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  1. #1
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    Default Electrical Usage is Very High

    I know there are few posts on this already, but none of them seem to solve my problem.

    My electrical Bill is double what I would expect.

    I measured the Amps usage during an average morning hour when everyone is awake, it is about 15 amps. There are small spikes here and there when someone uses a blow dryer or the clothing dryer, etc. But on average, when people are in the home using things, the lights are on, etc. - the usage is roughly 15 amps. In the evenings (when people are asleep), I suspect it is about 5 amps (worst case).

    Furnace (Heating) and Hot Water Heater are Gas
    There is one baseboard electric heater in the bathroom that is only used to warm up the room in the morning for about two / three hours. The rest of the time it is off.
    Clothing dryer is electric, but only on once per day. This is brand new as well.
    All appliances are new and energy star rated.
    The entire Electrical system is new.
    The electrical meter is new. The utility company says there is nothing wrong with the meter after checking.
    Power readings between the meter and the box are consistent.

    Let's say worst case, I use 15 amps per hour 24 hours a day (obviously not realistic...but let's just say). That is roughly 1,200 kilowatts per month. On a good month, I am billed 1,500 kilowatts per month and go up to 2,000 kilowatts per month.

    BTW...I have had electricians over as well. They have found nothing either. They recommend shutting down everything and starting it up one at a time to see if there are unusual spikes. But at $1,000 for the testing, I would like to avoid that step.

    One last thing. The circuit breaker trips for two rooms once every three weeks -- at random moments.

    I cannot find the power leak. Short of hooking up a meter 24 hours a day, I am not sure what else to check.

    help?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    Maybe you've already done this, but I would disconnect everything that plugs in and turn off all lights in those two rooms where the breaker trips and see if there is a current draw at that breaker. If you have some experience at this you could connect an amp meter in series within the circuit to see if there is some current showing up. If you are not familiar with this, don't try it yourself, get someone in who knows how to do it. The fact that that breaker trips every so often would make it the first place I would look.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    Quote Originally Posted by bp21901 View Post
    Maybe you've already done this, but I would disconnect everything that plugs in and turn off all lights in those two rooms where the breaker trips and see if there is a current draw at that breaker. If you have some experience at this you could connect an amp meter in series within the circuit to see if there is some current showing up. If you are not familiar with this, don't try it yourself, get someone in who knows how to do it. The fact that that breaker trips every so often would make it the first place I would look.
    Thank you! It sounds like this is the best option.

    Something weird I noticed this evening...the more power we use, the slower the electronic electric meter moves. There is a small imitation meter that moves...when I am pulling 10 amps, it moves quicker than one I pull 20 amps. Maybe it is just the way the meter works.

    Anyway...I will give your suggestion a try. Thanks for your help!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    Quote Originally Posted by SearsHome View Post
    Let's say worst case, I use 15 amps per hour 24 hours a day (obviously not realistic...but let's just say). That is roughly 1,200 kilowatts per month. On a good month, I am billed 1,500 kilowatts per month and go up to 2,000 kilowatts per month.
    Besides the equipment you listed which are heavy users a few items on stand by can draw a lot of watt/hours in a month. For instance TVs, VCRs, DVDs that are powered all the time so the remote will work. Those can be put on a power strip and powered down completely when not in use. Computers left on all the time even in power-save mode still use power. Any device with a remote control draws power when off. An oven and range using 40 amps for 1 hour is about 9.5kilowat hrs. so an hour a day for 30 days adds 285 kilowatt/hrs.A Electric alarm clocks and clocks on microwaves add to power usage.
    Jack

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
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    Dec 2008
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    Richmond, VA
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    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    I remember reading in another forum a while ago from an electrician who said that water leaks are sometimes diagnosed by excessive electrical consumption. The idea is that a leak where you can't see if causes a well pump to run frequently. You may never see the leak because of where it is, but the extra $ to run the pump is obvious.

    This may have nothing to do with your situation, but I have always thought it was interesting.

    I would shut off the breaker that keeps tripping for a month and see if it effects your bill. (I have a house full of electric issues and my wife is used to having entire rooms off for long period of time). If so, then you can start narrowing the problem down. If not, you know it's not that problematic circuit.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    MrButters good catch, I missed the well being mentioned in the OP. Any water leak causes the pump to run more often using electricity.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    Quote Originally Posted by SearsHome View Post
    Something weird I noticed this evening...the more power we use, the slower the electronic electric meter moves. There is a small imitation meter that moves...when I am pulling 10 amps, it moves quicker than one I pull 20 amps. Maybe it is just the way the meter works.
    Is there any way that you can post a photo of the meter , or at least the type and model number from the front nameplate ?

  8. #8
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    MrButters good catch, I missed the well being mentioned in the OP. Any water leak causes the pump to run more often using electricity.
    Jack
    Yup. That was a good catch. Credit where credit is due.

    Might even be related to a bad check or foot-valve causing the pump to repeatedly refill the pressure tank when no water is being used.


    Also....OP says that the entire electrical system is new. Reminds me of a similar situation we ran into many years back. New service entrance installed and right after that......the bill escalated dramatically. We got the call after several months of unexplainable high bills. Here's what we found - When the new service was brought into the house and connected to the old service box.......they didn't bother to disconnect the old entrance wires (SE cable) from said service box, but *had* removed it from the side of the house and then simply dropped the now loose end down on the lawn. The bare ends of that were buried in the dirt when we found them. Needless to say, the bill went up more on rainy days than during dry spells.

    Hmmmmmmm. Come to think of it...I wonder if there might be an underground feeder to an outbuilding or to the well involved. ??? Smoked sheathing/insulation from a lightning strike?
    Last edited by goldhiller; 12-18-2008 at 11:37 PM.

  9. #9
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    Jan 2008
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    731

    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    Quote Originally Posted by SearsHome View Post

    Clothing dryer is electric, but only on once per day. This is brand new as well.

    BTW...I have had electricians over as well.
    A well for potable water supply was mentioned? where? In any of SearsHome's posts?!? What was there to catch?

    SearsHome,

    Your Amp measurements/calculations although interesting don't mean much without applying the voltage to the formula. Your calculation examples are not correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by SearsHome View Post
    My electrical Bill is double what I would expect.

    I measured the Amps usage during an average morning hour when everyone is awake, it is about 15 amps. There are small spikes here and there when someone uses a blow dryer or the clothing dryer, etc. But on average, when people are in the home using things, the lights are on, etc. - the usage is roughly 15 amps. In the evenings (when people are asleep), I suspect it is about 5 amps (worst case).

    Let's say worst case, I use 15 amps per hour 24 hours a day (obviously not realistic...but let's just say). That is roughly 1,200 kilowatts per month. On a good month, I am billed 1,500 kilowatts per month and go up to 2,000 kilowatts per month.





    You indicated 240vac appliances and a new service & electrical wiring therefore I feel confident that you have 240vac service. I'll use a 31 day billing period/month. There are 24 hours in a day x 31 days = 744 hours.
    • 15 Amps x 120vac = 1800 volt amps or 1800 Watts or 1.8 kilowatts(kW). 1.8 kW x 744 hours = 1339 KiloWatt Hours (kWh) for the bill.
    • BUT your service is 240vac and so if your "measuring" at the meter/service entrance/ main circuit breaker:
    • 15 Amps x 240vac = 3600 volt amps or 3600 Watts or 3.6 kilowatts (kW). 3.6 kW x 744 hours = 2678 kWh on the bill.
    So assuming your "measurements" and estimates of your power consumption were mostly accurate then you've just made a simple error regarding converting those measurements of Amps times Volts (should be using 240 not 120) to the worked power and you're bill is exactly where it should be (possibly just a 30 day or 29 day billing period and you were over estimating less than peak usage).

    However, I also question your "measurements" and estimates of your power consumption peaks during the overall time period.

    For example a 120vac 5 watt nightlight being used 24 hours a day for 31 day month will work 3.7 kWh in that month; a 60 watt bulb used 24 hours a day for a 31 day month will work 45 kWh in that month; and a 100 watt bulb ran 24 hours a day for a 31-day month will work 74 kWh in that month! 240vac appliances are energy eaters like your clothes drier or oven or range or baseboard electric heater in the bathroom for 3hours a day - those use a LOT of kWh over the course of a month!

    Don't know the wattage of YOUR hair drier, but here are two examples:

    • 1200 watt hair drier x 10 minutes of use per day x 31 days = 1200 watts x 1/6 of an hour = 200 Watt hours per day x 31 days = 6.2 kWh per month.
    • 1500 watt hair drier x 5 minutes of use per day x 31 days = 1500 watts x 1/12th of an hour = 125 Watt hours per day x 31 days = 3.75 kWh per month.
    Dont know what kind of electric baseboard heat you're using in the bathroom for three hours a day (hardwired 240vac with line voltage thermostat or plugged in 120vac) but here are two worst case (thermostat doesn't shut it off running continuously on super cold days) examples:
    • 1500 Watt (120vac) electric space heater running on high 3 hours per day x 31 days = 1500 Watts x 3 hours per day = 4500 Watt hours or 4.5 kilowatt hours per day x 31 days = 139.5 kWh per month
    • 5' electric baseboard 240vac, 5.21 A 4264 btuH = 1250 volt-amps or 1250 watts. 1250 watts x 3 hours per day x 31 days = 1250 x 3 hours per day = 3750 Watt hours or 3.75 kWh per day x 31 days = 116.25 kWh per month.
    Watts (W) or VoltAmps (VA), Watt hours (Wh), and kilowatt hours (kWh) are used to measure your electric energy consumption Sears Home. Watts being the instant use (volts times amps). 15 amps x 120 volts is far less watts than 15 amps x 240 volts (electric furnace fan blower, electric baseboard, electric range/oven, electric CLOTHES DRYER, are 240 VAC appliances). Motors when they start up can pull a lot of energy (furnace blowers, fans, pumps).

    That you are causing two circuits to regularly trip indicates some sort of problem, be it supply, wiring, balance of your system, or simply overloading a particular circuit, a short, arc, etc. you should investigate that first and foremost. The regular tripping of circuit breakers in two rooms - that is a problem that you should look into, high electric bill concerns aside that is a safety issue. But assuming there is no wiring, fault, short, etc. issue that would tend to indicate that you are exceeding 15 amps x 120 volts use on those circuits at those times, likely by 125%. Also keep in mind that a circuit breaker which trips, will eventually fail to provide the safety function it is intended to do so. They do wear out, and as they approach can become less able to detect and trip during unsafe conditions. Same goes for GFCIs they do wear out and their ability to detect and trip in unsafe conditions is further compromised with every trip condition.

    Back to the main subject of your posts: The Watts x time (hours) equals Watt-hours. Working one watt for an hour would be one watt-hour. working 100 watts for an hour would be 100 watt-hours. working 10 x 100 watt lightbulbs for one hour would use 1000 watt-hours or one kilowatt hour (KWH). Most electrical utilities charge residential use in kilowatt HOURS. You might also want to check to see if you are being charged DEMAND charges.

    To better understand your electrical energy use, I suggest the following site links from "Mr. Energy" : http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/cost.html
    http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/meters.html

    From some of your other posts about various projects needed, balloon construction, no fire/draft breaks, uninsulated voids in walls, crawl spaces, attic, rotting sills, window sills, rot, insects, moisture, mold, mildew in walls, etc. 1930s unimproved and apparently deteriorated construction, I suspect you are losing a lot of energy from your home heating/cooling wise and suspect a heating/cooling audit and some of those projects you've mentioned will help to reduce your overall energy consumption. You are likely losing a lot of heat energy through those chimneys, leaky walls, windows, uninsulated crawl space and attic. For your forced air gas furnace to function and heat your home the blower(s) have to running. Since you have indicated on other posts you have only been in this home for a few months, and apparently the property was unoccupied previously and seriously neglected, you also seem to have no comparison to base your usage with. Welcome to the expenses and experience of owning an older home.

    Finally SearsHome, and partially for comic relief I offer the following link on a Newspaper Story that is often repeated (reason for bust changes, location, dates change) since overly high consumption is often reported by utilities to the authorities since the patriot act was first enacted "High electric bill leads to pot-growing bust" : http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-onlin...60328435.shtml

    And speaking of comic relief, this was indeed funny:

    Quote Originally Posted by ****hiller View Post
    Also....OP says that the entire electrical system is new. Reminds me of a similar situation we ran into many years back. New service entrance installed and right after that......the bill escalated dramatically. We got the call after several months of unexplainable high bills. Here's what we found - When the new service was brought into the house and connected to the old service box.......they didn't bother to disconnect the old entrance wires (SE cable) from said service box, but *had* removed it from the side of the house and then simply dropped the now loose end down on the lawn. The bare ends of that were buried in the dirt when we found them. Needless to say, the bill went up more on rainy days than during dry spells.
    Internet myths. High bills caused by this? No way Tessla.
    Last edited by Blue RidgeParkway; 12-19-2008 at 02:52 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Electrical Usage is Very High

    All,

    Thank you for all of your help! And from some...needed comic relief.

    After some time investigating...here are the results.

    (1) the electric baseboard heater was running more often...the wall the thermostat was against was uninsulated, triggering it to run more frequently.

    but here it the biggie...

    (2) The outside wiring was hooked into the two rooms tripping. The upstairs bedroom breaker also had responsibility for the rear outside lights. The downstairs room had the front lights. While the electrical system was replaced, the outside lights were not. The wire running to the detached garage run through a metal pipe, which was rusted out. The wires at the end of the pipe were exposed. Similar type of issue in the front. So any water penetration triggered the breaks.

    We replaced the exterior wiring and moved the thermostat...electric bill is now 40% less.

    Thanks again!

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