high electric bill $900++ please help

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by handy_wo_man, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. handy_wo_man

    handy_wo_man New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    West Virginia
    i've turned off all breakers and my main inside breaker and my meter is still turning, slowly but still turning. i also turned off my outside breaker and guess what it still spins, slow but still spinning. i tried turning each breaker on one at a time nothing really caused it to spin fast, so i then turned all breakers on, then the dryer on and yeah it started spinning faster and then turned the electric furnace on stayed spinning about the same, then really slow then fast and so on. i've called an electrician he will be here sometime this week. just curious if anyone has any ideas. i've lived here for almost 10 years my home is a triple wide, well that's what they called it, it came in three pieces its 81'X28' with an additional room 22'X14', i had a new carrier outside heating and cooling unit (furnace, heat pump and ac unit) installed about 5 years ago it really didn't improve my electic bill much. any input would be appreciated. ty
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    An electrician should be able to spot a tap-off from your main panel, if there is one. That is the only way (barring some corrosion or damage to the main feed, at least that I can think of) the meter should still turn when your main is off. Then, you need to find out who has been benefiting from your supply of electricity and have them prosecuted for theft - report them to the police and the electric company. WV may have low electric rates, but if the home is not tight and insulated, you'll still pay more than you should. Might be a good idea to see if you can get someone to do a blower door leak test, and use that info to tighten up the structure. Often, this is subsidized by the local utility company...worth checking out and should help.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,623
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I would not touch the shell of you coach while you were standing on the ground because it could be energized and the electricity is flowing through it to the ground. I had it happen to a friend's mobile home years ago.
  4. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    This is some sound advice these gentlemen have given above.

    I am just curious if your power bill is always this high.
  5. handy_wo_man

    handy_wo_man New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    West Virginia
    thanks all for your input, yeah that was my thinking something is pulling current through my meter, and i've never heard of the blower door leak test but i definitely need my home put through a weatherization test for sure, at one end it is about 10' off of the ground, it does have underpinning but yet it sits in a valley where the wind just whips by. and yes my electic bill has always been high, usually reaching over $900 during the 3 or 4 coldest months of the year, on the budget plan it runs $450/month (thats a 12 month average) even during the hottest summer months running the a/c it goes up to $300. i guess one of my concerns is that my ex done the outside wiring probably should have just went with a different electrician. i suppose my logic after the fact was i couldn't trust him then why did i think i could trust him to do the wiring. i'm sure its probably nothing he did just you know that thought of "what if". lol, oh well. but anyway i did pay extra to have the wiring from the pole to my home underground maybe it's something there? who knows. hopefully i soon will find out. will keep everyone posted. and thanks again.
  6. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    You are heating and cooling just under 2600 square feet which would be costly if being done with electric heat.
    Most homes from the time period yours was built would have 15kw electric furnaces installed. If you are in the mountains of West Virginia then it is possible that you are paying for heating a lot of space with an electric furnace. It sounds like you are in the mountains as your home is 10’ high on one end.

    Doing a pressure test will let you know where you are losing heat from your home. It might be a good idea to limit the amount of heat to areas that don’t need constant heat such as sleeping quarters. This can be accomplished by closing off the floor registers.
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    1) Get an electrician to investigate the issue of power "leakage" and/or theft

    2) Heat pumps have crankcase heaters, and they may unnecessarily running 24/7. Get an HVAC guy to check that out.
  8. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    He said the Meter runs when the main breaker at the pole if off. I don't think his sofa is energized.

    Either both his main breakers "leak" - near impossible, or someone tapped the meter after it and before the main breaker. Very difficult to hide. And incredibly stupid, since power taps are made before the meter.

    Save a BUNCH of money and cancel [postpone] the electrician call. The electric company would come out today for free if called. Possibly in the next hour if you say you think someone tapped your line. Bad meter.

    I had one that slowed down every month for a year until it stopped. Very friendly meter!

    Be prepared to insist on a rebate for past use. Make the tech record the EXACT over read in writing, before he hauls the meter away, its your only chance at a nice check from them. Also record the meter ID number.

    One weird chance is a nest of some sort from the meter bar to the panel, but it will require pulling the meter to check it.

    PO-CO's job. That will not get you a rebate, but in the meantime, I would not be touching the meter or main panel.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2011
  9. handy_wo_man

    handy_wo_man New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    West Virginia
    first, thank you for your suggestions. who would i get to do a pressure test (electrician?, heating/cooling company?) i'm not sure what that is but sounds pretty self explanatory just wondering who to call. and, yes i definitely live in the mountains and my home ended up being so high because of the huge bolders of rock the bulldozer couldn't move to level the area off better. i do like the idea of limiting the heat to the lesser used areas of the home but when the heating/cooling guys installed the unit they said leaving all vents open allowed better circulation and would be more efficient. i have wondered about single room heating with a thermostat in each room (i suppose that exists idk) yet on the other hand my parents have an outside wood and coal stove that heats their home through the water lines it works wonderfully and is a much warmer heat and their electric bill goes way down during the winter because the hot water tank doesn't have to run. of course dad has had his stove for years and now they are much more pricier.
  10. handy_wo_man

    handy_wo_man New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    West Virginia
    ballvalve, i sure hope you're right because a rebate from the electric company would be super. not counting on that though but wishful thinking never hurts. i have called my electric company they said there couldn't be anything on their part causing my meter to turn even with the main breaker off and i've called them several times over the years and was told also that a meter very rarely goes bad and was told each time to call an electrician. who knows? hopefully, i'll soon find out. the electrician should be here by the end of the week.

    oh and p.s. "she" not "he" lol thanks
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,623
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; Be prepared to insist on a rebate for past use

    IF the meter registered electlricity which was used, and that is about the only way it could have run up the bill, the utility is NOT going to give you credit for anything, because they do not know where it went, and it would not be their responsibility anyway, once it leaves the meter.
  12. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Again, the meter runs with all breakers OFF, including the DIRECT feed main. So its fairly easy to prove that the electricity is not being used at all. Unless the mud daubers made a high resistance connection between the hot and the neutral. Or her husband very foolishly tapped some appliance in AFTER the meter and before the main.

    SHE has to get past the no-service dope rep and demand a supervisor. Lets say she has to hire an electrician. He's going to shut off the main right at the meter.

    If the meter runs, he'll pull the main off the lugs if possible, or simply see if their is any voltage at the main bus bar. If no, its a simple bad meter, and it happens ALL the time, believe me. I have a meter that only runs for a month if you hit it with a rubber hammer. Many lawsuits in CA. now with swap to "smart spy meters" that have doubled thousands of customers bills.

    If she demonstrates this to a so called meter tech, a meter running without any possible load, the public utilities commision will assist her in getting a very deserved rebate. If she has the RATE of run and the meter number.

    Call and tell them "my electrician has tested the meter and its defective" that might get you past the no-service liar that answers the phone. Or do a search for your PUC and ring them up in tears. Or meet the meter reader and demonstrate what happens with the main off.

    Want these dirtbags to come to your house today? Call and say "I noticed my meter stopped running when everything is on and running" - You get instant service when meters run THAT way.

    But if this is a "bad" small utility co., you may need that electrician to certify the bad meter and record the rate of "non - use" you paid for.

    Save the blower door for after you get a honest meter. Most local governments have low income programs to tighten up houses for free.

    Utilities have us by the gonads, make an absolute fortune, and there should be ZERO tolerance for them not inspecting her meter.

    Here, I can make one call to the local office, ask for the new construction/tech manager, explain the situation, and have them out within 24 hours. That's what we pay those crazy bills for!

    Imagine you have a customer that has given you $450 of work each month for 20 years. Would you tell her to get lost if she called with a problem?
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011
  13. handy_wo_man

    handy_wo_man New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    West Virginia
    ballvalve: thank you and very well said. the electrician is suppose to be here today haven't heard from him yet but, hopefully he'll make it. i spoke to the power company once again today and once again was advised it's not the meter hire an electrician. i've been wandering though, the guy that installed my electricity (the ex, lol) i'm positive he told me that he didn't put the ground rod in as deep as he would've liked due to the massive rocks beneath the soil here. so, could that cause a problem?? i don't know a bunch about electrical but, i've wired several ceiling fans, well all the ceiling fans in my home (lol) and i rewired my dryer to a different area, redone the plumbing myself for my washer so, i know some just definitely not an expert and am definitely aware that electricity is nothing to take lightly and that it is very dangerous not only for myself but my home too. so, yeah that's why i've called in the electrician this is way over my head. and i so much hope he can help. will keep you posted. and once again thank you.
  14. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    I would guess that JW will tell you more about grounding issues, but I cannot think of a connection to a meter running on it's own due to a less than optimum ground.

    Few ground rods around here get 1/2 way in. You can add more and gang them up.
  15. handy_wo_man

    handy_wo_man New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    West Virginia
    the electrician came, everything checked out fine. and how dumb i felt when he shut the main off outside and it quit turning. honest to goodness it was turning when i shut it off two days before and months before that. i went outside myself while he was here i just had to see it with my own eyes and if anything it was barely turning backward...who knows? was told it's more than likely my furnace. an electrician from the power company came, replaced the meter and also suggested the furnace. so, now that everything has checked out i've purchased some spray foam and sealing any gaps i find. so......thanks to all for your suggestions.
  16. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    711
    Location:
    VA
    Since rates vary from location to location, it is helpful if you show kwh instead of price. What would be helpful would be a cooling bill (say July), a peak heating month (say Dec. or Jan.), and then a month or two where you aren't really heating or cooling (perhaps April or Sept.). This would give us an idea of how much it takes to heat/cool vs. normal months (without heating/cooling).

    If the bill is only very high in the winter, it could be the furnance. If it is high during non-heating/cooling months, then the draw is from somewhere else.

    There was a guy on here sometime back that was seeing very high cooling bills (like 3x normal). It turned out that a tech that worked on his system during the winter added a jumper to force the electric heat on since the system wasn't heating well. Since this jumper was in place, those heating elements were also coming on in the summer, so you can imagine what that would do to your electric bill.

    Now as a reference point, I am in a similar climate (central VA), house is ~3300 sq.ft, 42 years old, single pane windows, and run a full electric furnance (no heat pump) and I can tell you that in the winter, my bill peaks at about 1/2 of what you are seeing in terms of $$$. In terms of kwh, it is usually something like 3300 kwh in winter, but had been over 4000 kwh before adding insulation to the attic. As this system uses a lot of energy, we run it as little as possible. If we kept it warmer and kept the temperature up all the time, then I could easily get a bill similar to what you are getting.

    With you having a heat pump and a newer place, you should be using much less electricity than I am unless you are keeping the place 80 degrees 24/7. The other possibility is that you aren't using that much electricity, but you have a high rate where you are at. I don't think that is going to be the case, though. Your rates are probably similar to what they are around here.
  17. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Now, it is interesting how the power company ran over when they heard the meter ran a bit BACKWARD when off, and at other times when it ran forward, you were just foolish to them?

    Bad meter and bad electric company. They help you only when its good for them.

    Inquire for GOV. programs to tighten the house and winter heating rates from this nice utility of yours.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
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