$850++ Electric bill for Brooklyn 3bd - HELP PLEASE!!!!!

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by max mirman, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. max mirman

    max mirman New Member

    Aug 9, 2014
    New York
    Hi all, thanks for checking in. Me and two friends just moved into a brand new 3 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and have received our first electricity bill at over $850. I feel like this is absolutely impossible and there must be something wrong, but here are the details of our apartment - maybe it will help some of you suggest a reason or problem & solution.

    • Apartment is brand new - we are the first to occupy this apartment.
    • 5 days ago, half the apartment electrical outlets & exterior lights stopped working suddenly
      • Electrician came by and used one of the working outlets next to a broken one to reactivate the broken ones
        • Said that it was due to poor design/installation
      • None of the breakers had switched when these outlets stopped working
    • We keep our thermostat on at 69 degrees (maybe a little low, i know, but we like it cold)
      • I've noticed our front door of the apartment leaks a decent amount of cold air whenever I am outside putting the key in.
    • The contractors that built our apartment building are known for being sloppy, disconcerned, and half-a$$ed with their work.
      • There are scruffs everywhere, some apartments are not finished, we had an electric problem within the first month where the sockets stopped working
    • We barely have any electronics - other than charging computers, and phones, we don't have any tvs, and have minimal lamps.
    I've dealt with high electricity bills before, but was able to manage them down to a reasonable rate with habits around the home, but this seems WAY too extreme. I don't understand how it's even POSSIBLE for an electric bill to be at over $850.

    Any suggestions on how this could be happening? Anything I could say to get money back, taken off the bill, or to dispute the charges being so high? Could my electric meter be tapped? Theft? Illegitimate set up?

    Thanks for reading, and I'd appreciate literally any responses - I'm desperate here. We cannot afford this crap.
  2. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Mar 30, 2011
    Rocket Scientist
    Houston, TX
    How did they read the meter ?

    Sounds like it could be meter reader error.

    Some places Estimate and it is way off.
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  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    It's possible that you're feeding other apartments as well as yours. Assuming you have a main shutoff for your apartment AND you know which meter is yours, shut your main breaker off than go look at the meter and see if it is still turning. ANd, if you leave it off long enough, see if any of your neighbors notice that their power is off!

    Is it possible that before you moved in, nobody was paying the electric bill, and it actually represents multiple months? Maybe including some while the place was being built?

    How many Kw/Hrs did you use? What type of water heater do you have?
  5. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Jun 14, 2007
    North Carolina
    Is your water included with this bill? Is there water leaking somewhere?
  6. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Mar 30, 2011
    Rocket Scientist
    Houston, TX
    Around here you pay a 1 month normal usage Deposit.

    So the first bill could be doubled, and you get your deposit back when you move.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Shat do you mean by "he used one of the working outlets to reactivate the dead ones"? That is NOT a repair it is a patch and did nothing to correct the real problem. The "real problem" could be a failed supply line from the utility, and they are the ones you should contact about the electrical problem and high bill, NOT us. "poor design and installation" is NOT a factor in a "brand new" building, unless it was done by completely incompetent electricians and inspected by paid off inspectors. His explanation was a "cop out" and I might not want him doing any more "repairs".
  8. snokel

    snokel Member

    Jan 29, 2014
    Sounds like the wires where loose on the working outlet that fed the next ones down the circuit. They just don't stop working out of the blue. 850 seems a bit high but in NY who knows :) You should really contact the electric company and see what the deal is.
  9. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Jan 14, 2009
    Electricity from ConEd is typically ~25cents/kwh (delivered, all charges), I don't know if there is step up/down at some break point. So a bill of $850 is about 3400 kwh (half the annual usage at my house, but I have extremely low cooling loads.) In a 3 bedroom Brooklyn apartment building kept at 69F I would expect at least 1000kwh/month of cooling in July, maybe even 1500kwh. If you kept it at 78F it would be half that.

    If your apartment leaks a lot of air (to the rest of the building, or outdoors) , this could be real usage. If you're able to feel the cold air leaking at your door, buy some weatherstripping already!

    A blower door test to find and fix other air leakage may be called for. It's not cheap (not sure what it would cost in Brooklyn- it would cost $400-500 in my neighborhood), but neither is $850/month cooling bills. Window trim & weather stripping is an obvious leak point, but may be small relative to leakage around electrical & plumbing chases, exhaust vents, etc. In a tall building air leaks at the floor or ceiling, or into utility chases that run the full height of the building can draw massive volumes of air due to stack-effect pressures. But even 3-story can have at least some stack effect draw (but not enough for 3400kwh worth of cooling.)

    If your windows face either east or west you may have some HUGE solar gain issues contributing to the cooling loads, and it may be worth installing exterior shades/shutters over those windows (if possible.) You'll get solar gain from south facing windows too, but not nearly as much, due to the high angle of the sun in summer causing most of the incident sun to be reflected off the windows. Awnings can reduce gains from south facing windows relatively easily, but would not be a solution for east or west facing glass.

    The efficiency of the air conditioning systems could also be a factor. Ducted AC with big duct leaks could easily be sending a large fraction of the cooling elsewhere. Whether ducted or PTAC/ductless/window-shaker, improper refrigerant charge could also be a significant contributor.
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