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Well Pressure Tank Looses It, October 4, 2021


At an energy audit in home in the hills above Cupertino, the client was lost about a 'Vampire Load." He had really high electrical usage, even when he was on vacation! Something was on at the home, all the time. The client was worried that the vampire was some new electronic equipment he needed to run his business from home. He recently added a new router and server and was worried that his business would have to change operations or do something different if the costs were so high. I knew it was something more, probably something mechanical - the vampire load was too high, about .5kWh by our reading of the bill. I've caught vampire loads in home energy audits many times before, and once even a crossed billing situation with a neighbor, but every home energy audit is different, each a mystery to unravel. While we were in his mechanical room, the well pressure tank pump went on, something completely normal. I explained to the home owner that when the bladder in a well's pressure tank is old and broken, the pressure drops too fast and the pump goes on too much. He said, "Oh, that would be really bad." Not 15 minutes later, out at the Smart Meter section of my energy audit, the same pressure pump reading jumped on - 1.57 kW! I ran to check and sure enough, the pump was back on. The homeowner was confused for a moment. We were looking for .5kWh, not 1.57 but I showed him that the pump wasn't on all the time, only partially each hour, and that it averaged out to about .5 - the vampire load we were looking for! Now here's the thing of it, I've seen waterlogged bladders have the same effect, but this time, it turned out that it was a faulty pressure switch gauge, something I hadn't seen before, either. Homes are so unusual, there are so many things that can cause a vampire load. This one, I tracked down in about 25-30 minutes. I drove home with a pretty big smile this past Monday morning, feeling like a hero.

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