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OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Jerry®
Date: July 19, 2017 03:18PM
I live in an apartment complex of about 100 residents - all 1 bedroom apartments with a large AC unit in the wall. My electric bill for the past couple of months has been around $150. The apartment complex is well maintained and has installed energy efficient light fixtures, etc. When I first moved in 2 years ago my summer bill with the AC on 24/7 was around $65. Then I went on a program called Budget Billing through Ameren of IL that would even out my payments and pretty soon I was paying a lot more than $65 so I paid the difference and got off the budget billing and am on just regular billing. I've asked my neighbors what their bill is with AC running (they have identical AC units) and none of them are above $85 for the summer months. I turn everything off that I’m not using and try to ease up on the AC when I can but $150?? One of my friends who lives in a 3 bedroom house said her family's electric bill including central AC was about $150. I haven't contacted Ameren yet but I plan to. I talked to our property manager to get permission for them to come out and check my meter and she said ok - and even SHE didn't know why it was so high compared to the other residents. I've read about having an "energy audit" done but you can't have it done it you rent. Could I be unknowingly paying for someone else's AC as well or? I'm just baffled.....
dunno smiley



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: mikebw
Date: July 19, 2017 03:25PM
Maybe try running everything 24x7 and see if that makes your bill go down?
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: July 19, 2017 03:30PM
AC unit might be bad? That is ridiculous.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: July 19, 2017 03:40PM
3 times what I'm paying, and I have 2 electric cars.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: testcase
Date: July 19, 2017 03:42PM
Buy a "Kill-a-Watt" device (~ $20 @ Lowes/Home Depot/Amazon etc). Plug the KaW in the out where the AC is and, plug the AC into the KaW. The KaW will tell you EXACTLY how much juice your AC is using.

[www.amazon.com]
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: July 19, 2017 03:52PM
Did Ameren switch who provides the electricity for your account? With deregulation, there are a lot of different providers, and the charges can be all over the place per kWH.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: July 19, 2017 03:56PM
All depends on usage, where you live, rate agreements, and stuff like that. Crappy peak pricing (The stuff that caused the crisis in California almost two decades ago) can have that effect as well.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: July 19, 2017 04:07PM
have other people had good experiences with Ameren of IL?

When I see programs like this, i always suspect that someone is making a buck. Maybe they're not, but then i'd like to know how it works.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: hal
Date: July 19, 2017 04:09PM
Is your thermostat set to 68º by any chance?
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: billb
Date: July 19, 2017 04:13PM
I'd contact Ameren and say you believe there's something wrong with the bill or the electric usage/metering. They must have some sort of audit/investigate unit of some sort.

You didn't sign up to buy expensive "green" power ?

My electric bill without A/C was $21 last month and we pay 25¢/kWh.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: July 19, 2017 04:13PM
You need to analyze the situation. If you can find a neighbor with a lower bill that is willing to share their bill with you, check and see if it is the amount of power, the fees, baserate, or usage rate that makes your bill higher. You are likely either paying more per KW/hr or you are using more electricity. You need to find out which is the case.

If you are just paying more for the same useage find out why and raise hell.

If you are using more there are two options. Either your meter is defective or something is drawing a lot of juice. The power company may be able to help you audit what is using a lot of energy, otherwise a Kill-A-Watt or something similar could be used.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Don C
Date: July 19, 2017 04:19PM
It's not likely the total problem, but another source of heat is sunlight coming through windows. If your rooms are catching a lot of midday sunlight, you could be heating the rooms to an extent causing the A/C to run.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: GGD
Date: July 19, 2017 05:26PM
First step is to determine what changed the most, usage or rates.

Look at your bills from a year ago, and record the KWH usage for each month. Then do the same for this year, and see how each month compares to a year ago.

If you're on a budget billing plan, then they average your annual usage to try to get a constant monthly bill, so the monthly payments by themselves don't reflect usage for that month. There's probably someplace on the bill that shows the real cost for each month. Divide that by the KWH for that month and get the cost per KWH, and see how that compares to a year ago, and from month to month.

The electric company website might even have some charting ability to show you some of this info in nice bar graphs.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: July 19, 2017 05:52PM
Can you check your own meter? The first thing to do is unplug everything and look at use for a couple of hours, then start plugging things in one by one.

Your fridge timer could be broken and it's running the defrost cycle after every cooling cycle.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: modelamac
Date: July 19, 2017 06:10PM
Quote
Don C
It's not likely the total problem, but another source of heat is sunlight coming through windows. If your rooms are catching a lot of midday sunlight, you could be heating the rooms to an extent causing the A/C to run.

Don,

His bill is twice as much as anyone else. Does he have twice as many windows? Why was that not the case a year ago?



Mr. Curmudgeon, on several OSes and an ego trip.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: space-time
Date: July 19, 2017 06:18PM
as other said, compare usage and per kW rate from one year ago. Also check your bill to make sure you did not sign up for some sort of "protection" plan, local utility here offers some protection plans for Appliances and if you add up all appliances in a house, and you pay $10-12/each, that could easily explain $50-60/month.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: PeterW
Date: July 19, 2017 06:24PM
Why would a renter sign up to protect appliances he doesn’t own?
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 19, 2017 06:41PM
.....marijuana....???



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: space-time
Date: July 19, 2017 06:43PM
Quote
PeterW
Why would a renter sign up to protect appliances he doesn’t own?

exactly, which is why I pointed that out to make sure he does not pay for such protection plans. Sometimes companies sign you up for stuff you do not need, or you click the wrong button when you log in online to check your account. Better check than keep paying!
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: gabester
Date: July 19, 2017 06:48PM
I agree your power usage has unexpectedly ballooned. It could be a malfunctioning appliance. It could be a wiring glitch that has one of your circuits going to someone else's unit where they have a heavy duty appliance like an AC going. You could have a forgotten space heater running to keep the temp above, say, 70 and the AC trying to cool under 68? New sun exposure because a row of ash trees providing shade were chopped down because of the borer beetle? Or has your utility - Ameren - recently upgraded your meter to a new digital "smart" meter?

You need to be methodical, and the place to start is the meter. Get everything turned off and ensure there's no usage for several hours. Then connect fridge and AC and run those for an hour or two for an average usage rate. Extrapolate from there and add in other appliances that may be culprits - a broken smart/plasma TV that's always operating at high energy mode even when it appears to be turned off?

Good luck!
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: July 19, 2017 06:48PM
Quote
PeterW
Why would a renter sign up to protect appliances he doesn’t own?

Wouldn't be the first time someone was being charged for something they did not actually sign up for. Or was included in some fine print on a form.

My electric bills are broken down by services of the utility and costs charged by the provider of the electricity, The utilities service charges for delivering that electricity to you should be fairly close to constant from bill to bill. But unless there is long term contract in place, the provider's charges per kWH might change significantly month to month.

Here the town contracted with a provider for a steady 6-12 month rate. Last year at this time it was 12.1 cents per kWH, in February it went down to 8 cents after a small drop to 11.4 cents 6 moths before.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Carm
Date: July 19, 2017 06:54PM
Quote
NewtonMP2100
.....marijuana....???
That was my first thought.

Anyways, turn off all appliances and take a look at your meter. See if the thing is still pulling electricity. If it isn't, get one of those kill a watt things. And see what is draining your electricity.

You might have been mis billed happens sometimes.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2017 06:55PM by Carm.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: GGD
Date: July 19, 2017 06:54PM
Another potential cause of a large bill is if they weren't able to read the meter for several months and did estimated billing, and when they finally read it they reflected reality.

The bills have a lot of data that when analyzed will give you the direction to focus on next.

You can even read the meter yourself every day around the same time to see your daily usage. If its a smart meter then the power company website might show you the daily usage.

Another thing that could cause huge usage is if you have electric heat and it's still on with a thermostat set higher than the AC thermostat and you're heating and cooling at the same time, constantly.

But first try to understand what the actual usage is.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Jerry®
Date: July 19, 2017 07:44PM
Sorry for my late response - My AC is brand new. I keep it at 72 - it's on energy save mode all the time. I don't have any protection plans or "green" energy plans that I am aware of. The building I'm in is also a lower income community. I have a medical appliance (an oxygen concentrator) I'm supposed to be using at night but that increases the bill more than the AC so I haven't been using it. I'm in process of printing out my usage data from my account to compare things. I'm going to call Ameren tomorrow. Here are a couple pics of my AC unit.



I know I need to clean my filter btw.





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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: ka jowct
Date: July 19, 2017 09:12PM
You might try running the AC at 78. You would probably be comfortable with that. Doesn't explain why your bill has ballooned, though. I feel like we pay through the nose here, and the highest my bill ever got was around $100, during a very hot summer month. Since I've been shutting off my Mac Pro rather than letting it sleep, the bill has been consistently lower.

My Con Ed bill includes a usage graph, a bar chart showing usage over several months, with each month compared to usage a year ago for the same month. Does yours give you that kind of info?

Is it possible that one of your neighbors is tapping into your electricity?
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: hal
Date: July 19, 2017 09:39PM
If I ran my AC set at 72º 24/7, I'd be getting $200 bills in the summer.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: July 19, 2017 10:27PM
Quote
hal
If I ran my AC set at 72º 24/7, I'd be getting $200 bills in the summer.

Yep. I've been setting my AC no lower than 80 during this long run of hot weather we've been having. Even though I have double pane glass, the central AC will simply not keep my place at 78 when it's 105-110 outside, and it's only a few years old.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: July 20, 2017 06:38AM
Raise the AC to 76-78, run a fan to offset the raise when you are in the room. Make sure you have good seals around the AC, and other exterior windows/doors.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Zoidberg
Date: July 20, 2017 07:58AM
Setting on the A/C is also wholly affected by where you live. A setting of 78 in the Gulf South might as well be a heater setting.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: rgG
Date: July 20, 2017 08:37AM
Quote
Zoidberg
Setting on the A/C is also wholly affected by where you live. A setting of 78 in the Gulf South might as well be a heater setting.

Spoken like a true southerner from the most humid place in the country. smiling smiley
My daughter finds it insane that NY apartments, and I mean even nice ones, often/typically don't have AC, either central or even window units. First thing she ordered when she moved last month was an AC. If you are from the south, you just know how important AC is.





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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Zoidberg
Date: July 20, 2017 08:48AM
Quote
rgG
Quote
Zoidberg
Setting on the A/C is also wholly affected by where you live. A setting of 78 in the Gulf South might as well be a heater setting.

Spoken like a true southerner from the most humid place in the country. smiling smiley
My daughter finds it insane that NY apartments, and I mean even nice ones, often/typically don't have AC, either central or even window units. First thing she ordered when she moved last month was an AC. If you are from the south, you just know how important AC is.

I remember someone I knew back in college moving to the region from the upper midwest, and then complaining she couldn't get a fair price for her recently-bought car she drove down. I guess not; it had no A/C system installed.

(Speaking of window units; the Noria seems to have gotten pushed back *again* (Summer 2018) but I really like its setup and form factor, and would love for this to be the norm. I have Central AC but on heat alert days (heat index over 110) it'd be nice to supplement the central AC with something like this in a couple of rooms.)



Make it a good day today.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: ka jowct
Date: July 20, 2017 08:52AM
Quote
rgG
Quote
Zoidberg
Setting on the A/C is also wholly affected by where you live. A setting of 78 in the Gulf South might as well be a heater setting.

Spoken like a true southerner from the most humid place in the country. smiling smiley
My daughter finds it insane that NY apartments, and I mean even nice ones, often/typically don't have AC, either central or even window units. First thing she ordered when she moved last month was an AC. If you are from the south, you just know how important AC is.

Certainly not standard equipment here, and a lot of the housing is not recent enough to have central air. Regardless, you are better off buying the size unit you need rather than having it provided for extra $$ by the landlord. It WILL give you a hideous electric bill if you run it 24/7 as soon as it gets above 80, as some of my neighbors do.

I've survived my entire time in NYC without AC. Usually there are only about 3 weeks total all year when it would be nice to have it. I acclimate to hot weather much better when I am not in AC for big chunks of the day. The exception being the transit system, where it's a huge improvement. Most buses and subways did not have AC when I moved here.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2017 08:55AM by ka jowct.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 20, 2017 09:00AM
....check for 'leakage' meaning places where there may be no tight seal, so air in the apt is leaking out in the form of draft (perhaps around windows or door bottoms)....

.....incorrect meter reading......??

....someone stealing electricity from your apt.....???



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: July 20, 2017 10:25AM
Quote
rgG
My daughter finds it insane that NY apartments, and I mean even nice ones, often/typically don't have AC, either central or even window units. First thing she ordered when she moved last month was an AC. If you are from the south, you just know how important AC is.

Living in NYC, there would usually be one week in the summer where i ran the AC. Going without it would be uncomfortable for a few nights but really not that bad.

I think some people get so used to sealing themselves inside and forget some basics, like the temp dropping at night, cross breezes, etc.




(FWIW, I think its crazy that new or newly renovated buildings don't come with AC....but thats nyc for you...)







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2017 10:26AM by mattkime.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 20, 2017 10:33AM
.....some of the older buildings in NY retain heat, and promote it.....some days even if cool outside, can be humid/hot inside the building, so some have to turn on A/C and depending on where the apt. is located, impossible to get decent breezes/cross breezes in some buildings.....



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: July 20, 2017 11:52AM
At my previous house my electric bill ballooned and soon after I noticed the heat pump wasn't keeping up and eventually failed. So I would suspect the AC unit as the culprit. I don't think green power units could raise your bill by 2x so I doubt that is it.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: July 20, 2017 11:57AM
Quote
davemchine
At my previous house my electric bill ballooned and soon after I noticed the heat pump wasn't keeping up and eventually failed. So I would suspect the AC unit as the culprit. I don't think green power units could raise your bill by 2x so I doubt that is it.

When people are talking about "green" here, they are referring to where a utility will offer you a chance to pay an additional surcharge so they can buy or produce more "green" power.

I've been offered this deal by my electric provider and have declined it.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: July 20, 2017 12:21PM
free radical, I participate in the green program my utility offers. It allows me to pay a higher rate for a portion of my usage. There is no opportunity to double my bill though so even if Jerry were enrolled in such a program I don't think it could be the culprit.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: July 20, 2017 02:08PM
Clean your filter...not that it's the cause of your high bill, but it isn't helping.





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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Jerry®
Date: July 20, 2017 05:43PM
Quote
ztirffritz
Clean your filter...not that it's the cause of your high bill, but it isn't helping.


I have but the light stays on for some reason.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Jerry®
Date: July 20, 2017 05:47PM
HOW CAN YOU PEOPLE LIVE INDOORS AT HIGHER THAN 72 DEGREES!?!??!?!?!?! LOL Seriously tho - for reasons I won't go into I cannot tolerate the heat well - that's why I have at it 72.

As far as where I am in the building - my bedroom window and living window face the South and have big shady trees outside them.

So, what questions do I need to be asking AMEREN when I call? I'm not good with being "tough" on the phone and LAST time I called about my bill being out of what they were completely rude to me.

smiley-excited001



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Gareth
Date: July 20, 2017 05:55PM
Quote
Jerry®
Quote
ztirffritz
Clean your filter...not that it's the cause of your high bill, but it isn't helping.

I have but the light stays on for some reason.

With most of those units, you're supposed to press and hold the "Check Filter" button for a couple/few seconds for the light to go off.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: July 20, 2017 08:02PM
Turn off the AC, get a box fan, put it in the window at night and exhaust the warm air, letting the cooler nighttime air come in. We did it for years, and still do; now have a whole-house fan in the attic. No AC.

/Mr Lynn



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: davester
Date: July 20, 2017 08:22PM
I don't see what good it'll do to call the electric company without having some data on your electric usage. As others have suggested, buy a kill-a-watt and figure out what your power consumption is for each of the major appliances. As noted, it could very well be that either your fridge or A/C are malfunctioning since they are the primary electricity consumers in a home. That said, in a hot climate (I don't know where you are but it must be hot if you have A/C) keeping a place at 72 degrees 24/7 would require a very large amount of power so $150 doesn't sound that surprising to me. I live in a relatively cool climate so we don't have A/C. However it's currently 77 and I'm pretty comfortable sitting here in shorts and a T-shirt with the windows open and a breeze blowing through. I would go nuts if I was stuck in a room at 72 with the windows closed and the A/C on. Perhaps Mr. Lynn's approach is the best one.



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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2017 08:23PM by davester.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: space-time
Date: July 21, 2017 06:10AM
post a copy of the bill here (remove real name, address, account number). Then we can maybe give you some advice. We can compare kWh rates, we can look at usage patterns, we can see if there are various hidden fees, etc.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Jerry®
Date: July 21, 2017 09:56AM
















Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/21/2017 09:59AM by Jerry®.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Jerry®
Date: July 21, 2017 11:35AM
Our maintenance supervisor just confirmed to me that the electric company did switch out the complex's old meters for new "smart" meters which are read electronically. I bet you real money that mine is screwed up.



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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: July 21, 2017 11:47AM
I had a PG&E smart meter fail a number of years ago. It was failing to record the gas I was using. This was back before fracking and the dramatic decline in natural gas prices, so I was getting these extremely low bills that were puzzling to me. When winter came, and I started using the heat on a regular basis, the size of the bills did change, so I called PG&E. They fixed the meter, but I got about a half a years gas for free.
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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: vision63
Date: July 21, 2017 11:54AM
Quote
davester
I don't see what good it'll do to call the electric company without having some data on your electric usage. As others have suggested, buy a kill-a-watt and figure out what your power consumption is for each of the major appliances. As noted, it could very well be that either your fridge or A/C are malfunctioning since they are the primary electricity consumers in a home. That said, in a hot climate (I don't know where you are but it must be hot if you have A/C) keeping a place at 72 degrees 24/7 would require a very large amount of power so $150 doesn't sound that surprising to me. I live in a relatively cool climate so we don't have A/C. However it's currently 77 and I'm pretty comfortable sitting here in shorts and a T-shirt with the windows open and a breeze blowing through. I would go nuts if I was stuck in a room at 72 with the windows closed and the A/C on. Perhaps Mr. Lynn's approach is the best one.

You and your "data." Your "facts." I'll have you know that:

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Re: OT: Why is my electric bill so high?
Posted by: Jerry®
Date: July 21, 2017 12:10PM
OK so I just got off the phone with AMEREN and they agreed with me that my usage is very high - especially when comparing with my neighbors in my building. They said that my usage is double what most other tenants are using. They suggested the typical things like turning my AC to 76 or 78, turning computers off, etc - which I DO. The rep said she was ruling out the new SMART meters because they go through so many quality checks before they're installed so "it couldn't be the meter." ????? She said to talk to our maintenance supervisor and have them get an electrician in to see if an appliance is pulling more than it should be, etc etc etc - basically there's nothing they can do on their end. I told her that many people in the complex have medical equipment running along with their ACs so why am I paying double what they're paying and she just gave me some useless suggestions like "they may have less gadgets running than you do." WHAT!? She basically was saying there is no fault on THEIR side and there must be something wrong in my apartment - which may be true.

So, what do I do now?



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