Power bill $3090

Hi all,
I have a property in Armidale, New England NSW. It was bought in 2004 and the property is about 40 + years old.

The Hot Water System that was there was Off Peak Electric installed in 1990 inside the house. As the Hot Water System had passed its life I thought I would take advantage of the Govt rebats for the Hot Water System and installed a Rheem Heat Pump http://www.rheem.com.au/domestic_product.asp?model=551310&cat_id=

The Unit was bought Locally at the Plumbing Choice and installed by one of the leading licensed Plumbers in town and rewired by a licensed electrician also quite popular in town. This is an external unit and was installed outside the house and connected to Mains power. The unit switches over to the Element from Heat Pump mode when the temp drops below 5 deg. The unit was installed on the 23rd of Sep 2009. The same month the Tennant decided to change Energy supplyers and moved away from Country Energy and chose another Energy supplier.

2 days ago got a call from my Rental Agency saying that the Tennent was angry that he got a bill for $3090 and he is blaming the HWS for such a massive jump and he claims that that type of HWS is not suited for Armidale climate (Armidale climate is a lot cooler) and he is going to the take me to the Tribunal. So I called the Electrician and he said there is noting wrong with the unit and thinks the Meter was read incorrectly. I called the Plumber that installed it and he said that he visited the property and spent some time and cannot fault the unit. Since the unit was installed there has been no cold days for the unit to switch over to the heating element.

So where do I stand legally if the tennant goes to the Tribunal? Has anyone had any experiance like this in the past? Any tips would be great.
I've heard a few times that heat pumps aren't great for colder areas, but as you said the unit was installed in September 09 - tail end of winter.
Is it the same tenant who was there before the unit went in?
Has the meter been reread to see if there was a mistake?
I would be getting the agent to get a copy of 12 months worth of past bills to see whether there has been an increase in power used or whether the switch os suppliers might have contributed.
As others have said, you (or your PM) *have* checked the meter read on the bill with the meter itself?

Surely with a bill that big you could just go there, watch the meter tick furiously (or blink, if its a digital) and just unplug the damn hws for 5 minutes and see if it stops ticking. If that's the case, someone has screwed up bigtime and you'd have cause to chase whoever installed it.

Only way a bill could get THAT huge is if a 3000W+ something is left on virtually nonstop. We left a 2000W bar heater on almost constantly over winter once and ran up a $1000 bill, never did THAT again (we moved from the huge family room to the relatively small hallway - only 2x4.2x3.6m - instead and the computers kept the study warm without needing a heater). Next bill was $150.

Something is seriously wrong.
Wow I would seriously doubt it is the hot water system unless there was something wrong with it. I lived in armidale for years and used to run 2000W heaters all the time, and our bills still didn't reach that high. I would get the pm out there to check the meter box and compare to the billing records, and investigate the power company who they changed to. Take all this 'research' with you to tribunnal if it goes that far - along with statutory declarations from the plumber and electrician. This will show that you have taken the tenants concerns seriously and have attempted to address their concerns, but that the issue in question is not your fault and beyond your control (ie, the energy companies fault or the tenants fault. If you can find another like cause this will help your argument (are they growing weed in the house?).
I don't think it could be the HWS either. We run ducted airconditioning plus a split system (the lounge has no room in the roof space for the ducts), and have a pool. Until recently we also had two daughers who would "need" a shower several times a day with the water full on and they were NEVER quick either. Even with all that, ours regularly come to around $1k.
Wouldn't be the first time a provdier has misread a meter or applied someone elses reading to the wrong account.
I'd be asking for this current (no pun intended) account and the past 3.
Of greater interest, initially, than the actual $ amount would be the actual usage pattern over the past few billing cycles.
The actual meter reading should be verfied by the PM or someone other than the tenant, too.
I've heard police are informed when the electricity bill suddenly goes sky high.

I don't know if that's true though.
Yeah sounds like the bill was mis-read. Heat pumps are usually really efficient for water heating.

Is the unit capacity massively over-installed? This occurred with some heat pumps where the units put in were more than 3 times too large (so the installer could claim RECs).

We have been messed around a few times with bills where one was double normal, then the following bill was negative. This is because they base everything on a trend and assumed patterns, not actually readings most of the time.

Regardless I would be chasing the new energy company and finding out what the change in energy usage (kWh) was from last year.
That heater is quoted as 1300 watts. If it was running full time (stuck thermostat) it would use < $600 of power for a qtr @ 20c/kwh. (My power costs 19.20c/kwh on the "general" and 10.29c on the "controlled" tariffs.)

I've never seen a heater with a stuck thermostat but it would be boiling away merrily 24/7. Surely you'd notice?

Take a deep breath and read your bill carefully. Mine has bar charts and comparative stats for previous periods. Yours should too.
There was a large hike in power prices recently so that would be a good chunk of it. Also if the reading was a guess or read wrong with the extra hikes it would put it right up there.

My power bill is now $1900 and this is a one level 3bed house, it is crazy. My daughter who lives alone just jumped from paying $240 approx to this bill is over $500.
Thanks for all the tips and suggestions guys. Havent spoken to the RE Agent yet on the progress.Will update the thread as and when I get an update. :mad: