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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?

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

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.

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

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

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



I am a fully grown adult, promise grin

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 16:06:56

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 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.

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.

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!

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 15:30:05

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...

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 15:17:46

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

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 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 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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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!

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.

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