Lost Electricity

S

Steve IA

Jan 1, 1970
0
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 A Ann Jan 1, 1970 0 On Sat, 19 Jan 2008 09:40:37 -0600, Steve IA wrote: 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 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. D dpb Jan 1, 1970 0 David said: Steve, You provide a lot of good information. You state that your 12/07 usage was 682 kwh (27.3 kwh/day for 25 days). You tell us that the power was out for 20% of that billing cycle. You tell us that in past Decembers you have used from 533 (17.2/day for 31 days)to 773 (24.9/day) kwh. I don't see much theft here, could easily be normal variation. 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. -- S Steve IA Jan 1, 1970 0 David L. Martel said: Steve, You provide a lot of good information. You state that your 12/07 usage was 682 kwh (27.3 kwh/day for 25 days). You tell us that the power was out for 20% of that billing cycle. You tell us that in past Decembers you have used from 533 (17.2/day for 31 days)to 773 (24.9/day) kwh. I don't see much theft here, could easily be normal variation. Dave M. 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 S Steve IA Jan 1, 1970 0 ransley said: ... Get a clamp on amp meter that goes to 0,01 amp, not found a stores but electric supply houses, a 35 Greenlee is good. Clamp on each circut on your panel to check consumption and compare it to what is plugged in by their watt ratings, then check with everything off, then unplugged. You might find a direct short to ground. Can two extension cords, plugged together and covered with ice and snow cause a direct short without breaking the circuit breaker? Thanks Steve S Steve IA Jan 1, 1970 0 Dimitrios said: Another key parameter you need to share but did not is the average temperature over the billing period. My utility company provides this, as well as the number of KWh and days. Is it possible the avergage temperature was colder than the same month one year earlier? This could explain a higher usage even with 6 days of no usage. 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. J John Grabowski Jan 1, 1970 0 Steve IA said: 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?

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.

S

Steve IA

Jan 1, 1970
0
John said:
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.

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

T

Terry

Jan 1, 1970
0
Can two extension cords, plugged together and covered with ice and snow
cause a direct short without breaking the circuit breaker?

Thanks
Steve

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.

D

dpb

Jan 1, 1970
0
Steve said:
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.

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.

--

D

Doug Miller

Jan 1, 1970
0
Can two extension cords, plugged together and covered with ice and snow
cause a direct short without breaking the circuit breaker?

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.

S

Steve IA

Jan 1, 1970
0
Terry said:
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.

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

D

dpb

Jan 1, 1970
0
Steve IA wrote:
....
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.

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...

--

P

(PeteCresswell)

Jan 1, 1970
0
Per ransley:
The meter guy could have read a number wrong, Ive had it happen a few
times.

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.

N

NotMe

Jan 1, 1970
0
| 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.

S

Steve IA

Jan 1, 1970
0
Edwin said:
Was the cord coiled up making an electro magnetic heater?

I'd be suspect of the cord setup as then can generate a lot of heat. Years
ago at work had one start to smoke plugged to a truck block heater. Where
the cord was coiled, it go damned hot and that heat translates to energy
use.
Not coiled, but loosely tied in an overhand knot to keep it from

Steve

J

John Grabowski

Jan 1, 1970
0
S. Barker said:
so you're trying to tell us they charge a different rate during different
times of a day? How, when they come read the total, do they know which
KWHours were daytime and which KWhours were nitetime???? Are you sure

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

D

danny burstein

Jan 1, 1970
0
This does not work for 240 volt branches, of course.
You'd need a 240 volt KAW [kill-a-watt meter] OR
better, the clamp-on wattmeter.

Is such a beast ( a 240 V KAW) available yet? I've
been eagerly waiting for one of them or a competitor....

Thanks

D

dpb

Jan 1, 1970
0
Neon said:
It didn't "go" anywhere. The higher bill is probably a combination of actually using
a little more electricity and "catching up" from the co-op's reading estimation.

Few rural co-ops read every meter every month. Many only read every 3 months or so.
....

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...

--

T

Terry

Jan 1, 1970
0
eye. Presumably your dirty clothes backed up during the outage. How many loads of
wash did you do when the power was restored?

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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