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I recently moved into a new home with 2 other housemates (joining 1 who already lived there) and our combined bill for electricity is far higher than I expected. Now we're using just over 40 kWh per day, on average. When I used to live alone, my consumption was only around 3 kWh per day all year round! We have natural gas for space-heating here, just like my last place.

I'm trying to figure out how I can conserve some energy and reduce my electric bill. Here's what I've already tried:

  • Walked around with a Kill-a-Watt and tested most of our devices plugged into the wall. All of them were using pretty small amounts of power, and besides most of them are turned off during the day when we're away.
  • Already switched all lighting fixtures (that I can find) to LED.
  • Installed smart lighting to automatically turn off lights when we leave the home.
  • Tried to install a Sense home energy monitor, but the electrician told me it was impossible with the way our electric panel is installed.

One challenge is that my access to parts of the home is restricted because the basement is rented out separately from the rest of the house.

What other tools or techniques can I use at home to identify what is responsible for all this energy consumption?

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  • 1
    There are some great suggestions on this diy.se post: How best can I discover what is up with my electrical bill?
    – LShaver
    Mar 12 '20 at 19:38
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    Look for heating equipment ,eg aquarium heaters, electric clothes dryers. Maybe metal halide lights in the basement to grow many plants. Mar 13 '20 at 0:34
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    Is the basement on the same meter?
    – Chris H
    Mar 13 '20 at 13:56
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    It's possible the (gas) heating in the basement is faulty or not to the renter's liking, and they're using electric heat down there, or they're doing something daft like leaving the oven on all the time. Without access, or with limited access, you're going to struggle to track this down
    – Chris H
    Mar 13 '20 at 14:12
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    Maybe someone is growing weed in the basement? Afaik this is how some plantations were discovered in the past, due to the law enforcement looking for unusally high electricity consumption. (please don't take this too seriously).
    – Erik
    Mar 16 '20 at 9:10
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About the graph showing the changes along the week, I suggest you to take a list of the domestic appliances that consumes more eletricity (like this ), to sort them by energy consumption rate, and to try to understand if the periods in which you used the most energy-consuming domestic appliances correspond to the peaks of your graph.

About the graph showing the changes along the year, since the peaks are condensed in winter season, it is likely the big consumption comes from heating. As suggested by someone else, some parts of the house could host some electring heating devices like water heaters or additinal heating systems.
I think you don't have much more chance than asking your host what other electric device is the parts of the house you can't access.

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  • This question also reminds me that, because of a structural/system lack, people has little understanding of how they can reduce their energy consumption. It would be nice if not only the electical company, but also the house electric counter, could easily indicate the energy consumption to the tenants. hopefully domotic progresses in the future will allow each domestic appliance to record a time serie of energy consumption and, maybe, efficiency.
    – Tms91
    Apr 4 '20 at 10:09
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For the daily energy consumption quoted, optimizing the lights will not make a significant dent. I know because I've been there.

Keep in mind that large loads (electric stove, electric drier, heaters, central air, A/C, dehumidifiers, a pool circulation pump etc.) will significantly affect the energy bill even if they are not on all the time.

Also, the house energy meter could have errors. To check that, you would need access to the incoming line, feeding the whole home electric panel and record the energy consumption over a long enough period of time, say weeks or preferably months (not just short term power consumption at given times of the day).

If that is not possible, another option would be to ask that you pay according to your own energy consumption. In that case, you'll have to agree with the landlord on a more fair way to measure your own energy consumption.

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  • Welcome to Sustainable Living! Thank you for your answer, but I'm afraid I'm not following the part about the hydrometer. Do you mean the hydrometer of a dehumidifier (assuming there's one present in the OPs home)? And how would one determine it is malfunctioning?
    – THelper
    Jun 28 at 9:13
  • My bad to use the term "Hydro meter"! I live in Ontario, Canada where "Hydro" is short for "the Electric Power company", with examples like Ontario Hydro and Hydro One. So, by "Hydro meter" I meant the energy meter from the electric power utility, typically measuring the electric energy usage for the entire house. I will edit my answer to avoid this confusion. Not everyone lives in Ontario :-)
    – Radu Popa
    Jun 29 at 12:42

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