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To think my mums landlord shouldnt install heating she cant afford

37 replies

Worriedaboutmum1 · 15/06/2017 10:30

This is completely identifiable but really need advice.

My mum lives in sheltered accomodation and is in relatively poor health (rarely able to leave the house without support). She is a pensioner & on a low income.

She rents a studio from a charity. There is no gas in her block and they need the agreement of all residents to install it, which they cant get. The heating was utterly inadequate - previous winters she'd ended up staying with me during cold spells as you could see your breath. So I totally understand they had to do something.

They installed a new electric system in November & my mum just got her first bill. It looks like its costing her £60-£75 a month extra just to heat her studio flat. Her total bill is similar to mine for a 4 bed house - and she's so energy conscious.

Her health conditions mean she has to have a very specialist diet, which is not cheap and she pays for support for herself like laundry & cleaning. She already leads a very low-cost existence & will now be facing a choice between heating & food or the care she desperately needs. She wont stay with me anymore as shes losing her sight and I have lots of funny level changes. I cant currently afford to pay her heating.

Her electricity supplier have been kind but there isnt much they can do long term as she is genuinely using that electricity. Her landlord as usual are ignoring us.

I just think its irresponsible to put heating this expensive in sheltered accomodation?

OP posts:
UrethaFranklin · 15/06/2017 10:45

Why didn't people want gas which would probably have been cheaper?

What type of heating is it? Are you saying that your mum has had a bill for 6 months of usage which works out at £60 (or £75?) per month? Does she have it on all the time?

I'm not sure what other heating solution they could have come up with if the residents didn't want gas installing.

harderandharder2breathe · 15/06/2017 10:50

I don't think there's an easy answer

The flat needs heating, she is using that amount of electricity, not everyone is ageeeing to gas so they can't install gas.

All i can suggest is seeing if she's on the cheapest tariff for her needs and putting pressure on the charity to lobby for gas installation, are the charity able to help financially at all?

Floralnomad · 15/06/2017 10:50

Well surely it's like any other heating system in as much as she can turn it on / off so in reality she's no worse off than before they installed it as she can limit her use or turn it off and use a different type of heater . The LL is in a no win situation , he cannot put in gas so his choice is electric or nothing and if somebody were to freeze to death with no available heating he'd be in trouble so he's done what he can .

LIZS · 15/06/2017 10:52

Has the meter been read correctly? Has she been shown how to set the heating to it most efficient and is she on a low tariff? Heating hot water constantly may be the reason if the two are linked. Are there independent timers?

sashh · 15/06/2017 10:53

Has she signed up to the warm homes scheme? It's worth change suppliers to one that includes her bracket (can be age, disability or both) and ins £140 credit on her annual bill.

Is she being charged for what she uses or is it estimated? It might be worth looking in to getting a smart meter so she can see exactly where the money is going.

Has she left anything on like an immersion heater?

Does she have storage heaters and is she using them appropriately?

Look around for the best deal.

ToothFairiesHaveNoChange · 15/06/2017 10:54

I feel for her. I lived in temporary accommodation one winter (rural Scotland so no gas) that only had electric. It cost us £50 a week on the key meter and that was being economical with the heating.

ToothFairiesHaveNoChange · 15/06/2017 10:57

I'm not sure if it's only Scotland but British Gas do one day free a week electric for OAPs.
How about a halogen heater? They really give off a good heat. In a studio it should warm it up really well.

JaneEyre70 · 15/06/2017 11:10

Is she getting payments towards her rent from the local council? Pension credit? Try one of the online assessment sites that will tell you if she's getting everything she can. My dad gets housing benefit, pension credit and the warm home scheme. Your local council may also offer hardship payments. It may be worth phoning Age Concern as well just to check you're not missing anything. Also, is her studio insulated? That can be done for free. He just about makes ends meet, and as he's diabetic he has to eat well. I often do a freezer shop for him just so he can have meat etc.

followTheyellowbrickRoad · 15/06/2017 11:11

Her bills maybe higher if the heating was just installed over the winter. Hopefully lower summer bills will average out the higher winter bills

Oriunda · 15/06/2017 11:12

Do check meter readings. I received a ridiculous bill from Eon - the meter reader either needed glasses or just came up with an invented number. My DD for dual fuel for a 2 bed house is only £30/month.

DoctorGilbertson · 15/06/2017 11:21

We have electric heating with storage heaters on economy 7 and I find it cheaper than when we had gas. Worth checking the tariff and whether storage heaters are possible?

But I agree that EoN are rubbish (but as far as I can tell the only supplier that offers economy 7 so we still use them). I got an email this year saying "Here is a refund for your overpayment, we have put up your direct debit as we think your bill will be higher next year." so I just called an told them that they had to put the DD down again.

Roomster101 · 15/06/2017 11:24

It does seem very high although I suppose that may be partly due to the fact electricity heating is more expensive than gas. It is difficult to know what to do though. Is the accommodation properly insulated? Perhaps the charity needs to change their rules so that they don't need the agreement of every resident before they can do things. If the majority agree it should be enough otherwise they will never get anything done.

chilipepper20 · 15/06/2017 11:27

Why didn't people want gas which would probably have been cheaper?

last time I checked, gas is about 25% the cost of electricity per KWh. If you look at my bills, we use significantly more gas than electric in KWh, as we have a gas hob, gas over and gas heaters. our total energy costs are about 1100 per year, but that would probably be more like 2500 if we had electric heaters.

specialsubject · 15/06/2017 11:28

unit price? Standing charge? Meter read correctly? Two-rate meter for storage heaters?

if she pays the bill, she chooses the supplier and tariff. Nothing to do with the landlord.

Rhootintootinboo · 15/06/2017 11:28

Hi. Is this a heat pump they have installed. They have totally different operating protocols than a gas boiler and are not , as PP suggested, designed to be switched off and on. They should only be installed in properties with high insulation (usually done at the time of heat pump install). Worth checking this was done with both the landlord and installer and phone citizens advice if you need some support.

bigredboat · 15/06/2017 11:29

Utilities suppliers should offer a preferential tarriff to vulnerable customers so it might be worth contacting them. Also look into if she is getting all the financial help she is entitled to - if she has health conditions/poor mobility she might be entitled to at attendance allowance - Age uk are a good source of info.

Also some councils offer services such as draught proofing, insulation etc for free or low cost for elderly/vulnerable people.

mrsm43s · 15/06/2017 11:37

Whilst electric heating is more expensive than gas, £60-75 per month is very high for heating a studio flat with a modern heating system. Or is this £60-£75 a month for all her energy usage, which would seem fairly usual (£15 per week/ £2 a day for all energy).

She needs to investigate:

  • whether she is using the system correctly and prudently (thermostat, timer etc)
  • whether the meter reads are correct and not estimated
  • whether she is on the most beneficial tariff
  • whether she has claimed any benefits she's entitled to - i.e. winter fuel allowance, discounted energy from supplier etc.

Almost certainly a new system meeting current efficiency regulations, albeit an electric one, will be a cheaper way of heating than plug in heaters etc. Gas, although cheaper, is generally not deemed to be safe in blocks of flats for fire safety reasons.
BeepBeepMOVE · 15/06/2017 11:48

She can just turn it off surely?

It's her decision to use it or not. Her all isn't forcing her to use or pay for it.

If she is desperate then would you be able to do some fundraising? Run a marathon or something, people give money all over the place for stuff like this.

PinkPeppers · 15/06/2017 11:51

I agree she needs a proper thermostat with timing on.
This way she can ensure that the heating isn't in all the time and will stop at a certain temperature.

This is the first thing that needs investigating.

Tbh, the landlords have done the one thing they needed to do there. Wo appropriate heating, this accomodation wasnt suitable for the residents and they have done what needed to be done on that front.
If the landlords hadn't done anything, your mum wouldn't be paying the money for the electricity but then she also wouldn't have nay heating and wouldn't be able to stay in her house (as well as being unable to stay at yours due to her eyesight). So things wouldnt have been better for her iyswim.

BangkokBlues · 15/06/2017 12:03

What electrical system has been installed?

iseenodust · 15/06/2017 12:05

See if the local council has a scheme where people can sign up to a bulk buying of electricity? You don't have to be in council housing.

Worriedaboutmum1 · 15/06/2017 15:13

Sorry, i typed a proper reply earlier and it disappeared. I guess I am bu but Im just very scared as before she started stayimg with me she was regularly hospitalised with chest infections.

Its a night storage system which is either on or not. The flat isnt well insulated so the heat lasts till about mid-day & then she had to boost it.

I know she's choosing to use it, but I'm not sure what her other choices are. She cant go out & is elderly and thin so even wrapped in a blanket shes too cold. She's obsessively cost conscious - if the heatings been on it will have been because she needs it. The flats are all lived in by low income, vulnerable people none of who could afford heating bills that high.

The meter read is accurate and represents roughly £450 more than she'd normally spend over the 6 months. She tried to apply for the warmfront but couldnt get through on the phone (British Gas admitted this is a problem). Otherwise she gets what she is entitled to other than possibly attendants allowance.

Theres no space to put floor standing heating as she needs clear pathways to avoid trips. She's got rid of most of her furniture already.

I will follow up on some of the ideas here.

OP posts:
Roomster101 · 15/06/2017 15:50

I don't blame you for being worried OP. It is easy for fit and healthy people who are probably out all day to think she can just not have the heating on. What they don't understand is that it will probably affect her health.
I think it is very unfortunate that Landlords are not forced to adequately insulate property. I suspect that heating bills in owner occupier homes are much lower because there is much more incentive to insulate if you are the one who pays for electricity/gas.

turnaroundbrighteyes · 15/06/2017 16:01

If she's just changed to Storage heaters make sure she's on a night / day tariff as they don't automatically change it - my grandad got caught out with that one.

If it's a new system and running out too soon she probably needs you to mess around with the settings until it works for her as boosting will make her bills astronomical. Try lowering the temperature (so that it doesn't discharge as quickly) and increasing the charge time so that it stores more until she has the right amount of heat or a little too much all day and doesn't need to boost.

turnaroundbrighteyes · 15/06/2017 16:03

She could be trying to be too economical then running out then more than doubling her spend with all the boosting.

Also check rooms she uses less are set to store less heat.

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