Can my breaker box affect my electric bill?

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On 28 Aug 2006 13:08:31 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:

In a way, the idea that if something is repaired it is now good, or if it is replaced with new, it is now good, while a compliment to repairmen, I think ends up with tremendous and often excessive dissatisfaction on those, hopefully few occasions when something is repaired or replaced and it's not good.
There can always be bad parts and repairmen can always make a mistake, if only in not verifying that every part and every feature is working.
The quality of work is partly determined by whether it works well after he leaves, but also by whether he fixes it well after the customer discovers the flaw.
But forgetting about judging the quality of work, it's just not true that when someone fixes something it is guaranteed to be fixed, or that when someone does anything it is guaranteed to be done. Assumintg otherwise slows down debugging.

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Kravynn wrote:

I can only reemphasize what Edwin and others (and myself) have already told you--if the house feels this cold, in undoubtedly _IS_ colder than 80F and _SOMETHING_ isn't right. If the actual temperature is somewhere in the 60's, it's no wonder your power bills are astronomical. Your first step needs to be to find out independent of the thermostat what the air temperature is and get the A/C guy out to find out why you're running so cold. I suppose it's possible the thermostat is located in a very poor location and is being affected by something else so it thinks the temperature is 80, but a thermometer will tell you that, too.
A 12 SEER unit isn't very efficient these days (I don't think it would qualify for Energy Star rating) but is probably better than what was there, but if it's running all the time or is actually keeping the house at 65F, see above.
I also have to agree w/ Edwin and others in that your brother may be an electrician by trade and capable of performing the mechanical processes of wiring, etc., but he definitely is way off base on this hypothesis. It just isn't the way electricity "works". It's certainly not uncommon that many tradesmen don't know much theoretical behind what they do routinely.
In summary, given this additional information, the A/C is almost definitely the problem and the reason is almost certainly that something isn't right so you need to get the installer out to find out what the problem actually is and fix it.
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A larger than necessary wiring hole behind the T-Stat can artificially affect the stat with heat from the wall cavity. I seal-up around the wire holes.

The OP can cut back now as mentioned.
I think we pay more $$ during peak hours and $ during non peak hours. I have to look at this again.
We try to avoid big appliances during the day, really so in the summer.
Oren
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Kravynn wrote:

Sounds to me like you are just floundering around and not approaching the problem systematically, lady.
What does an accurate thermometer hung next to the thermostat read, when the rest of the place is as you say, "pretty cold"?
And what does that same thermometer read when placed in the "pretty cold" parts of the house?
It's quite possible the thermostat is located in a part of the house where cold air from the system does not reach it until it's "lost a lot of its cold" and isn't cold enough to make the thermostat switch off the AC.
You may just need to properly balance the air flows by adjusting register dampers (Assuming they ARE adjustable.) until you achieve a relatively acceptable temperatures where you want them.
HTH,
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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dpb wrote:

Actually, it seems extremely pracitical for a couple reasons. 1. The bill is big enough to be big problem for OP, who needs to cut it _now_. 2. There is possible problem with t-stat and/or a/c sizing. 3. Central air cools way more of house, possibly, than you'd want to pay to cool. 4. Insulation (toss in sealing) is suspect too, causing a/c to try to cool the county. 5. Efficience of central a/c is suspect.
I'd ditch the money/energy sucker in a heartbeat.
HTH, J
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On 28 Aug 2006 13:00:49 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:

Maybe not. I expect to open windows and turning off the AC in the next 30 - 45 days. I live in the Mojave desert. In mid to late September it cools down and we open up the house. Adding cost to AC for a single mom might not be best for the moment.
Can't speak to the panel.

Use energy (appliances) during non-peak hours. Kids with a runny noise can get by without AC, wash clothes off peak, dishwasher during the night...examples only.

I would do a factory default reset on a digital T-Stat. A non-digital would go by the way side, in my case.

A season change and the OP can turn it off and open windows.

A friend had two second floor rooms, extremely hot. When he finally got up into the space he found three rooms - no insulation by any means.

OP spends all the money on a power bill...
Oren
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He didn't notice the third room last spring?
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wrote:

Apparently not, with the hall and bathroom being smaller. The two "hot" rooms were on the West wall and were more evident of a problem.
Oren
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A great story!
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snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:

Certainly spending a few more hundred as the _first_ action w/o even discovering the problem w/ the _NEW_ installation doesn't seem like the most practical action to me...
If the bill is an immediate issue, the first expedient is to cut the unit off for a day or so until the A/C guy can get there and look at it or control it manually to only cool the house to a comfortable temperature and then only when it begins to become uncomfortable turn it back on for a while.
W/ kids in a not huge house (inferred), it's unlikely there's a desire to only cool one or two rooms, anyway. If so, bedroom registers can be closed and doors remain closed to minimize the area w/ the central system while determing the problem.
Insulation is typically pretty cheap and often has cost share and has a long term payback in both summer and winter that the window unit won't have.
In summary, if (and only if) there aren't other practical solutions would it seem to make sense to go that route and certainly not as the immediate reaction before even finding out the answer to several other questions.
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Some good advice so far. I will post inline as you asked your questions. Go to the end for another thing to look at...
Kravynn wrote:

Set your thermostat as high as you are comfortable. Also consider getting a set-back thermostat (it has a timer to turn on/off when you are not at home)
My brother is an electrician, he said I probably need to

If your brother really is an electrician I suspect you have mis-understood what he has said. This does not make sense.

OK - AC IS a big draw on electricity. As others have said, insulation and attic ventilation will help. Also, dark drapes on the sunny side will help keep things cooler when running AC.
Look at other things drawing electricity. An old refrigerator can cost over $100 a month run! Electric stove? Other appliances that draw electricity when not in use? Leaving lights on?
Yea, you probably got the least efficient AC installed but there is nothing you can do about that now. Check to see if you can find a date of mfg on your fridge and post back here. I'm suspicious.
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If it's very humid outdoors, you might ask your landlord to airseal the house, with a blower door test.
Nick
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    qOn 28 Aug 2006 05:37:53 -0700, "Kravynn"

These A/C units are usually connected with flex duct and duct board. They will leak when they get old and critters love to eat holes in there to air condition their den in the attic. The new unit may actually be blowing harder making the leaks worse.
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Kravynn wrote: ...

One more diagnostic check...turn absolutely everything in the house off (unplug the refrigerator if need or wait until it cycles off and trip the breaker to the water heater) and go check the meter--it should not be moving. If it is, you have either something still on and drawing power or a meter problem or a leak-path problem. If this shows a problem, get your brother back w/ his clamp-on ammeter and have him help you find out where it's going or have the utility company check for a service problem on their side first.
The point is, the bill is high because the metered usage is high--you need to know where the usage is to know what to attack first.
The thought of the refrigerator reminds me of another related to it--if you haven't done so for a while, check behind it and clean the coils--they're a wonderful collector and the accumulated dirt and fuzz-balls kills efficiency.
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dpb wrote:

a small retail shop she ran. They put it in the basement and the elec bill was almost $200 higher the next month. We tossed it and bought a new cheapie and the bill want back down to almost where it was before.
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I heard a story at work, a gas utility company. Customer complained about high gas bills, wanted someone to come out and check the meter and equipment. Serviceman checks everything, all OK but lots of gas flowing through the meter. While talking to the customer, serviceman looks out window on a winter day just after a big snowfall. An outdoor barbecue is sitting in the back yard with NO snow on it, while everything is covered with it. They go outdoors and find the BBQ running on high, and has been for the past 3 months since it was last used. That was the cause of the high bills.

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On Mon, 28 Aug 2006 16:39:04 -0400, "EXT"

OT, but when I was doing some work, with county permission, in public woods and fields in suburban Baltimore, I found a 2" water pipe running full blast. It was horizontal and the water was going out 2 1/2 or 3 feet by the time it fell 1 foot.
I called the county water deparment and they wanted the address, but it had no address, it wasn't even near a street (although it was near an expressway, I don't think that would be an address). Since there was no address, they had me call Baltimore City (which is like a separate county, and about the same size, but with more people) They wanted the address too, and iirc when it didn't have an address, they told me to call the county. IIRC it took a month to get the water turned off, even after I made the last phone call.
On the other side of the xway, and maybe 600 feet, there was an area an acre or more that was flooded, and we had been waiting for almost a year for the water to dry up. We thought it was from the stream right there which we assumed overflowed in heavy rains. Plainly there had been flooding because the chain link fence that bordered the expressway had been covered with grass so the water would not flow through, and then the fence knocked down. So there had been flooding, but we waited almost a year, checking every 2 to 8 weeks, and I kept wondering when the dry season would come.
Then I found the pipe, a month to get the water turned off, and in anotther month, the land was dry, iirc. By then, we had found another way to do things, so we didn't need to do any work there after all!
This pipe must have been running for at least 11 months, and maybe much more!
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Kravynn posted for all of us... I don't top post - see either inline or at bottom.

The breaker box has nothing to do with electric consumption other than if there is an internal problem in it which would result in heat or fire. Does the box allow you to put your hand on it without being burnt? Some parts may be warmer than others but NOT hot enough to burn.
Looking logically - you had new AC installed - costs go up - you are cold. My conclusion is AC never shuts off. It could be the thermostat or another control. What is the problem and solution is not your concern. Call the AC company back and have them fix it. The landlord should understand that you are not complaining for the sake of complaining but rather realize that operating the system in this manner will shorten it's life and increase his costs. The company sold this saying it would decrease costs and increase comfort - neither of which it is doing.
--
Tekkie

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wrote:

your thermostat is not working correctly. Probably wired wrong by the installer. Call the installer back and he will fix it for free.
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Like others mention your thermostat/AC system is out of wack if you are freezing when the AC is set at 80-82 degrees. The landlord should take care of this. I had a case where the HVAC duct came off and was cooling the crawl space. Maybe worth checking for duct leaks too. I would expect a large utility bill if nothing was done relative to insulation and windows for a mid 50s house where energy was so cheap then.
As for the breaker box, its properly not the cause of your huge electrical bill. A lesser effect is when you have a loose connection at the breaker and you pay a little extra in heating the contact points. Further the wire insulation wires may burn up and the breaker may trip or fail due to excess heat. Another thing I could think off is that your panel may be way off balanced with respect to electrical load where one bus is way overloaded with respect to the other at he panel. Don't know about your electrical company but some will bill on the peek values so balancing the panel by bring the peek load down will bring down the electric bill. Your electrician brother should know what I'm talking about and could give you more details. But again don't think the breaker box is the cause of your huge electrical bill.
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