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sarahama 03-07-2009 11:09 AM

Excessive electric usage indicated! Help!
I'm single and conserve energy, yet my usage is 2,300 kilo for 28 days in a small one bedroom, surrounded by other apartments and having only one wall exposed to outside elements. I live in an apartment that was built in 2006. My highest usage in a similar apartment was 600 kilo in the middle of winter. I have been tracking usage daily and I use 80-90 kilo compared to the 12-16 kilo that is the daily average in 15 other apartments in my apartment complex. I use this amount without heat or air conditioning on. The electric company tested the meter and found it to be working fine. I had a renters advocate test all the appliances for usage. They found no problem. We suspected the water heater, because I turned the water heater "breaker off" and the usage went down to 12 kilo per 18 hours with the heat set for 66 degrees. (It was very cold so other apartments used 19.8 kilo in these 18 hours). My landlord replaced the water heater thinking this could be the problem. No change. When I turned the main breaker off for the whole apartment for five hours, the meter did indeed stop, so its the correct meter. I tried using nothing in my apartment (no lights,etc) except for leaving the refridgerator and water heater on and I still used 67 kilo in a day. What do you recommend?

dcb 03-07-2009 12:08 PM

do you have your own meter? I would shut everything off (heat, water heat, radios, etc) and make sure it stops turning completely. If you can't shut everything off and make it come to a complete stop then either you are missing something or someone is "borrowing" power from your circuit.

sarahama 03-07-2009 12:53 PM

I have my own meter, and I've been checking the meters for 15 other apartments; comparing these to my reading. No apartment has exceptionally low electric usage, so I'm probably not paying for someone elses electricity. The renter advocates here (HAND) tried unplugging everything in the apartment except they missed the two small smoke alarms that have batteries in them. They indicated a very small electric reading, but didn't seem concerned about it. My landlord got here 1/2 hour before HAND came, so I don't know I if he could have shut something off first. This apartment complex does not have any additional laundary facility, etc. and it does have a separate house meter that uses 7 kilo daily, probably for hallway lights. I would like to try your suggestion, but I can't figure out how to turn the water heater off. Do I need to unscrew the panel that's on the water heater? to find the switch?

almightybmw 03-07-2009 01:07 PM

To shut the water heater off goto the breaker panel, and find the one labeled "water heater." If no such thing exists IN your apartment, the building is violating code requirements. It should look dark gray, with plenty of space around it for access. Shouldn't be too hard to find.

2300 does seem rediculously high. I've done the all electric apartment before, but never broke 800kWh.

sarahama 03-07-2009 01:30 PM

I live like a miser; no TV, stereo, no fish tank, etc. I don't have any electronic entertainments. I did turn off the water heater breaker before for 18 hours and that's when my apartment finally indicated a reasonable amount of energy consumption (12 kilo instead of 65 within an 18 hour time period). Could something be connected into the water heater breaker specifically? Regardless, it would be an interesting experiment if I unplugged everything and turned the water heater breaker off.

larryrose11 03-08-2009 11:36 AM

You should be able to unplug most things in you space, with the exception of a few things. If you disconnect the main breaker, the meter should stop moving if there is no problem. Assuming the meter does stop, then every appliance should have a nameplate power draw when in operation. With the meter not moving and water heater off, (It should have a vacation setting) record the meter reading. Turn on 1 circuit at a time, and let it run for 60 seconds, turn it off, and read the meter.

Power = (final meter reading - initial meter reading)/(time in hours).
If the meter reading is in kW-hrs, then power is in kW and so on.

There is another type of meter with a wheel, which may be either Watt hrs or kWatt hrs. For these types, just count the revolutions in the 60 seconds, and use this as the (Final - Initial)

This power calculated must add up to everything on that circuit, and should add up to the total of the nameplate power of everything on that circuit assuming everything is running. If not, then some devise is faulty.
It may be as simple as the fridge is going bad and not cycling on and off as it should.

hummingbird 03-08-2009 01:19 PM

There's something fishy in your water heater's wiring/grounding - that's why the fault stayed even after the heater change.

It could also be a leak somewhere in the hot water pipeline downstream from the heater. (or an inadvertent connection to a neighbor's hot water plumbing ??).

You must have very limited points of use for hot water - Kitchen sink, wash basin and shower are most likely points ... Why don't you forget about the existing heater, hot water plumbing and heater wiring and run something like this from a separate high current socket?

This type of tank-less instant electric water heater will help you cut out the problem rightaway. If not feasible, please go through 1. hot water plumbing for hot water leak 2. heater wiring for leaks and grounding issues. You must get an answer with this. Good luck!

Ryland 03-08-2009 01:29 PM

You shouldn't have such a hard time tracking this down, you might try calling an electrition and seeing if they have a clamp type amp meter that they can come and test each breaker to tell you what it's load is.
It does sound like it's your water heater, maybe you have a water leak? do you get a water bill for your apartment as well? your water heater should keep water hot for 4-5 hours after it's turned off, if it's cold within an hour or so then you have a hot water leak and your water heater is basically always on.

sarahama 03-09-2009 08:35 PM

Update. My landlord is in denial. I tested electric use once again with my new water heater installed by the landlord. After a day of letting the water heater work I experimented. Results: With "only" my water heater breaker on and no usage of hot water (24 hours), my average was 3.2 kilo per hour. With the water heater breaker "off" and all other breakers on (24 hours), my average usage was .33/hour. What this means is I'm using 2,150 kilo per month and spending $174 plus tax to run my water heater (3.2 kilo X 24 hours x 28 days x .081/kilo). I do not have the financial resources to remedy the situation myself or continue to pay for this electricity, however I will seek whatever legal resources are available. It could very well be one of the issues readers have mentioned.For now my option is to leave the switch off and get used to cold showers.

dcb 03-09-2009 09:04 PM

Do you like shower 30 times a day or something? ;) $172 seems like a lot.

Just for giggles, I took a random street view of bloomington, landed right at uncle festers front door, looked kinda interesting, especially on mondays :)

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