Lost Electricity -2

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Thanks to all who have thought on this and offered your opinions. What I've concluded so far is that this is not just my problem. At least 10 neighbors experienced the same thing. This tells me that it isn't just a leaky extension cord. A 20% reduction in the # of days with electricity means that on the days I did have power I would have had to use 20% more each and every day to maintain the monthly average of the previous 5 years. I was indeed 10% colder for the month of DEC 07 than average, but heating is a small part of our (collective) electric usage. the neighbors heat with LP, Oil , wood, or corn none use electric heat or heat pumps.
Someone mentioned higher voltage being pumped through the lines. Does this make sense to you who are not electrically challenged? How about more Hz?
My plan now is to gather more anecdotal evidence (oxymoron?) and question the REC on Monday. 1. Did they estimate Dec's reading. (or other months)? 2. What could have caused this average monthly (31 day)usage when we were all without power at 20% of the time?
Further thoughts and notions appreciated.
Steve Southiowa
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The frequency (HZ) is very closely controlled. It may vary slightly during heavy loads or periods of light loads. Over a months time, it will average almost exectally the same. If it did not , the clocks would all be off by some large ammount.
It is doubtful they could raise the voltage enough to make that much differance without causing lots of problems such as burnt out light bulbs.
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Ralph Mowery wrote:

Oops! I see you beat me to it...

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Steve IA wrote:

The Hz should be very closely regulated. Otherwise many clocks wouldn't tell time correctly. So although an aberration in Hz could affect the efficiency of some devices (if you're interested, Google "hysteresis losses"), I doubt that's your problem.
Whether the voltage makes a difference depends on the load. Electric heating (at least from the perspective of the consumer) is 100% efficient, so if higher voltage led to a higher rate of consumption, as long as the total heat called for were the same, the time the heater was running would adjust downward so that the total power consumption would be unchanged. However, there are loads that essentially "waste" some of their power during the course of their operation (typically via heat sinks on regulators). Those might be less efficient at higher voltage. I doubt it's 20%.
Make sure the billing cycles were the same length. They vary from month to month and year to year.
I agree with the other contributors to the thread who suggest a difference in weather is the most likely candidate.
If it was cold enough to keep you indoors watching TV, I'd check the power consumption of the TV. :-)

That's another definite possibility.

+/- 30% isn't all that unusual under normal circumstances -- you could look at your bills for several years if you have them.

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CJT wrote

It wasn't that great, and , again, electricity is not a great factor in heating our home. i.e. 1/3hp (246 watts) furnace blower which runs only a brief time as the wood burner (even with it's tiny blower fan) supplies the lion's share of our heat.

No more than normal. We're pretty set in our routine. Even around the 'holidays'.

Re read the original post. I've tracked Usage for the past 6 years by month. That's how I calculated the average and spread.
Thanks

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Well, here's the bottom line. Excluding the almost infinitesimal possibility of mass meter error (essentially impossible if mechanical meters are involved), you and your neighbors used more power. What we (at least those of us who know the utility business) are trying to do is suggest where that extra usage came from.
It is a known fact that power usage tracks degree-days even with homes that don't primarily heat with electricity. Why? Got me. Just how it is. It is also a known fact that people use more electricity after an outage, what your co-op called recovery usage. Why? Got me. I can speculate but since that's not my specialty I don't have any details. I just know that it is true. It probably is a combination of catching up on activities such as washing clothes combined with the disruption of your normal habits.
Another factor very well may be slightly higher voltage. For practical purposes, your use will scale with voltage. A 5% increase in voltage might not be unusual if, in the process of rebuilding what the storm damaged, the co-op installed up-rated equipment.
It's most likely a combination of all the above. It is effectively impossible to determine the exact cause after the fact. The co-op person that you talk to will tell you that same thing, couched in consumer-friendly verbiage.
John -- John De Armond See my website for my current email address http://www.neon-john.com http://www.johndearmond.com <-- best little blog on the net! Tellico Plains, Occupied TN Why the US is losing its competitivve edge:"It used to be that the USA was pretty good at producing stuff teenaged boys could lose a finger or two playing with."-James Niccol
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Neon John wrote:

Yeahbut, 25% more each and every day we were on line? Including the 10 billing days <i>prior</i> to the outage? There were only 14 days left of the billing period after the power was restored. Ooh, Ooh, let's calculate that:
Day 1-10 average use (based on 6 years of dec.data) = 22 kwh/day = 222kw Day 11-17 0 usage day 18-31 682kw- 222kw used the 1st 10 days = 460 kw. / 14 days = 32.9 kw/day. 150% usage for each of 14 days between the restoration and the end of the cycle? Huh-uh; didn't happen. There's more than cold weather and 'recovery' to this equation. I just haven't figgered it out yet.

Not 150% more for 14 days. Remember I said that when I got the bill I immediately checked the meter and found it to be in normal usage from the date of reading to the day I got the bill for ~21. kwh/day usage. Thankfully I'm not still using at the 150% rate. Whatever it was went away.

That's an interesting thought. My K-A-W meter only shows 120-121 vac on all my tests so far. I've tested line voltage occasionally over the years with a multitester and as I recall it was always close to 120.

Well, maybe a combination, but we still feel there's something we're not being told. Maybe I better get my tin-foil hat out.
Thanks again.
Steve
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On Sun, 20 Jan 2008 05:35:53 -0600, Steve IA wrote:

Did you have your main breaker(s) off all during the outage? Soon after I moved here, there a super-brownout (incandescent light bulbs just barely glowed) that went on for hours. After that, I'm careful to disconnect anything that might be damaged by low voltage whenever the power gets squirrely.
There is some validity to the "recovery" thing. A common example is the household water heater. The savings achieved by shutting off a modern, well insulated heater set at 120F - say, while occupants are away during the day - are disappointing. It doesn't take that much energy to maintain the standby temperature. Your wood stove maintained the temperature in some of your house, but not all of it. Assuming you ran your furnace after the power came on and before the meter was read, a house is a lot of mass to warm back up to its standby temperature in the winter.
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Ann wrote:

No, didn't think of it. I'd probably be running out to the pole every few minutes to 'see if it's on'. ;-)

With a fairly open floor plan and a lofted master bedroom it kept all but the den (closed the door) and the spare bedroom (always closed)as warm or warmer than we normally keep the house. The outside temps during the outage were normal 20-40s, not like it is now, -5F. In fact, we had to curtain off the loft as a lot of heat was going up there making it +75F which is too darn hot for sleeping.
Assuming you ran

It's the old question of night-time furnace setback. Only longer. It does save energy.
Steve
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On Sun, 20 Jan 2008 10:24:43 -0600, Steve IA wrote:

Yes, it does. And turning it off entirely at night would save even more. I tried that for a while this Fall and the colder it got, the longer it took to get the house warmed up to where it was approaching comfortable. And there was a strong temptation to set the thermostat higher than normal to get it to stay warm sooner.
But it does look like in your case there wasn't much to warm up.
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Ummmmmmm...... except in a very few cases with specialized heating systems [a], moving the thermostat to a higher temperature isn't going to speed things up.
[a] multi stage furnaces/boilers, and heat pumps with additional resistance or fossil fuel input.

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On Sun, 20 Jan 2008 18:01:48 +0000, danny burstein wrote:

Yes, but ... there is more to heat than the air for the temp in a room to be relatively stable. (Which is why I used "stay warm".) Setting the thermostat higher than the target temperature does expedite the process.

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Ann wrote: ...

How, precisely, in the absence of the higher input rate previous poster mentioned do you propose this piece of magic happens???
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On Sun, 20 Jan 2008 13:14:39 -0600, dpb wrote:

Duration of input.
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Ann wrote:

??? Longer on at constant input --> higher input, certainly, but that comes at essentially higher setpoint. Has nothing whatsoever to do w/ the rate of recover (or loss).
From a given starting temperature, at 'cold soak' the rate of transfer from the heated air to the structure is identical at a given temperature irregardless of the thermostat setting as long as it is above the setpoint (again, w/o a source of 'aux' heat). The heat transfer rate from the air to the structure is simply a function of the temperature differential and the operational characteristics of the heat source are no different.
You can turn it on in the morning after the setback at 72F or 90F and the recovery is identical (again, w/o a source of 'aux' heat). Anything else is simply perception.
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then you go PAST the 'target' temp.
s

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On Sun, 20 Jan 2008 14:22:46 -0600, S. Barker wrote:

Correct. I didn't say it was the most efficient way to do it. <g>

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Well i thought the original conversation was about saving energy. So if you're not concerned with efficiency, then why not just leave it turned up to begin with?
s

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On Sun, 20 Jan 2008 17:51:01 -0600, S. Barker wrote:

My post was about "recovery" and the furnace was turned off, not down. My intended point was that people sometimes don't warm a cold house up in the most fuel efficient way ... and end up "giving back" some of their savings. (No, I don't think this explains Steve's situation because of the length of the outage and the fact that he kept most of his house warm with the wood stove.)

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S. Barker wrote:

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Overshoot a bit and then let the system relax. You might reach a stable point quicker that way than approaching it asymptotically from below, which is what he said.
Google "critically damped."

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