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High electric bill


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Summary: Electrical Energy-savings Question: Hi, Dave, I am a single woman living alone with very little electrical background. In November of 2007 I noticed a jump in my power bill (from $31-42 to $89).

Energy Savings: High electric bill



Question:
Hi, Dave, I am a single woman living alone with very little electrical background. In November of 2007 I noticed a jump in my power bill (from $31-42 to $89). Since I had already put up multiple lights for the holidays, I wasn't that surprised ( my bill had more than doubled) .however when my bill tripled for December (to $114) ,and then continued to be more than double I called Appalachian power.

  • My home is five years old and I have been in it since March of 2007. I am basing the increase on my bills from 07. AEP stated that yes they saw the energy usage surge and so came out to check my meter box. They installed a new digital meter and said nothing was wrong at their end, it was probably my hot water heater. I had a cousin check my water heater and he said he THOUGHT it was OK. He is a teacher and isn't too savvy either.
  • I have changed nothing as far as appliances or usage is concerned other than getting a television, which I watch from 1-3 hours a day on most days. Other days it doesn't ran at all. Rarely I watch for longer than 3 hours on rainy weekends. I keep my heat at 55 in the winter and work 12 hour days. I have two mini night lights and one mini window candle. But I had those in March.
  • My mom and dad live 6 miles away .burn lights ALL the time and keep their heat at 75 as my dad is ill. Their power bill is about $46 per month. What should I check or do? Should I hire an electrician or what? Since I had NO heat or air on last month and it was still $88, I have guessed that it is not my Trane heating and cooling system. Or should I just get a new hot water heater since getting an electrician would probably cost me as much as a new water unit?
  • I can install the unit myself. I have done so in my last home twice over the years. I had a problem with my refrigerator last April and had it repaired. The bills remained consistently low following the repair of the motor. The motor does seem to run a lot but then it always has, since I moved in. I wash one load of laundry every week with an extra load every other week. Please give me any ideas and suggestions you may have.
I am not wealthy and like most Americans I live from paycheck to paycheck so a large financial outlay will be difficult. HELP!

Thanks- Sharon.

Hi Sharon - Great Electrical Repair Question!
I hope you don't mind, but I'll answer through your content following - ok?
  • Questioning here, too. In November of 2007 I noticed a jump in my power bill (from $31-42 to $89). Since I had already put up multiple lights for the holidays, I wasn't that surprised ( my bill had more than doubled) .however when my bill tripled for December (to $114) ,and then continued to be more than double I called Appalachian power. My home is five years old and I have been in it since March of 2007. I am basing the increase on my bills from 07. AEP stated that yes they saw the energy usage surge and so came out to check my meter box. They installed a new digital meter and said nothing was wrong at their end, Interesting that they saw this increase and decided to come out on their own!
    it was probably my hot water heater. I had a cousin check my water heater and he said he THOUGHT it was OK. He is a teacher and isn't too savvy either.
  • * This is my guess - but you may not have to replace the whole unit, you may have one of the elements that has gone bad. Is the setting turned up high?A continuity test can be made on the elements to see if they one is bad. The power MUST be OFF, and the wires disconnected from the elements during the test. If there is no reading or a very low reading then the element is bad. If this is the problem this is what will need to be done:Identify the unit, watts etc and the hardware or plumbing supplier will have the replacement element. The power will need to be turned off to the unit, and the water drained by connecting a hose to the valve. Having said all this - based upon the age of the home - this may not be the problem.
  • Also - You may consider installing a time clock control on the water heater. I checked my water heater out and it was OK .throughout the summer, once the heating part of the TRANE was off, the bills were consistently about $45.00 .even through I hate heat and kept my house at 70 .once the heating portion of my heat system was initiated .the bills tripled again. I had a heating repairman out .he could find nothing wrong, he said, and, after charging me over a hundred dollars, he left stating that my problem was that I kept the house at 55 when I wasn't there and put it on 62 when I was. That changing, he said, caused the furnace to kick into high gear and caused it to make my heating bill high. The bill was more than triple again after he left even though I put my heat on 62 and left it there . my parents and guests freeze when they come to my house. I do expect a much higher bill next month due to Christmas lights .but I always expect that. I am So frustrated.
    I have changed nothing as far as appliances or usage is concerned other than getting a television, which I watch from 1-3 hours a day on most days. Other days it doesn't ran at all. Rarely I watch for longer than 3 hours on rainy weekends. How big is the TV? They do draw a load and it will be noticeable.(Reading good books may be less expensive?) The TV isn't that large and why would it only cause the bill spike in the winter??I keep my heat at 55 in the winter and work 12 hour days. When was the last time the Furnace Filter(s) were changed? I'm fussy about that .they are changed every three months as per package instructions . I have two mini night lights and one mini window candle. But I had those in March. My mom and dad live 6 miles away .burn lights ALL the time and keep their heat at 75 as my dad is ill. Their power bill is about $46 per month. What should I check or do? Should I hire an electrician or what? No not yet. Since I had NO heat or air on last month and it was still $88, I have guessed that it is not my Trane heating and cooling system

Or should I just get a new hot water heater since getting an electrician would probably cost me as much as a new water unit? I can install the unit myself. I have done so in my last home twice over the years. I had a problem with my refrigerator last April and had it repaired. The bills remained consistently low following the repair of the motor. The motor does seem to run a lot but then it always has, since I moved in. Have you had the refrigerator coils cleaned? This will add to the consumption as well. How close is the refer to the wall(s). Coils are fine .all is well in that area .the problem now seems to be only in the winter when the heater is on., .not throughout the summer .I only had one bill to refer to the last time I wrote .Refers and Freezers are known to be ignored, set up too high and run a lot. I'd check the Coils and make sure they are clean .I wash one load of laundry every week with an extra load every other week. Is the dryer electric?

If so - is it Venting ok? Dryer is fine. I used my Mom's for a month and didn't notice a difference .seems to be the Trane but the repairman says not .now what?

Please give me any ideas and suggestions you may have.
Sharon - Make these checks and let me know what you discover.

So .the coils on the outside part of the Trane are slightly squashed as the last owner of the house (which is 5 years old) used a pressure washer on it!! But I think that would affect the air conditioning as well, right? SO it only seems to happen when I turn the heat on yet the repairman says the furnace is OK .I just don't know where to turn now .I thought the repairman would fix the problem .I hate to call anyone else in and they insists there isn't a problem and they don't need to send someone back out .I don't know who else to call .what kind of repairman or whatever .what kind of electricity detective .these bills are nasty, nasty, when I know there has to be a problem. It is a newer home and only about 2000 square feet no high ceilings or anything and I am widowed and live alone so it's just me using everything. Like I said, my parents live 5 miles away, keep their heat on 75 (this year) burn lights and TV constantly and run the washer and drier daily, ., .I just am at wit's end!
I have let this ride through the summer and fall until I put my heat back on.

Hi, Dave, Before I read over your energy guide .please be aware that before my electric bill tripled it was less than my parents which was about 45 dollars or so and mine was 38-45 per month, so things were comparable initially. Something just drove mine to triple and I can't figure out what.
Thanks.

One thing that I would like you to consider is this, even though you have had a lot of your equipment checked and verified that it works ok doesn't mean that the equipment is energy efficient. When you are comparing your home with your Mom's home you must take into consideration that she may have a totally different type of furnace and other electrical devices also. The efficiency of the equipment is a primary consideration. This is a very big factor with all devices including freezers and refrigerators. Most all of these devices and appliances have a yellow sticker on them which says Energy Guide.
You can see more about this at Kitchen Electrical

Scroll down this page to see the yellow sticker.The energy guide will give you a good idea about just how much energy the appliance will consume and what it will cost you. I used to conduct energy surveys for very large facilities where I would catalog all the major building equipment, detailing the energy used to operate and the hours the equipment would be operating on a monthly basis. This information would then be applied to their utility billing schedules to come up with a total accounting of their energy dollars spent. From this information I made specific recommendations about what should be done to lower their energy bills.

This is basically what you need to do to see where all your energy dollars are going starting with the large energy consumers. Keep in mind that lighting can also consume a lot of energy depending on what type of fixtures and light bulbs you use. If you were to catalog your normal routine and what is used having to do with electricity and catalog these things then we will be able to start focusing on where the energy is being used.

Here is a Home Energy Checklist that may help you.

Dave



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