Can my breaker box affect my electric bill?

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I am renting a house. It is a block house built in the mid-late 50s. For the first couple of years I was running an electric bill around $300/ month (I live in Florida, about $200 is average here), and I couldn't get the temp to drop below 80. I finally convinced my landlord to get a new AC unit. I was anxious to see my "new" electric bill, only to be devastated when it came in at $465! I started turning off my water heater during the day, desperate to save money. I keep the AC set at about 80-82, and it stays pretty cold in the house. This leads me to believe that the thermostat may not be working properly. At any rate, another month has passed and this bill came in at right around $400. My brother is an electrician, he said I probably need to have the breaker box updated, to much power running off a 150 amp main. I know that there have been 2 rooms and an AC unit added to the house since it was built. I would appreciate any suggestions, ideas, input....My electric bill is more than my rent at this point. I'm a single mom and I'm in a state of panic.
Thanks, Katia
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I would suggest getting a window air conditioner and cooling just one room instead of the whole house.
"Kravynn" wrote in message

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I have to wonder if the AC is sized properly. If it is set to 80, it shold be 80. Take a reading with a regular thermometer and see what it reads. Of course, 80 degrees, properly de-humidified, wil feel much colder th an what you are used to. Only way to tell for s ure is to take actual readings of temperatures since one person's hot is another person's cold.

Your brother does not seem to know much about electricity. Did he do a load calculation or take readings with an Amprobe? The meter reads the amount of energy passing through the wires. It does not give a damn about hte size of the box and number or size of breakers inside of it. Undersized can cause problems, but not high bills.

Use less AC as a start. That has to be the biggest culprit. Do you know what sized the unit is? How much current the compressor takes? That will give you an idea of the cost of running it for an hour with a simple calculation. Keep setting the thermostat higher u ntil you get to the stage of dis-comfort, regardless of w hat the numbers on hte setting are.
If the $450 electric bill is more than your rent, do not move to New England. Small house would be $1000 or more.
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The AC was all installed brand new about two months ago. To the tune of about $4500, 12 sear etc. My landlords tend to get a bit fussy when I mention problems so I had to do all of the shopping for the AC myself. They know at some point they will have to sell the house and no one will buy it if it needs a new AC unit etc. When I say it stays cold in the house set at 80-82 I mean cold, kids wearing sweats and runny noses. My mom and best friend keep theirs at 72-74 and its comfortable if not warm in their houses.
My brother is in Colorado, so I called him to ask what he thought. The house was built in the 50s, since it was built there have been 2 rooms with electric, a laundry room with electric and an AC unit added (all in the 70s). The breaker box has not been updated, his though was that we are pulling more power than the main is "used" to and its working harder. The fridge coils have been cleaned, but it is an old fridge so is the stove. These are items I have addressed and landlord is not willing to replace, because they do work and he doesn't seem to think that a $500 electric bill is anything I should worry about. If I can pinpoint the problem I can get it fixed and deduct it from the rent, but they will not take the iniative to determine the problem.
And my mention to the bill being what my rent is, my rent is $1100/month, after this month, my electric bill is about the same. I moved here from CT Im aware of the cost of living up there.
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

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There is not tactful way to say this, but your brother is wrong. The main is not "used to" anything. The meter is what determines the bill and what passes through it is the power used.
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wrote:

I don't see that as a problem but as a good thing. That way you could get what you thought was best and not what he thought you would probably like. I don't know if in practice that made a difference, but you would be looking at things from the pov of the tenant, and he would have a ahrd time doing that.

No wonder your bill is so high! Your house is too cold. Turn the thermostat warmer. Turn it to 85, 90, or 110 if necessary so that the house isn't so cold. Otherwise you will continue to have high AC bills. Don't wait until the electric bill comes. You don't get something for nothing, and if is cold you're paying for it.
Do you think because the thermostat is set at 82, that it couldn't be colder than 80? Not true. 82 could result in anything.

*If* not warm? You mean "if not cold", right? Or "and not too warm"? If you don't mean one of those, I don't understand.

Even if the AC guys installed a defective thermostat, you have a duty to mitigate damages, to cause your loss to be as little as possible. (Well, you have self-interest to make it as little as possible, but if you are going to try to attribute the loss to the landlord or the AC guys he hired, you have a duty.) When you saw it was colder than needed, and than wanted, you should have turned up the thermostat, as high as it went if neccessary, and if that didn't work, you shoudl have turned the AC off until the house got hot, then turned it back on again, over and over. At the same time, you should have called the landlord and said the thermostat wasn't working, or if you weren't sure, just told him what you told us. He or the AC people would conclude there is a problem with the thermostat (or possibly with something else in the AC) and they would confirm their suspicions with a test, and then fix it. He has a warranty from the AC people and he needs to know if something isn't working right, so he can get the AC people to fix it while the warranty is still in effect.
If you are talking about deducting from the rent the cost for electricity you've already used, he may be generous for some reason and let you deduct some of it, but since you haven't done any of the above, I think you are responsible for the electric bill. Maybe if you were at work the first day the new AC was running, you weren't there to know that the thermostat wasn't working, maybe even a second day, you could make a case you didn't realize there was a problem, but after that, you should have turned the AC off when everyone left, and turned it back on when you got home. If you don't want to do that, you should pay the electric bill. (It will be hard to calculate how much *additional* electricity was used on the first day or two that it was cold in the house when no one was there.
As to extra electricity you might use in the future, you should do what I say above and pay for everything you use.

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wrote:

OOps. On rereading this, it seems you were only talking about deducting what it took to fix your current problem. Sorry.
Still, like a couple others, I think the problem is in the AC, and if it is something that was replaced or serviced within the 4500 dollars, the landlord has a warranty, and he should know about it before any money is spent.
Even if it is some of these other possible problems suggested, the landlord may not want to pay for it.
I wonder if anyone here could compare the cost of cooling with a good AC to 72 or 74 degrees when it is set for that, with the cost of cooling with an undercharged or broken AC to 80 degrees, when it is set for 72 or 74.
Or a similar question: Does the bad AC use just as much to get to 80 when it is trying and failing to get to 70 as it does when it is only trying to get to 80?

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mm wrote:

If it is indeed a "bad" AC, almost assuredly it will use more w/ the lower setpoint unless it never makes it to either. Otherwise, it would run essentially continuously either way and given the same outside conditions the external exchanger to air efficiency would be the same. So if it can make the setpoint, it will have at least a short period of respite. While operating, however, the actual efficiency is essentially independent of setpoint. That's why you won't get the house any cooler when you come home from vacation if you set the thermostat at 60F as opposed to 74 or whatever you want the end result to be. Same thing other way 'round for the furnace--it doesn't heat any faster to set it on 90 than on 72.
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"Kravynn" wrote in message

You're either a troll, or trying for a Darwin Award.
I mean c'mon, instead of setting the thermostat higher, you put sweats on the kids, and they're having runny noses?
You're not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
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wrote:

blow open somewhere. How much does the unit run?
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not a 2 family home?
in which case your neighbor might be disappointed if you cut him off
dont laugh this occured to a realtive, in a 2 family home.
appears the original owner did some creative wiring to reduce his el;ectric bill, it was discovered by accident.
caused lots of grief
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Don't dispute it but don't know how AC could be $450 let alone $1000 per month unless one live in a place where the night temperature was above 90 degrees. Our last month's bill for electricity was $63 and we keep our AC on 74 degrees.
Yeah I know, our electricity rate is pretty low and the temp does drop at night, but if you tripled the rate it you will be above most of the country and that would only be $189 per month. And then if you ran the AC 24 hours a day at the daytime rate you would still not be up to $450.
I would imagine that Florida AC running costs in the summer would never be more than four times the cost in Boise.
Several possibilities exist. Stupidity--leaving the windows open, leaving all the curtains open, etc. House is mostly a tin shack with no insulation or something similar. If you rule those two out then (1) the AC is not working correctly, (2) some one is stealing the electricity.
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I've not had a $63 electric bill in years. The last two, with AC were $186 in July, $225 in August and I have a well insulated house, about 2k sq. ft. Our rate is .162 kWhr. And I'm in Northeast CT, not Florida. If I see an $85 bill, it is a cheap month with no heating/cooling and minimual light on long days.

The bill was $300 before the new AC. I'm betting on #1
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Sounds to me like the landlord did not hook up the thermostat correctly, or not at all. If your bills shot up right away after installing this unit, then it must have to do with the new ac unit, nothing else!! Either this unit needs more power , or the themostat was not hooked up properly.
This is only my little input :-)
Dean
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Kravynn wrote:

It sounds to me like there's not much insulation in the attic, and/or the attic is not ventilated. Climb up on a chair and feel of the ceiling and see if it's hot.
Also, the landlord probably put in the cheapest and least efficient AC unit he could find cuz he doesn't have to pay the electric bill.
Bob
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Kravynn wrote:

On the average your 150 amp box will furnish more power than you are possibly using unless your are in a 5-6 bedroom home and running a lot of electric connections full time. You need to trade that brother off for a new electrician. You could have a faulty electric meter, that is not registering correctly. ? I'd ask Electric Co to check meter. Jack
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Kravynn wrote:

All other posts (so far) reasonable suggestions altho ditching the new central A/C for a window unit seems extreme before finding out more...
I'll second the thought that the service panel isn't the cause of the high usage (and a high bill implies high consumption).
There is one possibility not mentioned so far although I suspect it won't turn out to be the primary culprit but that is it is possible for a meter to go out of calibration. The utility company will check them on request.
I suspect Bob nailed the primary culprit--given it's a 50's block house in FL, one would suspect it has very little if any insulation and quite possibly a lot of leaky (as in air flow) windows and doors, air infiltration around electrical outlets, etc. -- iow, the house is probably just not at all energy efficient. Your local utility company may also still have consumer energy-efficiency teams that will do inspections for no or little charge to point out specific areas that can be easily fixed. The "feels warm" test on the ceiling someone else mentioned is a real good clue that you have a problem.
Another mentioned that the landlord almost certainly replaced the old unit w/ another as cheaply as possible means the efficiency may not be much, if any, higher than the unit it replaced, only that it has a full charge so will actually cool. Some old wall thermostats are notoriously inaccurate to begin with and only get worse w/ age--if a new thermostat wasn't installed w/ the new AC it's quite possible it is off by several degrees. The old one here has a seemingly variable amount of hysteresis, particularly on the "off" side--it can sometimes seem to be 3 to 4 degrees below the setpoint before it actually shuts off. Checking actual temperatures w/ a good thermometer to see where it really is is a good idea. You also might experiment to see if you leave the fan running that you could set the thermostat several degrees warmer and still be reasonably comfortable, as well.
In the end, if you discover (as I suspect) that the above factors are all true in greater or lesser degree and the landlord isn't willing to improve the house (and it's highly unlikely he'll want to put in yet another, more expensive, A/C anytime _real_ soon :) ), your best alternative at that point may be to try to find a more energy-efficient place to live.
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Im pretty confident that the AC is not the issue. It was replaced with a new unit inside and out (new digital thermostat as well). The house stays cold, unusually cold. I dont understand why my electric bill is more now with a new AC unit set on 80 and feeling like 50, than it was with the old one set on 60 and the house staying at a temp of 80-85.
dpb wrote:

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I'm pretty confident it is the AC.
Go get a thermometer and see what the actual temperature is. As you bring the temperature down more and more, the cost of doing so increases rapidly. If it cost $5 to get it down to from 82 to 80, it may take $7 to go from 80 to 78 and it may take $11 to go from 76 to 76.
If the kids are wearing sweaters because it is too cold, when the T'stat is set to 80, there is something wrong. Get it checked, get if fixed. It could be a defective thermostat, it could be a defective relay, it could be a lot of things. Call the AC guy and ask him to come back and check things over.
It may be new, but that does not mean it is running properly. Make that call right now.
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Kravynn wrote:

Doesn't matter. D'ja hear the respondent(s) who said to measure the temps. Get a thermometer, and do it. Then find out what the t-stat is doing- meaning have a pro do it.
It's obvious, even here, that if the house is being kept at extremely low temp, with probably no insulation, and questionable sealing, that you're going to run the a/c pretty hard to handle the heat invading the place. I'm totally confident of that. :')
You've gotten lots of good advice, but seem immune.
HTH, J
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