Monday, October 19, 2015

Checking Your Electric and Gas Meter

Waaaaaaaaaaaay back when we first purchased this house our electric bills were HUGE!  The previous owners were paying $800 a month for gas and electric during the winter.  There was absolutely no way we were going to pay that, so we started doing a little investigating and we soon found out why they were paying so much.

First let's start with the electric meter.  Do a visual inspection.  Does the meter spin fast even during the day when very little electrical is being used?  Does the meter spin fast for a rotation and then slow for a rotation?

Next, go to your electrical panel and flip the main disconnect.  But first, shut off all electronics, furnace, and wait for the fridge to stop running.  Go outside and look at your electrical meter.  The meter should be at a stop and not running because you are using zero electricity.

Our meter was spinning like a top.  We made a call to our utility company and scheduled an appointment for a replacement.  Once the meter is replaced, contact your utility and ask that they make an adjustment to your bill because of the defective meter.  Over the next 6 months we received numerous credits to reflect the overage that we were charged because of the defective meter.  They base the credit on your new usage and extrapolate what you probably used while the defective meter was spinning like a top.

I was told by the 'utility guy' that sometimes the meter loses it ground wire internally and that causes the over and erratic spinning.  We perform this little test every fall to make sure we are not being over charged.

While 'the guy' was changing the electric meter I asked him if he could change out the gas meter.  He asked me if it was leaking.  I said "no, it is just ugly."  It was horrible.  It had a huge cover that didn't fit properly and because it is in the front of the house I wanted it to be as small and unassuming as possible.

So what did I do then?  I lied.  I said that on a few occasions I did smell a 'little' natural gas.  I am not condoning this technique but I was desperate.  So the 'electric guy' put in a call for a 'gas guy' to immediately come over.  It was then that I kind of started worrying.

In about 30 minutes the 'gas guy' showed up.  I told him the meter was ugly but I only smelled gas a couple of times (more lies....sorry).   He took out some soapy water and squirted all the joints.  If there is a leak the soap will form bubbles.  Nothing......bummer.  He said "yes, it's ugly but I can't change it unless it is leaking."  We then started talking about the house restoration for around 15 minutes.  I looked over at the meter and there were big plumes of tiny tiny bubbles. Whew.  The leak was small and that is why the bubbles were tiny.

The 'gas guy' said "yes, you have a leak and I can change the meter."  Hallelujah!  When he started changing out the meter he found a valve in the open position that was attache to an underground small copper tubing.  Gas was flowing through this copper pipe 24/7 and 365 days a year.  The copper tubing went to a long ago dismantled greenhouse and supplied the gas heater.  This was an explosion waiting to happen.

So I lied, but I guess it was for the greater good.....right??  I'll say an extra Hail Mary or two.  Do you think that will help?  Probably not.

Since then we perform these two little tests every fall to make sure we are not over paying and that we are not leaking any natural gas and wasting energy.

FYI Sometimes you will smell a little natural gas when your furnace is exhausting.  This is natural but should be slight.  If it is more than slight call your 'furnace guy' to inspect and adjust your furnace to run efficiently.

Tomorrow I will explain how we disguised our furnace exhaust outlet pipes.