High electricity usage in office!

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Just rented this office space 2 months ago. It is a new business so I don't really have much here that draws electricity yet. I have a PC/ modem/router, mini 1.7 Cu. Ft fridge, and 3 40W fluorescent lights. The pc is on for 6 hours, 4 days a week. The fridge is obliviously on 24/7. the lights are hardly use. Did not use the heat but it is gas anyway, the AC is still off, no need for it yet.
My March bill stated that I used 700KWH, April was 710KWH and May was again, 708KWH. This is more than what I am using in my house! I called the electric company and they said they'll send some one to read the meter and I should call back in few days. I called back and they said everything looks OK and nothing more is to be done. They were terrible on the phone, extremely rude and they basically said, go F yourself.
I bought a kill-a-watt and according to it; the fridge is using 22KWH/ month, the PC is using 1.4KWH in the 6 hours it is on daily. That adds up to about 42KWH assuming 30 days usage. The light are hardly used but I'll give it another 20KWH.
All this adds up to 84KWH and I am paying for 700KWH. What is going on? The electricity company is no mood of helping and the last time I talked to a supervisor he told me, "if you don't like our service you can go somewhere else"!!
I talked to the landlord and I told him if this is not taken care of soon, I am moving out! is there something I am missing here? What would you do? TIA and hope someone has some pointers.
BTW, I am in Toledo, OH and my "shitty" electric is Toledo Edison.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Sounds like more than you is on the meter to me most likely. Are you supposed to have a meter serving your space only? If you turn everything off and unplug the fridge for a moment and look at the meter, is it still running? Bet it is...
Do you have access to the leadin and breaker panel to investigate where/how wiring goes? Might give a clue as to what/who else is on the service.
Isn't unknown for somebody to tap in illicitly, either...that's something to at least check for -- in a commercial building, perhaps an unscrupulous other tenant has done something untoward...
--
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Find the panel your meter is hooked to and switch the main breaker off. Then see if the meter is still turning or advancing in the case of a digital. Also, if someone else is on your panel, then pulling the main should make them holler.
--
Steve Barker





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On Thu, 7 Jun 2007 16:51:07 -0500, "Steve Barker"

All this on the fairly good but tentative conclusion someone is stealing your electricity:
Hmmm. I was going to agree with you 100% but now only 90. The other guy might be smart enough to keep his mouth shut. So the OP or his friends should go office to office (right?) after the power is off, to see which office is dark. Although it might well not be the whole office which is on the OP's ciruit. Maybe some high-current room or some high current device.
And it could even be that the other party sneaked in between the meter and the OP's breaker/fuse box, although usually they are very close together.
OP, you might want to test your disconnecting for a second or two before you bring in your spies. To know you can do it and how. If there are any clocks on the ohter guy's circuit, having to reset them a second time might bring more whining when the spies are there.
If you have cartridge fuses in your main cutoff, you might be able to pull that out, remove the fuses, and put the black thing back in. That will slow down their finding the problem, and the bad guy won't suspect you. Even when they find the problem, you can play dumb.
Tell people that your power is off too (and it will be) to give the bad guy the feeling that .
BTW, the other guy might possibly be your landlord.
Finding the extra wires might not be so easy.
When I was in college, I lived in a fraternity that had been a big house built around 1900. I had a tiny room and when I moved the small set of drawers, I found a phone had gone to my room. Maybe from after WWII, when we had a lot of grown men living in the frat going to school on the GI Bill. I went to the basement and found the other end of the wires, disconnected from everything. I don't remember the thought process, but I decided to connect my wirres to the pay phone's wires (we had two pay phones, one in a closet on the first floor and one in the hall on the second floor. I chose the second floor one which got used a lot less, usually only when one of the 18 guys living there was on the closet phone.)
I used three wires from my line, cutting the pay phone line right where it passed over a 1 or 2 inch pipe, so the splice couldn't be seen while standing on the floor. (Probably 8 foot ceilings.)
I used 3 of my wires. I cut one of the two pay phone wires and just spliced into the other one. I bought a bag of some switches at Olsen Electronics, and a little scrap wood, and put in a switch to open the line to the pay phone and connect me. Voila!
Later, even though one of two wires was cut, someone could hear my voice on the pay phone, they even came and got me. I should have said I heard the voice too, but like a fool I said i didn't hear it.
So I took two 110 to 35 volt transformers ,put them in series to get about 12 volts, and used the same DPDT swtich to run 12 volts through the pay phone whenever I cut its line to the phone co. with the same switch. Then whenever I was on the phone they'd hear a 60-cycle hum in the pay phone around the corner from me about 30 feet away. (I was at the end of the hall. When they complained about this, I always volunteered to call the phone company and report it. This shows how sneaky thieves can be.
Everything went fine for several months, maybe 5 phone calls a week, until one time I was yelling at a friend of mine (who could be very annoying. :) ) And my friend Rich who lived next to me came and knocked on the door and said "Do you have a phone in there?". I thought of saying I was just yelling at myself, but Rich was a good guy, and I couldn't lie to him singly. I guess everything worked until I moved to an apartment in July.
I think I soldered the two wires together and taped everything, behind the dresser. But I dont think I soldered the wires in the basement because I was trying to finish quickly, and they were only an inch or two below the ceiling and above a pipe.
A few years later I heard that the there had been trouble with the 2nd floor pay phone, and the phone man couldn't find it, so he had run a new line from the ingress to the phone (through the laundry chute I'm sure where the first wire went.) I felt bad about that but not bad enough to confess.
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Some landlords [not telling the tenants] put their yard lights on their tenants meter. I'd investigate. And if I still couldn't justify the electrical use, you might see about the state's [your state that you live in] Departments of Weights and Measurements. They handle meters and the like. You could file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission, but that's usually a very very slow train.
--
Zyp

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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Disconnect everything and check the meter to see if it's still spinning... Might want the power company to come check the meter at this time as well.
Don't threaten the landlord to move out, threaten him to withhold rent. Make sure you can prove that something is going on. Send your complaint via a registered letter.
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Careful! If the landlord is not part of the problem, you can cause legal problems by not paying the rent. Find out the cause before you take the wrong action.
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Id keep trying the electric co till you find someone ok, they dont like meter theft. Get an electrician out also. Get to your meter at say 10am and pull the main fuse and see who comes out suprised.
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ransley wrote:

So far there's been absolutely nothing I've seen in OPs post to indicate theft, only that _perhaps_ more than his directly rented space is on the meter for which he's getting billed...
Approaching the landlord to ask would be an appropriate first step if the sanity of check of everything he can control still indicates usage...
--


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CJT wrote:

OP wrote "... the AC is still off, no need for it yet." ???
--



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dpb wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

It certainly sounds as if someone else could be tapped into and using your metered power. It is easy enough to find out though: go into your office and turn off / unplug everything and then go to the meter and see if it is spinning. If it is, somebody else is benefiting from your charity. You may want to try this several times at different times of the day but I'd not tell anyone about it until you know something.
A decent electrician who knows what (s)he is looking for could probably open the panel(s) and probably find any misdeeds but I wouldn't advise you to do it. You might also want to check the seal on the meter housing to see if it has been removed -- inside that housing would be an excellent place to tap in for power.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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wrote:

I forgot about that. ARound here, the seals are those plastic label tags with the wire coming out and in. One can cut one of those, do what you want, and then stuff the stub back in and it will look as if it hasn't been touched. DAMHIKT. So you'd have to pull on it sopme to see if it has been tampered with.
BTW, the point of my tapped pay phone story was to show how hard it can be to find a tap. Not that the phone guy couldn't have found it if he had tried harder, or if he hadn't thought it was a broken wire inside insulation where he couldn't see it.
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Don't discount those plastic meter seals too fast. My utility used them for years. We also paid the meter readers a bounty for each broken seal they found. That's why they tugged just about every plastic seal each time they read the meter. Each broken seal was reported and our security team checked them out. Best catch was a motel at the seashore. We had to put in a second meter (up on the pole in a fake transformer can) to catch them red handed. Fines, interest, penalties, costs of the investigation and of course all the stolen energy.
In most cases high bills in a commercial location with multiple meters is a mismatch between customer and meter. Second choice is misinstalled wiring for loads such as outdoor lights, hall lights, basement, back to back receptacles (now in different offices) or just a landlord that doesn't know or care that subdividing space requires new wiring.
My son had a similar problem in an apartment in NYC. Con Ed (and the landlord) couldn't care less after he found out that an adjoining apartment had some of his wiring. So he carefully explained to Con Ed's legal department that his father was an expert witness for utility operations and they had a talk with the landlord and stopped hounding my son for back bills.

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I had a big customer a department store that downsized and their bill went up.
seems a electrician made a mistake and hornes was paying for much of the malls electric I heard about this when doing some unrelated service.
they found it by sending store employees all over the mall and cutting their main power a few minutes before the mall opened.
half the mall went dark.
it appeared to be a honest mistake but was a big hassle to fix.
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wrote:

I was only saying that for the benefit of the OP, who might not notice tampering when he was looking around.
But even though I said Don't Ask Me, I'll tell you how I know that. It was only because I had my electricity disconnected for non-payment (had the money, just didn't have the energy) and after I had actually paid the bill, in Baltimore one has to be home when the guy comes to reconnect. Or it was the end of the day and I wasn't sure he was returning. So U took off the tag and reconnected it myself. I was depressed and reckless.
He did come back that evening, maybe around 6, and I told him someone else had been there and reconnected it, but something he said led me to conclude he was the only with that job in my area, and he knew no one from the electric co. had been there.

If he had wanted to, what would they have done to me? I didn't steal any electricity, just took off the plastic shields.
What he actually did was put a good tag on and leave. I'm sure he knew why my power was out, and gradually I realized he knew what I had done.

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around here tampering with utlity shut off for non payment is crininal offense. they can take you to court, fine and threaten jail time.
just imagine your name in the paper. once that meter is unsealed its really easy to steal power.
but i have pulled meters a few times so i could safely work in breaker / fuse boxes.
i called the next day telling them what i did, the first time a fuse broke apart in the box, like a light bulb where the glass seperates from the base.
they thanked me for calling and said no problem.....
after that i felt confident to do it again, not to steal power but do necessary repairs.
DONT do this unless you really know what your doing. it can be dangerous
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Were they reversing the meter part of the time?
--
charles

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

While the others may well be right and you may be paying some or all of someone else's bill, or may have swapped bills and they are paying yours and you their's, But I suggest emptying the little fridge for a month and see what happens. Those little buggers are energy hogs!
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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