Help with my electric bill!!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mom2Four, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. Mom2Four

    Mom2Four New Member

    Aug 10, 2005
    I am new here and found this board while doing a google search about electricity....I don't live on an actual working farm but I do live in an old house (rented) and we are surrounded by fields of soybeans (our landlord's).

    Anyways, we just moved in here on june 1st. Two story house with a full basement. Our first electric bill was $94....Our second bill (for July) was $421!! How can that be? Is there something I should check? The landlord had an electrician come over and check things out but they couldn't find much other than a bad ground wire. They also tried to tell us that our dryer was sucking too much power, but we found out later that it is pulling in a normal amount.

    We do run two window air conditioners and it's been pretty hot but wow...that bill was more than triple the first bill!

    Anyone have any idea's?

  2. shellbug

    shellbug Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2005
    extremely possible - window uniits suck energy - our bill is running around 110.00 with no a/c only 2 fans and virtually no dryer usage - we hang out laundry & take cool baths - when we added 1 a/c before it ran about 180.00 and we only ran it part time

    oh, i forgot - my mom used to just run her air upstairs in the same type house - it would trickle down the stairway then was moved by a fan

  3. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    south west Mo
    Could be several reasons. Defective meter (rare, but happens), Poor insulation in the house, Too many lights on all the time, Water logged hydropnumatic pressure tank on your well( that will jump it up real fast). Mis read meter, thermostat ont the hot water heater keeping the elemnts on too much,,,,,heck there all kinds of things and combonations of things that would raise your bill.

    But I must say, a jump like what you have mentioned is CRAZY!!!!! :shrug: The most ours fluctuates throughout the year is from fabout 90 - 200 dollars depending on lots of things that I can account for.

    Not being there to actually see your situation, I would ask the power company to replace the meter with a new one. and also to have them tighten all electrical connections in the meter loop, just a suggestion....I am sure other folks will have many more!
  4. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002
    Get with the electric company and go over both bills in detail. It is possible the first might have been for only a partial month or may have just been an estimate. They may have a meter reading from when it was turned on (or put in you name) so you can compare actual usage.

    The electric company should be able to tell you the historic power usage for the house from past tenants.

    Try turning off everything you can think of in the house and then see if the disk is spinning in the meter. That might indicate a draw on the system you cannot account for.
  5. Sabrina

    Sabrina Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2005
    When we first moved into our house we got a gas bill that was actually for usage from the builder, not us. It was a $700 bill, and we knew it couldn't be right. When we called we found out it was for dates prior to our purchasing the house. Maybe it could be something like that?

    Hope you get it worked out.

  6. Nax

    Nax Well-Known Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    NW Michigan
    My bill seemed unusually high the first few months. When I called, through some fluke, we discovered they were charging me the commercial rate rather than the residential.
  7. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    May 22, 2003
    Zone 7
    From the utility company determine the cost per kilowatt. From the utility or from the internet learn how to read your specific meter. Read the meter each day at a specific time to establish 24 hour intervals. Now you will know each day what it is costing you for electricity. You will have no surprises when the bill arrives. After verifying that everything electrical is functioning properly, particularly the water heater if it is electric the thing that can most dramatically impact the utility bill is lifestyle. Dripping faucets, particularly hot water side will cause both the well and the water heater to operate and a water heater is a utility hog. A dryer with too wet clothes added or the lint filter dirty and not venting outside is a major load. AC's set to where you can hang meat in the room and with clogged filters will make the meter whirl. Lengthy showers and all the lights in the house on add to the bill. Make some lifestyle changes and read the meter and you can see the impact you are having.
  8. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Have you had the electric company out to look for where the problem is? Out here, the electric compay will come out, point a "gun" at the house and see where the temp leaks are, and it is free.

    You DEFINATELY want to run this down, because high cooling bills now mean that you will ALSO have high heating bills this winter!
  9. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    I would call the elect company and find out what the bill is actually for. Make sur ethere are not connect fee's. make sure they didnt add any old outstanding debt back onto the line. Make sure they are not estimating based on past owner usage.

    Two window AC's shouldnt generate that kind of bill.
  10. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

    May 8, 2002
    central New South Wales, Australia
    Electric clothes dryers are a killer. Dry on a clothes line.
    Get a timer on your hot water system. Do something like only turning it on from 5 to 8, am & pm.
    From personal experience: any leak in your hot water system (including pipes and taps) puts the electric bill sky high. Make sure there's good insulation round the hot-water tank. If the current insulation is wet, the system's leaking - fix it. Replacing the tank may be expensive, but it's a lot cheaper than letting it leak.

    Air conditioners, identifying what's generating load (or that there's unaccounted-for load), billing periods, only your usage on the bill, appropriate rates - important. They've have been covered.
  11. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    The first bill was possibly a partial month or estimate.

    All electricity is going up due to the cost of oil. Our bill is twice what it was last year due to the rising costs.

    Older window A/C units are not every energy efficient. You might be able to replace them with newer ones that conserve. If you have an electric dryer, it is costing you a bundle and so is an electric hot water heater if you have one.
  12. CurtisWilliams

    CurtisWilliams Well-Known Member

    Mar 14, 2005
    North of Omaha, on the banks of the 'Muddy Mo'
    Don't just flip switches, shut off the circuit breakers or pull fuses. We went thru this same scenario in an apartment 15 years ago. We ended up finding out that the coin op washer/dryer for public use was wired into our electricity. Our bills were $175/mo for a four room apt before we fixed the 'landlords mistake'.
  13. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Hi All;
    The same thing happened to my son. He is an electrician and knew there was no way his small rented place could burn that much electricity. He asked the landlord about it. The land lord said she didn't know why. When my son returned home early from work one day he saw some other electricians he knew. They told my son that they had shut off the power and why. The land lord had tried to pull a fast one. She had previously lived in the place she rented to my son then she bought the place next door and had the electricity connected to the other house by some how having someone splice the wiring. My son had paid the electric bill for BOTH houses. Another time he found the neighbor next door was running his rv off my son's power connection on the side of the house. I'm not saying that's what's going on. But, if you're renting a place and the landlord owns all the land around you, you just don't know. He may have a workshop with electricity running from your service to provide power to a shop or elsewhere. I would dEFINATELY contact a reputable electrician who is NOT a friend or associate of your landlord or contact the power company and turn off everything in your house, even the hot water heater, unplug all appliances and have them watch to see if the meter is still running.
  14. pcwerk

    pcwerk Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 1, 2003
    SE Minnesota
    You might want to check with the power company and see if they offer a
    balanced billing plan. They average out the billing over the entire twelve
    months so you don't have outrageously large bills over the summer. They
    can look at the previous occupant's billing to get an idea what the average
    will be. We had to do that with my mother after she got a whopper of a bill.
  15. deb

    deb Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2002
    When we rented a house on a farm, our house, the garage, the 2 barns and the 2 well pumps all ran off of our electric meter. Our landlady did pay us for electricity, but we could only estimate her share. She was forgetful so I got used to turning off the lights in the barn and the water spigot that filled the cattle trough, otherwise the lights would be on all night & the area behind the barn would be flooded! Check around your house to see if there are any wells, irrigation equipment, electric fence chargers that could be running off your meter.

    Well pumps will suck a lot of electricity if the water is left on or if there are leaking toilets, sinks etc. At the farm house I could hear our pump cycling on/off when no one was using water. I discovered that the 2 toilets tanks had the water level set too that the tank water would run down the overflow tube all the time and the tank would always be trying to fill!

    As for 2 window air conditioner units, well, you can check their power rating and estimate how much it costs to run those puppies as well. If you don't know how to do this, you can ask your electric company for help doing it. We have a window air conditioner, but don't use it because we know we can't afford it. We only use it for really bad pollen years...when we HAVE to shut the windows in order to breathe.

    You can also ask your electric company to send you details about last years electric usage. I always used do that before agreeing to rent a new place.

    Hope this helps
    in wi
  16. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004
    Do the landlords have any grain bins or livestock or workshops on your building site? A fan or auger on the bin can consume a great deal of electricity, and likely would get billed through your meter.

    Otherwise the rest have covered a lot of good ideas.

  17. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    Carthage, Texas
    Go out and find your electric either have a digital or analog meter...learn how to read the meter...the meter is 'your friend'...

    Go inside the house and turn off everything at the appliance level...check your should still be spinning, counting the kilowatts flowing thru the wires...reason is..phantom electrical devices with remotes, use electricity even when they're 'off'... Take a mental note on how fast the meter's turning...or even write down the numbers, wait an hour, go back and check again, and do a little math to figure out how many kw you used in an hour, then multiply by 24, then 30......this is how much you use baseline..... Now go back in and turn everything on, and measure an hour's worth of electricity again...

    Flip all of your circuit breakers off, check the meter... is it still spinning? If so, you've got big problems, call the Co-op or whoever your electric company is...

    Check for wires leading to places other than your house, if you've flipped all your breakers off and you're still registering meter might be powering something you shouldn't be.

    On my statements, it breaks down a per day/usage rate. Also tells me how many days are in the statement. Was your first month a full 30 days. Just because you moved in on the 1st doesn't mean they billed you for a full 30...could have been a 'week' in their billing cycle...low bill, then the next bill was for a full 30 days..... and those high bills could be what you're going to get from now on...

    good luck...
    from someone who obsessed over his electrical bill for six months, on a daily, or hourly basis, watching the little meter spin, figuring out how much each appliance was using...................>>>>>> this after living off grid for 12 years... Now, I just pay the bill, and as long as it's within 30cents/day variation from the norm ~50/month, I don't worry... I am more than willing to pay $ much anxiety and worry has left me, after having to live within the limits of my solar panel system...

  18. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

    Dec 9, 2003
    Northwest Ohio
    Out here our electric company doesn't come out every month. They will check every couple of months and then we get an enormous bill. The months that they do not come we get a very low bill.

    Also, if your elec was shut off before you moved in, you might have some fees associated with being a new customer.
  19. olehippy

    olehippy Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    We were renting from my sister in law's father. Thought he was an honest guy. WRONG. He was running his workshop off of our electric. Here we were turning off lights, barely running the ac, hanging out clothes ,well you get the picture. I finally caught on to what he was doing (because he had done the same thing to his own daughter & son in law and they told me) and every time he went to his shop I would flip the breaker off. He couldn't work. He came over a few times claiming this and that wanting to check my breakers ect. He'd go back start to work again and I'd flip the breaker again. I finally quit answering the door. This went on for a few weeks before he fixed the "problem". I can still remember 15 years later hiding in the hallway silently lmao while he banged on the door.

    ole hippy
  20. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    north central Pennsylvania
    I have been told..could be wrong here..but..If you have a submersible (sp?) well it could have been hit with lightening and be running all of the time. As you can't here the well going on and off you would never know until you get your electric bill. We opted not to have this "new" type installed when we put in a new motor and pump for our well. I would rather know when the pump goes on and off and the new one is so quiet you almost don't hear it !! Maybe you could ask someone about this. Good Luck !!