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Electric Power Loss

Home built 2000 has very high energy bills. The meter shows draw of at least 1 KW always (except when main breaker is opened), this is with all appliances, AC, TV, lights, etc. are off. Edison is not concerned but says there seems to be excess juice going to master bedroom circuit. Can it have a circuit to ground, a mistake in wiring or something. All the GFCI are now out.


Bill from Los Angeles

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July 17, 20060 found this helpful


I'm no electrician, but here is my $0.02:

Even though you have things "turned off" many items are still drawing current. Televisions and PCs for example use an "instant on" feature. Older appliances like refrigerators can be hogs, too. Also, you might want to have your HVAC unit checked as well. Did you check to see how "tight" your house is?

Depending on how far you want to go, you can always unplug each appliance to see if makes a difference at the meter. You'll need a helper with either a cell phone or a walkie-talkie to let you know when they unplug something or notice the meter spinning slower.

Check out http://www.EnergyHog.org for some ideas.

Just a few thoughts...


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July 18, 20060 found this helpful

Dear Bill

Yes, Edison would be quite happy with a mystery KW per hour added to every invoice.

I would check the bedroom closets and see if a former tenant installed a false back with a grow-light behind it or a cable to something like that in the attic.

A steady 1 KW load indicates an appliance, not a leak to metal siding or other ground. Leaks are normally weather sensitive and not that steady.

If there is nothing obvious like a grow light, get a non-intrusive AC power tester. They look like a fat pen or wand and sense electrical power from a foot or more away. Some have a light to indicate power, others emit a buzzing sound when they sense power. With that you can follow the route of the mystery wire to where the load is.

You can get a wand at electrical wholesalers and electrical tool suppliers. You can also call your local Snap-On dealer and ask for part # MTAC110. He will deliver it and won't ask any silly questions. They cost about $20 and are one of the most borrowed tools, if your friends find out that you have one.

If there is a B&K Precision Instruments store in driving distance, they

have a wand that even has a flashlight built in. Ask for their "SENSELITE". It too is about $20.

It would be a good idea to check the entire house. You may have more than one mystery load. 1 KW at 4 cents / KW would add just under $30 to the monthly bill. Figure out how much higher your bill is than it should be.

That gives you an idea what kinds of loads you have to chase down.

Have FUN!



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July 20, 20060 found this helpful

What a great Thrifty request.

After watching a recent Global Warming program my interest 'peaked' about my home energy consumption and all the 'stand-by' electrical appliances that I have.

Hope you find your high energy draw - soon!

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July 23, 20060 found this helpful

Cell phone chargers draw power even when not in use. So you might want to keep them unplugged. But this is a minor problem compared to what's been going on.

Could someone (neighbor) have tapped into your line (like a washing machine in their basement run off of your power)?

I only mentioned this because I read in an advice column some years ago about a family that rented a floor in a house and discovered what the property owners had done.

The advice was to move when the contract ran out in a couple of months because the management might deny it and there was no way to prove it was done intentionally.

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