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Thread: Advice on How to Itemize Electricity Usage

  1. #1

    Default Advice on How to Itemize Electricity Usage

    I have a concern that I am using too much electricity then I should be, though I could be wrong.

    My usage seems to fluctuate from 150kwh a day down to 130 kwh per day.

    Details
    six person household in a four bedroom apartment made sometime during the 1970's
    Twelve computers on pretty much 75% of the day
    air conditioner runs 75 % of the day
    full size freezer separate from the regular fridge
    no huge TV's or other large appliances main bulk is computers
    my last bill was for 3689 kwh which I am sure will give some of you apoplexy

    I have allways thought that we are powering four seperate households yet I would like to reduce the usage if I could.

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    At our rates here, that would be over $600 bill!

    Computers add up, especially if you are running some servers. The heat of those also adds to your A/C bill. Refrig./freezer if they are more than 10 years old eat up a lot. Little things like power cubes for stuff add up, when you multiply by 24/7

    You can buy a device like Kill-a-Watt to measure power consumed by anything you can plug into it. An electrician could install power monitors on the big A/C loads.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you do a Google search, you can come up with various plug in power monitors. They come in various styles, some with memory and some only showing current consumption. You could move it around and see what your big consumers are.

    An alternative is to just read the data labels on the various items...they typically show the maximum wattage. Older freezers and refrigeration equipment is often much less efficient than the newer stuf. For example a SEER of 7-8 was not uncommon on an older until. For a couple of years now, you couldn't buy a new one that is less than 10, and I think they've raised it to 12 as a minimum (and some are available up to around 19 or so). Put room lights on motion detectors or replace incandescents with CFL's...that will decrease both the electrical from lighting, but also the a/c load and therefore costs.

    That's a lot of electricity per day. My place is probably much smaller (2-bedrooms), and I average maybe 14Kwh/day - more in the summer, maybe a little less in the winter.

    So, each person has two computers running nearly all day? Some of those can have 400-500W usage, and then if you are using CRT's rather than LCD's, you could double that. It sure seems a lot, but then if the place is lit up like a shuttle launch pad, maybe not!

    As an experiment, shut off or unplug everything in the apartment then go look at the meter. If it is still turning, you might be powering the hole floor or block! It wouldn't be the first time something like this happened.

    How big is the main breaker for your area? That would give you an idea of the maximum wattage you could be drawing, too. Look at your power panel and meter and see if the wires go anywhere other than to your circuit breaker box after the meter.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I just had an energy audit done here. As part of his work, the technician measured spot electricity consumption by timing one rotation of the meter's aluminum disc and using a conversion factor to compute kW. I've asked the local power company what that calculation is, but so far they haven't responded. You might check with your local utility to see if they can give you tips to measure instantaneous consumption like this. It'll be fairly gross, but differential measurements to evaluate large loads are definitely possible.

    Wikipedia says:

    The amount of energy represented by one revolution of the disc is denoted by the symbol Kh which is given in units of watt-hours per revolution. The value 7.2 is commonly seen. Using the value of Kh, one can determine their power consumption at any given time by timing the disc with a stopwatch. If the time in seconds taken by the disc to complete one revolution is t, then the power in watts is P = 3600 Kh / t. For example, if Kh = 7.2, as above, and one revolution took place in 14.4 seconds, the power is 1800 watts. This method can be used to determine the power consumption of household devices by switching them on one by one.

    FWIW, I have an 1800sf house in central FL with 2 computers running 24/7, and am otherwise fairly stingy with electricity use. Average daily consumption since we've lived here (since Dec 1995) is 35.0 kWH and dropping slightly as we make "green" improvements. All-up cost (electric bill bottom line) is rising slightly in spite of our efforts; the running average is now $98.77.
    Last edited by Mikey; 01-18-2008 at 02:05 PM. Reason: Added Wikipedia info

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    I'd like your electric rates! I used about 570KWh last month, and my bill was $85. Almost three times your costs.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    I'd like your electric rates! I used about 570KWh last month, and my bill was $85. Almost three times your costs.
    If it makes you feel any better, it's about 50% higher on the other side of the street (different power company, very political). December's bill broke down as follows:

    Customer charge $8.50
    Energy charge $38.06
    Fuel charge $51.28
    Taxes $7.88

    The energy charge is the cost of everything except fuel used to produce the electricity.

    I just ordered a Kill-a-watt gizmo that Jimbo recommended from that lady warrior website. Looks like a fun toy; wish it could upload to a PC.

  7. #7
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    WOW, 12 computers.

    Are they flat screen or tube type. 12 tube type monitors especially large ones will use a lot of power.

    Why the 12 puters? Just curious.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member BrianJohn's Avatar
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    Have you asked the utility to calibrate your meter, do not let them BS you as far as I know all state regulatory agencies have some allowances for utilities calibrating their meter. I have saved several customers $1,000.00 when the meter was found to be out of cal.

    Also had a cases where the wrong meter was being billed to the wrong customer, check the meter number on your bill and compare to you actual meter.

    A simple check, that would put you in the ball park. If you comfortable doing this or hire an electrician. Turn on your average loads, force HVAC equipment to run, leave off loads that cycle you can calculate these. Measure the current on each leg/L1-L2/energized conductors.

    L1+L2*120 VAC/1000=1 kwhr*24*30= monthly bill

    Use remaining appliances at name plate take the name plate current do the math, only pick what you feel operating time in lieu of 24 hours.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I had an aquaintence that had a grave stone buisness. He had huge electric motors powering everything. His electric bill came every month and it never varried, it was always $39.00 or something like that I can't remember exactly. He got concerned that something was wrong and did not want the electric company to show up at his door some day with a $50,000.00 bill so he contacted them 2 seperate times, explained the situation, they would come out, check and just kept telling him everything was fine. To this day the bill is the same as far as I know.

  10. #10
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Duke Energy, here in the Cinci area has just been accused of paying large corps. $22 million in kick backs if they wouldn't object to rate increases that they requested and got, that affected millions of residential customers.

  11. #11

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    My bill is $350 to $450 as I said there are Six of us in the house, I have Two computers, Younger Brother have two computers, Older brother has two computers, younger brother has One computer, Sister has one computer, Father has a computer, I run a computer with Red Hat as a router to the internet. Wait that is only eight computers, I had 12 at one point.

    All but One of the monitors are LCD's

    I did some reading before finding this forum, I am going to do a all off check and then call the electricity company to do either a calibration or check if the meter is working properly.

    I had someone from the Electricity company come out to do a audit recently, he did NOTHING just showed up in essence said LOL and left. I just wanted to know if there was something I could do before going to a third party to do a actual energy audit.

    I would like to do the kwh study but that would seem to take to long
    Last edited by cpgwow; 01-21-2008 at 08:35 AM.

  12. #12
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    http://www.terrapass.com/Merchant2/m...D=164599193511


    This is the kwh monitor I was referrring to. It is available from many mercants online, including probalby Amazon.

  13. #13
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    http://www.terrapass.com/Merchant2/m...D=164599193511


    This is the kwh monitor I was referrring to. It is available from many mercants online, including probalby Amazon.
    That's where I got mine -- $22.98 a couple of days ago. I subscribe to their free shipping program, so that was the total cost.

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