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Thread: Pre-paid meter over charging?

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    Email problem mother's Avatar
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    Pre-paid meter over charging?

    Is it possible that a pre-paid meter can be set incorrectly to "over charge" for consumption? I've just moved into a new house in a complex, all the units use pre-paid meters. The first month was more than just a shock, when I had to purchase 3 times as much as I expected to! Our electricity consumption in this 200m2 unit is more than the 600m2 we moved from. I compared notes with my neighbours, they are all paying roughly a third of what I'm paying. I have checked the fridge, the freezer, the geyser... everything is set the way it should be, nothing ridiculous or leaking or broken. I replaced the lightbulbs with energy saving bulbs where I could, and I've become obsessed with switching everything off. Still, no less than R 1 000 per month! We're not even home during the day!

    I've never used pre-paid meters before, so I'm not sure how to procede. The box is the property of the municipality, right? So if it's possible that this thing is set incorrectly (it HAS to be, this can't be normal!), then I should contact them to come out and fix this?

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    Email problem mother's Avatar
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    Not sure if I posted this in the correct forum??? But hoping to reach the experts in this field.

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Hi Mother,

    Anything is possible.

    The first thing to do, is to make a recording of the units, this process is going to take some time. This the number that is on the screen. Say every morning at 07h00, subtract the new reading from the day before. You will start getting an idea of the daily consumption.

    You can also do a reading every hour to get an idea of your hourly consumption. You must do a reading on the hour, not before not after wards as you want to reduce your error. The consumption of electricity is based on Kilo Watts per hour. During the respective hour note what is working. The one item you do not know is working is your geyser, so you could switch it off at the circuit breaker while doing your readings.

    This will give you a good idea of what is consuming all your power.

    If you suspect it is your geyser then do the following.
    One morning switch your geyser off for the day, and see what the reading is the next morning, just use your hot water sparingly as there is no element to keep your water hot. Next morning read the meter consumption and see what the value is, do this with each of your appliances.

    Once you identify the culprit you may get an electrician in to do a preliminary test for you. If the meter is at fault you may contact the city council to come and replace. With out proof, I am sure they will not come out.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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    mother (10-Jul-11)

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    From a metering point of view it's highly unusual for energy dispensers to be inaccurate but as justloadit says, anything's possible.

    I would suggest you purchase an Owl Energy Monitor at around R600 (I think) and you designed that you be able to install it yourself. You can then check your meter accuracy and also you can use it just on your geyser etc to figure out where the power is going.
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    mother (10-Jul-11)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post
    From a metering point of view it's highly unusual for energy dispensers to be inaccurate but as justloadit says, anything's possible.

    I would suggest you purchase an Owl Energy Monitor at around R600 (I think) and you designed that you be able to install it yourself. You can then check your meter accuracy and also you can use it just on your geyser etc to figure out where the power is going.
    must just be careful with this unit it only measure the rate per kw at R 0.60 kw/h the new 2011 rates depending on where you live...are a little more than this...durban is now more than R1.00 perkw/h

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    mother (10-Jul-11)

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    Gold Member Sparks's Avatar
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    Yes the meter can be faulty, but the odds are very low. All of the above are correct answers to your problem. There is however one quick test to do first. Whe you are on your way out for a few hours over a few days, and one night through, switch off all your appliances at the wall and your geyser at the main board. Take a reading and on your return compare the reading. It is important that you switch the appliances off at the wall not the board to determine if there is a circuit from your board going out of your house. If this test does not show consumption you can contact your supplier customer care office and ask their policy. Here in PE the municipality will remove a suspect meter and test it over 3 weeks. should it be correct they will thereafter send it to 3 independant testers to confirm it as correct. The criteria has however 4%(Not sure) accuracy tolerance. Should the meter be more than 4% out you will not pay for the tests or replacement meter. They will also credit your account. Should the meter be within this tolerance you will pay for the removal. testing and replacement of the meter.

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    mother (10-Jul-11)

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    as mentioned the geyser is likely the culprit. especially in complexes where the geyser is in a service area where nobody would even notice it was leaking and the element could be permanently on.have a visual inspection for leaks before going to any other trouble.

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    mother (10-Jul-11)

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    Email problem mother's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks everyone. I am convinced something is wrong... Before we moved we used more appliances (worked from home then), we had 4 geysers and 4 adults on the premises all day, a computerised irrigation system, a computerised swimming pool, plus the house was like a medieval castle and you needed all the lights on all day to see... Now we have less appliances (factory moved to own premises), only 1 geyser, no irrigation system, no swimming pool, and our consumption is the same, sometimes slightly more. We don't even own heaters or electric blankets, because it doesn't get cold enough here.

    Ok, so I'll be climbing into the ceiling just now to eyeball the geyser. And if he looks healthy, I'll start those readings and tests. Thanks guys.

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Just remember there has been almost a huge increase in the cost of electricity in the last 12 months, and this may be the culprit as well. Just over a year ago, I think it was 37c a Kw, now it is 69c a Kw and there has just been a recent 30% increase as from the 1st of June. So effectively using half the Kw you used now costs the same as it did then.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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    All the above are valid points.

    Also remember the following. Where conventional meters are used and you pay the council monthly, the electrical part of the bill is not made up of only your consumption. (in other words your kw units consumed.) There will also be levies and a bit of this and that.) I know on our bill with the council the levies make up about 25 to 30% of our electrical bill.

    When one goes with pre paid these levies are built into your vouchers. In other words one will pay more per kw unit with pre paid than with normal meters.

    I finished one last week where a town house had a problem. Single person and they were using roughly 900 kw units per month.(30 units per day). I noticed when I was there that the geyser was running. I opened the water and it was dam hot and should have turned off. The thermostat was set at 70 degrees maximum. I turned it down to 60 degrees. The following morning at the same time the owner took a reading and got 12 kw units for the 24 hr period.

    I suspect that the thermostat was sticking and not always turning off when set at 70 degrees. I replaced the thermostat. If the owner turned the geyser off for 21 hrs per day his units dropped as low as 7.5 to 8 units per day. This was for a single guy.

    Meters don't really go faulty. One knows they are faulty if the units never change.
    Last edited by Greg; 11-Jul-11 at 08:58 AM. Reason: extra info

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