is my meter running correctly?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Andrew Elizalde, May 5, 2012.

  1. Andrew Elizalde

    Andrew Elizalde New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    So I just moved in to a new place and I think my meter may be reading incorrect. For example, last month my bill was about $250.00 for a one story (one ac unit) 1500 sq. foot house. The thermostat is set at 78 when I'm there and 83 when I'm not. This month, same story, huge bill of $280.00. My KwHours per day averages about to 100.

    To give some frame of reference I have some friends who live in a house twice my size and they pay about half my bill. Is the meter wrong or is it possible I'm doing something to use this much energy?

    Thanks.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,325
    Location:
    New England
    That is a LOT of energy. But, there's no way to tell without more info. What do you have that is normally turned on? If your place is lit up like a stadium, the a/c unit is old and inefficient, you have an old refrigerator and maybe a couple of freezers, or there's some heating appliance on while you're trying to a/c the place, maybe. Do you have a elecric plug-in car? Does someone have something plugged into your external receptacles?

    One certain way to verify someone is not stealing power from your meter is to turn your main breaker off, then look at the meter to see if it is still moving. If it is, call the police and the electrical company!
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,267
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Record your meter's readings each day for a week to see if the usage is constant, and then extrapolate that to a month and see how it compares to your bill. Compare your friends USAGE with yours, NOT the amount of the bill. You may NOT be on the most suitable rate plan for your usage.
  4. Andrew Elizalde

    Andrew Elizalde New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Thanks for the responses guys.

    My house should have very light usage. I work full time and am at school full time so I'm not there much to expend energy. The house was built in 2003 and all the appliances (all electric) are from there.

    The energy company is coming out on monday to inspect the meter but in the mean time I'm going to try some of the suggestions yall gave to see if I can see what's going on.

    Thanks!
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Extremely rare for a meter to be off. And good luck convincing the electric co! But an electrician with a clamp ammeter can determine if juice is flowing when ostensibly you have everything turned off. In fact, you can get a good idea yourself just by looking at the spinning dial. With nothing major running, it should turn very slowly.
  6. Andrew Elizalde

    Andrew Elizalde New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
  7. gusherb94

    gusherb94 Member

    Messages:
    124
    Location:
    chicago/nw IN
    The way that meter speeds up briefly is what you would see if an electric stove burner is on and set to low. You will see the disc speed up and slow down like that as the element cycles.
    I would start looking at all the major electric appliances, one of them could be malfunctioning.
  8. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    897
    Location:
    Midwest
    $ don't help much. What is the kwh usage? 100 kwh/day would be huge...about four times what I use per day in mid summer during humid 100+ temp days with a house twice as large.
    The question is why? What are your major sources of electricity use? I'm guessing electric water heater, AC, and lighting.

    Even with a large AC it would have to run max out 24/7 to produce those numbers...the vid with the AC off has me wondering. I've never seen mine spin that fast, but your meter factor is half of mine (13 8/9 vs 27 7/9.)

    Do you have a well? I had a problem in college once with a failed pressure switch on the tank when I moved into a home, causing the pump to run continuously. The first bill was higher than yours, and this was 24 years ago.

    Turn off obvious sources, see if it is still running fast at times. My suspicion is that somebody is stealing power from you. Grow house nearby?

    An electric heater running flat out and dumping water continuously might produce these numbers.
  9. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    1,006
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    Considering that you can do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about this meter yourself, your only recourse is to call your utility and have them put a recorder on it or some other sort of verification device.
    They may also just pop in a new meter and be done with it.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    A few years ago I had a coworker Dave, with high electric bills. It started coincidentally about the time his neighbor had his meter changed out. His neighbor was having large bills prior to that due to a faulty meter. A month later Dave's bill was higher and was increasing every month. Dave thought that somehow the electric company hooked up his neighbor's meter wrong and that the neighbor's usage was transferred to his.

    Dave fought with the electric company for months. They came out and checked his meter but could find nothing wrong. Turns out Dave had a leak in the pipe from the well causing the pump to run a lot. Over time, the leak got bigger and bigger, and he only realized it when his pressure had dropped.
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I have a digital smart meter with no dial to watch. What I use to monitor consumption is a Blueline power cost monitor.

    http://www.bluelineinnovations.com/
    100_0351 (WinCE).JPG
  12. Andrew Elizalde

    Andrew Elizalde New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Thanks again for all the responses guys.

    I'm going to try to isolate the problem later today...I have work in about an hour. :/

    I don't think it could be anyone stealing my power, I live in suburbia so I don't even know how that would happen. And no, I don't have a well.

    Thanks.
  13. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    That puppy is working in overdrive. I will be very interested for the poco to measure your amp draw when it is spinning that fast
  14. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    Something in your house is failing. Nothing draws that mush power for a few seconds and then drops out again under normal operating conditions except maybe the stove. I have my money on an electric water heater with a bad T-stat, but any 240volt appliance could be suspect. Turn off the breaker for the water heater (assuming its electric) and see if that stops the meter from jumping. If not move on to the next possible candidate. You don't have any 240v electric heat do you?

    -rick
  15. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    If your A/C unit is a heat pump, have a tech. check to see if there is a problem with the crankcase heat strips
  16. Andrew Elizalde

    Andrew Elizalde New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    I found out the problem!

    The AC guy is coming on Wednesday to have a look but in the meanwhile I called my dad's cousins (handymen/etc) to come check it out. The found the problem within fifteen minutes.

    The inside AC unit was drawing something like 22 amps. They said it should be around 2 or 3. The opened up the unit and determined that when the AC is on the heater is on as well, which is why when I would set my thermostat to 78, it would only hang around 82.

    I am pretty pissed that the previous owners didn't disclose anything about this before, that the AC tech didn't notice it when inspecting the house the first time, and at myself for not getting it caught quicker!

    Either way I'm happy that (hopefully) my bill will be cut in half!

    Thanks again guys.
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,325
    Location:
    New England
    Humm, think I called that in my first reply...
  18. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    We really appreciate the follow up. We are happy your problem will be resolved, and happy to validate our opinion that it was NOT the meter. This is why I said "good luck with the poco". They hear these complaints all the time, and it is NEVER their fault!!!!!!
  19. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,325
    Location:
    New England
    A low-reading meter is more likely than one going too fast (and neither is very common), at least with the mechanical devices...if the bearing in the wheel starts to drag, it could run slower than called for. It's hard to make it go faster with no extra power useage.!
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