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(Bangor Daily News)   733 square foot house and a $500 electric bill - sounds reasonable - for balls to the walls halides and sodiums   (bangordailynews.com) divider line
    More: Unlikely, Customer service, CMP's metering, Public utility, Sales, Customer, Audit, Pleading, Maine Public Utilities Commission  
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4789 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 May 2020 at 9:05 AM (10 days ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2020-05-20 8:51:17 AM  
So she hasn't found the power line running to the neighbors grow house yet.
 
2020-05-20 9:02:20 AM  
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2020-05-20 9:02:39 AM  
I'd hope she hired someone to look at the house to see why instead of passively accepting it.   When we moved into our first home about 20 years ago, we had the same issue for a month or two.  After hiring a company to come look at it, we found that the air conditioning unit was installed incorrectly, had a large gap in the main intake duct in the hallway.  Fixed that and our power bills came way down.  At the least, she needs to document that it isn't her problem.
 
2020-05-20 9:04:45 AM  

I am Tom Joad's Complete Lack of Surprise: So she hasn't found the power line running to the neighbor's grow house yet.


Yes... the "neighbor's" grow house.

*looks around anxiously*
 
2020-05-20 9:12:10 AM  
Fark you, that's why.
 
2020-05-20 9:12:40 AM  
Holy crap. No way I'd take a $500 power bill like that without a major fight.
 
2020-05-20 9:14:05 AM  
citing the fact that George's consumption fell last winter after her daughter moved out and she had new windows installed. (George's February 2019 bill was $506. Her bill this February was $221.)

Also, while TFA says that she heats with kerosene, I'm willing to bet the house has electric heat.  Electric heat is hella expensive in areas that get cold, especially if the house is old and not well insulated.

All it would take is for her daughter to bump up the thermostat by a little bit to add that extra amount.
 
2020-05-20 9:14:12 AM  
I once lived in a house like that. $380-440 bucks a month to heat the place from December through March. It was built in 1907 and had what amounted to shredded newspaper (cellulose) for insulation--which had all settled in the walls, making the lower two feet of every room remarkably warm and leaving an excellent winter home for all the critters in the neighborhood.

/And leaving me needing a parka and mittens to change the light bulbs in the dining room chandelier.
 
2020-05-20 9:16:36 AM  
For a few hundred bucks she could get a Home Power Monitor and do her own audit.  Still would have to fight the electric company because they'll say it's not "official"
 
2020-05-20 9:17:48 AM  
Friend of mine used to get $500 electric bills in the winter.  For a crappy ~200 square foot studio apartment.  Electric heat, electric hot water, and electric stove.

He had to turn his thermostat down to the 40's in the winter to make his electric bill affordable.

Also, that might be part of it:  If she has an electric hot water heater and her daughter was taking long, hot showers, that could explain why it went down after she moved out.
 
2020-05-20 9:17:54 AM  

PainInTheASP: I once lived in a house like that. $380-440 bucks a month to heat the place from December through March. It was built in 1907 and had what amounted to shredded newspaper (cellulose) for insulation--which had all settled in the walls, making the lower two feet of every room remarkably warm and leaving an excellent winter home for all the critters in the neighborhood.

/And leaving me needing a parka and mittens to change the light bulbs in the dining room chandelier.


I live in a simlar situation, but instead of a house its a second floor two bedroom apartment. The floors are so warped, there are large gaps that draw cold air in when the forced air turns on. Makes for a miserable summer home too.
 
2020-05-20 9:18:37 AM  

dittybopper: Friend of mine used to get $500 electric bills in the winter.  For a crappy ~200 square foot studio apartment.  Electric heat, electric hot water, and electric stove.

He had to turn his thermostat down to the 40's in the winter to make his electric bill affordable.


I should point out that this was back in the early 1990's.
 
2020-05-20 9:20:14 AM  

SpaceMonkey-66: I'd hope she hired someone to look at the house to see why instead of passively accepting it.   When we moved into our first home about 20 years ago, we had the same issue for a month or two.  After hiring a company to come look at it, we found that the air conditioning unit was installed incorrectly, had a large gap in the main intake duct in the hallway.  Fixed that and our power bills came way down.  At the least, she needs to document that it isn't her problem.


Yeah, there are not enough specific in the article the know whether there could be an issue with the house.  When does the bill spike?  is it only in summer?  Could be an A/C problem.  Does the house have electric heat and it spikes in the winter?  Could be heating.

There is not much to one of these disputes, have the meter checked, if it is workimg properly (and the company was reading the meter correctly) then it is on the homeowners end.
 
2020-05-20 9:23:14 AM  

dittybopper: citing the fact that George's consumption fell last winter after her daughter moved out and she had new windows installed. (George's February 2019 bill was $506. Her bill this February was $221.)

Also, while TFA says that she heats with kerosene, I'm willing to bet the house has electric heat.  Electric heat is hella expensive in areas that get cold, especially if the house is old and not well insulated.

All it would take is for her daughter to bump up the thermostat by a little bit to add that extra amount.


I'm thinking the insulation plays a big part in it. My first thought upon seeing the photo was that she's got a hell of a lot of windows for such a small space. If those're single-pane I could absolutely see a $500 heating bill in a Maine winter.
 
2020-05-20 9:23:32 AM  
I used to complain about the $300+ bill I'd receive when I was in a 1,100 sq ft apartment. Totally was the AC, it would run hot all day, yet building maintenance never actually fixed it, despite constant complaints. Their response was always "well, it's summer so it will be hot" and "it's blowing cool air (f*cking BARELY, and that's putting your hand right in front of the vent) what more do you want?"

Assholes.
 
2020-05-20 9:24:51 AM  
That 10 million fine could go to helping her out or getting an energy audit but of course, she wouldn't be eligible for that either.
 
2020-05-20 9:24:52 AM  
My bill in one house was getting higher and it turns out the heating / cooling system was ancient.  Put in a new one and saw a 60% reduction.  I was on the equal monthly billing plan and called the utility to talk about it.  I asked to have it recalculated and they said said they could only do that once a year so I'd have to quite a while.  So I said fine, cancel it.  They asked why I would give up the $4 a month savings by being on the plan.  I said because after I paid my next bill, I would have a $700 credit and I don't give free loans.  Killed the plan and it took five months to knock out the credit.
 
2020-05-20 9:28:15 AM  
"Doc! Are you tellin' me.....that you made a time machine...out of this little piece of shiat house?!"
 
2020-05-20 9:28:27 AM  
You can get small (~$50) power meters that go in-line with your appliances to see if one is using more power than it should. A bad fridge compressor or antique dryer or similar could be sucking a lot of juice. you can also get larger clamp-on meters that measure an entire circuit, so you could hopefully track down what's using the most power in the house from right near the panel. It sounds like she had an electrician out to look though.

For insulation checking, nothing beats thermal IR cameras. Those are getting pretty cheap too, you can get one that plugs into your phone for ~$100 and you can get a low-res kit version on eBay for ~$30. We borrowed one to look at our house when we bought it, and it's instantly clear which walls are thinner, which windows aren't sealed, etc. The house in the photos looks pretty old and probably poorly insulated.

Daughter could have also been using electric space heaters or heated floor mats or something, and leaving them plugged in.  I've seen people put electric heaters too close to the house thermostat, so the (efficient) furnace thinks it's plenty warm and doesn't run, then the (inefficient) electric heater is doing all the work.
 
2020-05-20 9:29:24 AM  

Kalyco Jack: dittybopper: citing the fact that George's consumption fell last winter after her daughter moved out and she had new windows installed. (George's February 2019 bill was $506. Her bill this February was $221.)

Also, while TFA says that she heats with kerosene, I'm willing to bet the house has electric heat.  Electric heat is hella expensive in areas that get cold, especially if the house is old and not well insulated.

All it would take is for her daughter to bump up the thermostat by a little bit to add that extra amount.

I'm thinking the insulation plays a big part in it. My first thought upon seeing the photo was that she's got a hell of a lot of windows for such a small space. If those're single-pane I could absolutely see a $500 heating bill in a Maine winter.


Worse its a converted hunting shack (think portable building) so may have little to no insulation.  A flir and a power usage meter would provide definitive answers.  But diesnt appear this have been done.  Interesting that her daughter moves out and the bill drops in half.  This story doesnt make sense....
 
2020-05-20 9:29:25 AM  

dittybopper: Also, while TFA says that she heats with kerosene, I'm willing to bet the house has electric heat.  Electric heat is hella expensive in areas that get cold, especially if the house is old and not well insulated.

All it would take is for her daughter to bump up the thermostat by a little bit to add that extra amount.


Before the shutdown, I traveled to Maine several times per year, and was always amazed at the number of ads I saw for heat pumps.  Even here in the southeastern US, it sometimes gets cold enough that the heat pump isn't effective, and you're tempted to switch the thermostat over to "auxiliary heat" (electric heat).  Even one or two mornings of this is enough to drive up the power bill.
 
2020-05-20 9:29:55 AM  

dittybopper: her daughter was taking long, hot showers


Go on...
 
2020-05-20 9:30:22 AM  

PaceyWhitter: SpaceMonkey-66: I'd hope she hired someone to look at the house to see why instead of passively accepting it.   When we moved into our first home about 20 years ago, we had the same issue for a month or two.  After hiring a company to come look at it, we found that the air conditioning unit was installed incorrectly, had a large gap in the main intake duct in the hallway.  Fixed that and our power bills came way down.  At the least, she needs to document that it isn't her problem.

Yeah, there are not enough specific in the article the know whether there could be an issue with the house.  When does the bill spike?  is it only in summer?  Could be an A/C problem.  Does the house have electric heat and it spikes in the winter?  Could be heating.

There is not much to one of these disputes, have the meter checked, if it is workimg properly (and the company was reading the meter correctly) then it is on the homeowners end.


FTFA: "Then last month, regulators at the commission closed her complaint, ruling that "the cause of your high electricity usage" was "your particular usage habits" and not a problem with CMP's system, citing the fact that George's consumption fell last winter after her daughter moved out and she had new windows installed. (George's February 2019 bill was $506. Her bill this February was $221.)"
 
2020-05-20 9:36:33 AM  
She probably needs to replace her water heater. We had the same problem with a one bedroom assortment in NC. I walked outside and watched the meter while my wife flipped beakers. That little 20 gallon water heater was destroying our electric bill because the elements were so insulated with caked on calcium that the heat was barely making it into the water.

The wheel on her meter must spin so fast that she needs to get it balanced.
 
2020-05-20 9:36:42 AM  
Like someone else mentioned, sounds like the daughter was doing something, though I don't exactly know what. Maybe she had a small grow operation or something that uses a crap ton of energy.

Since the shut down and I am working from home and have my computer on most of the day as does my wife, and I have the TV on few more hours a day, my electric bill is up to around $260 when it is normally $200.  But am a lot of activity away from having a $500 bill.
 
2020-05-20 9:39:16 AM  
Well, at least the building elevator and all of the block's street lights weren't on her meter, as happen to a fellow officer while he was stationed in Italy.
 
2020-05-20 9:44:30 AM  
I used to have one of these idiots as a tenant, her bill was $600 p/month for a two bedroom.  I had to do work in her unit on a wonderful Spring day when it was in the upper 70's and all of the windows should have been open.  Instead she had all the heaters cranking keeping the place at about 95 degrees.  She was always complaining that the meter must be broken.

I see in the pic with this article that this person has a huge electric heater sitting in front of her bay of ten windows which accounts for about 40% of her entire shed.
 
2020-05-20 9:45:30 AM  

dittybopper: citing the fact that George's consumption fell last winter after her daughter moved out and she had new windows installed. (George's February 2019 bill was $506. Her bill this February was $221.)

Also, while TFA says that she heats with kerosene, I'm willing to bet the house has electric heat.  Electric heat is hella expensive in areas that get cold, especially if the house is old and not well insulated.

All it would take is for her daughter to bump up the thermostat by a little bit to add that extra amount.


If she has a older heat pump (R22), below 30 degrees she is running on backup electric heat..  Does she have small space heaters in areas?   Maybe baseboard electric heaters?  The thermostats on those are notoriously inaccurate...
 
2020-05-20 9:48:27 AM  
Sounds like a short to ground and it's not tripping, or the circuit is branched to some thieving neighbor.

Turn off the main breaker and see if the meter still turns.
 
2020-05-20 9:49:01 AM  
I once lived in an apartment that had a heat pump.  I had a roommate who switched the heat from "heat" to "emergency," for reasons never explained.   Nobody noticed until the next power bill came, and it was astronomical.  That's when I learned that "emergency" means "turning your energy efficient heating system into a giant energy inefficient hair dryer."   Never made that mistake again.

I'm guessing, given how her rates fell after the daughter left, that some sort of electric heat was in play there.  They say she was using 3,000 kWh a month.  A single electric heater can easily be 1.5 kWh hours to run. Leave it running 24/7 and that's over 1,000 kWh for a month.  If her daughter had two of them, but stopped using them when she left, then that explains the electric bill falling by half after the daughter left.
 
2020-05-20 9:49:16 AM  
Central Oklahoma here.  Winter electric bill is $250, summer $500 or so.

Sucks, but then I have a fully populated 42U, 1000 gallon aquaponics system, swiming pool . an RV where I keep the utils hooked up, seperate building for home office,  and live in a 2400 square foot house.


Her house looks like it is one step from a old trailer. I lived in one of those for a while and it was difficult to keep the winter bill under 300 and summer bill under 800.  We also did not have kids at the time, thus could keep the place at a more uncomfortable level.  I also did not have anything else since we were first starting out.
 
2020-05-20 9:53:03 AM  
Turn off the main. Check that the meter isn't turning. Turn all the other breakers off. Turn them back on one at a time, checking the meter each time. This is not rocket science.
 
2020-05-20 9:53:23 AM  

Sean VasDeferens: I used to have one of these idiots as a tenant, her bill was $600 p/month for a two bedroom.  I had to do work in her unit on a wonderful Spring day when it was in the upper 70's and all of the windows should have been open.  Instead she had all the heaters cranking keeping the place at about 95 degrees.  She was always complaining that the meter must be broken.

I see in the pic with this article that this person has a huge electric heater sitting in front of her bay of ten windows which accounts for about 40% of her entire shed.


I think that's a portable A/C, not an electric heater.  But it's still going to draw ~2.5 kWh.  So if daughter ran an electric heater all winter, and ran that A/C all summer, there's your answer too.
 
2020-05-20 9:53:52 AM  
I bet it's an electric water heater. Daughter moved out and that's why the bill dropped. Electric water heaters near the end of life can use a huge amount of power. The heating elements become coated in minerals that act as an insulator and it takes more and more power to heat the water.
 
2020-05-20 10:01:38 AM  
Our town subcontracted meter readers.  The subs were hired from temp day work agencies.  They were given print out histories. and soon began fabricating entries.  Despite hundreds and hundreds of complaints, and even media involvement, it took many months to get rid of the subcontracted meter readers and stop the overcharges.  Even then, no refunds were issued
 
2020-05-20 10:04:03 AM  
Kill-o-watt
 
2020-05-20 10:05:25 AM  
Having said all that, I'm shocked by their drawing 3,000 kWh a month.  I just went back and looked at my energy bills for the past year.  We're a family of four with a ~4,500 sq. ft. home with dual zone A/C (Zone 1 is top floor, Zone 2 is main level and basement). We have gas heat, gas water heater, and a gas range, but electric ovens.  We live in Virginia, so the A/C gets turned on in ~April and stays on until ~September.  We are also craptactular about leaving lights on.  With that, here's our energy history:

Fark user imageView Full Size


Drawing 3,000 kWh hour in a tiny house with two people is actually kinda impressive.
 
2020-05-20 10:07:43 AM  
Sounds like the daughter was mining crypto.
 
2020-05-20 10:11:29 AM  

TheDirtyNacho: I bet it's an electric water heater. Daughter moved out and that's why the bill dropped. Electric water heaters near the end of life can use a huge amount of power. The heating elements become coated in minerals that act as an insulator and it takes more and more power to heat the water.


Easy test for that... listen to the water heater..  new elements make no noise,   elements that have built up a mineral coating will be audible when operating.. rather than dissipating into the water, the generated heat will boil between the element and the mineral coating..  easy fix : drain the water heater and replace the elements.  Need two elements and a 1-1/2" socket wrench.  Hint :  coat the threads on the elements with 'never seeze' before installing them.. won't 'rust in'....  standard size for a 40-50 gallon heater is 4500 watts @ 240v.
 
2020-05-20 10:15:03 AM  

oldcub: She probably needs to replace her water heater. We had the same problem with a one bedroom assortment in NC. I walked outside and watched the meter while my wife flipped beakers. That little 20 gallon water heater was destroying our electric bill because the elements were so insulated with caked on calcium that the heat was barely making it into the water.

The wheel on her meter must spin so fast that she needs to get it balanced.


Oh, the wheel on the meter goes
Round and round
Round and round
Round and round


/the cost on the bill goes
//up up up
///up up up
 
2020-05-20 10:17:46 AM  

Eightballjacket: Like someone else mentioned, sounds like the daughter was doing something, though I don't exactly know what. Maybe she had a small grow operation or something that uses a crap ton of energy.

Since the shut down and I am working from home and have my computer on most of the day as does my wife, and I have the TV on few more hours a day, my electric bill is up to around $260 when it is normally $200.  But am a lot of activity away from having a $500 bill.


TFA said they hit 3000 kW-hr per month together and that when the daughter left the bill went from $500 to $205.  So though TFA doesn't say it, that implies that she's still pulling ~1200 kW-hr which is farking ridiculous.  I think the most our usage has been in our 2200 sq ft house was ~550 kW-hr in a month.  We do have gas heating but the AC, clothes dryer and oven are all big electric users.

Also our electric provider is an REC (rural electric co-op, which means we "own" it).  They use smart metering and I can log in and look at my usage, which is broken down into 15 minute intervals, any time I want.  Every week we can see the same trend: weekend usage is high when we do the laundry with spikes mixed in when we use the oven.
 
2020-05-20 10:20:25 AM  

dhickman: Central Oklahoma here.  Winter electric bill is $250, summer $500 or so.

Sucks, but then I have a fully populated 42U, 1000 gallon aquaponics system, swiming pool . an RV where I keep the utils hooked up, seperate building for home office,  and live in a 2400 square foot house.


Her house looks like it is one step from a old trailer. I lived in one of those for a while and it was difficult to keep the winter bill under 300 and summer bill under 800.  We also did not have kids at the time, thus could keep the place at a more uncomfortable level.  I also did not have anything else since we were first starting out.


Hey, I get to use this again!
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-05-20 10:22:14 AM  
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-05-20 10:24:26 AM  

TheDirtyNacho: I bet it's an electric water heater. Daughter moved out and that's why the bill dropped. Electric water heaters near the end of life can use a huge amount of power. The heating elements become coated in minerals that act as an insulator and it takes more and more power to heat the water.


This is why, every six months or so, you should drain your hot water heater.  It extends the life of it by quite a bit.

I just drained mine for the spring, won't do it again until the fall.
 
2020-05-20 10:29:38 AM  
I'm not saying it couldn't be any of the reasons people have mentioned in this thread, but CMP has a long history of fraudulently over billing people.  They are a terrible company.  They are consistently one of the lowest rated utility providers in the country.  They were rated worse in a survey last year than PG&E, the company that lit California on fire.
 
2020-05-20 10:36:42 AM  

Galaxie500: Before the shutdown, I traveled to Maine several times per year, and was always amazed at the number of ads I saw for heat pumps.  Even here in the southeastern US, it sometimes gets cold enough that the heat pump isn't effective, and you're tempted to switch the thermostat over to "auxiliary heat" (electric heat).  Even one or two mornings of this is enough to drive up the power bill.


Heat pumps still save money compared to oil heating.

For the really cold periods you just heat with a little kerosene. A 10,000 BTU supplemental heater can keep up for low cost.
 
2020-05-20 10:38:21 AM  

MythDragon: Fark you, that's why.


Do you work for ConEd MythDragon?  Because my current bill is:

Current usage of 2026 KWh (29 days)  $71.17
Merchant function charge  $10.93
Total Supply Charges $82.10

But....

Basic Service Charge $16.75
Delivery 2026 KWh $255.86
System Benefit Charge $10.13
GRT Surcharge $7.12
Total Delivery Charges $289.86

Sales Tax $14.88

Fark you - Pay me $386.84
 
2020-05-20 10:47:09 AM  
And on top of everything, the Bangor Daily News won't tell you about her unless you take their rather personal poll.

/bangor? almost killed 'er
 
2020-05-20 10:53:57 AM  
Grow lamps take use a lot of pow....

I am Tom Joad's Complete Lack of Surprise: So she hasn't found the power line running to the neighbors grow house yet.


Uh, this.
 
2020-05-20 10:56:01 AM  

Galaxie500: dittybopper: Also, while TFA says that she heats with kerosene, I'm willing to bet the house has electric heat.  Electric heat is hella expensive in areas that get cold, especially if the house is old and not well insulated.

All it would take is for her daughter to bump up the thermostat by a little bit to add that extra amount.

Before the shutdown, I traveled to Maine several times per year, and was always amazed at the number of ads I saw for heat pumps.  Even here in the southeastern US, it sometimes gets cold enough that the heat pump isn't effective, and you're tempted to switch the thermostat over to "auxiliary heat" (electric heat).  Even one or two mornings of this is enough to drive up the power bill.


Modern heat pumps work effectively at low temperatures. They do this by having compressors that can run at variable speeds rather than the one or two speeds that older air source heat pumps could do. Mitsubishi sells a "hyperheat" pump that has 100% capacity down to -14F. Below that output starts to drop but it will still generate heat - likely enough if your home is well insulated.
 
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