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AIBU?

To switch to "pay for only what you use"?

109 replies

lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 08:28

Apologies for posting in AIBU. Happy for it to be moved to a more appropriate section.

I contacted my energy company on FB after days of not being able to get through on the phone to speak directly with someone. I wanted to get a rough estimate of my bill for October.

They replied that they can't give exact figures right now and they would update in the next few weeks, but they advised to expect an 80% increase. We pay £269 pm already so we are looking at £480 ish pm. We can't afford this.

I replied to this effect and asked what options they could offer us?

They listed a few, the first of which was: "you can change your direct debit to pay for only what you use rather than spreading the cost over 12 months".

This confused me. Why am I not already just paying for what I use? Why would I pay for what I haven't used?

Looking at my last statement we used £155 worth of gas and electricity combined and paid £269. So we should be in credit, right? Therefore can afford to pay less in theory?

Sorry if this is a really stupid question but the whole thing has just really confused me!!

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GonnaGetGoingReturns · 05/09/2022 10:31

lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 08:52

@GreenFingersWouldBeHandy

It's not a mansion, I wish 😂

It's a 3 bed detached with high ceilings and large rooms though (Victorian style), therefore takes a lot to heat. But we have hardly had the heating on at all over recent months. I think it's been on maybe once for a couple hours to dry some clothes. So that usage of £150 is with the heating virtually off for the entire month.

If you could afford it (investment), a cast iron stove is what I'd be looking at.

I've got one and so have DP's. Yes, you need coal/wood and to have chimney swept, yes, maybe not eco friendly re smoke/dust. But it heats up draughty cold Victorian (other period houses) if you leave door open - I've only got a teeny Victorian cottage and it works well. Plus insulate everywhere, windows, attic, double glaze if you can etc. We're both fairly lucky as haven't used stove for past 2-3 years much so have got a stock of coal/wood to burn in both households. Then the central heating only goes on as and when and in certain rooms. Also invest in jumpers and thermals. Really helps.

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pumpkinpie01 · 05/09/2022 10:32

@lancsgirl85 I know - unbelievable! Would love to know how long a shower he takes now he is house sharing and paying his own bills , I asked once and never got a straight answer !

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GonnaGetGoingReturns · 05/09/2022 10:33

FuzzyPuffling · 05/09/2022 10:08

We have done this, but our usage is fairly similar over the year, as we don't use the central heating or have a tumble dryer.
I like it much better.

Tumble driers are the devils own work for eating up electric. luckily both me and DP's (separate households) have those French pulley systems and lean to's (mine smaller). And it gets the sun too. I also bought a spin outside line this spring and still using it. I can see if you've got young kids/babies then tumble driers appeal.

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lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 10:35

I can see if you've got young kids/babies then tumble driers appeal.

Yep. DP has been saying for a while we need to get one but so far we haven't. We go through a lot of washing with a baby/toddler!

He ends up putting the heating on to dry clothes though, so may as well get a tumble dryer. Although I'm not sure what would use more energy - heating on for a couple hrs to dry clothes late at night or a blast in a tumble dryer?

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GonnaGetGoingReturns · 05/09/2022 10:35

lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 10:00

Something else the teen does, is go into the bathroom and set the shower running about 20 mins before she gets in it. Multiple, multiple times I've gone upstairs to a majorly steamed up bathroom with the shower running and no one in it, and teen faffing about in her room before getting in the shower 🙄 she says she's "letting it warm up". I've told her several times it heats pretty much instantly so this isn't necessary. I'll be coming down a lot harder on her for this in future!

You really need to speak to your teen about this. Set 10 minute shower times for every day, add on 5 minutes more and turn it off (e.g. if putting on conditioner for 2-3 minutes then rinsing). Strip washes are good - I don't do them but DP's do. And 1 shallow bath a week max if any. Also turn down hot water temperature, at least until it gets cold.

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GonnaGetGoingReturns · 05/09/2022 10:38

lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 10:35

I can see if you've got young kids/babies then tumble driers appeal.

Yep. DP has been saying for a while we need to get one but so far we haven't. We go through a lot of washing with a baby/toddler!

He ends up putting the heating on to dry clothes though, so may as well get a tumble dryer. Although I'm not sure what would use more energy - heating on for a couple hrs to dry clothes late at night or a blast in a tumble dryer?

Depends how warm your flat is. My DB/SIL have a very well insulated (warm) flat with those storage heaters and have only ever used airers (not even heated ones) to dry their baby/young son's clothes. They also have an outside space for driers in open air.

I'd do cost comparison with heated airer driers vs central heating on to dry clothes/heat room and also tumble drier. Which? might be useful for this. Do you have anywhere where you can dry clothes in direct sunlight and fit a French pulley or outside at all?

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NCHammer2022 · 05/09/2022 10:41

If you’re using £155 in a summer month (and it’s been a hot summer) then that does suggest you might expect an extremely high monthly bill come winter and after the price cap increase is applied, unless you can reduce your usage. £155 in summer is a lot.

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GonnaGetGoingReturns · 05/09/2022 10:42

Really good tips from everyone here.

I'm from an era 70s/80s where we couldn't afford tumble driers (did have one when we were babies) or central heating so had gas fires (dried hair/clothes in front of them), outside lines for clothes and also had those awful calor gas heaters you brought from room to room. DP's Victorian house wasn't insulated at all then and we had heavy snowfall winters too. Finally got central heating reinstalled think 1980 onwards. We also had small gas fire heaters in small kitchen and bathroom at sort of ceiling level, anyone recall those? Rarely switched on though...

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MrsRobinsonsHandprints · 05/09/2022 10:46

Reading this thread posters are advising a mother not to bathe her child. Just read that again, not bathe her baby. How has the UK got to this point, and why do we all seem so accepting of it?

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PinkSnowAndStars · 05/09/2022 10:47

Get a heated airer. It costs pennies an hour to run, and heats our living room up in process! I didn’t have our heating on at all last winter. Ours is a Lakeland one that I’ve had for about 12 years now!

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JesusMaryAndJosephAndTheWeeDon · 05/09/2022 10:48

lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 10:00

Something else the teen does, is go into the bathroom and set the shower running about 20 mins before she gets in it. Multiple, multiple times I've gone upstairs to a majorly steamed up bathroom with the shower running and no one in it, and teen faffing about in her room before getting in the shower 🙄 she says she's "letting it warm up". I've told her several times it heats pretty much instantly so this isn't necessary. I'll be coming down a lot harder on her for this in future!

I think you are going to have to get a bit draconian to stop this urgently.

How old is she?

If she's an older teen with her own money start charging her when she has the shower on for longer than a specific time. Make it an accurate estimate of the cost and she can decide whether it is worth it.

If she's younger and just getting distracted can you supervise for a while, and make sure she doesn't turn the shower on before she has done all her faffing in her room and that she doesn't leave the bathroom once she has turned the shower on.

You may need to start turning the hot water off after a specific time if she doesn't get the message. She can finish off in cold. Plenty of us managed with a limited supply of hot water with old style boilers.

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SamphirethePogoingStickerist · 05/09/2022 10:54

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy · 05/09/2022 08:49

If you have a smart meter, you don't have to put up with any of this 'predicted usage' rubbish.

The whole point of a smart meter is that you know what you use, and they know what you use.

I have switched from a direct debit to requesting an actual bill every month. They had tried to increase my direct debit to £90 per month. My actual bill for last month was £47.

Just take control of it and stay on top of it each month. £500 per month is insane. Do you live in a mansion?

Cancel DD through your bank.

I think you may have misunderstood. Previous posts explain it!

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lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 11:00

MrsRobinsonsHandprints · 05/09/2022 10:46

Reading this thread posters are advising a mother not to bathe her child. Just read that again, not bathe her baby. How has the UK got to this point, and why do we all seem so accepting of it?

Dreadful isn't it (the situation, not the advice on the thread, I mean). We shouldn't be in this situation in 2022!

Of course I will continue to bath my baby as and when she needs it (usually daily, sometimes I can skip a day if she hasn't put porridge or jam in her hair 😂), but I will maybe just use less water or go back to the smaller baby bath as another poster suggested.

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bellac11 · 05/09/2022 11:08

lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 11:00

Dreadful isn't it (the situation, not the advice on the thread, I mean). We shouldn't be in this situation in 2022!

Of course I will continue to bath my baby as and when she needs it (usually daily, sometimes I can skip a day if she hasn't put porridge or jam in her hair 😂), but I will maybe just use less water or go back to the smaller baby bath as another poster suggested.

I dont agree that government shouldnt have (and I mean from years ago) protected our energy supplied, I did not agree with privatisation.

But you cant really make a comment like that after reviewing your household usage where you are a really wasteful household. I often wonder why people pay so much for their energy use and this is why

Our usage is said to be on the high side and we're going to cut down but we do absolutely nothing near your usage. We use around 5k gas units and 4700 electric units a year, I think the electric is on the high side so we're going to look at that.

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lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 11:11

@bellac11

I can make whatever comment I like on my own thread, surely?

Yes, we appear to have areas where we can cut back but before the price hikes we could more than afford our usage so 🤷‍♀️

prices are absolutely sky rocketing, that's the issue here.

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lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 11:19

We were paying £170 a month this time last year and had been doing so for ages. It had allowed a £1300 credit to build on our account, of which we got 1k refunded. As I say, we could more than afford our usage at previous energy prices. Of course we will cut down where we can now (in particular the teen's showers!), and I'm not home every day on mat leave this winter like last year, so heating won't be on most days etc ..... but there's only so much we can do given an 80% price increase!!

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LittleOwl153 · 05/09/2022 11:44

I was playing with the proce predictor on Octopus yesterday. From paying £100pcm combined for many years it seems to think we'll need to pay £475 going forward to break even....

On the bath front, does your shower run over the bath? If it does run the shower for 5 minutes with the plug in and see where the water gets to. I think many people assume that showers are more efficient but alot of these power showers use loads of water so I'm going to suggest that your babys/toddlers shallow baths are perhaps using less water than your power shower....

(there is also the entertainment/learning value of a bath for a little one. My youngest (primary aged) showers when he needs to but still enjoys an hour in the bath ~6inches of water with his ducks/boats etc and it keeps him busy for that time period as much as a console/ book / any other toy!)

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lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 11:49

@LittleOwl153

No our shower is separate to the bath.

Yes absolutely- DD loves bath time, playing with her bath toys and pouring water etc keeps her occupied for at least a good 10/15 mins! 😃

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sevenbyseven · 05/09/2022 11:51

A 5-minute shower uses roughly a third the amount of water as a bath. So a 30-40 minute shower will use as much as 2-3 baths! Is it an electric shower or not? Buy a 4-minute shower timer (like an egg timer with a suction cup) and ask teen to stick to it.

No more turning on the heating to dry wet washing - the bill payer (you) is in charge of the heating from now on.

Good luck with reducing your usage!

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lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 12:21

No it's not an electric shower

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Ozgirl75 · 05/09/2022 12:35

Thing is (and I’m not getting on at you @lancsgirl85 , more a comment on energy use in general), I think lots of people have got very used to cheap energy and so didn’t even think to limit their use.
Growing up in the 80s, we weren’t poor at all, but my parents drummed into me about turning lights off, short showers (mainly because we were on a tank and the water would run out and go cold!), closing doors between rooms to keep the heat in etc. It wasn’t uncomfortable (we lived in a very old house with no central heating but it was cosy and warm with a fire), it was just normal.
Then as people moved into their own homes a lot of that seems to have been forgotten. Friends houses would be roasting all the time, every room warm whether you were in it or not, long showers, tumble driers were normal (quite a luxury in the 80s).
So I think that there has been a lot of talk of the extremes of either using loads of energy or going back, as someone suggested above to once a week baths, limited kettle use, no heating etc, but I do think there’s a sensible middle ground.

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Ozgirl75 · 05/09/2022 12:38

So for example, we have split level heating (like central heating but either air con or heat and through vents as we’re in Aus), so we only heat or cool the rooms we’re in. No need to have radiators blaring out heat in the spare room, or the dining room if you’re not in it.

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lancsgirl85 · 05/09/2022 12:42

Ozgirl75 · 05/09/2022 12:38

So for example, we have split level heating (like central heating but either air con or heat and through vents as we’re in Aus), so we only heat or cool the rooms we’re in. No need to have radiators blaring out heat in the spare room, or the dining room if you’re not in it.

We don't - I have radiators turned off in my bedroom for example as I hate being too hot especially at night. It's DP who puts the heating on a lot, as I've already said. Generally speaking, I'm not one to rush and put the heating on in this house (unless it's below zero in the winter). I could definitely do better with electricity usage I think. And baths and showers, as I've already said.

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Ozgirl75 · 05/09/2022 12:46

Yes, I didn’t mean you in particular - it was more a comment on what I’ve experienced with my friends and their hot houses! While energy has been cheap it’s been easy not to have to think about it too much.
The good thing for you @lancsgirl85 is that by doing things like addressing the long showers (I also have a son who adores just standing there and letting the water flow for ages unless I chivvy him along), it’ll probably make a big difference.

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Proudboomer · 05/09/2022 13:05

I have given my adult sons shower timers and they are allowed 5 minutes each which is plenty of time to shower. I have also set the boiler to only come on twice a day for an hour at a time so there is a tank of hot water for the morning and then another for the evening so if one gets greedy and takes more than their 5 minutes there will be none for anyone else. This way they stick to the 5 minutes.
my tumble dryer has been unplugged and will stay unplugged as when the rates go up next month a c rated tumbler dryer will cost about £2.30 a hour to run. I do 6 washes a week which will be dried on airers and a pulley I have put up in the utility room.
I will only be heating the rooms I have got to so my mums room downstairs as she is old and disabled, her disabled bathroom which I will leave the door open to so the heat will also heat the hallway a bit, one dining room radiator as I will put the air in there, 2 towel rails in the other bathrooms and one radiator in the annex. Upstairs will stay off and the lounge I use will stay off and I will use a heated throw. In previous years I have been a high energy user using over 19000 of gas and 6800 of electric. This year I want to half the electric and knock a couple of thousand units off the gas. I will still have high bills but it is the best I can do and still keep mum warm.

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