My electrical bill is very high despite less usage.

I fear there is electrical theft used by my landlord. How can i check this?

The meter is under lock and access provided only on request. Please suggest possible ways to check it.

  • 2
    Turn off all the circuit breakers including the main one. Check the meter for movement. If you do, you have something off the circuit breakers. If not, flip on each one, one by one, check everything that has turned on, disconnect them, and check the meter. If no movement, go on to the next circuit. – cde Dec 26 '13 at 5:55
  • probably landlord uses it at night when i am not at the premises. – user286035 Dec 26 '13 at 6:02
  • If the meter is under lock, then don't pay. I wouldn't pay for something I can't see. – Kaz Dec 26 '13 at 6:20
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    What kind of KWh are we talking about? How much power do you think could be unaccounted for by your usage? – Edwin Dec 26 '13 at 6:43
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    Turn off all your circuit breakers while you are not at home. If the landlord is depending on your power, probably that will get his/her attention to notify you, maybe indirectly. – wallyk Dec 26 '13 at 10:10

The only way to verify is to check the meter over a time period (at least an hour, longer is better) with everything shut off. If the meter changes, then something else is drawing power.

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Possible explanations for high electricity usage:

  • Failing appliance (e.g. refrigerator that runs more often)
  • Arcing wires (this is a fire risk, but without AFCI's may not trip the breaker)
  • Seasonal changes (AC in the summer, electric heaters and holiday lights in the winter)
  • Theft (either before or after the breakers)

To check for theft, start by checking the electricity usage of every device and compare to the meter rate. From there it's a process of elimination. If the meter is registering more usage than you have devices for, then shutoff all the breakers. If the meter stops, then turn on breakers one by one and compare the usage of that circuit that you measured with what the meter shows. This will identify the circuit that is using excessive power. Then once the circuit is located, turn off all devices on that circuit to see it's a problem with a known device or if there's something unknown using power on the circuit. If it's a known device, double check every device when it's used individually against what the meter measures. If it's an unknown device, trace the circuit or consider disconnecting the line/load connection in the circuit to locate the device.

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Ask your landlord to let you see it at the beginning of the rate period. Tell him you think your refrigerator is using too much electricity and you want to track it. Let him/her see you write down the reading from the meter. Tell them you'll want to see it again in 30 days. This may scare them enough to disconnect.

You'll know if your next bill has a noticeable drop. In a couple of months, if it goes up again, ask the electric company to check it. Let them catch him. Keep in mind, if you're wrong you're going to pay for their visit.

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