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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Mid-Atlantic
    Posts
    18

    Default Help, there is something wrong with the electrical system

    This is a mystery that has been plaguing me for over 5 years. I own a house (about 1500 sq. feet) in a mid-Atlantic state that I rent to a family (mother and 4 kids). The house used to be a two-unit apartment building, which we converted to a single family home. The house was a total gut-job. The house is all-electric (water heater, HVAC, washer and dryer, stove, etc). Because it used to be a two-unit apartment, it used to have two separate meters and the electric company still has us listed as having unit A and unit B in their computer. According to the contractor, we only use the electrical connection to unit A and capped off the electrical connection to unit B. There is only one electric meter on the building now. The family that occupies the house right now is complaining about 5 figure electric bills. The last winter bill they received was a whopping $1,200 (for a one month period) and they just got their August bill and it was $1000! Iíve had three different electricians come to the house and they all give the electrical system a clean bill of health.

    Before the tenants moved into the house, I did some minor renovation work in the house. I came in for two days, and the bill for that month was $100!! I spend that much a month for my own home. Also, the person who renovated the house did a shoddy job (we found out later that the tub drain wasnít even connected to the sewer pipe - that was fun cleaining up the mess in the crawl space), so I have no confidence that the house was constructed the right way, and I have a suspicious feeling that something is not right with the electricity. Also, the tenants suspect that the energy eater is the HVAC system (it is a heat pump), and according to the HVAC technician, it is in good working order. Could one HVAC system suck up that much energy?

    Iíve been doing some reading on the web and saw some articles on exposed wires that were never disconnected, improper connection to the electrical circuit that could leak electricity, etc. etc. I keep calling the electric company and they send out technicians out there, and each time, I get a report saying that everything is working properly. I will be hiring another electrician to do a thorough inspection of the electrical system. I know there is something wrong and want to make sure that the electrician is doing a proper job with the inspection. Can you all give me some advice on what to look for? Do we need to tear down walls/ceilings to do a thorough inspection? Or would looking at the electrical box and the outside connection be sufficient? Could it be that the electric company is charging the tenants for both Unit A and Unit B? This is the second sets of tenants that Iím losing because of the high bills. Can someone help?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,387

    Default Re: Help, there is something wrong with the electrical system

    Howdy, what was the utility bill for the prior year per month maybe the utility switched from dollar cost averaging ( making each months bill the same) the bill to monthly actual use.
    Leaking out electricity is not likely. Overloading due to improper wiring would trip breakers or cause a fire...
    Compare the two units and see if usage is being billed correctly...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Mid-Atlantic
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Help, there is something wrong with the electrical system

    Thanks for your reply. The utility bills were consistently high the last 5 years, and yes, I did check to see if it is an estimated bill, or a bill on a payment plan, and the answer is "no." You asked me to compare the two units, but the home is a single family home now (it used to be two units), so there is no way to compare.

    Could it be that unit A AND B are connected to the same meter? Or maybe it is the HVAC system sucking up all that energy (exacerbated by the fact that the house is all-electric?)

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,558

    Default Re: Help, there is something wrong with the electrical system

    Start turning every thing off and see if the meter is still running. A poor insulating job can cause a tremendous load on the HVAC. Are you on city water or a well? A water leak can cause a pump to run much more than it should and eat up a lot of electricity.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Mid-Atlantic
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Help, there is something wrong with the electrical system

    The last electrician did just that. She turned off the power to the entire house, and the meter stopped. We use city water. Question: how would water get into the pump? The unit is located in the attic crawl space.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,387

    Default Re: Help, there is something wrong with the electrical system

    How low is the ac/ being set?
    The attic insullation would be where i would next look do you have R38 in attic?
    Anyone steeling electricity late at night on an outside plug? ya a real reach....
    Filters clean on the ac unit?
    An energy audit might be money well spent with a thermo camera used to see where leakage of heat and a/c is happening...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Mid-Atlantic
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Help, there is something wrong with the electrical system

    Thanks for your e-mails. From what I'm reading, it sounds like there may not be a problem with the electrical. I think it has to do with a combination of an inefficient HVAC, the house being all electric and the tenant's excessive energy usage (they have 4 teenage boys). I just signed up for an energy audit (luckily, my city offers this service for free). Thnak you all so much for the help. I know I can always count on you guys for good infomration.

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