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Furnace eats all my electricity

daniwein
daniwein Member Posts: 9
I am at my wits end - and my landlord doesn't seem into helping me with this issue. I rent a 2br apartment that is heated with gas - my electric bill is $200! I have checked the fuse box and the one thing that keeps my meter spinning is the one fuse with the furnace hanging on it. Now, I have turned the furnace off at the thermostat and the meter is still spinning. The furnace won't come on (I can't hear the clicking sound nor is there warm air coming from the vents)

I have no idea what causes this and feel like there has to be an explanation why the furnace is eating all the electricity even though it's turned off via the thermostat. I wish I could provide what model the furnace is but I can't even locate it in my apartment or the common areas. There is some sort of basement but I am not brave enough to venture down there (it looks very creepy).

Anyhow, if anyone could help me, this would be great! Because I can not afford $200 a month for Comed PLUS people energy for gas. Thank you!
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Comments

  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,452
    It is likely that something outside your apartment has been attached to your service. An electrician should be able to figure it out quickly.
    Another option would be to turn it of at the panel and see who complains? The fan for a small furnace would not use that much electricity.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    daniweindelta T
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,425
    Can you keep the furnace off, and still be warm?
    There must be more than your furnace on that circuit, to have used so much electricity. Maybe with it off, someone else's apartment will be dark, and make a complaint, leading to the solution.--NBC
    daniwein
  • BBros
    BBros Member Posts: 41
    My guess is there is a piece of electric heat or extensive heat tape to keep pipes from freezing in the basement.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    If your apartment has its own meter. Turn off all the breakers at the panel. If the meter is still spinning then as stated above there is something on your meter outside your apartment. Could be common lighting, heat tape, domestic electric water heater etc.

    How is your domestic hot water heated? Electric water heater, or gas? Is the water heater in your apartment?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,552
    Get a Kilowatt meter to check all the appliances in your apt.

    Wonder how much of that $200.00 is fees and tax? Do you get a copy every month? the utility should have a history of the use on that meter.


    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    > Wonder how much of that $200.00 is fees and tax? Do you get a copy every month? the utility should have a history of the use on that meter.

    Yes, there is a good hunk of taxes and fees but how can one 2br apartment use 1700kwh of electricty a month? When I owned a business our bill was not even that high.

    I talked to ComED and the lady was like "yeah, that meter always ran high but no one really ever looked into it..."
  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    > @BBros said:
    > My guess is there is a piece of electric heat or extensive heat tape to keep pipes from freezing in the basement.

    I just googled this and somehow this would make sense. I hope if this is the case, my landlord would admit to it and take it off my meter.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    edited January 2017
    If there is common usage on your meter. Look over your lease carefully. There may have been, or should have been a document signed by you that the land lord made you aware of the common utility, and either a reduction in rent, or a rebate in that common utility will be given.

    Common being heating, lighting etc. used by other occupants of the building.

    If there is indeed some heat tape for "your" apartment on "your" meter to prevent "your" apartments pipes from freezing not much you can do about it.
  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    Gordy said:

    If there is common usage on your meter. Look over your lease carefully. There may have been, or should have been a document signed by you that the land lord made you aware of the common utility, and either a reduction in rent, or a rebate in that common utility will be given.

    Common being heating, lighting etc. used by other occupants of the building.

    If there is indeed some heat tape for "your" apartment on "your" meter to prevent "your" apartments pipes from freezing not much you can do about it.

    I checked my lease and nothing states regarding common areas. We don't have much of common areas except for a stairway in the front and in the back. I know that the renters for the 3rd floor are paying for it (they agreed on it. I refused to!)

    Anyhow, the biggest issue is that the 2nd floor meter only records 82kwh a week while mine records roughly 300kwh a week. That can not be right. I have been taking pictures of the meters to proof something is messed up here.

    Thank you!
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    You have comed. What is your cost per KWH after all user fees? 11.5 cents? That equates to 98.70 a month more than the second floor meter.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    Like I said I would shut down all breakers on your apartments service panel. Then view meter. If its still spinning, or another apartment starts screaming you are carrying someone else's power consumption on your meter. From there it is tracing down what that is. Inside, and outside building.

    Is water heater gas, or electric? Does each apartment have their own wh?

    Is your furnace gas, or electric?
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,452
    Post some pictures of the meters and you panel with labels.
    There may be some obvious red flags for the trained eye.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    daniwein
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,552
    A clamp on Amprobe could determine which circuits are pulling a lot of current, if you have access to the breakers. It might be best to have an electrician check all the circuits to find the high load ones.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Zmandaniweinkcopp
  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    1: kitchen and kitchen appliances
    2&4 - NO idea
    3: dining room outlets and light
    5: bedroom outlets and light
    7: living room outlets
    9: bathroom
    6: FURNACE - and something that uses all my electricty
    8: empty
    10&12: water heater



  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    Gordy said:

    Like I said I would shut down all breakers on your apartments service panel. Then view meter. If its still spinning, or another apartment starts screaming you are carrying someone else's power consumption on your meter. From there it is tracing down what that is. Inside, and outside building.

    Is water heater gas, or electric? Does each apartment have their own wh?

    Is your furnace gas, or electric?

    Gordy,
    I did switch all the breakes and my upstairs neighbor did not complain (also, he is a bit shady). My Water heater is gas and I take almost all my showers at the gym. The furnace is gas as well - I do pay Peoples Energy on top of ComED

  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    Gordy said:

    You have comed. What is your cost per KWH after all user fees? 11.5 cents? That equates to 98.70 a month more than the second floor meter.

    That sounds about right. I am a single girl, working my butt off (who is not these days) and I try to save money as much as I can. Paying $200 a month on electricity was not my plan when I moved to Chicago :(
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,552
    Find out what 2&4 powers. 30A 240 would be able to account for some $$
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    daniwein
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    edited January 2017
    2 and 4 is a 30 amp 240 volt pair. Commonly used for heating or something of the sort. I'd just turn it off and leave it off until you find it's something you can't live without. See what that does to the meter reading.

    I'd turn 6 off, too, and only turn it on when you actually need your furnace to run. A bit of a pain, but do it for a while and see what happens.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    daniwein
  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    edited January 2017
    > @Jamie Hall said:
    > 2 and 4 is a 30 amp 240 volt pair. Commonly used for heating or something of the sort. I'd just turn it off and leave it off until you find it's something you can't live without. See what that does to the meter reading.
    >
    > I'd turn 6 off, too, and only turn it on when you actually need your furnace to run. A bit of a pain, but do it for a while and see what happens.


    I have started turning 6 off Saturday and saw a dramatic decrease in the meter. It is a pain - especially with living in Chicago :( 2&4 have been turned off too!
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    Is this panel in your apartment or the basement?
    If you shut off 2&4 and 10&12, the two double pole circuit breakers. Those could be running electric water heaters and if you shut them off it may take 12 to 24 hours for the tanks to run out of hot water........then someone will notice.....someone's phone will ring.
    But if the panel in in the basement or commons area you have no control over it.
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 612
    edited January 2017
    @daniwein do you have an electric stove in your kitchen? If so, the double pole breaker at 2&4 is probably connected to the electric stove.

    My electric rates are similar to yours (~$0.15 kWh). I'm running a 5-person 2,000 square foot household with an electric stove and clothes dryer, and my bill is never more than $100 (unless the air conditioner is running). I would think a smallish apartment occupied by one person shouldn't be costing more than $50 per month.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • daniwein
    daniwein Member Posts: 9
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > Is this panel in your apartment or the basement?
    > If you shut off 2&4 and 10&12, the two double pole circuit breakers. Those could be running electric water heaters and if you shut them off it may take 12 to 24 hours for the tanks to run out of hot water........then someone will notice.....someone's phone will ring.
    > But if the panel in in the basement or commons area you have no control over it.

    They are right outside of my back door and the upstairs neighbors never seem to look at those things. I have turned off 2&4 a few days ago and no one complained. It didn't do anything to my meter either. I turned of 10&12 and I got a cold shower after 2 days. So I figured that's my water heater.

    I have a feeling that my upstairs neighbor knows he is not paying for all of his electricity and therefore won't complain if I shut something off. I am at the point I wonder if I should just get a little heater and leave my furnace off as long as possible?
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    In Chicago it is illegal to have common areas connected to apartment metering. Landlord is required to have separate metering for each unit and common/building areas.

    Flip those 2 double breakers off. Ensure that you know what the other single pole breakers are for and label them. If you flip a breaker off and you can't tell what it's for.. make a note of it and leave it off. If it "magically" turns back on again by itself, you know someone else is using your electric.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    Hold on if you have a gas water heater shutting off breakers will not affect its operation unless it is power vented. So is your water heater gas, or electric? Tell tale if it's gas is a 3 inch vent pipe from the top of the water heater. Or pvc pipe if it is a power vent.
    rick in Alaskakcopp
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    If you think #6 is the energy hog and someone may be borrowing power, you could turn it on, not run your furnace and see if the front of that breaker gets warm. Keep your fingers out of hole # 8 as there is a live buss bar behind.
    A space heater (someone's else) will warm up a breaker pretty good.

    Just out of habit whenever I feel for a warm breaker, I use the back side of my fingers. More sensitive than callouses and reflex would close hand away from danger. (No shock danger here as long as you keep your fingers out of the open #8)

    Also if you have central AC, one of the double 30's could run that.
    Is your kitchen range gas?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530

    In Chicago it is illegal to have common areas connected to apartment metering. Landlord is required to have separate metering for each unit and common/building areas.

    Flip those 2 double breakers off. Ensure that you know what the other single pole breakers are for and label them. If you flip a breaker off and you can't tell what it's for.. make a note of it and leave it off. If it "magically" turns back on again by itself, you know someone else is using your electric.

    It's illegal if the tenant is not made aware of it through the lease. Usually the document will verify a credit to tenant for the cost of common utility, or a reduction in rent. Agreed to, and signed by tenant. Been there done that Illinois law. I live west of Chicago.

  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    One other thing laundry. Is there common facilities, or do you have your own? If so is dryer electric?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    Perhaps one pair of breakers runs the central air conditioning?
    Can you give us pictures of the water heater and furnace please?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    @Gordy I guess that a signed agreement might work, but in the one instance I was involved, the inspector specifically required separate metering for all common utilities. I know Chicago has some different laws for buildings over 6 units.

    In addition, diversion of electric from one unit to another unit is illegal and considered theft.

    http://www.ballmccannlaw.com/single-post/2016/2/1/Is-Your-Landlord-Passing-the-Charges-for-Common-Area-Utilities-Onto-You-Their-Tenants

    http://www.tenants-rights.org/common-utility-problems/
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    The goal is to find out what is drawing off her meter.Its winter. Apparently this is a pretty steady draw IF her bills are consistently high.

    To figure out IF there is a common utility on her meter, or another tenants circuit. Just shut off the main breaker (top center) this cuts all power to your panel breakers. The meter should NOT show any draw of electricity. If there still is a draw then you are paying for someone's power consumption. Pretty hard for the landlord to argue this when demonstrated to them.

    The question then becomes what is drawing. Again it is winter. So AC is ruled out. There is some pretty screwy wiring circuits in dealing with older multi floor houses made into apartments. Some times circuits are not so easily divided so each apartment is o its own meter. So the owner just hopes no one notices.
    rick in Alaska
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530

    @Gordy I guess that a signed agreement might work, but in the one instance I was involved, the inspector specifically required separate metering for all common utilities. I know Chicago has some different laws for buildings over 6 units.

    In addition, diversion of electric from one unit to another unit is illegal and considered theft.

    http://www.ballmccannlaw.com/single-post/2016/2/1/Is-Your-Landlord-Passing-the-Charges-for-Common-Area-Utilities-Onto-You-Their-Tenants

    http://www.tenants-rights.org/common-utility-problems/


    Yes the law is specific as to number of units etc. in the end even common utilities get passed to the tenants through rent. The goal is equally though :)
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,539
    The 30 amp two pole breaker on the bottom right is your electric water heater as marked. Electric water heater are expensive to run. Run the hot water without any cold mixed in and check the temperature it should be 120-125. It could be set to hot.

    the key is to find what is fed by the the two pole circuit breaker on the top right.

    Do you have an electric cook top? a 30 amp is to small for a full size range.

    Do you have an electric clothes dryer??

    Do you have any electric baseboard heat??.

    Do you have central air or a large window unit??

    Hot Tub??

    I would shut off the 30 amp upper right breaker and see if anything will not work. That breaker is to large to feed receptacles or lights.

    If you cant find a reason call an electrician.

  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,452
    Just another thought. You want to be sure yours is the only panel on that meter. It is possible their is another connected panel. Try turning everything off and seeing if the meter moves.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    Are there any electric baseboard heaters in any of the rooms in your apartment? Why do you think it is what is connected to the furnace breaker #6 as opposed to #2 and #4 which you don't know what is connected there?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530

    The 30 amp two pole breaker on the bottom right is your electric water heater as marked. Electric water heater are expensive to run. Run the hot water without any cold mixed in and check the temperature it should be 120-125. It could be set to hot.

    the key is to find what is fed by the the two pole circuit breaker on the top right.

    Do you have an electric cook top? a 30 amp is to small for a full size range.

    Do you have an electric clothes dryer??

    Do you have any electric baseboard heat??.

    Do you have central air or a large window unit??

    Hot Tub??

    I would shut off the 30 amp upper right breaker and see if anything will not work. That breaker is to large to feed receptacles or lights.

    If you cant find a reason call an electrician.


    I'm not seeing water heater marked on that 30 amp breaker.......
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,530
    edited January 2017
    So 2 and 4 are suspect from the ops description. What ever it is gets used daily.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    It is noted on her post with the meter and panel.

    Is there a main disconnect under the meter for your panel? I see there is a main on your panel. It is not impossible that there is something connected between your meter and your panel will not shut off when you shut your panel main off.

    If you can see consumption of power on the meter, if you shut your panel main off it should stop. If not then shut the main under the meter off it should kill the meter completely.
    If the meter "turns" with your panel main off then something is "bootlegged" between the two. WAG.

    Pictures of your furnace, water heater and the entire meter bank would help matters.
    Zman
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492
    edited January 2017
    Someone should be looking for a short at the furnace. I'll take a wild guess, and say the blower motor stays warm, all the time.
  • bulldoglax
    bulldoglax Member Posts: 38
    Says in the picture she took 10 and 12 water heater. Electric water heaters are gong to run about 60-90 a month to run. Add in the additional electric load and fees and delivery charges your right around 200
    margsuarez
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492
    Except that doesn't fit with what she described. There is a constant draw on the furnace circuit.
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