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Thread: Ridiculous Electric Bill

  1. #1

    Angry Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Aloha kakou,

    I wonder if anyone out there can help me with this:

    I live in a townhouse complex. A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor sheepishly asked me if my electric bill has been really high. Yes, it has been ever since January of this year. Attributing the larger monthly bills to the rising gas prices, I never looked at my HECO bill which shows kilowatt-hour usage on a graph. Finally doing so gave me a shock!

    Among the several problems I see, the one that stands out most prominently is the fact that for all of 2010, my energy usage was consistent. In February of this year, HECO show me as having the highest usage I have ever had! Never mind that February is the shortest month of the year, and I wasn't home for 10 days that month. Since then, HECO shows my usage as dropping slightly then rising and rising.

    I called HECO twice, and I was told, in a nutshell:

    1. I must be running my A/C since it's been a warm summer (I don't use a/c)
    2. It has to be one of my appliances (though none of them have been changed or malfunctioned in 3 years)
    3. I don't need anyone to come out and take a look at my meter because the only way a HECO meter would malfunction is to slow down and stop, and
    4. A senior HECO employee will call me back in 4-8 weeks (!!!)

    So my biggest concern now is how to go about checking my appliances to see if I'm "leaking" electricity somewhere. What do I need to do to accomplish this? Anyone?

    Mahalo nui loa in advance!
    Jo

  2. #2

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by maliemalamalama View Post
    2. It has to be one of my appliances (though none of them have been changed or malfunctioned in 3 years)
    Hi, Jo. By any chance, do you have any kine digital converter boxes for cable, maybe a recent addition? Those things are electricity hogs.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Wow, mahalo for the speedy response, Leo!

    Y'know, now that you mention it, I do have a digital cable box, but... that was installed last year. I should also add that February's purported usage was an astounding 400 kH more than the months in the year before. I just don't understand what appliance could do something like that... Any ideas?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by maliemalamalama View Post
    Y'know, now that you mention it, I do have a digital cable box, but... that was installed last year. I should also add that February's purported usage was an astounding 400 kH more than the months in the year before. I just don't understand what appliance could do something like that... Any ideas?
    I've often wondered about this. How can you verify your electrical usage, other than relying on HECO's determination? I live in a rented apartment, but I pay for electricity. I don't know my kH usage (I have no way of getting info on it), but it seems that recently, the charges seems out of proportion to my usage. Sometimes I think "garans this month's bill is going to be lower than last month's," but it's not. Other time, it's the other way around (though this is rare). So, how do you determine your kH usage? And how do you determine which appliances are responsible for each charge?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Definitely. I've been hearing a lot of complaints recently from so many people about their high electric bills. When I called HECO initially, there was a two hour wait to speak to someone. I figured that maybe I wasn't the only one with this problem.

    As an aside, my neighbor who originally approached me about our electric bills told me that she talked to another neighbor across the way who lives in another townhouse complex. He said that his electric bill is never more than $150/month, and this guy is home all day! Seriously, ours is only slightly less than double that. She noticed he had a digital meter though. According to the customer service rep, this shouldn't make a difference.

    My friends have a single-family home in a household of 5 adults. At least two of them are home all day, every day... they cook for an army every night... are online and have the tv on constantly. Their electric bill is around $245/mo, a balance I'd expect for that kind of usage. In my household, there's just my husband and me. What gives?

    By the way, I have access to my meter, but I'm not sure how you would know what your usage is if you don't...

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    There's also a fairly active HECO thread HERE, in case you haven't seen it. My bill is exorbitant for a 464 sq. ft. studio.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Is your water heater electric???

    Perhaps pre-energy efficient???

    Continually cycling hot water???

  8. #8

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by maliemalamalama View Post
    Among the several problems I see, the one that stands out most prominently is the fact that for all of 2010, my energy usage was consistent. In February of this year, HECO show me as having the highest usage I have ever had! Never mind that February is the shortest month of the year, and I wasn't home for 10 days that month.
    The same thing happened to me last month. I was away for over a week and the usage number was higher than other months. Is there a meter reader every month or do they just have estimates for some months?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by maliemalamalama View Post
    I live in a townhouse complex. A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor sheepishly asked me if my electric bill has been really high.
    Uh, why were they asking?

    On your water heater, there's an pressure relief valve. Quite frequently it just drains to the side of the tank. Is there any signs that water has been coming out of it? Does your sinks or shower drip?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walkoff Balk View Post
    Is there a meter reader every month or do they just have estimates for some months?
    Some months they estimate. But since the meter is a running total, when they read it again, then next bill will adjust for the estimate.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Honoruru View Post
    I've often wondered about this. How can you verify your electrical usage, other than relying on HECO's determination? I live in a rented apartment, but I pay for electricity. I don't know my kH usage (I have no way of getting info on it), but it seems that recently, the charges seems out of proportion to my usage. Sometimes I think "garans this month's bill is going to be lower than last month's," but it's not. Other time, it's the other way around (though this is rare). So, how do you determine your kH usage? And how do you determine which appliances are responsible for each charge?
    You can procure one of these meters to individually measure what power consumption an appliance is doing to help you identify what's the energy hog or if HECO is simply overestimating.

    http://www.amazon.com/P3-Internation.../dp/B00009MDBU

  11. #11

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Gecko, my neighbor asked because her electric bill is really high too. We have no water draining from the water heater and none of our fixtures leak or drip. Just checked again earlier this evening.

    Walkoff, I can't figure that one out either. It was a whopping 400 kwH more than HECO shows we normally use.

    Joshua, I'm going to look into that. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Honoruru View Post
    How can you verify your electrical usage, other than relying on HECO's determination? I live in a rented apartment, but I pay for electricity. I don't know my kH usage (I have no way of getting info on it)
    You don't have access to the meter? If you have access, then you can read it yourself to get an idea.

    Otherwise, if you don't mind installing something in your electric panel, you can use something like The Energy Detective


    Quote Originally Posted by maliemalamalama View Post
    Joshua, I'm going to look into that. Thanks so much for the suggestion!
    Pleaes see my message in the other thread. To rack up 400KWH, you'd need something like 550W running 24/7. I tend to doubt if it's anything you have plugged in.

    Quote Originally Posted by maliemalamalama View Post
    We have no water draining from the water heater and none of our fixtures leak or drip. Just checked again earlier this evening.
    I remembered a problem my neighbor had. There was a water leak in the hot water line in the slab. Since it was under the building, there wasn't much evidence of the leak.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by GeckoGeek View Post
    Some months they estimate. But since the meter is a running total, when they read it again, then next bill will adjust for the estimate.
    A customer is out of luck when the overestimating is done when the fuel prices are high.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Walkoff Balk View Post
    A customer is out of luck when the overestimating is done when the fuel prices are high.
    If the fuel prices went down the following month, then that could be bad.

    BTW, I did some more math on heating water. If there is a leak, I'm sure it would show up in the water bill. Since living in a townhouse, it might be part of the maintenance fees. But it would be worth asking if it's gone high for some reason.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by GeckoGeek View Post
    You don't have access to the meter? If you have access, then you can read it yourself to get an idea.

    Otherwise, if you don't mind installing something in your electric panel, you can use something like The Energy Detective
    Actually, I lived in a condo where I couldn't get access to my meter as all the meters for the units were in a common locked closet accessible only by the bldg mgr. So it can be an issue for some.


    Quote Originally Posted by GeckoGeek View Post
    Please see my message in the other thread. To rack up 400KWH, you'd need something like 550W running 24/7. I tend to doubt if it's anything you have plugged in.
    I agree at ~600W an hour, it's probably not the smaller devices. However, having a power meter is a great way for anyone to do a little detective work to get an idea of what portions of power consumption go where. Then it can be a process of elimination. The TED device you listed still requires removing an electric panel and I would relegate that to someone who is a professional to be on the side of caution.


    Quote Originally Posted by GeckoGeek View Post
    I remembered a problem my neighbor had. There was a water leak in the hot water line in the slab. Since it was under the building, there wasn't much evidence of the leak.
    Some other thoughts would be an electric water heater where maybe the thermostat is no longer operating correctly. Same goes with the refrigerator. Maybe the central air if that is involved as well?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by maliemalamalama View Post
    By the way, I have access to my meter, but I'm not sure how you would know what your usage is if you don't...
    If you have access to your meter, I would just turn everything off at the circuit breaker box, then one-by-one, turn on each circuit individually to determine how much power each one is sucking up.


    BTW, it's just my wife and me, and our electric bill is about $220/mo from Nov 2010 - Mar 2011, and $270/mo ever since (we've been running the AC a lot more since March). This is roughly a $40/mo jump from the same months the previous year.
    Last edited by zff; July 18th, 2011 at 11:41 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Did ya read the news article in the Star Advertiser today about using ceiling fans instead of AC's because:

    "According to Hawaiian Electric Co., using ceiling fans instead of an air conditioner can save local consumers more than $70 a month. That's because ceiling fans don't use any more electricity than a normal ceiling outlet. HECO also points out that EnergyStar-rated ceiling fan and lights are more efficient and can earn taxpayers a rebate."

    Since when do outlets let along "ceiling outlets" consume electricity. And quite honestly a typical ceiling fan uses anywhere from 75 to 95 watts of power (48 to 52") then add on the light itself (7-1/2 watts if using those CFL's x 4 if using a multi bulb fixture)

    Tomalee Waage, manager at The Fan Shop in Waimalu says, "The cheaper fans in the big-box stores might not explain on the package whether they're humidity-resistant. A specialty shop such as Pacific Ceiling Fans, which has been in business since 1981, has people on staff who can explain such things." I guess Hunter is considered by The Fan Shop to be a cheap fan. And I guess The Fan Shop may not have fans in the budgets of most homeowners because they don't stock cheap City Mill Casablanca fans only expensive humidity rated ceiling fans.

    The only thing I got from Waage is that unless you want the best, shop everywhere else. That can be good, however most can't afford the best and Waage shot himself and The Fan Shop in the foot suggesting The Fan Shop carries only expensive stuff. Why bother going there if you think spending a hundred dollars is already expensive at Home Depot. If you cannot afford that, forget The Fan Shop.

    Either way using ceiling fans generate a lot of power consumption on a daily basis. Better I think to grab a book and go to Starbucks and chill out at their expense.
    Last edited by craigwatanabe; July 18th, 2011 at 06:49 PM.
    Life is what you make of it...so please read the instructions carefully.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by joshuatree View Post
    Actually, I lived in a condo where I couldn't get access to my meter as all the meters for the units were in a common locked closet accessible only by the bldg mgr. So it can be an issue for some.
    I live in a condo as well, so I don't have access to my meter. My electric bill used to be included in my rent, but about four years ago, it changed, and I had to pay for electricity. I also noticed that the vast majority of rental advertisement for rentals in my building (from that time forward) also included electricity. I guess electricity had become a major expense. My electric bill is a copy of what the condo association sends to the condo owners.

    By the way, last month's electric bill was my highest ever, but it wasn't as exorbitant as MaileMalamalama's bill was. However, I have been hearing lots of stories of high electric bills. I don't think MaileMalamalama is alone.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Honoruru View Post
    I live in a condo as well, so I don't have access to my meter. My electric bill used to be included in my rent, but about four years ago, it changed, and I had to pay for electricity. I also noticed that the vast majority of rental advertisement for rentals in my building (from that time forward) also included electricity. I guess electricity had become a major expense. My electric bill is a copy of what the condo association sends to the condo owners.

    By the way, last month's electric bill was my highest ever, but it wasn't as exorbitant as MaileMalamalama's bill was. However, I have been hearing lots of stories of high electric bills. I don't think MaileMalamalama is alone.
    You should have access to your meter if you are paying it yourself. Or is it submetered?
    Life is what you make of it...so please read the instructions carefully.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by joshuatree View Post
    I agree at ~600W an hour, it's probably not the smaller devices. However, having a power meter is a great way for anyone to do a little detective work to get an idea of what portions of power consumption go where. Then it can be a process of elimination. The TED device you listed still requires removing an electric panel and I would relegate that to someone who is a professional to be on the side of caution.
    Yes, the small power meter is good for individual appliances. Telling you how much your entertainment system, cable box and/or computer is using. But it won't help you on a "whole house" basis. And you can't monitor the big users like the stove, water heater or A/C.

    Yes, opening up the electrical panel isn't for the novice. Thanks for pointing that out. But at least TED, and things like it will give a "whole house" picture.

    There is this device that doesn't require an electriction, but the range may be too limited for some large buildings.


    Quote Originally Posted by joshuatree View Post
    Some other thoughts would be an electric water heater where maybe the thermostat is no longer operating correctly. Same goes with the refrigerator. Maybe the central air if that is involved as well?
    Possibilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by craigwatanabe View Post
    And quite honestly a typical ceiling fan uses anywhere from 75 to 95 watts of power (48 to 52") then add on the light itself (7-1/2 watts if using those CFL's x 4 if using a multi bulb fixture)
    I did a random search at the Hunter website and find 66W for a 52". But at 95W (not doubt running at full blast) that's still a lot less then even a small A/C unit.


    Quote Originally Posted by Honoruru View Post
    My electric bill used to be included in my rent, but about four years ago, it changed, and I had to pay for electricity. I also noticed that the vast majority of rental advertisement for rentals in my building (from that time forward) also included electricity. I guess electricity had become a major expense. My electric bill is a copy of what the condo association sends to the condo owners.
    Quote Originally Posted by craigwatanabe View Post
    You should have access to your meter if you are paying it yourself. Or is it submetered?
    Sounds like sub-metering was installed around 4 years ago.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    On the subject of refrigerators, I had a problem awhile back. The unit is designed such that when the freezer does the defrosting thing, the water is dumped down the back wall of the refrigerator compartment below it.

    The drain at the bottom of the refrigerator "slimed up" (ick). I had a pool of water down there. It was causing water to drip everywhere. Once I cleaned that out, things went back to normal. I'm sure that was taking up some extra electricity, but I didn't have any measuring devices in place.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by GeckoGeek View Post
    Sounds like sub-metering was installed around 4 years ago.

    You can request to have a remote reader installed on your meter.
    Life is what you make of it...so please read the instructions carefully.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill


  24. #24

    Default Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Walkoff Balk View Post
    Held up without a gun.
    That's better then what the Board of Water is going to do to us.

  25. #25

    Wink Re: Ridiculous Electric Bill

    My brother,who lives in Paradise Park had to go to the Kaiser Hospital for a month of intensive chemotherapy.During that time almost no power was being used at his home.Upon getting home the electricity bill was just the same as usual.His wife did some research and found out that the meter reader was not even checking the meter.Polite complaints to the proper authorities resulted in a partial refund.

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