The three major users of electricity in the home are the electric heating and air-conditioning, the electric water heater and the electric clothes dryer. If you are experiencing higher bills than you think you should be having, here are some simple tests you can perform to try to detect the culprit in your electrical system.
If you receive a high bill, the first thing you should do is reread your electric meter. If the reading was correctly read on the reading date listed on your bill, then it should be past that reading on the day you receive your bill. If it is not past that reading, you should call Cleveland Utilities at 478-9342 to have the meter reread and the bill corrected. If it is past the reading and is higher than you feel it should be, then perhaps you need to conduct the test suggested below to find the culprit.
Have one person stand at your meter and one person stand at your electrical breaker box. The person at the meter needs to get the rhythm of the dial turning in the meter itself. The person at the breaker box turns off the first breaker. If the person at the meter notes no change in the speed of the turning dial, turn that breaker on again and go to the next breaker. If you get to a breaker that gets a response from the person at the meter (the dial almost stops or slows down substantially), then you know that breaker houses the high user of your electricity. If your breakers are not labeled, then track down the outlets, etc., on that particular breaker. This should locate the source of your problem and permit you to then have it repaired or eliminated.
You may also contact a private electrician to run a load test at your residence. This person can test each individual breaker. It accomplishes the same purpose, but will be a little more accurate.
If you take meter readings every 24 hours for a week to ten days and keep a record of these readings, this will give you an idea of what certain activities cost energy–wise. You may then want to concentrate on eliminating certain activities which use entirely too much electricity. You might use this record to see what difference dropping the temperature on your heating system makes. This would let you know how worthwhile dropping the temperature several degrees really is. This procedure would give you a better understanding of how your activities affect your meter readings and thus your bill.
Cleveland Utilities tests each meter which is set within our system. They are 100 percent accurate when set. These meters tend to get slower with age, so we try to replace them every ten years. If it has been several years since your meter was set or changed, then it is probably running more slowly than when it was installed at your residence.
Cleveland Utilities will gladly test your electric meter for you if you so desire. There is a $15 service charge to help offset the expenses involved in a service man performing this service. This test rarely detects anything but that the meter is slightly slower than it should be. It is then reset at 100 percent cent accuracy and returned to your residence.
It is only logical that the outside temperature greatly affects the amount of energy required to heat or cool your home inside. Sixty–five degrees has been determined to be the outdoor temperature in which we can live comfortably without any additional heat inside our home. Inside you have body heat from those dwelling within the home and appliances operating and emitting heat. As the temperature outside drops below 65 degrees, you need supplemental heat in order to remain comfortable. And, naturally, the lower the outdoor temperature, the more supplemental heat you need. Conversely, if you have your thermostat set on 75 degrees, and it’s 95 degrees outside, you will need more cooling from your air-conditioning system to remain comfortable inside.
The following are some things which the homeowner or tenant can do to try to conserve energy and save money on his or her utility bills:
Keep your heating and cooling systems in tip–top shape. They run more efficiently and last longer.
When heating and air-conditioning ducts pass through unfinished attics or basements, they can cause expensive heating and cooling losses. Insulating these ducts can save up to $100 per year in heating costs and $35 in central air-conditioning costs. The more inexpensive approach is to use two–inch foil–backed insulation, remembering to keep the foil facing outward. It is important to seal the cracks between each section of ducting with flexible caulk before you add the insulation.
Turn down the thermostat and insulate your water heater. You can turn down the setting on your water heater thermostat to 110–120 degrees Fahrenheit. This reduces the amount of costly hot water that is used in appliances like dishwashers. However, if you do have an electric dishwasher, most manufacturers state on their installation instructions that you must have the water heater set on at least 110 degrees for the appliance to work according to standards. Add an extra layer of insulation around the outside of the water heater tank for additional savings if this can be done according to the manufacturer of the appliance. Water heater jacket kits are available from local hardware outlets. Be sure to buy the right kind for your appliance and follow the installation instructions carefully.
When buying a new appliance, look for the most energy efficient model in your price range.
Lower the temperature on your washing machine. Changing the rinse water to cold won’t affect the results of the wash and will save approximately 17 gallons of hot water. For more savings, use a cold water detergent and wash, as well as rinse, with cold water.
Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. This saves energy, too.
Turn off the lights as you leave the room.
Every house is a solar collector. The trouble is, it may be collecting the sun’s heat when you don’t want it and releasing the heat when you do want it. When using air-conditioning, you can save money each cooling season by keeping windows closed and shades or curtains tightly drawn, especially on the sunny side of the house. In the winter, fuel bills can be cut by opening the shades in the morning on the eastern and southern sides of the house and by closing them late in the day.
Insulate those forgotten places. It is not unusual to find a gap of an inch or wider in a fireplace whose damper is closed. The gap can be stuffed with insulation; or, if it is too large to insulate, covered with a board. Obviously, this must be removed before the fireplace is used.
Check all windows and doors for proper caulking and weather-stripping.
Plug all holes around pipes, ducts, exhaust fans or wall outlets. Turn off the electrical current switch when insulating the outlets in question. Do not cover light fixtures directly with insulation as this may cause a fire.
Tips for saving on appliance energy costs:
Cook several dishes in the oven at once.
Avoid repeatedly opening and closing the refrigerator. Clean the condenser every three months.
Wash and dry full laundry loads in cold or warm water—not hot.
Set your household thermostat to 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer.
Remember to turn off all appliances when not in use. Remember, efficient use of electricity can help you keep your future electric bills down. And conservation is an important part of saving our natural resources for future generations. Do your part now.