I am a snow bird from North US and go to warm weather in Winter. I winterize my house in the North with only Oil Furnace, and a Fridge on. No other appliance is kept on. For most winters my electric usage ( and the bill) was quite low. This winter however every month it was 3X the normal. I called the Electric Utility. They suggested may be one of the 2 appliances was using a lot of electricity.

Is it possible for a fridge to use 3X more electricity? If yes how do I confirm that? Is there a Test device that will tell how many KWH the appliances are consuming?

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    No. Actually the fridge will become more efficient if run in cool temperatures. IME refrigerators don't take much, so a light left on (especially an old incandescent) can take as much as the fridge. Also the furnace can take a bit, and this was an extraordinarily cold winter - not that it got unusually cold, but it stayed on the bottom end of the scale for months. May 13, 2018 at 16:10
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    Does your furnace have a blower? My guess is it ran 3x as much this past winter. It was colder longer this year than normal.
    – Tyson
    May 13, 2018 at 17:48
  • Is there a well on this property? If so you may have a leak in the building's plumbing, and the pump is using electricity to fill the water lost from the leak.
    – BillDOe
    May 15, 2018 at 22:36
  • Do you have electric backup heat for the furnace? If the furnace failed and the backup kicked in, you could be looking at a large increase. Far more than 3x though, I would expect. May 16, 2018 at 8:13

1 Answer 1


Whenever I see a 3x jump in a power bill for an unoccupied house, my first suspicion is that someone is tapping into your house for free (to them) power because they know you are not home. I had a neighbor in Seattle who did this; went to Alaska every summer to mine gold, spent the winters in Seattle working on fishing vessel repair. One summer an RV parked in his driveway while he was gone and I met the owner, who said he was a relative. The relative left at the end of August and when my neighbor returned in September, he saw the huge power bill. He asked me if I had seen anything, I told him about his "relative", it was phony. From that point on he gave me his contact information in Alaska...

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