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Gwen Lynn
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In a year, our electric usage (kwh) for our 17 yr old, 1000 sq. ft ranch-style home has almost doubled. Practically nothing has changed in our household regarding appliances, etc.

This past July, the electric company replaced our 17 yr old (standard style) meter with a new-fangled digital meter. I really didn't notice the difference in the kwh use until a couple of months ago, because we've ALWAYS had low electric bills at this time of the year. Our heat is natural gas, including our water heater.

Imagine my shock at an electric bill that had TRIPLED in a year. (I realize the costs went up; but the usage doubled) Sooooo, I called the electric company. Their story is our old meter wasn't reading correctly, but the NEW meter is! Thus increasing the kwh. (I have looked at other homes in our neighborhood; all were built within a year or 2 of each other. Only a few have these new meters.)

Besides gettin' off the grid ASAP (which is unrealistic for us right now), I'm really curious to hear what other people would do in my position. Thanks!
 
Leah Sattler
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I think I would be calling and asking why only some people in the neighborhood have them   although it seems pretty far fetched that they would just choose a few people to stick it to. I suppose that the best you can do would be to reduce energy costs as much as possible. sorry that isn't exactly new to you i know. even though you have natural gas heat the blower requires electricity I think. that really is a bummer, sort of like the electric company came in an busted your bubble after leading you on for years. I looked into solar and found out why it hasn't caught on.  it would take the value of our current house to get a system to cover our curret energy usage. the house needs 'energy conservation work' but still. you are still probably better off financially with the electric.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Wow.  Maybe we are entering an age where we need to have two electrical meters.  Theirs and yours.  Something you can mount in your breaker box to show you how much juice you have used in the last month/year/whatever. 

What if their new meters is defective and screwing you?  How would you know?

 
Gwen Lynn
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Thanks, Paul! We can't help but think that way, and it's their word against ours. After noticing the 1st bill with the increase, I thought, ok...need to cut down. Maybe the space heater in our studio (same one as last year though) is working too hard. Been turning it off, changed out reg. light bulbs to those curly bulbs (I know, they're called something else, but curly bulbs works for me. Makes me think of the 3 stooges!), etc. Made a conscious effort to cut down, but didn't really have that much effect. Seriously wondering if they are doing it on purpose, to make up for their loss...if the old meter really was incorrect. I am at a loss on this & in more ways than one!
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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What about putting an ad in your local paper, asking if anyone else in the area had those meters installed, and if their usage has doubled?

It would take some effort, but maybe you could make a list of every single electrical item you have in your house, estimate how many hours you use each one, and see if your final estimate is closest to your old bill or your new bill.

Just to irritate the electric company more, do you have friends or family in the same general area who rent?  I have heard that renters who pay an electric bill just get a bill, with no number of kwh's shown.  It is said that they screw the renters with higher bills.  It would be interesting to take their totals and divide by the highest kwh cost on your bill (generally, the rates vary according to time of day).

If you did all these things, document everything and call the nearest large newspaper and ask if they're interested in the story.

Rabblerouser Sue
 
Gwen Lynn
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Those are great ideas, Sue. I want to raise a rabble about this! Our local TV news station has a feature called "2 works for you", I need to tell them my story & see what they say. I also need to round up electric bills from as many years as I can find.

Thanks for rousing up the rabble in me! 
 
Leah Sattler
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that would be fun! they might like gettin their hands on a good scoop and do all the work!
 
North Hatfield
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Hello.

I would be wise to  have your electrical wiring checked.

I have seen so many places (very similar to your description) with bad wiring such as inverted Hot/Neutral, shorts between neutral and ground, e.t.c.

It cost them a fortune per month until i told them to check their wiring. They were at 300+ $ a month, after that they dropped to about 96$/m on average.


Things like Neut/gdn shorts play havoc on sensitive electronics such as computers. Significantly shortening their life span.

Not to mention feeding electricity into the ground (earth).

If you have the cheap surge protection bars. You should check those as well. Often then are more dangerous than then actual wall outlet.

Bring your (electric or gass) water heater down to 110 deg.  Unless you living as far north as i  the 140 deg standard is rather rediculous. Even i leave it at 100-110 deg.

Using a wood furnace the heat your water is a very good way to save on energy. The only down side is space. Since a wood water heating system heat so much your need an additional tempering (cooling) tank 1/2 height of the main hot water tank higher than the main hot water tank.

If you don't  have a tempering tank. It gets so hot you can cook noodles just by running them under the tap for about 30 seconds. It's that hot, not to mention dangerous.  Fastest cup of coffee you'll ever make.

I install solar/wind kits in chalets. Rocket heaters with integrated water heater.

I find it to be the best match for a climate such as mine where the ground is frozen solid for 8 months at a time.

We have the digital hydro meters here with RF. The meter maid only has to get within about 6 feet to get the reading. 

Our prices went up as well last year. However we barely saw any difference in the bill.

However i did fix my wiring as the so called professional electrician did a worthless job.

Some other tips:

Keep electronics clean of dust and residue

Get a better fridge, or

Empty out your fridge, unplug and let it dry out (24 hours) and vacuum any dust form the mechanics and radiator, then restart it. Make certain you have plenty of cool air flow at the back of the fridge and at the top.

Same for a freezer.

Check your heating filters to see if they need changing.

Clean any dust form your heating system, including the air intakes on the furnace.

Find leaks and insulate them. Insulate your hot water pipes.

Install plastic (winterize) over your windows in winter.


Lastly i never recommend those outdoor water front wood furnaces.

Based of years of local research. Those outdoor wood furnaces consume 253% (at best) more wood than an equivalent indoor wood furnace. This includes buying the top of the line piping, fittings, rads and insulation, as well as being buried 6 feet deep.

Best of luck.

 
Gwen Lynn
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This is all very helpful advice and it's truly appreciated. Some of these things I've already addressed. Our refrigerator was purchased new and is only 6 years old. Surge protectors  (on computer and TV/cable are 3 years old or less) are not cheap ones. They are mid-range, $ 20.00 variety. Hubby is HVAC installer, with some service experience. We have always been diligent regarding cleaning coils, air filters, etc.

North, you've mentioned the professional electrician being worthless. That being said, how did you check & repair your own wiring? My husband has some experience there, too. Did you check appliances individually?

The ONE thing we can't figure out is WHAT'S CHANGED since last year...besides the electrical meter. Unless their story is true (old meter bad, new meter good) something has doubled the KWH usage in that time. Even back in Oct, the kwh use increased by 90% from the year before. (New elec. meter was installed in July) Oct. is usually a mild month here in Okla. Rarely need to use the heater & don't use the a/c much either. How does electricity "change" on it's own? What is the best way to find a short?

Regarding heating the house, our gas bill has stayed the same. Water heater is gas too. Yes, both the furnace and water heater use some electricity (blower, starter). Obviously, we are mystified. Thanks again for your advice!
 
North Hatfield
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Hi.

Yes i do check my wiring, and check my appliances, wall outlets, e.t.c.

There is no reason to see an increase of 100% or more . The only possible things i can think of are the following.

A: Faulty Meter

B: Faulty meter installation (hardware wise)

C: Faulty meter programing (software wise). Bad firmware.

D: Faulty power lines when they hooked up the new digital system at the distribution node nearest you.

If your willing to make the attempt.

If it's cold in your area then i would wait until it gets warmer to try the following.

If you can turn off  (unplug) your sensitive electronics, and high drain appliances, and turn off the fuel (gas) heating. Then turn off your main breaker.

Wait 2 minutes then go look at your meter and see if there is still a significant power drain.

There is always a minor amount of cycling power through the grid, and the meter is designed to take that into consideration.

Something like 0.05watts. Depending on your electricity provider.

It usually takes about 2 minutes for the meter to run the cycle, after that you can check it, take notes then restore your power.

For testing purposes there are usually three meters i use. The "accutest" outlet tester that tests everything in an outlet, six light readout multi-mode.

The 10$ ones from radio shack won't give you much in accuracy. However they will tell you if you have reversed HOT/NEUT or no ground.  They won't tell you if you have a Neut/gdn short.

A voltage/amps/Freq meter.

Lastly an in-line watts meter that is like an extension cord (with a computer/meter) that goes between the  appliance and the wall outlet.  They are available at the local hardware stores. They are used to monitor and record how much kw/h the  appliance uses.

Since your on gas for heating.  You could check the clothes dryer with a HV loop amp meter, your hubby should have one. However i doubt that it's the dryer unless your running a cleaning service.

Other than that i can't think of anything else at the moment that would cause such a dramatic increase. The old meters were never off more than 10-15%.

Which is what you should be seeing in a difference in power consumption.
 
Leah Sattler
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hey north..... would like to make a tripto oklahoma? both myself and wenvan need your services

seriously, it makes me think that a new profession is in order. someone knowlegable to go into peoples homes and deal with energy usage and conservation specifically. you guys on the west coast probably already have people like that I guess......
 
Gwen Lynn
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Thank you so much, North! Your post has confirmed some of hubby's ideas for rooting this out. I am so appreciative of your advice, it makes so much sense! We would be all over this right now, but our temps have taken a big nose dive. We had a high of 81 on Thur. Today is Sat. and we'll be lucky if we make it into the 30's!

A million thanks! 
 
North Hatfield
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@Leah Sattler.

Well i doubt i could make it. It's -35c here right now, the car won't even start. 

Brrrrrrr.

These days  stable power is far more important. With electronics now in the Nano size and running at billions and trillions of Hertz. It takes so little instability  in power to send things wacky. Some newer computer motherboards now use 8 phase power systems in order to help with bad household power.

Homes that run on wind/solar/geothermal, all use battery to inverter power systems.  Electrical appliances last years longer on these "off the grid" power supplies.


@WenVan

Your welcome.


Good luck.
 
Leah Sattler
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-35 !!! ack where do you live? it was 81 here friday as wenvan says and so we are all whining about our high of 30 yesterday but hearing of -35 kinda shuts me up. I really don't have anything to complain about 
 
Gwen Lynn
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North, you are really living up (or should I say down, in the case of the temp) to your name!

I'm originally from Chicago. The coldest I've experienced was -33. I can relate to the car not starting. We had a (dipstick style) oil heater in my car during the winter (and other winters) of 1982. One of our cars had an engine heater. You could just plug it in when you needed to.

I moved to Okla. in 1986 & it gets as cold here as I'd ever want to be again. I could actually go further south & be more comfortable. What can I say...I'm a wuss. 25 Chicago winters were enough to last me a lifetime. I guess I was a lizard in a former life! 
 
Leah Sattler
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WenVan wrote:


. I guess I was a lizard in a former life! 


she's right. i went to visit her one day in the winter and found she had entered a torpent state somewhere between her car and house. poor thing, I had to take her inside and wrap her in warm towels from the dryer.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Mmmmmmm, warm towels sound really good right now! I still wish for my own personal terrarium. Just have to find an aquarium that's big enough. lol!
 
North Hatfield
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Actually my region goes on average form +40c to -40c give or take a couple degrees during the year.

Makes one find ways to fix current eco friendly ideas and fix not so eco friendly stuff.

Stuff like the ECONEST homes that were never designed for such large shifts in temperature.

Good luck with your electricity problems.
 
john smith
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Location: western u.s.
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Gwen Lynn wrote:
In a year, our electric usage (kwh) for our 17 yr old, 1000 sq. ft ranch-style home has almost doubled. Practically nothing has changed in our household regarding appliances, etc.


Hi Gwen,

Did you happen to sort out the electricity issue?

I've reduced use from 7.7 kwh a day in January 2009, to an average of 2.3 kwh a day for the last three months, just over 1 kwh a day per person.  I'm quite pleased with the change but am looking for more ways to save energy, and would like to find reasonable ways to get completely off the grid.
 
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