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So we had a little mishap a couple of months ago involving some flooding. We had some folks come in and "dehydrate" our house. It involved lots of fans running for a couple of weeks. We expected the electric bill to be very high that month. But it has continued to be high ever since (at least double) and I don't know why.

An electrician installed an outlet of sorts that hangs out of our fuse box during that whole process that was meant to add another needed outlet to plug in the basement fans to do some drying. I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

So I'm looking for some ideas on what I can do to try to track down the problem or, better yet, ideas of what the problem could be based on what little information I've given you (I know it's a long shot). I can update this question with any additional information you might need.

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It's unlikely that the extra outlet caused the problem. I'd like to know if there was damage to any of the electrical fixtures during the flood? See also: How best can I discover what is up with my electrical bill? –  Niall C. Feb 5 '11 at 19:30
    
Were those fans using room temperature air or did they heat air as well? –  sharptooth Feb 7 '11 at 6:28
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3 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

You might ask your electric utility if they have been getting meter readings every month or if they have been estimating. I used to live in a house where they only collected "true meter readings" once a quarter, the other two bills were estimations based on past values. If that high month was the last one they read, that might explain the high values.

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Very good point. I was thinking that they only did that for no more than one month but with all the snow we've been getting I wonder if they've been doing it more. –  Karim Feb 6 '11 at 2:40
    
Yeah if you're getting more snow than normal that might be why they are doing that. In the case I mentioned we were out in the dessert, so there wasn't much snow, it was just a staffing issue, they didn't have enough meter readers. –  cabbey Feb 6 '11 at 4:33
    
Most utilities will allow you to phone in a reading. While they still treat this as an estimated reading for billing purposes, it has the advantage of improving the accuracy of the billing. In particular, if you are doing something unusual, such as a renovation that uses lots of power tools, it's a good idea to call it in so that you don't get a nasty surprise a few months later. –  Chris Cudmore Sep 21 '12 at 13:20
    
@cabbey, where do you live? –  Pacerier Dec 18 '13 at 7:04
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Try using energy monitors to track the power consumption of all moveable devices. Add that up, and see where you are heading.

For lighting, you can guesstimate by looking at the power rating of the bulbs etc. In case of heating, things are more complicated. But then, heating elements probably will have been affected by the flooding.

The following requires you to have an accessible power meter that shows current consumption, if only by rotating speed.

You can disconnect all electrical devices you have access to. If the mains counter still moves, you have to search where the power is going by selectively disabling the fuses and see if usage stops. If it does stop, search in the apropriate area.

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"But then, heating elements probably will have been affected by the flooding." @posipiet: why? –  Jay Bazuzi Feb 6 '11 at 0:19
    
I love that last point. As a software developer I can appreciate that. It's like debugging my house. –  Karim Feb 6 '11 at 2:40
    
The heating is probably not moveable. The rest may have been moved. –  Posipiet Feb 7 '11 at 0:32
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If you live in a housing or block of flats and suddenly your electricity either doubles of trebles with no apparent reason, so you check your meter and it's ok.

What is happening in many areas around the country is that with the rising cost of electricity and many people on low incomes, someone from your units has probably done a roof cavity wiring job so that they are getting most of their electricity free at the cost to other residents.

So for a small fee get together with your neighbours who are also receiving higher than normal bills, hire a qualified electrician to inspect the ceiling area for illegal wiring jobs. It may be possible you have been the target of electricity theft.

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It seems like a pretty big leap to get to electrical theft from the circumstances described. –  Freiheit Sep 10 '12 at 14:45
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