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Lost Electricity

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Steve IA, Jan 19, 2008.

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  1. Steve IA

    Steve IA Guest

    xposted: alt.energy.homepower,alt.home.repair.misc.rural

    Our average electricity usage for the last 6 years for December is 653 kwh
    with a range of 120. December 07 our usage was 682 kwh. This would not have
    been unusual except for the fact that, due to an ice storm, we had NO
    electricity for 6.5 days. Billing cycle per the bill was 31 days. I was
    expecting a bill 20% lower than the average bill and was dismayed when it
    was actually higher. So far this month of January, we are using at the
    about average rate (22kwh/day) as we did in December, the only odd thing is
    that we had NO power of nearly a week in December. I've spoken with a few
    neighbors who also lost power and 'come to think of it' their bill went up
    or didn't go down as much as they would have expected for a 20-25% time of
    no usage. I ask the REC and they said we 'just used more'. They also tried
    to blame 'recovery usage'. I'm not buying it. They claim they didn't
    estimate the bill and when I received the bill I immediately checked and the
    meter reading seemed in line with normal. I'm talking KWH her not $$ which
    can be affected by rate changes, surcharge and taxes etc.

    Facts:
    During the ice storm we used a gas generator intermittently during the
    daylight to power the freezer, tv, occasional PC and a few lights .
    We relied 100% on wood heat, never falling below 60F.
    For the entire billing period we did nothing that we can think of unusual
    that would increase the consumption over the previous December. No extra
    Xmas lights, no 'recovery' usage after power restoration other than 1
    refrigerator .
    Normal is LP furnace supplemented by high efficiency wood fireplace.
    Gas water heater and stove.
    Elec clothes dryer.
    1 powered outbuilding.
    We live ¼ mile away from nearest neighbor so no chance of somebody running
    an extension cord and stealing from us.

    After receiving the bill, I shut the power off below the meter and it quit
    turning. We've done some other testing by turning off house circuit breakers
    and watching the meter but have isolated nothing unusual yet. With all house
    breakers off the meter stops. I have purchase a Kill-a -Watt and have begun
    looking for the energy thief. I've found nothing yet, although the KAW is
    fun and interesting.

    Where would the electricity go?
    When reconnecting the lines, can a 'surge' spin the meter forward?
    Previously we had 2 lines coming into our neighborhood, both lines fell but
    only 1 was reconnected to restore power. Can this have any bearing?
    What am I missing?
    What other testing can I do?

    Your thoughts and comments appreciated.

    Steve IA
     
  2. Ann

    Ann Guest

    On Sat, 19 Jan 2008 09:40:37 -0600, Steve IA wrote:
    See what your next bill is. My REC actually reads only every other month;
    they estimate the other "readings". I started using compact fluorescent
    bulbs (and otherwise reduced usage) a couple years ago and they're still
    estimating the interim months about 25% high.

    Also, readings aren't necessarily the exact meter reading. Where I
    previously lived, the meter reader handset showed estimated readings for
    customer accounts. If the estimated reading wasn't too far off, the meter
    reader accepted the estimate rather than keying in the actual reading.
     
  3. dpb

    dpb Guest

    Very good post to convert to a range of previous usages on a daily basis
    which shows only a 10% roughly higher than previous rate (27.3/24.7 ~
    1.1). I'd not ascribe it to anything but normal variation based on
    that, especially if there's on indication of stray current when loads
    are off as indicated.

    Being a REC, it's probably a neighbor who does the meter-reading; they
    could probably tell you if they had made an estimate the previous month
    or not. We're small enough we still hand-read; a transcription error a
    month ago might have been smaller than normal too, which you just made
    up for this past month.

    --
     
  4. Steve IA

    Steve IA Guest

    Dave,
    Thanks for the return.
    I guess I'm not following your calculations. I will give you actuals and
    maybe I can see where you're coming from
    Dec 07 - 682 kwh on a 31 day billing cycle = 22 kwh/day
    Previous 6 years Dec: assuming 31 day billing cycle for all
    02- 611 =19.7kwh/day
    03- 702 =22.6
    04 -663 =21.4
    05 -676 =21.8
    06 -581 =18.7
    07 -682 =22

    avg = 653
    range = 702-581 = 121

    I agree that it is well within normal variation if I had used elec every of
    the 31 days, but I only used for 80% of the time.
    Steve
     
  5. Steve IA

    Steve IA Guest

    Can two extension cords, plugged together and covered with ice and snow
    cause a direct short without breaking the circuit breaker?

    Thanks
    Steve
     
  6. Steve IA

    Steve IA Guest

    It was colder, but very little of our usage goes to heating the house.
    Certainly not cold enough to mitigate the days of 0 use.
    We installed a new fireplace in November and our LP usage has dropped so
    much that I chased the tank wagon away the other day as we had used less
    than 150 gals between September and jan 10th.
     

  7. Steve is it possible that as a result of the ice storm and the holidays that
    you spent more time at home than you normally would on an average work day.
    I'm thinking that your living patterns during that time period were such
    that your power consumption may have been higher. Perhaps you are the type
    of people where your lifestyle has you going out a lot, but because of the
    weather you were forced to stay at home. I don't know about where you live,
    but my electric rate is higher during the week days and during daylight
    hours than at night. Maybe you were home more during peak periods.
     
  8. Steve IA

    Steve IA Guest



    We are retired and away from family and this hasn't changed in 3 years.
    We did no entertaining, extra lighting or cooking beyond normal
    December stuff.
    Thanks.

    Steve
     
  9. Terry

    Terry Guest


    If you think the cords are suspect you can use your kill-a-watt meter.
    Check the readings at each end of the cord. If it is leaking at the
    junction or at a bad spot in the insulation you might be able to
    measure it with the meter.
     
  10. dpb

    dpb Guest

    Previous max was 22.7; this was 22*0.8=17.6 --> 22.7/17.6 = 1.3 instead
    of previous 1.1. I didn't check the numbers. Still, don't have the
    comparative degree-days to see how much that might be a factor.

    I'd still say it's unlikely to be anything except an anomaly in usage
    combined w/ billing cycle. Could possibly have had some leakage during
    the outage if there were some damage somewhere on your feed...I'd only
    worry much if it is still abnormal for another month.

    --
     
  11. Doug Miller

    Doug Miller Guest

    Yep. The breaker won't trip unless the current exceeds the breaker's rated
    capacity. A continuous 1A leak won't even come close to tripping a 15A
    breaker, but costs you 1A * 120V * 24 hrs = almost 3 kwh per day.
     
  12. Steve IA

    Steve IA Guest


    I first noticed that the snow had melted where the 2 cords joined, but
    didn't think much of it as it was before I had gotten the bill. The
    junction was in the clear then so any leakage could have been transient.
    Besides, this cord is on a timer and only runs 2 hours a day to power a
    block heater on the school bus. It comes on 1 hour in the AM prior to
    bus startup time and 1 in the afternoon, although often the heater (1000
    tested kw) isn't plugged in during most warmer afternoons.
    I tested the cords and the heater 1st thing with my kill a watt as it
    was suspicious to me also.

    Talked to a couple more neighbors and their December bill was also
    higher than expected. I will verify with the REC that these readings
    were not estimated. The clerk who I spoke to may not know the whole
    story.
    Thanks
     
  13. dpb

    dpb Guest

    Steve IA wrote:
    ....
    Don't you know your neighbor who's almost surely the reader to talk to
    directly? How big a REC is this? Do you go to the annual meetings?
    You, after all, are a co-op member here... :)

    On top of the above leakage path identified, what about ice-damage etc.?
    Also, if you're still really deeply concerned, the other respondent
    mentioned a sump pump stuck on; we had a well pump run continuously for
    quite some time (owing to a small enough that it could keep the system
    pressurized so it wasn't noticeable in water service) and it was the
    neighbor who discovered it when she read the meter (owing to water
    management requirements, wells other than only household here are
    required to be metered separately to record estimated water usage for
    water table usage estimates) and noticed it was way out of line...

    Also, still no information on the actual degree-days of that particular
    month as compared to the historical averages...add up a few per cent for
    the discovered leakage, a few percent for temperature, and a little for
    unfound or perhaps a recording error from the previous month and it
    could well end up within the range of expected usage...

    --
     
  14. Per ransley:
    There's also a practice known as "curb stoning". Reader wants
    to finish his route earlier.... sits down on a curbstone and
    makes up some numbers.
     
  15. NotMe

    NotMe Guest

    | I ask the REC and they said we 'just used more'. They also tried
    | to blame 'recovery usage'. I'm not buying it. They claim they didn't
    | estimate the bill and when I received the bill I immediately checked and
    the
    | meter reading seemed in line with normal. I'm talking KWH her not $$ which
    | can be affected by rate changes, surcharge and taxes etc.

    Perhaps the meter reader is 'cooping' and the utility does not know it.

    We had a similar problem. We hooked up a motion activated 'critter cam'
    facing the meter. No one showed up for months then the bill jumped.
    Surprise, surprise that was the month the meter was really read.
     
  16. Steve IA

    Steve IA Guest

    Not coiled, but loosely tied in an overhand knot to keep it from
    inadvertently getting pulled apart.

    Steve
     

  17. It is called "Time of Day Service" from Jersey Central Power and Light.
    They have a special meter for this. I actually have four electric power
    rates thoughout the year. There is a night and day rate for the winter
    months and a night and day rate for the summer months. The daytime summer
    rate is the highest at about .22 per KWH. The cheapest rate for winter
    nights is around .13 per KWH. Weekends are the same as nights.

    Don't even get me started on my phone bill. lol
     
  18. Is such a beast ( a 240 V KAW) available yet? I've
    been eagerly waiting for one of them or a competitor....

    Thanks
     
  19. dpb

    dpb Guest

    ....

    Don't know about "few", maybe still "some". Out here it is manually
    read by a paid part-time person (virtually always a member
    "moonlighting"). We had to ditch the mail-in cards when the numbers of
    installed meters at locations where there was no sentient discernible
    sentient lifeform that could actually perform the task became too
    great... :(

    Eventually will probably go to the self-reading, but that's still in the
    future...

    --
     
  20. Terry

    Terry Guest

    That shouldn't change the amount of total clothes washed in December.
    Clothes pilling up at my house would actually make the electric bill
    less. That shirt wasn't as dirty as I thought it was. :)
     
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