High utility bill

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by inwo, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    Kind of off topic.

    My puzzle for today!:)

    Some of the information I have so far seems impossible. It's what has been told to me.
    Yet to be sorted out.

    People in various trades have been working on this the last three months. Utility included.

    Customers electric bill that was less than $50 last summer, has been going up all winter by over $100 a month.:eek:

    Last bill was $380. Next months will be over $425. He called them.

    Main focus is water heater. The main load in a small mobile home.

    I was consulted as water heater is drawing 14 amps @ 240 volts.
    But according to the service man, who has now changed both elements and thermostats, it is not heating.

    If true it has to be a water leak. I'm told this is unlikely.
    For some reason the water heater breaker is off. Well duh, thats why it's not heating!

    I'll go back in a couple hours to verify their story.

    Draw at meter 100 yards away is the same. (under ground feeder)
    My calculations limit cx bill to <$200 even if this load is on 24-7.:eek:

    Cx has a slip dated yesterday from utility that meter is up to standards.

    Some of the things I'll check:
    Draw at meter with cx main breaker off. (Maybe meg the lines)
    Water leaks.
    Is water heater heating? I'll check back in a couple hours.

    Wow that's a short list.
    It's not that complicated.
    Where is all this power going?
     
  2. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    1,190
    156
    Could someone else being tapped into the line ???
    I keep track of the numbers on the meter cause by me the guys have been know to just guess and put whatever and when the bill comes it's like WTF..
     
    inwo likes this.
  3. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    Good question.
    The utility suggested that someone may have put an outlet at the meter for engine block heater. Which I checked somewhat. Haven't broken any seals yet.

    As the load must be somewhat constant (I think) I may make some random checks.

    Once I get the water heater verified, (the only thing I was asked about) I'll get serious.
     
  4. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    1,190
    156
    What I would do is shut down everything and see how much you are using which should be next to nothing ..Then start turning one thing at a time and keeps checking the.meter for spikes or errors..
     
    THE_RB likes this.
  5. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
    5,791
    1,103
    Any neighbours reporting a drop in their bills :D ?
     
  6. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    4,302
    1,988
    Pull up a chair and watch. At this pace, The offending load will soon manifest itself, as spectacular show of fire and light.
     
  7. alfacliff

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2013
    2,449
    428
    around here, the meter readers have been estimating the readings. after a few years, someone decidec they should do their jobs. a lot of screaming about high bills when the real useage numbers came in "it wasnt that much last yer".
     
  8. BMorse

    Senior Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    2,675
    234
    I am currently dealing with a similar thing with my power company, they have been estimating my bills since they had to pull off all the meter readers off of meter readings to trim trees and clear debris from the last ice/snow storm we had, so in the past couple of months my bill went from double what it should be to triple! I took the reading my self and compared it to their estimated reading:
    This is their reading :29446
    actual meter reading; 20616
    8830 difference!
     
  9. poopscoop

    Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    139
    16
    This is the part where I pretend to know something. I don't, I'm just bored at work and did some math (perhaps incorrectly).

    Let's look at the math here:

    An unexpected increase of lets say 230$ over a normal winter bill.

    Assuming 11 cents per KWH, that's 2090 KWH, which is about 8 billion joules a month.

    8 billion joules per month is 258,064,516 joules per day.

    Which is 10,752,688 joules per hour, 179211 per minute, and about 2900 watts. Or 12 amps at 240v.

    Every second of every day for a month. In a trailer.

    I wish I could tell you how much water you'd have to leak to dissipate that energy, but it's a differential equation I think and I'm not qualified yet. Dimensional analysis says you'd need to leak almost 1 liter a minute in a well insulated tank to keep the temp increase around 50 C.

    My vote is that someone is stealing power, they're using space heaters 24/7, their electric furnace is stuck on.
     
  10. tcmtech

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 4, 2013
    2,034
    1,651
    A pair of 1500 watt space heaters on old trailer house wiring would match that almost perfectly.

    Our local company went all remote read a number of years ago. I can go to their website pull up my account and see exactly hour by hour how much electricity I am using. :cool::cool:

    FYI. I can see exactly when someone is doing laundry taking a shower or has left my pickup plugged in all night so it will start better for herself. BTW the pickup being plugged in every moment it was home whether it was going anyplace that day or not added about $90 more than the average bill for this time of year last month. :rolleyes::(
     
  11. poopscoop

    Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    139
    16
    Tried to solve the differential equation, my amateur guess (with some sketchy unit conversions) is the water heater would be at equilibrium with a water temp 35C above ambient if it loses 1.18 liters per minute with no insulation losses. That's 5200L a month, unless they have a lake it's not the water heater.

    If it's space heaters, its equivalent to 75 therms a month of natural gas, which depending on climate and insulation is reasonable. High, but within reason. Betting space heaters or electric furnace.
     
    inwo likes this.
  12. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    Thank you,

    I needed someone to back up my math.
    About 8 cents KWH here.

    Owner owned.
    He stopped using hot water.
    Laundry is done next door.
    Gas range.
    No ac this time of year. Oh there's a thought, comp. heater.
    Draw at meter matches in the home.

    I'm in limbo now?:(
    The bro-in-law who owns the park (not the home), called with the results from the water heater.

    Water is still cold after 3 hrs.
    240vac @ top element. Still!
    Zero current.
    = open element.

    These are the symptoms originally pointed out to me. When I was there the top element was working.

    So it's the perfect time to check, and he tells me not to go back without the plumber.:rolleyes:

    This of course seems to have nothing to do with the high bill. But it's the reason I was consulted.
     
  13. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    Yes, there have been lots of complaints.:D

    Like the cx whos bill was low for years. After a new meter, he complained of the high bill.

    When asked why he just now decided complain, he said "a few mistakes I can let slide".:D
     
  14. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    At one time I had a KWH meter and a chart recorder.

    I'll have to do without, unless it's tough enough nut to warrant buying something.

    I don't need much of an excuse to buy test equipment.:)

    Just a two input, current data logger, seems a good fit.
     
  15. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
    5,791
    1,103
    Can you check the wiring to see if some wildlife hasn't chewed through the insulation or carbonised itself across the supply, causing a high current short?
     
    inwo likes this.
  16. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    Met with the plumber.
    Got new info.

    Top element in water heater was split open.
    He insisted on changing the breaker. Which is fine. It has tripped in the past.
    Unused electric dryer feed was tapped into it and one lead had insulation melted back an inch.

    Water heater conductors and breaker lugs are shiny new looking.
    Melted lead to dryer must have been from a previous breaker problem. No load at this time.

    Disconnected service on both ends and megged conductors. All ok.

    No possible way for someone to tap his power at the meter end. At least not that I can find.

    Did not crawl under the home yet. 50 amp 240vac cord and plug connection there.

    Recorded current meter (electronic) reading.
    I'll check back in a couple days if water heater is fixed.

    I see no way that the water heater could dissipate 4,000 watts, continuous over the course of a month, and not be noticed.:confused:
     
  17. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    Good idea.
    Nothing showed up with megger. Phase to phase and phase to neutral.:confused:
     
  18. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    I'm going to research "meter failure".

    I don't trust these new computer things.:D
     
  19. inwo

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    2,433
    315
    Is this how meter is supposed to look?:eek:

    From my first smart meter search....................................
     
  20. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
    700
    223
    Don't trust the "Smart Meters".
     
Loading...