So where is all of this electricity going?!

(41 Posts)
delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 11:51:27

First time living in an all electric property on a meter, paid for by direct debit, and recently sent my first meter reading. We've been here a year but LL included the cost of electricity for the first year. I've just received my first electricity bill - arranged the account through MSE Energy Saving Club, can switch without penalty - and I don't fully understand what I'm spending all of the kWhs on.

I do imagine that we're a fairly high usage household - it's only a small flat (we're 2 adults, 1 baby), but someone is in the flat during the day every day. That's always been the case in our home. We have an immersion heater, which is currently on for a couple of hours every other day. Everything is turned off at night and when not in use, although I wonder how much electricity is used when things are on standby. Our shower is electric and heats the water during use - it doesn't use the water heated by the immersion. Lights aren't used much and we haven't had the heating on since March.

I know it might not be an exact figure, but I'm looking for a guide as to how much electricity each thing uses. My previous dual fuel bill was much lower - with the gas being on constantly (I was unlearned blush ). I do have an extra appliance compared with before - a vented tumble dryer. That can't seriously be the culprit, can it?

Pinkdressonthewall Sun 06-Oct-13 11:56:34

Any electrical appliance which produces heat uses a lot of power - so I'd avoid using the tumble dryer. Electric showers also use a lot, but tend to be used for only a short amount of time, so for a small family it shouldn't be too bad. And try to switch appliances off completely when not in use, rather than left on standby.

youbethemummylion Sun 06-Oct-13 12:00:22

Do you have an Economy 7 meter with day and night readings. If so run washing machine, charge things up etc between midnight and 7 for cheapest rates. Turn everything off when not in use and do not leave things on standby.

gamerchick Sun 06-Oct-13 12:00:24

Believe it or not an electric kettle is the highest when consuming electricity... and so is running the microwave clock of all things....The microwave itself is high usage but like the kettle it's short.

Tumble driers do use a fair bit but you can cut back on that by hanging stuff like towels out for a bit before putting in.

youbethemummylion Sun 06-Oct-13 12:01:27

If you use the tumble drier regularly it could well be the culprit they eat electricity!!!

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 12:02:06

sad But the dryer... it's so useful! I'm also not sure as to how practical it would be to stop using it - we have no outside space, single glazed, and in winter if I air dry there will be a lot of added moisture in here so I'm concerned for possible mould/damp issues.

It has a 3kg capacity and we do about 2 loads per week, no more than an hour each. I do air dry some stuff, but tumble basics, baby clothes, and linens.

The difference to my monthly bill compared with dual fuel seems to be either £25 or £65 shock I still haven't quite figured out how the latter could be possible and I'm hoping I misread something...

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 12:02:59

No economy 7. We don't use a kettle. The microwave is off when not in use.

PigletJohn Sun 06-Oct-13 12:06:15

Looking at your actual meter readings (not the £ charged and not estimates) how many kWh did you use in the year? If you don't record meter readings and imput them online, start now. Keep a record of them at least once a month. Looking at your bills, how much are you being charged per kWh?

How many kWh per month (day) do you use in summer minths, and how many in winter months?

The usage will overwhelmingly be from heating your home. The immersion heater will be significant. Energy from electricity costs about three timnes as much as energy from gas, so people who once have had the experience of paying for electrical heating avoid it in future.

lighting, extractor fans are almost nothing (assuming you use energy-saving lamps and not lots of downlighters and spotlights)

TV, kettle, computer are very little.

A tumble drier might cost 30p to 60p per load

Oceansurf Sun 06-Oct-13 12:06:32

Welcome to my world! grin

We also have no idea. Also live in a flat, 2 adults and a baby. Our bills are horrific. £160 a month we're on currently to try to pay off the debt we've built up. Think we actually use about £120 a month though.

I just think in an electric only flat, everything is expensive - the shower, the storage heaters.

Earthworms Sun 06-Oct-13 12:08:41

It will be the dryer, anything that heats ( kettle, toaster, heater, dryer) eats electricity.

If you have to use it, then put yr clothes on for an additional high speed spin after they have finished washing ( take out anything delicate of course)

It reduces drying time considerably and saves £££

But mainly try to reduce use of the dryer. Not sure how in your situation though?

Air dry in the bathroom on an airer then finish off in the dryer?
Small stuff on radiators?

Earthworms Sun 06-Oct-13 12:11:45

Agree with the avoiding electrical heating piglet

When we were house hunting recently, and any form of electrical heating was an automatic big fat NO regardless of how nice the place was.

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 12:19:54

Can't speak for the whole year as we've only just taken this on, although I can try and find out from the LL how much we were using.

Each kWh is 10.95p and there is a standing charge of 37p per day. According to my statement, we used 247 kWh. Which would be great, as that bill would be low! But when I log into my account this seems to be on top of the regular direct debit which is £80. That would make this month's bill about £120. I have started taking a photo of the meter at the beginning of each month, to keep track.

Clearly I have no clue confused

Thank you for the info PigletJohn.

<sigh> I will try to reduce the tumbling then I suppose. I think 2h every other day on immersion is the lowest I can reduce to, so that there's hot water for dishes and such (no dishwasher). Alas, a lot of properties here are electric only...

youbethemummylion Sun 06-Oct-13 12:24:57

On a monthly DD you will be paying for more than you use during summer so you can pay less than you use during winter. Are you in credit or debit at the moment. You should have a credit going into the winter.

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 12:28:03

youbethemummylion Oh I so hope that is the case! Thing is, I thought my account was in debit when I looked at it, hence the concern. Can't check it now as site is down for maintenance... <grumble>

PigletJohn Sun 06-Oct-13 12:40:30

247k kWh between which two dates?

Write the meter readings down in a notebook, diary or on your computer. the photos will only help when you write the readings down and perform your calculations (preferably regularly every month)

The immersion heater wil use about 3kWh per hour while it is heating the water only. As soon as the thermostat tells it that it has reached your preset temperature, it will stop. If the cylinder is properly insulated it will lose very little. What cioliour is your cylinder? (this is not a joke). Are the pipes insulated?

The electric shower (depending on power) will use in the region of 10kWh per hour (say £1.40 per hour at typical prices)

The tumble drier will use in the region of 2kWh per hour.

An energy-saving lightbulb will run for 50 to 100 hours on 1kWh; so will an extractor fan.

the kettle will use 2kWh to 3kWh per hour, but you will only be running it for 2 or 3 minutes a time, so about (3kWh divided by 60 and multiplied by 3=) 0.15kWh per teapot

If you have any electric heaters, they will typically use in the region of 2KwH to 3kWh per hour. Since heaters are run for many hours a day, every day in cold weather, they will be your greatest users of electricity.

Depite the stories you may hear, phone chargers etc use insignificant amounts, and when plugged in but not charging, so little that a domestic device like an Owl will not be able to accurately measure it. Same with an electric timer. The relevance of chargers is that if you plug in 200 million of them (e,g. a country's worth) it does add up to a useful amount. Far less than 10 million non-energy-saving lightbulbs though (e,g, one per home throughout the country)

A very old fridge or freezer can use 4kWh per day; a large modern fridge freezer about a quarter of a kWh per day.

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 12:53:40

PigletJohn The 247kWh is from 20 Aug to 20 Sep.

I have no idea what colour the cylinder is - it's encased in a massive, thermal box thing. The LL said it was to insulate it to reduce heat loss in the water. I do know, however, that the property was built 20 years ago and I believe the immersion has been the same for the entire time (or at least, for the last 10 years). It seems to work very well, if I switch the immersion on and get the hot water going, then turn the immersion off within the next two hours, 36h later I still have hot water for dishes despite having used it during that time. The pipes connecting to it have those thick grey foam tube things on them for insulation.

Last winter we turned on the heater (one in living room) for about an hour or two in the morning. There is a lot of insulation here so the heat builds up and gets 'trapped' in the property during the day, inc. from the hob or oven, then we usually have to heat for 1-2 hours again in afternoon/evening as I open the windows at least once a day. The heat would then be 'trapped' again for night. On the coldest days, we turned the heater on in the bedroom for 20-30mins before bed. We're nowhere near to cold here yet - still 24-25C in our home at the moment confused - but I reckon once we get to November we might need to start putting it on in the morning. December and January are coldest and will need heating in the afternoon/evening too.

Thanks so much for that, it really helps me to understand the consumption of each appliance. I see you on Good Housekeeping a lot and had a feeling you might be able to help (yay!).

PigletJohn Sun 06-Oct-13 13:17:58

OK, 247kWh for a summer month is very reasonable if you are using an immersion heater, and have no gas.

I calculate your bill should be (rounded)

247 x 11p = £27
30days x 37p =£11
net £38
plus 5% VAT £2
Gross £40

Your direct debit will bear no resemblance to this as it will be calculated on an annual estimate (including winter) and divided by 12

The bill might include a carried-forward balance from previous periods. Bills are usually issued quarterly, but can be monthly.

It sounds like your cylinder and pipes are well insulated. Provided the water does not get scalding (indicating a faulty thermostat) then it will not make any significant difference if you leave the immersion heater on for longer. Cost will vary by how much hot water you use, not by period switched on, because the thermostat will turn off the heat automatically when the cylinder is hot. In your case any heat escaping will go to warm the airing cupboard and the flat itself which is fine in winter as you have no gas heating.

If you have storage heaters and an economy 7 tariff, leave the immersion on overnight to fill the cylinder at low cost.

If you have an extractor fan, use it (with the door and window closed) to reduce humidity. If necessary, put washing over the bath with the extractor running.

Your price per kWh sounds quite low.

cartoad Sun 06-Oct-13 13:29:05

If you do lots of washing and don't need to have it dried ASAP then Lakeland sell a heated airing rail they reckon costs about 2-3p an hour to runand will dry the washing overnight usually.

I haven't used one myself but am thinking of it and there was a thread on here recently where lots of people said they had them and thought they were great, just a couple of people who weren't so keen.

And as a result of that they were inthe mumsnet recommends email recently too although I don't think there was any discount!

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 06-Oct-13 13:34:36

I'd only run the hot water for 20 minutes each day, can you reach the thermostat on it? It only needs to be 60c.

If you get a plug electric meter that measures how much an appliance uses that shaves pennies off that add up eventually eg my wash cycle used to cost 8p, I switched to a different cycle and its now 2.5.

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 14:30:47

PigletJohn The bill is 'brand new', the LL paid off any outstanding debits on the old account. We opened our account with a different supplier from the one the LL was using. We are billed monthly.

No storage heating/economy 7. So it's not so important when I turn the immersion off? Admittedly I've been trying to get my head around the immersion business, as it's all so new to me. Didn't even know we had an immersion heater until last month confused blush

So if a dryer is around 2kWh/hour, at 2-2.5h/week, it's costing me something like £2-3/month? I'm desperately clinging on to hope that the dryer can continue on as is grin Thank you so much for all of your hope, I'd been debating this thread for over a month thinking I could learn online and asking family but got nowhere!

Thanks for the info on the heated airer cartoad. Normally dryers don't come in properties in this area but this flat was a bit unusual, the LL just likes vented dryers so had put one in here. Don't know if I can pay out up front for one right now but would be a major consideration for future. When we moved in here I used the airer first, having no dryer experience, and it took well over a day just to dry a normal load and there was condensation everywhere.

Fluffy Will have to have a look for the thermostat, if I can't find it I'll ask the LL. Is 20mins really all that's needed? shock

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 14:31:10

Oops, thanks for help I mean, though it has given me hope of reducing my bills!

invicta Sun 06-Oct-13 14:36:59

We have a meter which shows us how much electricity is being used. It's fascinating and probably saves money as if it is high, you know you've left the lights on etc.

invicta Sun 06-Oct-13 14:37:59

Just looked in argos. They sell one called Energenie energy saving power meter and costs about £14.00.

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 06-Oct-13 14:40:48

www.maplin.co.uk/plug-in-electricity-cost-and-usage-calculator-223573 Get one of these, no point second guessing how much it costs when you can measure it & find out for definite.

20 minutes should be enough for a well insulated tank. Don't forget to insulate the pipes.

When we had an E10 tariff the heaters cost 6p per kwh to heat, so to heat on 10p per kwh is pricey.

Heating only goes on in this house if after putting on thermals & jumpers you are still cold.

PigletJohn Sun 06-Oct-13 14:58:06

'mmmmm, 20 mins won't heat a bathful of water in a cylinder with a 3kW immersion heater (although a 30kW boiler can do it). IMO as the cylinder is well insulated, if you fill it up with heat, it will stay there until you use it. Heat loss from a well-insulated cylinder is not high, and the idea is that you heat it in advance and store it until required for use.

I can't find a figure for the heat output (litres x degrees C) for a KwH. I have the figures for BTUs but too wearisome to convert.
1 kWh is 3412 BTU
1 BTU will raise one pound of water through 1degree F

A cylinder usually contains about 100 litres of water, which is enough for a bath, and you want to heat it by, say, 50C in winter

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 14:59:34

Ok, I can now log in to my account. It says my usual DD (£80), it says the debit for £40.45, but now there is a new credit labelled 'bill reversal' also at £40.45. Account balance now says £0.00.

...So I'm not getting charged the extra £40? As that was largely the reason for my panic!

Perhaps this is silly or pfb, but this will be our first winter with DS 10mo (last winter LL paid for heating). I know that 18-21C is fine for babies at night, but... how do I know how warm it is at night?! Or, how do I make sure it's warm enough. He has a 2.5 tog sleeping bag for winter. I want to move him into a different room soon (organising it at the moment) but I worry about how to heat it. There's no fixed heater/radiator in there, we just have convectors at the moment. I can set an alarm on the baby monitor for a minimum temperature...

Fluffy I'm going to trial the 20min heating and see what happens, thanks smile I'm going to have a look at the energy meter things too and see what it shows.

PigletJohn Sun 06-Oct-13 15:04:53

I think 3kW would take nearly two hours to raise 100 litres by 50C. Who wants to calculate it?

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 15:17:46

PigletJohn Not sure I know where to start with the calculations grin but LL reckoned it would take at least an hour to heat the tank. The tank apparently holds roughly 2 bath tubs full (no idea how much that is in litres).

Maybe I'll stick with my 2h heating routine... hmm

Suttonmum1 Sun 06-Oct-13 15:20:04

Hi there couple of points.

Make sure your meter has been read, and that your direct debit is based on your consumption, which might be lower than the Supplier thinks.
Look seriously at your lighting. If one or other of you is in all day then you will probably have more lighting on than average. LED bulbs are coming down in price all the time. I replaced a 240W fitting with under 20W of LED bulbs last week and estimate it will save us about £500 over a conservative estimate of the life of the bulbs.
We have found an Owl meter in the kitchen where I look at it a lot makes you very aware of what you are using.

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 15:30:05

We have a lot of windows and mirrors so no lights on in the day, except for when someone uses the bathroom which has no windows. Most lights are energy savers.

Apparently my meter was read in August - I vaguely recall someone buzzing - we live in a top floor flat, the meter is outside of the building in a special cupboard that the energy companies can access without us. I send monthly meter readings online, but as above it has only been for a very short time as this is a new account.

I've never heard of these Owl things, will Google now...

valiumredhead Sun 06-Oct-13 15:30:45

Storage heaters are hugely expensive. It works out cheaper to use convector heaters with a thermostat ime.

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 15:46:42

Oh. I thought it would be shaped, well, like an owl blush

It seems like you connect it to the meter? Or can it be connected to the consumer unit panel (we have one in the hall)? With the meter being downstairs, outside, with about 30 other meters, not sure I would want to attempt to attach something and leave it there. Doesn't matter if people don't know what it is, they would probably try to swipe it!

Cindy34 Sun 06-Oct-13 15:47:23

Not sure how many litres a typical bath is, could well be 80+
Showers do not use as much, though some such as power showers can use quite a lot.

How hot is the water from the immersion heater? Maybe dropping the temp a couple of degrees would not be overly noticeable and would save some money.

youbethemummylion Sun 06-Oct-13 15:49:23

If there has been a bill reversal it means you haven't actually been billed yet. Was the original bill to actual reads or estimates usually they will only reverse bill if it was to estimated read and have since received accurate read.

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 16:06:56

youbethemummylion They did an actual read late August, estimated for late September. I got the bill this week saying an estimated 247kWh used and a cost of £40.45. I sent an actual read when I got the bill as I didn't have my account number prior to that. It doesn't look like there would have been a huge difference between the two tbh.

Thing is, I pay a DD of £80. So what would the £40 be for? Extra on top of the DD? That's what confuses (and worries) me. It seems to be gone, but now I wonder if it just means a new one will come through based on the actual read.

Gas was so simple.

youbethemummylion Sun 06-Oct-13 16:43:40

Yes a new bill will come based on actual read. If you have paid 1 DD of £80 your account will be £80 in credit until bill produced if that bill is £80 or under you will be in credit that carries forward to next bill. If the bil is over £80 you will be in debit which also carries over. Every so often they reassess DD amount based on whether you are in credit or debit after say 6 months (time scale varies between companies)

delasi Sun 06-Oct-13 16:54:53

Ohhhh.

blush

I am a fully grown adult, promise grin

PigletJohn Sun 06-Oct-13 17:13:19

It is normal for the DD to exceed cost of usage in summer, and to be less than usage in winter. That's why it is important to compare usage based on actual meter readings, and not on estimates or DD amounts.

With a certain amount of luck and typical weather it will more or less balance out over 12 months.

Last winter was exceptionally long and cold and my annual usage (for gas, how I heat) was about 25% above typical

Gatekeeper Mon 07-Oct-13 09:39:59

my supplier is British Gas on a variable DD tariff and I am only billed for actual usage. I enter my meter readings month online- they will remind you this by text and email and a few days later the amount is deducted via DD

helzapoppin2 Mon 07-Oct-13 10:02:48

We have a unifi plug in electricity reader from Scottish Power because we are on a unifi tariff. Really useful, if only because it alerts you if someone has left a heater on and it's gobbling up power.
Maybe it's worth a call to your electricity company to see if they'll send out a free similar device.

delasi Tue 08-Oct-13 19:54:04

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll enquire with our supplier to see if they have anything similar smile

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