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.
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
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...
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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
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.
I had a big customer a department store that downsized and their bill
seems a electrician made a mistake and hornes was paying for much of
the malls electric I heard about this when doing some unrelated
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.
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
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
DONT do this unless you really know what your doing. it can be
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!
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.