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High Electricity Bill

8769 Views 19 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  guest
A customer in my town has power bills of $150 / mo. My bill is $40 / mo.
Similarities
1. Same power company
2. 2 occupants
3. Neither of us use air conditioning. (Oxnard CA is heaven on earth)
4. Gas cloths dryer
5. Gas water heater
6. Gas furnace

Differences
I have a gas range. Customer has electric range.
I have a tract home. Customer's was a beach shack remodeled into a 2-story.

Other issues.
1. While working on an unrelated problem, I found 2 circuits cross connected. In other words, I have to turn off 2 breakers to kill power to either of these 2 circuits.

2. I found another circuit where neutral was short to ground.

I found these issues while looking for the circuit breaker upstream of some dead outlets. I didn't address these issues but I did restore power to the dead outlets, which is why the customer called.

Of course, I need to verify that he is using more Kwh than me so I have to compare power bills. There is a chance he's being billed differently.

My first step to look into the high power usage will be to unplug all outlets and turn off all lights and look for current flow into the main CB.
If no current draw, then I'll use a "Kill-a-watt" energy measure thingy on appliances.

Question:
Has anybody ever turned off everything and unplugged everything and seen significant current draw? If yes then what causes something like this?
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· Tool Fetish
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985 Posts
A bad water heater element would cause high electric bills. You don't have that with a gas heater. Another cause would be an underground feeder or circuit that has a high resistance short to earth. I have also seen electric heat tape equipment fail and run continuously. If all circuits are off and you still see the utility meter registering, there is a problem with the meter.
 

· Electrical Contractor
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5,990 Posts
Electric hot water tanks quite often can be the cause.
A short to ground, on a 240 volt element, can result in some low wattage continuous heating.
But since you have gas, that idea is out.
Electric ranges don't add up to a $100 per month difference, unless they cook a lot.

A high resistance short to ground somewhere? Not enough to trip, but enough for power draw. Problem with that idea, is there would be some heating, which would be noticeable.

Let us know if you find your power draw with everything turned off.
 
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· Registered
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703 Posts
An old deep freeze with a stuck thermostat and running the furnace fan all the time can contribute. Or, maybe you aren't paying enough.

I did hear about a main breaker that was cracked and conducting out the back onto the panel enclosure.
 

· Tool Fetish
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985 Posts
A high resistance short to ground somewhere? Not enough to trip, but enough for power draw. Problem with that idea, is there would be some heating, which would be noticeable.
Faults in underground runs aren't always apparent. We found a shorted cable burried in the sand, under a amusement pier a few years ago. The maintenance guy (pronounced carney) asked if we could find out what this three pole 60 amp breaker was for. It seems that they would turn it on every day before opening and it would trip 5 or six hours later. We located the end of the cable burried under a couple of feet of beach sand. It was from an old ride that they had removed a year or so ago and just dropped the end of the cable onto the beach at the end of the season. There was a football size piece of glass/sand molded to the end of the cable.:eek::eek::eek:
 

· felonious smile.
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15,896 Posts
I have seen buried UF wire leaking to earth run as much as 18 amps steady and trip the breaker once a load is applied at the end.
 

· Registered
Joined
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4,653 Posts
I had a neighbor with a bad door bell transformer that had an above average constant draw.His bill was $400. a month.For your customer,you should do a load test on the circuits in his panel.
Bull vhit
Exactly. A doorbell transformer drawing enough current to raise a bill by any appreciable amount would get so hot that it would either catch the house on fire or totally melt down in minutes. :rolleyes::whistling2:

You'd need a transformer this size:



to even make an appreciable dent in the average electric bill.

What was more likely in that case is the teenage son disconnected his grow-op lighting when he found out an electrician was on the way to investigate the high bills. :laughing:
 

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