Have you been receiving abnormally high WAPDA electricity bills, leaving you scratching your head? This article is precisely for you. Read on!
It is not unusual that consumers in Pakistan have been receiving exorbitantly high electricity bills or WAPDA bills ever since the Nawaz Government came into power. The government is constantly trying to offset the snowballing effects of circular debt and mounting IMF pressure by
- increasing the electricity unit cost
- imposing different kinds of levies
- increasing load shedding hours
- applying different slabs based on electricity consumption
- and implementing peak and off-peak usage hour
Despite the different tactics and stopgaps employed by the government to increase revenue and minimize circular debt, it seems like we won’t be parting ways with load shedding and the electricity crisis anytime soon. What’s more surprising is that WAPDA bills continue to inflate, notwithstanding loadshedding that is upward of six hours during the day. However, we will be discussing these matters at length in a separate article. The purpose of this piece is to educate consumers on diagnosing problems that are related to unexplainable surges in their WAPDA bills that are not linked with scheduled increases in electricity tariffs by NEPRA or mismanagement of electricity DISCOs in Pakistan.
It is fairly common that electricity consumers all of a sudden start to receive very high electricity bills even through their power consumption has not significantly increased. There are many reasons for sudden spikes in your WAPDA bill including rectifiable issues from your electricity distribution company’s end. Some issues are very trivial and can be fixed without much effort, whereas others require meticulous investigation. From a faulty electric meter to problematic appliances, there are a host of reasons that can result in abnormally high WAPDA bills. Loadshedding.pk recommends that you investigate the matter if you suddenly start experiencing an increment of 25% or more in your electricity bill.
Without further ado, let’s go through some of the probable causes that can result in sudden and abrupt escalations in your monthly electricity bill and remedies for these issues.
Unit Consumption and Cost of Electricity
It’s important to understand that unit consumption and cost of electricity, although interlinked, need to be independently reviewed when faced with higher than usual electricity bills. It’s not odd that everyone is paying more for electricity in Pakistan with each passing year due to the increase in tariffs. But if your electricity bill is indicating that you’re consuming significantly more units of electricity compared to the previous year during the same months when in reality you’re not, something is clearly amiss.
The units on your electricity bill indicate your electricity consumption for that billing month. Your WAPDA bill also provides your consumption history for a year for comparison. Your can read our article Understanding your Electricity Bill in Pakistan to learn more about how units are calculated on your WAPDA bill and where to locate your consumption history.
Common Causes of High Monthly WAPDA Bills
1. Meter Reading Discrepancies
Meter reading issues are fairly common in Pakistan. As most of you know that electric meter reading is a manual activity in Pakistan, which is performed on a monthly basis by meter readers. Since it’s not automated, there are bound to be human errors resulting in incorrect readings resulting in erroneous electricity bills. We suggest that to avoid any problems please tally your actual meter reading with the recorded reading provided by your electricity distribution company on your bill. The repercussions of an incorrect reading are far out and can carry forward for many months.
Here’s how you can avoid meter-reading discrepancies for good.
- Identify your meter reading monthly date. For instance, the meter of the following consumer is checked on the 19th of every month.
- Manually check your meter reading on the specified date for an approximation. We suggest that you make it a habit to check your meter on a monthly basis to avoid meter-reading problems.
- Compare your reading with the one specified on your monthly electricity bill.
- If there are inconsistencies to the tune of 5% and above, please contact your sub-division officer (SDO) and visit your local electricity supply and distribution office. The contact number of your area’s SDO is specified on your electricity bill. Please note that If you’ve been noticing inconsistencies in your meter reading for a few months, lodge a complaint with your DISCO’s regional office.
2. Faulty Electric Meters
Faulty meters, although rare, can result in incorrect readings. Like any electronic device, electricity meters are prone to malfunctions and can result in erroneous readings. Manual electricity meters were more prone to tampering which would cause them to run slower than usual resulting in lesser unit consumption and subsequently low bills. Ever since, the newer digital electric meters have been introduced, meter tampering is not as commonplace as used to be. This is because digital meters are difficult if not impossible to tamper with. However, these meters can sometimes malfunction resulting in displaying incorrect readings. In such scenarios, these meters may present higher than normal reading causing inflated electricity bills. On the other hand, these meters on rare occasions may also report lesser-than-normal electricity consumption thus leading to lower electricity bills. Most consumers will happily accept this and enjoy the subsidies without reporting the fault J However, if you’re not one of the lucky consumers with a faulty meter that under-reports unit consumption but rather over-reports it, you should surely bring up the matter with your sub-division officer.
Faulty meters are difficult to diagnose directly. Usually, when all other probable causes inside the household have been ruled out, the meter is scrutinized. Your electricity distribution company will not assume any responsibility for additional electricity consumption if the problem is internal to your house. They’re only responsible for connections to your electric meter that is installed outside your house. Beyond that, all problems are internal and need to be addressed by the consumer through a qualified electrician. Most electricians are quick to point fingers at a faulty electric meter prompting consumers to lash out at their local electricity supply companies.
If you insist to your local SDO at your distribution company that the electric meter is faulty and that your electricity consumption does not match the reading, a check meter or reference meter will be installed. The check meter is installed alongside your regular electric meter to detect issues with your current meter. If the meter is faulty the readings will not match and your electric supply company will make the necessary adjustments in your bill after the required paperwork has been undertaken. However, if there is no difference in readings between the installed electric meter and the reference check meter, the problem lies in your internal wiring or a faulty appliance.
3. Faulty Wiring and Leakages
Faulty wiring can lead to short-circuiting and leakages that can have a huge impact on your electricity bill. It’s always recommended to change the wiring of the house after 20 to 25 years. This is especially relevant for older houses that were built in the 70s and 80s. During those days, metal pipes were used to house electrical wiring leading to short-circuiting and other electrical leakages. In these scenarios, substandard cables are unable to sustain the load and cause the rubber insulation to melt and thus make direct contact with the metal pipe. This leads to substantially high electrical wastage translating to very high consumption and electricity bills.
The quality of cables used is very important, especially the ones running from the external digital point or electric box to the internal switchboard since they are bearing the entire load of your household. Cabling decisions needs to be made keeping in view the electrical load in your house. Usually if you have more than two 1.5 ACs running at the same time, a four-core cable is recommended. Always buy cables from trusted brands such as Pakistan Cables, Newage Cables, Pioneer Cables etc. Cables from these brands are slightly more expensive than regular cable manufactures and cost between PKR 500 to PKR 700 per running foot. Don’t be penny-wise pound-foolish by saving a few thousand rupees on substandard cabling and regret later.
How to diagnose faulty cabling
Faulty cabling can be detected by measuring the load on different phases of your connection. WAPDA provides three-phase connections to most households. A qualified electrician will use a clamp meter to measure the load at different phases. This is normally done by turning on and turning off various electrical devices and appliance in your household to measure the load. For instance if the load registering on the clamp meter is around 7 amperes with only a few light bulbs switched on, then there is definitely electrical leakage or wastage. Always call a qualified electrician to look into the matter If you notice that your electricity consumption has suddenly increased without any explanation.
4. Addition of New Appliances
As insignificant as it may seem, but sudden spikes in your electricity bill can sometimes be explained by the addition of a new electrical appliance that you recently bought which consumes a lot of electricity. Electric heaters can consume around 2,000 watts of electricity, which is equivalent to a 1.5 ton air conditioner. Try to identify any culprits and minimize their usage.
We all know that a UPS consumes a significant amount of electricity to charge the batteries. Depending on the size in volt-amperes, a UPS can consume up to 800 watts of electricity to charge its batteries. However, the bigger the size of the UPS and connected battery bank, the more electricity it will consume.
In the backdrop of load shedding and the prevailing electricity crisis in Pakistan, a UPS has become an indispensable household item. To ensure that you are getting maximum efficiency from your UPS, here are a few tips.
- Always get a good UPS brand from a reliable and trusted manufacturer. You can read our article, Selecting the Right UPS for Your Home to learn more. A good UPS will not overcharge batteries resulting in additional electricity consumption and longer battery life.
- Keep your batteries in optimal condition by keeping their water levels in check. Weak batteries or faulty batteries never fully charge thus making the UPS charging them constantly. If this is the case, your UPS will always be in charging mode drawing significant electricity. Immediately replace batteries if you notice that the charging light on your UPS is constantly blinking.
Modern bathroom faucets and fancy rain showerheads don’t operate effectively without a pressure pump connected to the water tank of a house. Depending on the members of a household, pressure pumps of different horsepower are connected to ensure sufficient water pressure for bathing etc. Most of these pressure pumps are automatically activated when a tap is turned on or while taking a shower. In essence, the pressure pump is activated when it detects water flow.
On the flipside, if there is water leakage from a tap or in a water closet tank, this could keep the pump operating indefinitely resulting in excess electricity consumption. This also shortens the life of the pump. If you notice that your pressure pump is constantly on, there is definitely a water leakage in the house, which needs to be identified and fixed. Usually, it’s a leakage in a water closet tank or a loose tap.
7. Electricity Pilferage or Theft
Although this is less common in urban cities, it has to be investigated when no other reason for excess electricity consumption can be found. There’s a simple litmus test for this. If you turn the main switch on you electrical box off and your electricity meter is still registering a load or reading, it means there is some kind of electricity pilferage or theft in effect. An illegal connection between your meter and the main electrical box has been made which is resulting in unexplained electricity consumption. Please note that electricity theft can have severe legal ramifications and should be reported immediately.
We hope you found the above tips useful. Please share any tips and advice you may have that were not covered in this article.