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Sudden leap in electricity use, seemingly after power cut

edited 20 October 2019 at 6:14AM in Energy
65 replies 3.8K views
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  • TalldaveTalldave Forumite
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    Gerry1 makes a very good point, the LED type reflect the meter's measurements very accurately- but if the meter's faulty the readings would be fictional too. A clip on monitor will measure independently, albeit a bit inaccurately at low consumption levels.

    We could do with our resident meter reading expert to advise on the likelihood of possible damage to the OP's particular meter....any clues as to their potential return?
  • BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    I did have the same thought about inaccuracy when I was taking my own leisurely hot shower - if the meter were faulty, that is.

    Although I must admit, the idea of a faulty meter seems much less likely than an appliance coming on that we don't know about (maybe tripped coincidentally by cooler weather) or something tripping into activity, where it hadn't been before. I'm not sure that the lightning strike idea has much merit either.

    My own suspicion is that there was one of these momentary breaks in power that causes the lights to go off and back on and you then realise that your clocks need resetting. I really don't suspect anything more dramatic than that. They're building a new house next door, so maybe the power was put off when they were connecting up their own juice. They weren't working when I was there this week to ask.

    We'll make it a priority to address when we attend the property in 2 weeks (my sister will be in and check the meter in the meantime) and give it a decent level of attention, it only came to light as we were already dead on our feet, it was dark and we were packing up to leave - so not inclined to give it too much time.
  • Mister_GMister_G Forumite
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    BooJewels wrote: »
    They're building a new house next door, so maybe the power was put off when they were connecting up their own juice. They weren't working when I was there this week to ask.

    Where have the builders been getting their power from? :)

    You don't happen to have any outside sockets?
  • BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    Mister_G wrote: »
    Where have the builders been getting their power from? :)

    You don't happen to have any outside sockets?
    I'm pretty happy that it isn't the case, they've had a generator and been really decent with us. No outside sockets. If they'd asked to use power, I would have said yes, as they've done things for us.

    When they first approached the family about their plans we were very sceptical and were expecting a bad experience, but it really hasn't been the case.
  • edited 3 November 2019 at 7:08PM
    BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    edited 3 November 2019 at 7:08PM
    I'm now back from my holiday and will be visiting the property again tomorrow and aiming to get to the bottom of this situation, which persists. My sister has been monitoring power use in my absence and it remains high.

    I just wanted to check one thing first though - I'd not seen it for myself as it was hidden, but it appears that the meter does have a blinking LED. At present, it blinks about every 8 seconds - which by my calculation is consistent with the increased rate of use, if the light blinks with every watt.

    My sister thinks she's narrowed it down to one particular plug, which we're not sure what it powers, as it's a heavy duty extension cable that runs through a wall - very possibly to this porch freezer and possibly an outdoor pump that we know about, but don't know where it is.

    When she unplugs it, the LED on the meter drops to blinking once every 60 seconds. Which if it is at 1 watt per minute, would be consistent with 1.5KWh/day usage - considering most of the timed lights weren't running at the time, so the rate would increase a little when they were.

    So is the timing of the LED blink a reasonable measure of the power passing through it - I'm going to assume that it's not a faulty meter for the time being, it seems a less likely scenario than other explanations? And is the rate of a blink per watt how it works? If it is and we eliminate this 'plug' (it's the only thing raising any suspicion at all as yet, everything else seems to be accounted for) it would save the need for the expense of any further testing equipment.

    The pump is something else I'm curious about - I know historically, it had a tendency to block and the owner was perpetually working on methods to stop it doing so - it's used to drain an area of garden prone to standing water. If it's blocked, but still trying to work, would that cause it to use excessive juice?
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  • Gerry1Gerry1 Forumite
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    If you look closely, the LED will probably be labelled 1000 imp / kWh or suchlike. That would mean that after 1000 impulses (flashes) you've used 1kWh.

    A blocked motor could use an excessive amount of power.
  • BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    Gerry1 wrote: »
    If you look closely, the LED will probably be labelled 1000 imp / kWh or suchlike. That would mean that after 1000 impulses (flashes) you've used 1kWh.
    I've taken photos of the meter for the readings, but the right half is covered by something in my photos, so I can't see what it says (hence I didn't even spot that it had a flashing LED in the first instance), but when I search for photos of the same model of meter, I can see now that it does say (laid out like this above the light itself):

    1000
    imp / kWh

    So that does indicate that 1000 impressions of the light indicate a kWh of power used. Sorry, I didn't spot your linked image until I re-read the quote and saw the URL - yes, that's a very similar meter, so I'm on the right track. Thank you.
    A blocked motor could use an excessive amount of power.
    Thanks for that. It was one of the very first things I suggested and the others responded with "what pump?" But we've had a lot of rain here in recent weeks, so I think it will have been working hard, got blocked and been fighting the resistance of such a block. So we're perhaps better with a flooded garden than a high electricity bill at the moment.

    Thanks for all of the assorted help - the current situation is causing me to learn about all manner of things I didn't realise that I needed to know. Unfortunately, the property owner has seemingly forgotten all of these things, so isn't proving much help.

    I'll feedback further on Tuesday after we've had a better look at it tomorrow.
  • TalldaveTalldave Forumite
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    If it's of interest I've just bought an Onzo clip-on energy monitor for £8 delivered on ebay. None of the clever online gubbins works but throw in some batteries and you've got a live consumption readout that, as Gerry1 previously pointed out, doesn't rely on the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of the meter's LED pulsing.

    Since you're getting close to the answer, such a readout would be great as you switch things on and off.
  • BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    Talldave wrote: »
    If it's of interest I've just bought an Onzo clip-on energy monitor for £8 delivered on ebay. [...]
    Since you're getting close to the answer, such a readout would be great as you switch things on and off.
    Thank you for that, I'll look it out and that price is certainly worth giving a go. I'm sure that I'll find it useful for myself too.

    We think we're getting closer - but we'll see what the actual meter reading is after a couple of days with the house is doing its own thing, see if it's settled down.

    The garden pump is the prime suspect - when they went outside to find it, there was what appeared to be smoke rising from it, but we now think it was water vapour, as the whole pump (which was blocked and not working) was very warm to the touch and the water around it was 'warm enough to bathe in' according to my husband. He found a flat stone inside the pump that was totally blocking it. He removed that, cleaned the parts and got it working, but there was some resistance in the outlet pipe, so he thinks that's gunked up too. But he got it working enough for us to try watching the meter with it off and on. It didn't make as big a difference as I was hoping, as it was now working and not blocked of course. We managed to trace how it was powered and have just unplugged it for now. The power consumption this week rose to 17.5 kWh per day, so a further increase.

    We also traced how the outer freezer was powered and unplugging that only made a negligible difference to the power usage. Although that is our next big job to empty and eliminate that from the equation, but it was too late then to get the contents to the tip, so we've plugged it back in and left it for now.

    The overhead lights are certainly power hungry - switching them on and off and checking the flashes certainly speeded them up. I think there are standard 100 watt bulbs in some of the overhead fixtures, so on the days we're there, putting them on earlier than in the summer will certainly account for some additional use, so a slight increase is to be expected. I think at this stage, the additional electricity isn't worth the price of replacing the bulbs with more efficient ones. The TV was on standby as the plug was difficult to reach, so that's been moved and we'll unplug it as we leave and I don't think that's as efficient as more modern ones.

    We'll see if the meter reading has settled down over the next few days (fingers crossed, we've excluded the main culprit now - and the stair lift has now also been removed) and start eliminating things - with the help of the monitor you suggested.

    Thank you!
  • milliemillie Forumite
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    Our meter reset it self to zero after a power cut. Our energy supplier had to estimate our usage because I did not realise it had happened until I did the meter reading. A few months later it happened again. I had suspected the power cut could have been responsible so I checked the meter and it had reset to zero again. It was a smart meter but had never worked from the day it was installed. They came out and changed the meter then for a none smart meter. So it could possibly be a meter fault.
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