Electricity Bill Quadrupled! - Energy Questions

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Our electricity usage for this month in our 2000 sqft split-level home here in the NE USA is nearly 4 times that of last year and we can't understand why. My usage for July/03 was 1825 kWh and cost about $275, but our August usage was 3768 kWh at a cost of a whopping $458.
Granted, we've only been in for about three months, but I researched historical data with PSE&G and it doesn't add up. Last years history revealed July/02 at about the same as this year - 1825 kWh, but reveals August/02 at only about 1000 kWh.
We ran our 22 year old 4 tone A/C unit at about 70 every day in the past several months, and had a small 2' x 1' dehumidifier in the basement running fairly constant. However, I just don't think these could push the kWh that high based on observations of using similar appliances in our previous home. We are not excessive with lighting usage.
Could a bad appliance or faulty electrical wiring cause this problem? How about a faulty meter?
FYI - I looked at the meter today and it revealed my usage as 1500 kWh higher than the reading taken just 6 days ago. At that rate, I could use nearly 7000 kWh this month. This freaked me out. Could a home really be pulling this much energy from standard appliances?
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With the air conditioner on and blowing cold air, go look at the wheel in the meter and see how fast it's spinning. Now turn the air conditioner off and look at the meter again. If the wheel is now down to a crawl, it's the air conditioner doing it's job. If the wheel is still spinning almost as fast as before turning off the air conditioner, then you have a current leak somewhere, or an electric water heater with leaking hot water pipes or tank. Just my guess.
Tom J

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When you say "current leak", could this mean faulty electrical wiring too? I ask this because we've had some very scary discoveries of the previously owners carelessness with the electrical wiring. My electrician is coming tomorrow to fix some things, and I may wish to alert him of this too.

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There is a good possibility, but you may have pointed out the high usage when you said you were maintaining 70 degrees. Try maintaining 76 degrees. That will become comfortable to you in a few days and will save a pot full on electric cost.
Tom J
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Now that I'm focusing on the A/C, I bumped it up to 75 degrees and put in a new Honeywell digital thermostat. It sits at 75 degrees and keeps chugging - barely ever stops. If it's not the thermostat, what could make this unit keep going?
It feels really cool inside and the vent airflow feels nice and cold but I didn't do the thermometer in the vent thing yet (test temperature). Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but the temperature is determined at the thermostat, right? I have a big 20"x16" return right there (it's the main return and by far the largest), and I don't know if that's drawing the heat return to the thermostat nearby.

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Focus on consumption.......... Get a tech out to check it , but your crap is dinosour, old inefficent, wastefull, probably seer 6 ... seer 19.5 may save 80 % on your bill . A better return on your money than you will get anywhere else on your money.,,, Maybe 25 % more , go figure.......You are paying your elec co.... This is a real investment, your pay off could be 3 or 4 years... what investment does that?
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How much should I expect to pay for the parts and installation of a 4 tone 19.5 seer w/ a good name? I liked my 2 tone Rheem in my previous home. It even looked nice (green color that matched our trim) and worked very well.

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1500KWh in 6 days is 250 KWh/day or 10KW continuous. That is a lot of power. Your water heater is probably 5KW if it is electric; 10KW is about 10 horsepower if running an electric motor or motors. Your air conditioner is probably 3 to 4 horsepower. So a water heater running continuously and an air conditioner compressor running continuously could do this. Your compressor could run continuously if the unit is screwed up (low on refrigerant etc.) I can't imagine why or how you could run the water heater continuously unless as the other poster says, you have a hot water leak.
You definitely have a problem, and unless you have lots of money to throw away, you had better fix it.
And I thought my 550KWh per month consumption was high.

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I have now taken notice of the a/c running fairly often and continuous, so I bumped it up from 70 to 72 degrees. It still is running often, if not the same. Could this be a faulty thermostat?

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You have money to burn if you are trying to maintain 70/72 degrees in summer. Try 76 degrees and you'll see a sharp drop in current draw.
Tom J
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I agree. Mine was not cooling as efficiently. I had an HVAC tech out to take temps and pressures. The system was low. He metered in some R22 and it is cooling great again.
John
wrote:

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Its ALWAYS the thermostat...didnt you know this?
NO..its probably NOT the thermostat. Its prob a 22 year old unit thats never been serviced right telling you its time to go.
And yes...when they start to fail, they love power..

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Sound to me like your A/C is low on freon. Since it isn't working as good it has to stay on longer to compensate. I'd do a refill and check for leaks. If you let it go too long you'll need a new compressor.
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Childfree Scott wrote:

This reply is all that I can see. Therefore, it could even be overcharged, or any number of things together could be contributing to your problem. Read and learn, --then call the best Tech in your area. Darrell U.
--
Air Conditioning Efficiency -
http://www.udarrell.com/air-conditioning-efficiency.html
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BUHA..ok..
Toooo funny...can I put this on my new webpage....Dumb suggestions found on the net for problems that cant be solved over the net??

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Sometimes the wire between the electric meter and the circuit panel develops a "leak" and uses power which isn't getting to your appliances.
The quick and dirty check for this is to turn off every circuit breaker in the panel, and write down the number of the electric meter. Go to town for a couple hours, and come back and see if the numbers changed.
If it is a leaky lead in wire, it is double definitely a job for an electrician to do.
--

Christopher A. Young
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develops
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You know those little electrons don't like that nasty old plastic sheathing and will run off every chance they get.....
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http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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Do you have a well for your water? If so, check to make sure you're water pump is not running continuously. It is fixable but may be a sign of a bad pump or something.
--Don--
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Its all a conspiracy, the util companys don't want ya to know, wait till next month(Sept), it will be lower....you'll see, its a cycle that they do because of summer activities, and not to mention that they gotta recoup their losses from the power grid failure couple weeks ago, that too is an enigma, (gov't caused)...... and 12,000 dead in France from heat????....C'mon ppl, wake up Watch what I say...its a damned routine they pull......The gov't is responsible, and our freedoms are being sucked dry as well....We're stuck with it...like it or not.....you'll believe when your next months(Sept) bill comes in and its the lowest one of the year...
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