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#60331 - 12/31/05 07:51 AM High Power Bills
frankft Offline

Registered: 10/13/04
Posts: 39
Loc: Maine
I get a few calls a year about people having very high power bills. I got one the other day that the small home has continually had bills over $200 a month. the meter does not move when the main is off, no electric range and new fridge freezer and dryer. They said they changed the water heater and no change. Most times when I get there the meters are not turning that bad, and I do some testing for the amount of amps being drawn. I usually fiqure that whater is drawing the big load is not being used at that time.
My question is what have you ran into as far as finding what would cause high power bills? Thanks for any help.
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#60332 - 12/31/05 08:17 AM Re: High Power Bills
HotLine1 Offline


Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6791
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Happy & Safe New Year

Best method is to obtain a 'current' utility bill & bills from approx 1 & 2 years year ago, and compare KWHr usage, demand (if applicable) and the rates charged.

Based on the calls I have received......
There is a 'small' increase in power consumption.
The utility rates have increased.

Our utility co's were deregulated recently, and the rate structure was altered, and basically....everyone saw a "rate increase" even though it was not officially called that.


#60333 - 12/31/05 11:01 AM Re: High Power Bills
Sandro Offline

Registered: 12/30/01
Posts: 449
Loc: Stoney Creek, ON, Canada
Heh...I had a laugh with my customer on a recent job. He has a small license frame printing facility and recently upgraded his UV dryer/printer which ran with a single phase 208V 70amp load, with a much larger machine which required a 3 phase 75kva xfmr to power.

He got a sheepish call from the hydro company a month later after seeing a dramatic jump in hydro bills... "um, did you guys, change anything electrically in your building?".....

His hydro bill jumped from $500 a month, to over $1200!

#60334 - 12/31/05 12:48 PM Re: High Power Bills

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 862
Loc: Titirangi, Akld, New Zealand
First, you get a high bill, check the meter reading your self and the last one printed on the bill. sometimes an error was made by the meter reading in entering it in his handheld device.

It is usually a good start to compare some older powerbills, year or more to get an idea what the previous usage was, quite often the customer doesn't know and they only make a lot of noise when there is a high power bill. A low powerbill gets paid an forgotten about.

See if tariffs have changed, and daily line charges!!

Check if any new appliances were installed or left on for longer than necessary. A lot of equipment is NEVER turned off.

Some meters get only read every second or third month, error made by meter reader in reading the clock dials, or simply no access or dog and a guestimate was made.

Last get an on site meter test done by the utility, they will charge you if meter is ok. or replace / readjust meter to read correctly.
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#60335 - 12/31/05 01:22 PM Re: High Power Bills
Sixer Offline

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 264
Loc: Canada
I get a few calls like this a year too. I will do a check myself by turning off everything in the house or business, take a meter reading, then plug in my 4800 watt construction heater for 1 hour and crank the thermostat on it on high. After an hour, I take another reading....should give me 4.8Kw usage (give or take). A quick and easy check. If it reads much over 5Kw I will call the PoCo and ask them to change it.

The bad thing about the PoCo testing the meter is, as RODALCO says, if they find it to be calibrated OK, they will charge you for the testing. In my opinion, an independent agency should be testing the meter.

I also know of two meters in my area that the PoCo installed, which don't move at all! One has been in service for at least 5 years, another for about 3. Each of them get a bill with the "customer charge" (minimum) each month. I'm surprised the PoCo hasn't caught on yet. One of them is a brand new meter with a "00000" reading!

[This message has been edited by Sixer (edited 12-31-2005).]

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#60336 - 12/31/05 02:10 PM Re: High Power Bills
Roger Offline

Registered: 05/18/02
Posts: 1779
Loc: N.C.
Although most times there is a legitimate reason, I do know of a case where a meter went crazy.

A friend called and said their power bill had tripled.

I checked it out and the meter was running pretty fast, so I asked if there had been any changes in the house or A/C (it was summer) and they said no.

There was no abnormally high amperage or duration of elevated amperage on A/C starts on any reading I took over a period of a couple weeks.

The POCO is called and says meter is fine.

Neighbors bills are normal.

Next two months the bills are still high.

Finally, they demand a new meter be installed and after it is the bill returns to normal.

There was never any reimbursement but they did not push for it either.


[This message has been edited by Roger (edited 12-31-2005).]

#60337 - 12/31/05 06:21 PM Re: High Power Bills
WFO Offline

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 206
Loc: Cat Spring, TX
"The bad thing about the PoCo testing the meter is, as RODALCO says, if they find it to be calibrated OK, they will charge you for the testing. "

This may or may not be true depending where you are. At our Coop in Texas, the member (customer) is entitled to one free meter test every 5 years. It doesn't hurt to check first.

On the other hand, it usually isn't the meter. So even if the test is free, if the POCO comes out and tests it (and they find it slow) they will speed it up.
I'm not saying it's never the meter, it's just rarely the meter.

Better to check for a device that you expect to work automatically that has gone bad. A thermostat (hot water heater, air conditioner) that won't shut off.

Some examples I have seen over the last 30 years (God, I'm getting old).

Water heaters. Saw one with a broken pipe shooting hot water into the creek behind the house. You'd have thought the continuously rising cloud of steam behind the house would have been a clue....but it wasn't. Saw another one where the H2O heater was sitting on the ground outside the trailer ("white trash" is alive and well in Texas). The thermostat had fallen about 4 inches away from the tank, so it didn't work at all. The tank would heat until the pop-off valve blew all the steam out, cold water would come in, and it would re-heat until it did it again.

Water logged water wells.
Air conditioners that work simultaneously with the heat strips.
Heat strips that run because ALL THE WINDOWS IN THE BEDROOM ARE BROKEN.
Having six refridgerators/freezers running in a locked closed garage in 100+ degree weather.
Air conditioners that run continuously because they are low on freon. (Ditto for the fridge).

Short version, in the vast majority of cases I have seen, there is a legitimate reason for the high bill.

On the other hand, all the suggestions above are also very, VERY, valid. Mistakes can be made.

[This message has been edited by WFO (edited 12-31-2005).]

#60338 - 01/02/06 12:48 PM Re: High Power Bills
Joey D Offline

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Arlington MA U.S.
I did a call like that in september, as I walk in the apartment the lady is going on and on about the other tenant stealing her power.
All the lights are on in her apartment, her A/C is running and she has electric dryer and electric hot water heater and was complaining her bill was 120 a month. Not to be rude i traced every circuit in the panel and shut her main off and checked everyything in the other apartment and all was good. She thought i was lying and was going to have someone else look at it.

#60339 - 01/04/06 07:03 PM Re: High Power Bills
harold endean Offline

Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 2248
Loc: Boonton, NJ
I had a job like that once, as I was shutting off circuit breakers in the basement, I heard water running. I asked the lady if she was using any water. She said, no. It turned out that her well sprung a leak on the inside of the well casing. The water would pump up from the bottom of the well to the top, leak out, and sink back down to the bottom of the well. It was like that for 2 months. If I didn't hear the water running, it would have been like that for who knows how long?

#60340 - 01/04/06 07:29 PM Re: High Power Bills
Dnkldorf Offline

Registered: 12/12/04
Posts: 1091
Loc: nowhere usa
Meters do go bad both ways.

One of my customers is a large apartment complex, maybe 1000 units.

Each apt is metered and billed seperatly by the complex owners. They own all the submeters.

I replace about 10 a year for them, and have seen some go fast, but most, the coils burnt out, causing them to stop.

Don't have a clue how they would go faster, never gave it much thought.


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