meter so I hope she can get online and see her usage!
 
  #30  
Old 08-18-15, 05:31 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
You said "that poor old lady is gonna get a hell of a shock with a years worth of catching up to do. " is it one year or 2004 to 2015, 11 years she has to make up?

Bud
 
  #31  
Old 08-18-15, 06:06 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
neighbor moved in a year ago but if, as I suspect, my friends bills are probably in the 50 to 70 dollar range, the 211 budget plan my friend has been erroneously paying will be a shock for sure.

regarding the old tenants that were screwed before. electric company said they don't know how to find them and why would they care anyway. they have their money. the company can go back 4 years they said so even if everyone else came forward back to 04, they couldn't help them
 
  #32  
Old 08-18-15, 06:23 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
It is nice to see this resolved at least for some past and all future. I helped one elderly widow who was being killed by one of the big oil suppliers and they refused to cooperate in any way. All I could do was submit my report and hope others would fight for her. Never heard how she made out. Seniors are too easily cheated.

Bud
 
  #33  
Old 08-20-15, 10:13 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
can you do the reading for me. by my count she only used 11KWH the past 2 days and that cant be right.
 
Attached Images   
  #34  
Old 08-20-15, 10:35 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
I never was good at reading these, but I get 87504 on top and 87492 on bottom, so a difference of 12. At $0.10 a KW it is costing her 60 cents a day for electricity. What else they add on I do not know.

Bud
 
  #35  
Old 08-20-15, 10:44 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Northern Minnesota
Posts: 1,629
Received 13 Upvotes on 9 Posts
Isn't it 88?...........................
.
 
  #36  
Old 08-20-15, 10:53 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
Baldwin, what do you get for top and bottom readings. Remember they direction of rotation alternates.

Bud
 
  #37  
Old 08-20-15, 10:54 AM
L
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 2,227
Received 8 Upvotes on 8 Posts
i'm glad you guys are having a hard time too I looked at 'how to read' on my company site and I really do think its

87492 and 87503 but this is why I posted pic. her online account hasn't been adjusted yet to reflect new meter so we are really in the dark

as a total aside here, I just realized they switched my own meter a month ago from the time of day meter to a standard meter so mine is now digital and I can do my readings on the net now. they estimate ..I mean OVER estimate every other month and I hate it
 
  #38  
Old 08-20-15, 11:13 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Northern Minnesota
Posts: 1,629
Received 13 Upvotes on 9 Posts
I 'think' the third number is 5 in both because the fourth number is past 0.
 
  #39  
Old 08-20-15, 11:18 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Northern Minnesota
Posts: 1,629
Received 13 Upvotes on 9 Posts
Sorry, had to blow it up to read the dates. You guys are right, 504 on top so it's 12.
 
  #40  
Old 08-20-15, 11:37 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,460
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
luckyd you and I agree, it is just a question of calling that a 3 or a 4. Closer to 4, but the instructions may say to call it a 3, I'm guessing.

It's a 5 on the top picture but a 4 on the bottom as the 5th dial is just past 9 headed to zero.

So, is she happy? At those low bills she may have many years of no bills. If those are the bills the neighbor has been getting, she must have known something was wrong but elected to let it ride. Now she will have to pay for that ride.

Bud
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: