Electricity, do your bills seem high?

imgres When you get your monthly bill from CFE, do you go into mild shock and think I can’t have possibly used that much power?  Well, every modern electrical device in your house, comes with a price attached. TV’s, Sat systems, laptop computers, microwaves, for example all use power even when they are not turned on. They don’t use much power, but if you have a couple of laptops, a couple of smart phones, 2 TV’s, Radio clocks in bedrooms, it can all add up and add to the CFE bill. However, the biggest user of all outside of A/C units, is the good old fridge. A modern fridge is nothing more than an an electrically powered compressor and evaporator unit, on a temperature switch. The problem is, they are front opening and have very little insulation. Every time you open the fridge door, the cold air pours out like water and is replaced by warm air. Now the fridge has to turn on again to cool it down. Believe it or not almost all modern fridges, also have a heating circuit on a timer. This heater is the frost free feature of your fridge. So not only is it sucking electricity to cool, it is also burning it up on the heater phase. Not much you can do about it, other than to ensure you have a modern energy efficient model and try and moderate the opening and closing of the doors.

But that is not what I was planning on discussing. What I want to discuss is electrical leakage. Electrical leakage can be a small but constant drain of electricity from the system. A good analogy is a small drip from a faucet, doesn’t seem like a lot, but over time it sure adds up. Electrical leakage in Mexican homes can come from a variety of sources. Chaffed wires are a good source of leakage, not enough to trip a breaker, but they could be the equivalent of a 50 watt bulb burning 24/7. Since you are billed by Kilowatt hours used, a little math will show you are losing 1.2 Kilowatts a day or 438 kilowatts a year. Now if you happen to be a high consumer to start with and are in the excedente category. That 438 Kw will cost you roughly 1200 pesos more a year.

There are numerous sources of electrical leaks. Ants are good one, they just love electrical wires. The wires are the perfect ant super highway, taking them to every room in your house. Ever found ants and stood there thinking, “where the hell did they come from?” Well check around wall sockets. The other problem with ants is for some reason they like to chew wire coatings. It is good insurance to pop the socket covers off and spray ant killer inside or sprinkle in ant powder as preventative medicine. I have already discussed chaffed wires which can be another issue, as can the electrical tape coming off wires in junction boxes, especially ones on the roof for A/C. Rain supplies a nice path for a small leak to find ground and up your usage.

Ok, how do you test for leakage?  The easy way is to turn off the main breaker to the house and all the other breakers and unplug everything and turn all lights and any other consumer off ( this is really important). Now go check your meter, if it is spinning even slightly you have an issue and more importantly the problem is not in your actual house circuits but between the meter and your main breaker. If you see no movement, switch on the main house breaker and again check for movement. Now turn on the individual circuits, one at a time and watch the meter. If you find one particular breaker causes the meter to spin, double check that nothing is drawing power on that circuit, like a tinaco sensor that is not plugged in, but hard wired. If you confirm nothing should be using power, you have located an electrical leak on that circuit. Now check inside all the plug boxes and switch boxes on that circuit to see if there are any signs of chaffing or other issues. If you can find the issue and fix it yourself, great. If not, maybe it is time to call an expert and see where the real issue is, before it gets worse or causes a wire fire,

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