Well I have to admit that I'm stumped with an energy audit I've been working on for the past two months. Perhaps someone can point me in the right direction...

My client contacted me concerned that his electric bills were atrocious. They were, to the tune of 34,680 kWh per year (average monthly at 2,890 kWh, and a baseline of 2,347 per month!). And after my first visit to his home, it was very obvious to me that, although he has a big house (3700 sq-ft), he and his family of four were energy frugal, being careful to shut off lights when not in use, using power strips for entertainment centers, etc.

He was particularly concerned about the phantom consumption when he and his family would leave for several weeks at a time. When they did he'd shut off everything but the alarm system. And even then he'd see a bill of 1900 kWh for that month, and for what?

So I dove in deep, taking this on as a personal project, since he'd had an auditor from the utility company come out previously and they couldn't find anything. One of the first things I did was to install a PowerSave EnviR monitor on the two mains into the main circuit panel and let that thing collect data for exactly two weeks. I compared this kWh total to what the utility company's meter read and found a discrepancy of about 500 kWh in favor of the utility company. This closely paralleled the additional 10k kWh per year that I could not account for in my projected analysis. Hmmm.... found it! (or so I thought)

So I got on the phone and was soon in touch with the supervisor of the electric meter department. I told him my findings so he and I got together at the client's home one day so that he could test their equipment, which consisted of a transformer/transducer system which reduces the incoming current from the main transformer at the street. After a good hour of testing he informed me that their equipment tested okay. Hmmmm.... bummer.

After many hours of monitoring individual circuits, extrapolating the long-term consumption, I still can't account for this additional 10k kWh per year anomaly. I even looked for hidden conduits coming off the wiring gutter under the transformer, assuming a neighbor might be "borrowing" some power for their growing operation. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

And now that I've been so thorough with my investigation and extrapolation, I'm left scratching my head, wondering if, even though the utility company tested their equipment as good, perhaps it is not over a long term. I honestly don't know where to go from here... Suggestions?

Tags: accuracy, meter, utility

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Why don't people realize that honest mistakes are only honest when you don't hide them?!  Only transparency can set them free!?!  

We are all human, so we all are likely to make multiple mistakes every DAY.  We are all juggling a LOT of balls, isn't dropping them once in a while to be expected?  Addressing a small problem up front prevents it from becoming magnified 1000's of times, turning into a Federal case.  Prevents it from turning into a fire-able offense.  

Hiding an honest mistake can turn it criminal really quickly.  That kind of bad judgement should get people fired.  

No one says it better than Wiki.:

Human error has been cited as a cause or contributing factor in disasters and accidents in industries as diverse as nuclear power (e.g., Three Mile Island accident), aviation (see pilot error), space exploration (e.g., Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster), and medicine (see medical error). It is also important to stress that "human error" mechanisms are the same as "human performance" mechanisms; performance later categorized as 'error' is done so in hindsight: therefore actions later termed "human error" are actually part of the ordinary spectrum of human behaviour. The study of absent-mindedness in everyday life provides ample documentation and categorization of such aspects of behavior. While human error is firmly entrenched in the classical approaches to accident investigation and risk assessment, it has no role in newer approaches such as resilience engineering.  [so much for resilience engineering!]

Human error would not consistently benefit the perpetrator. That would be called something else. Mistakes that benefit the consumer are less likely to be reported but I've never seen one.
One time my home phone went dead. I checked my records and I was current on payment so I opened my NID and disconnected my house one line at a time, tested for faults, and set them aside. No problems apparent except the lack of signal (dial tone) on the company feed. I went to work. When I got home I could tell someone had been in the yard. I checked for dial tone and there it was, did an ID check and it was my number, so I retested each line and reattached them one at a time. Everything worked fine. My next bill was stunning. They had charged me over $400 for field tech service. I called them up and they told me that the problem had been in my house. I explained the process I had gone through that day and they said they would have to check with the technician and get back to me. At that point I also explained that if thier tech persisted in that the problem was in my home, I would need his name in order to bring charges of breaking and entering since nobody had been at home that day. I was credited on my next bill for the full amount of the service call.

Does the home have its' own well?? This can often be wired to the main service entrance which might place it in front of your metering equipment.  Look to see if there is a another breaker next the 200 amp main- mine well pump breaker is 40amps.  Well pumps and automated lawn irrigation can require a significant load increase an could account for the 25% discrepancy..

Hmmm...... Well, I asked the homeowner and he verified that there IS a well but it's on a community owned meter. He just gets the pressurized water into his home.

There were a couple of circuits in the main panel that I couldn't identify, but they didn't have any load on them when I isolated them and they certainly weren't any more than 20 amps. I will look in the main disconnect panel though. I haven't yet looked there. But again, I won't be able to do this until after August 8th.

Still waiting on the utility guy to come clean with his monitoring data...

Newbie here. Looks like a great site.

This thread came up on a google search and has me curious so I joined...  Too bad the thread died out before any more info given by Rod.

My Dilemma, The local power company LVPL (Coop) gave members a Blueline monitor. Worked great until they changed out my meter last month and claim the Landis&Gyr new meter does not have an optical port . Which whole house monitor are you guys/gals using ?

Thanks in advance..



  I have a TED 1000 and a TED 5000 power monitoring station.  Made by The Energy Detective, the have been in service for several years.  These will cost a few hundred dollars, but are simple to install and the 5000 will collect several months worth of data before it begins to overwrite.  Output is in a .csv format and you can explore your usage for consumption and comparison.

  I also collect hourly propane usage and environmental conditions.  I had to install a separate utility grade gas meter with a pulse output that is tied to a Lascar USB data acquisition device.  The environmental data is collected with a Davis Vantage Pro system that collects outside ambient air temp, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, rainfall and humidity.  It also collects three interior temperatures and humidity.  Most of the equipment is wireless and I do have to change batteries on a scheduled basis.  the hourly data is imported into an Excel program and I can identify a buildings energy efficiency under various operating conditions.  Most importantly I can find the "average" energy efficiency for high demand and normal demand conditions.  This process is very similar to the EPA's Miles per Gallon rating system for Highway and In Town driving.  ( Heating Season and No Heat Demand Season)

  As for meter accuracy, most of my discrepancies have been on the gas usage side of things.  My propane delivered amounts are about 8% less that what my meter is telling me.  ie: meter says that I use more than I get delivered.  8% x millions of gas meters ?? 

Hey, welcome, Ben. This is a great website indeed.

So to update everyone on this "case of a little guy with some monitoring equipment vs. the Big Utility Company"...

I gave up. I simply didn't have the firepower to confidently walk into the utility company's office and say, "Your meter is inaccurate, and here is why." Here is why:

1) It turns out the company I invested a good amount of cash in for my monitoring equipment "Current Cost", is really a horrible company, who doesn't respond to customer questions and/or needs and really misrepresents their equipment. Don't buy anything from them, that's my recommendation.

2) When you perform tons of audits over several years and compare your meter against utility meters and consistently find that the utility company's meters are always higher... then you need to consider that your own meters might not be as accurate as you would have wanted. One in three homes I did this with would be this case.

3) When you've invested a good chunk of money in monitoring equipment and you discover it's not accurate, and when you try to contact anyone, anyone at the factory or distribution points and no one knows their product, or worse off, no one even answers the phone (the number you have dialed has been disconnected) and after you try repeatedly to communicate with the makers of said crappy product on their forum but they never respond there either. Did I mention I invested a good chunk of money in their horrible monitoring equipment? It takes a while to get a divorce over with. And in the process, you get some time to study the opponents...

It turns out, Public service company of New Mexico (PNM, but why is it not called PSCNM? Where is the service?) is an evil empire. One does not have to search far and wide to discover they are a shady organization. At high levels they own the Public Regulation Commission, the folks who set the standards for organizations such as theirs. They lie to the public, manipulating the numbers in order to continue their fossil fuel burning facilities and to keep us in the dark ages of energy production. But they are not alone. Apparently, there is a lot of it going on, all over the nation, nations, worldwide.

Between a utility company that loves to make a profit and some crappy monitoring equipment, I was soon between a rock and a hard place. The monitoring equipment had to go...

I've recently purchased a really swanky monitoring system from openenergymonitor.org and absolutely love the product. I'm still testing and testing the equipment, but I have to say, at this point, I really love it, all the way from the concept of open source software and hardware, to the useful forums they offer, to the interface, and to the affordable cost. I love it.

So what I will be doing over the next few month, when the monitoring system is not spoken for, is to go back to these customers in which I found their meter didn't match mine and test them again with my new equipment and see what the results will be. 

As for that customer I originally posted this message about--the one who I couldn't account for 10k kWh per year--I'll fill everyone in on the results. The saga continues...

I agree that Current Cost has no USA support that I can get either. I believe it is being sold in USA by an authorized distributor that is a 1 man shop.

I have used a revenue grade power monitor from Continental Control Systems www.ccontrolsys.com that is very accurate. I've also used the TED monitor http://www.theenergydetective.com/ that is easier to manage and works well.

I have TEDS,  they ARE NOT REVENUE grade.  The 1000's and 5000's have serious problems in which they can under report or over report (randomly)... they are really only useful for getting a rough feel.  And I've been using multiple sets now for about six years.

This is getting juicy.   The kind of stuff that CNN or the New York Times would drool over...  

Can't wait for your next "installment".   Please do post again...!

Been proven over the years....

It is ALOT easier to steal 1 dollar from a million people then 1 million from just one person.

Don't even get me started on paying for 91 octane at a gas station when the pump delivers 85 octane.. The stations know darn well it takes 100 grand worth of testing equipment to prove them wrong. Besides that, all vehicles in the last 25 years have spark knock sensors and will retard timing to compensate for lower octane so as a driver, you will never know the difference...


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