Measuring Electrical Useage

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I recently moved into my house and I got my first full month's electric bill and was floored. It was almost $150! I have never lived somewhere with a bill over $80 for a single month. On top of that, this house does not have some of the common big time electric drawing appliances. My hot water heater, dryer and home heating are not electric. The only electric appliances that run often are the fridge, the sump pump and a portable dehumidifier in the basement
Anyway, I want to see if I can determine what the primary culprit is in this very high meter reading. I am thinking it might be the refrigerator. The fridge is an older, built-in Sub-Zero model which, while nice seems to run a lot. Long story short, is there a device I can purchase to put between the fridge's plug and the wall outlet that will measure it's electric usage over a period of time, say a day? If not, what is the best way to guage the usage of this appliance? I don't have a backup fridge to use while I turn this one off for a month and see what next month's bill looks like, so I'm looking for an alternative.... Also, I looked up the model on the web, but did not find any info on it related to electrical usage, so that is not an option...
Thanks in advance for any suggestions,
Rob
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Rob wrote:

Use the utility meter. Switch everything but the fridge off for one hour . Read the meter at start/end of period to get the KWhr used by the fridg.
With the bill you have, the avg consumption must be around 2 KWhr every hour.
Jim
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wrote:

Yes, there are such devices. However, I would use your existing electric meter. Most give an immediate indication of the actual usage in real time, typically with a spinning metal disc. Even without that, you can read your meter for a period of say 1 hour (with fridge on and then off). With a methodical approach it shouldn't take long to figure out what's causing the bulk of the usage.
If it's not the fridge you could try turning off one quarter of the breakers on your panel for 1 hour -- take meter readings before and after. Repeat for the other three quarters of the breakers. Again, it shouldn't take long to zero in on the culprit.
Disconnecting the fridge for short periods shouldn't be a problem, unless you get bored and keep opening it every few minutes for more food/beer ;-)
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| Malcolm Hoar "The more I practice, the luckier I get". |
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Rob wrote:

Get yourself a KILL-A-WATT meter and run the fridge through it. Much easier than running back and forth to you utility meter and having to shut other stuff off.
If you shop around you can find these meters for under $25.
HTH,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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Jeff Wisnia wrote:

Harbor Freight carries them now. A very handy little meter.
Pete C.
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I fogot to paste in the link:
http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/7657 /
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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Rob,
There certainly are devices that you can use to do just what you are looking for. I recently purchased a device made by P3 International called the "Kill A Watt" Meter" around $25. As long as your fridge is rated 120v you just plug the meter in the wall then the Fridge into the meter. It has a digital readout that shows voltage, Current, Wattage, Frequency and the Kwh used since the unit was plugged in. I recently bought one to measure several devices around my house such as PC on normal and in power save mode. etc. If you do a simple search on the net for the Kill A Watt meter it will come up.
Good luck,
Darren
Rob wrote:

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Rob,
Opps, I just saw Jeff was typing up the same response as mine at the same time.Too Funny.:)
Good Luck ddecoste wrote:

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I have a similar meter bought at Canadian Tire for less than C$20 on sale that does the same thing. It is a Model EM100 Energy Meter from UPM. Measure instantaneous amps and KW draw as well as accumulated power usage.
So for a fridge that has an on-off cycle, you would want to leave it connected for a day or so and calculate the average draw. I have used it for that purpose on my boat refrig unit just to see how overall power usage compares with instantaneous current draw (Provides a measure of how well the icebox is insulated)
Graham

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Some cut.
What are the electric rates at your new place? My parent's bill is consistently about twice mine. It's just a matter of the electrical supply coming from a different utility.
Dean
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Dean Hoffman wrote:

Nope, even at the most outrageous electrical rate, the 3 named appliances operating normally could not run up a monthly bill of $150.
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I see you were already told about the Kill A Watt meter. Aside from that, read you own meter for a few days or so to see what is going on with use on a regular basis. The first reading may have been inaccurate or a longer period also, depending on when it was read at the transfer of accounts.
FWIW, my typical bill is about $130 a month. Two refrigerators, freezer, dryer, computers, etc. We pay 17 a kW
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I looked at my bill just now and it looks like I pay 13 cents per kwh. There definitely seems to be something that is using way too much power based on that. I have one fridge, no freezer, a lower rate than you but a higher bill. I think it must be the fridge. Unfortunately, it is a built in one, with very nice cabinetry all around and wood on the doors. Not sure how easy it will be to get a new one and have it look as nice in the kitchen.... I'm gonna confirm what is causing the large draw though first.
Thank you to everyone who replied to my post! All of your answers are very much appreciated!!
Rob
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Rob wrote:
Unfortunately, it is a

If it is the fridge, do or get some maintenance, clean coils, etc. Might help.
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And check/adjust the thermostat too. Maybe it's just set to the coldest possible setting.
And, since you mention it's wrapped in cabinetry, I'm wondering if the fridge has sufficient ventilation. If it's totally enclosed with no place for the heat to go, you're gonna have large bills and short life on the fridge.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

It is one designed to be built in so it has stainless slant venting above the fridge built into the cabinetry.....
Rob
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Take a look at the bill; does it cover only the period since you've been in the house? Maybe you're paying for the last tenants.
Rob wrote:

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Bennett Price wrote:

Along the same lines, it is an electronic remote read meter or an old style visual read meter? With the visual read ones it's not at all uncommon for the reader to misread a digit which if an upper digit can make a very noticeable jump in your bill. Fortunately it's self correcting with the next correct reading since it's a cumulative reading.
At a previous location I had several meter reader screw ups of this type in the year or so before they installed the remote read meters. I guess they cut the reader force and hired the cheapest people they could get. In each case I just called in to the utility with the current reading from the meter and they adjusted the info in their system and gave me the corrected bill amount to pay.
I had one really funny occurrence on a service at another location that was not in use for a few months (main breaker off). This was a remote read meter as well so you'd expect accurate readings. What happened was that the meter mechanism was apparently teetering right at the transition point of the lowest digit.
One month the reading came in 1 kwh lower than it read the previous month. You'd think the utility's computer would flag this massive KWH used reading, but instead they sent a $15K bill. When I called them the CSR got quite a kick out of it and of course the bill was corrected to the ~$5 base service charge and 0 KWH used.
Pete C.
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wrote:

Self-correcting if the recent reading was too high. NOt if the first reading was too low.
And yes, to another post. Definitely clean the fridge, the coils, and make sure there is adequate ventilation, or maybe just measure the temp back there. Don't just jump to spend 500 dollars on a new fridge, when maybe adjusting or a new thermostat would fix it.

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I had a similar thing happen some years ago. It turned out to be my septic pump was running continuously because of a faulty switch in the pump tank. Try turning off all your breakers and see if the meter disc is still turning. If not, turn the breakers back on one at a time to see which circuit is causing the disc to turn.
---MIKE---

>> (44 15' N - Elevation 1580')
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