Author Topic: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage  (Read 5156 times)

JKLescher

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Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« on: April 23, 2015, 01:57:09 PM »
Last year during the current billing period my household used 294kWh over 32 days. This year the same billing period contained only 30 days but we used 626kWh.

Has anyone experience something like this? What are some likely culprits?

We don't have any new additional appliances, freezers, etc. Our furnace, water heater, and dryer are all gas. I'm really at a loss for reasons.

lakemom

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2015, 02:01:34 PM »
What was the weather like?  More colder/hotter days? 

protostache

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2015, 02:05:14 PM »
If it's been colder and your furnace is running more, that likely accounts for some of it. The blower fan uses a lot of electricity, especially if it's an older single stage model.

JKLescher

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2015, 02:08:38 PM »
27% Warmer according to the handy comparison charter the power company prints on the bill. In fact we used 41.6 therms of natural gas instead of the 64.7 from this time last year. We had a significantly milder winter this year. In our climate this is still a heating part of the year, no AC used.

JLee

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2015, 02:09:22 PM »
Do you have any outside outlets with extension cords going to your neighbor's house? :P

Spork

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2015, 02:17:53 PM »

Do you have a smart meter?  Or a traditional old meter that has to be read manually?

The reason I ask: Smart meters are likely to be accurate (ignoring failures, etc).  They are read at regular intervals.  Old "dumb" meters require a guy to walk around and read them.  They don't always get read at regular intervals.  When they aren't, the electric company does an estimate.  At some point in time, it *does* get read and they'll realize the estimates were wrong.  For that month you'll get an oddly high or low bill.

JKLescher

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2015, 02:20:33 PM »
Do you have any outside outlets with extension cords going to your neighbor's house? :P

I do have outside outlets. If they're sneaking over at night to hook up some bitcoin cracking monster array they better cut me in! I think the outlets are currently turned off, but it's worth checking out.

It such an odd (and expensive) mystery. Whatever this new power draw is, it's more than everything else in the house put together.

JKLescher

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2015, 02:28:37 PM »

Do you have a smart meter?  Or a traditional old meter that has to be read manually?

The reason I ask: Smart meters are likely to be accurate (ignoring failures, etc).  They are read at regular intervals.  Old "dumb" meters require a guy to walk around and read them.  They don't always get read at regular intervals.  When they aren't, the electric company does an estimate.  At some point in time, it *does* get read and they'll realize the estimates were wrong.  For that month you'll get an oddly high or low bill.

It's a smart reader. I just called the power company and they were able to point me to the exact day of increased use, but that didn't provide any insight. No: "Oh yeah, that's the day I got two new refrigerators." or "That's when I decided to heat the town by placing my electric space heater outside and letting 'er rip for a month straight."

I wonder if it's worth a call back to see if they take readings throughout the day.

RH

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2015, 02:54:11 PM »
My electric provider has a website I can log into and view hourly usage of my smart meter. I have Portland General Electric. Maybe yours has an option like this?

Spork

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2015, 02:54:33 PM »

Do you have a smart meter?  Or a traditional old meter that has to be read manually?

The reason I ask: Smart meters are likely to be accurate (ignoring failures, etc).  They are read at regular intervals.  Old "dumb" meters require a guy to walk around and read them.  They don't always get read at regular intervals.  When they aren't, the electric company does an estimate.  At some point in time, it *does* get read and they'll realize the estimates were wrong.  For that month you'll get an oddly high or low bill.

It's a smart reader. I just called the power company and they were able to point me to the exact day of increased use, but that didn't provide any insight. No: "Oh yeah, that's the day I got two new refrigerators." or "That's when I decided to heat the town by placing my electric space heater outside and letting 'er rip for a month straight."

I wonder if it's worth a call back to see if they take readings throughout the day.

Mine does.  And mine has a web interface to browse it. 

JKLescher

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2015, 03:57:25 PM »
Mine has an option to login and review my monthly usage, but nothing more detailed unless I call for information. Looks like I'll be spending some time flipping the breakers and observing the meter's speed, then playing with a kill-a-watt.

Thanks for all the replies so far.

JKLescher

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Re: Sudden Spike in Electricity Usage
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2015, 02:41:55 PM »
It turned out to be a baseboard heater in a rarely used room in the basement. The control knob was broken in such a way that it was still on when it indicated that it was off. Mystery solved and electricity use halved!