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Old 29.01.2014, 23:05
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Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

We have recently moved into a new house and have received two electricity bills indicating that since October we seem to be spending approx 350chf per month on electricity.

We are a family of 4. We try to use major appliances during the cheap electricity hours (although the odd dishwasher gets done out of these hours). We have an air heat pump for hot water and underfloor heating. When it was commissioned, the installer recommended that it run continuously during the day (although it is off between about 11pm and 5am) as I only work part time and different hours each day. We keep the house at around 20 to 21 degrees. The hot water was set very hot (at 60 degrees ) so we have reduced this to 50.

We have the usual household electrical goods - satellite, coffee machine, charging ipads/phones etc. All lights in the entire house are LED. We also have a whole house ventilation system, but the installers told me today that its electricity usage is minimal and will not be responsible for the steep bill.

What will be the major culprit for this really rather big electricity consumption? Our architect is consulting with the heating installer and the plumber etc but he is as surprised by it as we are.
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:24
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

Are you sure that the two billings that you have received are based upon your actual consumption during those periods? The reason why I ask is because I found that our billings were quarterly estimates that would be adjusted for actual usage only one time per year. The next year's quarterly billings would then be billed based upon the prior year's consumption and adjusted at the end of that year, and so on.

If this is the case and you have only recently moved into your newly-built home, perhaps the utility company has used some sort of metric or formula to estimate your usage as a new customer (as there is no history for your home). That formula may be overestimating your consumption.

Last edited by Textoch; 29.01.2014 at 23:35. Reason: Clarity
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:30
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Are you sure that the two billings that you have received are based upon your actual consumption during those periods? The reason why I ask is because I found that our billings were quarterly estimates that would be adjusted for actual usage only one time per year. The next year's quarterly billings would then be billed based upon the prior year's consumption and adjusted, and so on.

If this is the case and you have only recently moved into your newly-built home, perhaps the utility company has used some sort of metric or formula to estimate your usage as a new customer (as there is no history for your home). That formula may be overestimating your consumption.
Oh this is a good point and I should have covered it - the first bill was following a reading by the electricity company and was for 1300 chf for July to November - but as this covered a lot of the build period we weren't sure what this indicated as regards ongoing bills. OH has been monitoring the meter since then and he calculated that in December and January to date, we are consuming 350 chf per month.
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:32
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

You could lower the house thermostat to 18 degrees. Turn off the heating to the bedroom zones. Wear warmer clothes, sweaters etc and not go barefoot. Use warm air blowers to help you feel comfortable where you are actually sitting.
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:38
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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You could lower the house thermostat to 18 degrees. Turn off the heating to the bedroom zones. Wear warmer clothes, sweaters etc and not go barefoot. Use warm air blowers to help you feel comfortable where you are actually sitting.
Actually our bedroom is 18 degrees and whilst it is perfect for sleeping, it is really too cold. The main areas of the house are 20 degrees and the kids bedrooms and bathrooms are 21. I usually wear jumpers but could do better on the bare feet thing, you are right.

This is a minergie certified house - part of the concept of which is that it is low energy! I am disappointed that we are spending more on energy than our previous (10 year old) house despite having paid for a house to be designed with all the latest energy efficient/saving features. I didn't think this would mean having to wrap myself up in a blanket to feel comfortable sitting to read a book!!
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:42
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Actually our bedroom is 18 degrees and whilst it is perfect for sleeping, it is really too cold. The main areas of the house are 20 degrees and the kids bedrooms and bathrooms are 21. I usually wear jumpers but could do better on the bare feet thing, you are right.

This is a minergie certified house - part of the concept of which is that it is low energy! I am disappointed that we are spending more on energy than our previous (10 year old) house despite having paid for a house to be designed with all the latest energy efficient/saving features. I didn't think this would mean having to wrap myself up in a blanket to feel comfortable sitting to read a book!!
Something is wrong, even if the house was at 24 degrees I would not expect you to be getting bills of 200 a month. I think something is connected to your supply you don't know about. You need to switch everything off & see if the meter stops......
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:46
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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You could lower the house thermostat to 18 degrees. Turn off the heating to the bedroom zones. Wear warmer clothes, sweaters etc and not go barefoot. Use warm air blowers to help you feel comfortable where you are actually sitting.
The most energy-inefficient heating you can get.

It's a minergie house. Underfloor heating is much more efficient.

This isn't the 1970s any more.

To ECB: I'll dig out our bills tomorrow and see what we pay so you have a bit of a comparison but we have a gas boiler for heating and hot water and no heat pump.
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:47
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

Maybe, this website helps: http://www.suisseenergie.ch/fr-ch/bâ...rgétiques.aspx

It lists all kinds of Q&A's around energy consumption.

You may also consider an energy consumption measurement device, such as presented on http://www.srf.ch/konsum/tests/kasse...energiefresser

Good luck!
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Old 29.01.2014, 23:57
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

Tom1234 thank you! and FMF - we will do this. OH (who seems to spend a lot of time down in the technical room) says there is always a big jump in kw consumption when the heat pump kicks in. He thinks this is the key.

Idgie - great link. Have forwarded it to OH who is masterminding the great power fightback. I did do the simple test and its clear that we could improve drastically on machines left in standby mode ..

Oh and I didn't tell you all that we have solar panels for the hot water - mainly because they don't do much in the winter .. but from the programme readout, it is clear they do, even in winter, chip in - from which I deduce that our bills could have been worse ....
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:00
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Thanks for the groan you stupid ignorant wanker!

To save energy you do not heat the complete house to 21 deg C, just the part you are using! In the 70's we didn't use half the energy we do now, we dressed warmly, also indoors.

This is the lesson we are all going to learn, as energy becomes scarcer, we will have to get used to being frugal.
And it is this that's really making me think that there is something not quite right because none of the house is excessively heated, the rooms on the lower ground floor are not heated when not in use etc etc. We are not excessive with our heating requirements but still the electricity meter is whirring round ...
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:02
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Tom1234 thank you! and FMF - we will do this. OH (who seems to spend a lot of time down in the technical room) says there is always a big jump in kw consumption when the heat pump kicks in. He thinks this is the key.

Idgie - great link. Have forwarded it to OH who is masterminding the great power fightback. I did do the simple test and its clear that we could improve drastically on machines left in standby mode ..

Oh and I didn't tell you all that we have solar panels for the hot water - mainly because they don't do much in the winter .. but from the programme readout, it is clear they do, even in winter, chip in - from which I deduce that our bills could have been worse ....
With a heat pump I would expect your heating costs to be very low, probably 30% of normal cost.....otherwise there would be no point in paying an extra 50k for such a system : D
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:03
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

Minergie isn't what its made out to be.

The building I'm in is supposedly Minergie. It's just a 1970s concrete block that was refurbished in the 2000s. Heating costs actually went up after the refurbishment, not down.

One problem in my opinion that many people overlook is that stripping out all the incandescent bulbs and replacing them by cold lights has removed the light bulbs as a source of heat, meaning we're using more fuel to compensate. That doesn't make sense to me environmentally, especially not in a country using such a high percentage of hydro power in electricity generation. But when you allow the state to decide on such things, you can be sure they'll get it wrong.
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:05
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Minergie isn't what its made out to be.

The building I'm in is supposedly Minergie. It's just a 1970s concrete block that was refurbished in the 2000s. Heating costs actually went up after the refurbishment, not down.

One problem in my opinion that many people overlook is that stripping out all the incandescent bulbs and replacing them by cold lights has removed the light bulbs as a source of heat, meaning we're using more fuel to compensate. That doesn't make sense to me environmentally, especially not in a country using such a high percentage of hydro power in electricity generation. But when you allow the state to decide on such things, you can be sure they'll get it wrong.
Using electric lights as a hear source is highly inefficient, a heat pump should be very much more efficient.
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:10
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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And it is this that's really making me think that there is something not quite right because none of the house is excessively heated, the rooms on the lower ground floor are not heated when not in use etc etc. We are not excessive with our heating requirements but still the electricity meter is whirring round ...
There are many electrical items that are referred to as "energy vampires", meaning that they consume energy when they are turned off but still plugged into an outlet. Some examples are printers, set-top cable/DVR units, chargers for cell phones/ipods/power tools. Cell phone chargers, camera chargers, and battery chargers consume energy even when they are not connected to their end-use product.

Also, if your kids utilize gaming systems, ensure that they are turning off the gaming system itself when they are finished playing and not just the television.

All of those are little things individually, but those little savings can add up to be significant!
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:13
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Using electric lights as a hear source is highly inefficient,
70% efficiency is not that bad, especially if you consider that a non negligible part of the spectrum is infrared which is a faster way to get things hot than using convection-based devices such as radiators or blowers. Convection heats the air mostly, and the moment you open a door or a window that heat is gone. Radiation heat in contrast first goes into walls and furniture and things meaning you don't lose it so quickly.
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:13
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Minergie isn't what its made out to be.
You are right - Minergie buildings are actually certified to various different levels and the "entry level" minergie standards especially for multiple occupied buildings are not as rigorous as you might think. Our house is however certified to Minergie P standard which is fairly rigorous.

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One problem in my opinion that many people overlook is that stripping out all the incandescent bulbs and replacing them by cold lights has removed the light bulbs as a source of heat, meaning we're using more fuel to compensate. That doesn't make sense to me environmentally, especially not in a country using such a high percentage of hydro power in electricity generation. But when you allow the state to decide on such things, you can be sure they'll get it wrong.
Intrigued by this - what is bad about hydro electric power?
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:16
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

I once noticed that over 50% of my electricity usage was due to a 12 year old fridge, a new fridge paid for itself in the first year.
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:17
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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There are many electrical items that are referred to as "energy vampires", meaning that they consume energy when they are turned off but still plugged into an outlet. Some examples are printers, set-top cable/DVR units, chargers for cell phones/ipods/power tools. Cell phone chargers, camera chargers, and battery chargers consume energy even when they are not connected to their end-use product.

Also, if your kids utilize gaming systems, ensure that they are turning off the gaming system itself when they are finished playing and not just the television.

All of those are little things individually, but those little savings can add up to be significant!
True. I think you can buy portable meters that you can stick onto individual devices to see how much power they are hogging, even in standby. Then you can use those as an argument to convince your family and be strict about switching things off that are not in use rather than leaving them on standby. Things like freezers and fridges can also be power hogs. Maybe you have larger ones than you used to have?
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:19
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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I once noticed that over 50% of my electricity usage was due to a 12 year old fridge, a new fridge paid for itself in the first year.
Good point. ECB, old appliances aren't as energy efficient as newer ones. You may just have an old clunker somewhere burning up all the electricity.
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Old 30.01.2014, 00:21
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Re: Excessive electricity consumption - any ideas why?

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Intrigued by this - what is bad about hydro electric power?
Nothing's bad with it. I said that because there is so much hydro in Swiss electricity, it's not necessarily a good thing for the environment to switch from electric heating to fuel.
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