The story of an extortionate electricity bill

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I have spent a lot of time during my sick leave diagnosing my extortionate electric bill and felt it would be useful to write it up as a blog post for anyone else suffering similar problems.

As most of you are no doubt aware, I recently moved into a flat with Faye which means there are only 2 of us in a flat. This means responsibility of things like bills and ensuring we stay on top of them. To give you a bit of background on the flat as a whole:

  • It’s beautiful and I would not change my decision to live here (at least for the 12 month contract)
  • We have an economy 7 meter (which basically means I can have a tariff which has a cheaper night rate of electric)
  • We have 7 electric heaters
  • We have an Immersion boiler which goes up to 90 celsius at night (and we cannot change the temperature easily)
  • Cooker and oven both run on electric
  • We drink 3 to 4 cups of tea each per day

Problem number 1:

The landlord set up our electric and it was with EDF so I was expecting some sort of welcome letter or phone call or something. No. That’s not how they work. Apparently by law they are allowed to put you on the most expensive tariff when you move in and it’s MY responsibility to ring them to sort it out. The most expensive package was 18p per kWh with no night rate discount.

Problem number 2:

It took me 51 days to try and find a cheaper supplier because I was being lazy. I ended up doing it at Costa because we didn’t have the internet yet. None the less we decided to go with the Co-Op who were offering 15p per kWh for day and just under 8p for night. Great deal yes 🙂

The first EDF bill

To say the cost of the first bill came as a shock would be an understatement. Firstly lets give some perspective. Getting the average consumption of electricity in the UK is fairly difficult because of insulation issues, size of the house, whether they have Gas etc but as a very broad estimate you are looking at about 20kw a day. Our first bill showed we averaged over 50… 51 days cost £420. £420! I simply couldn’t believe that this was possible. Our house wasn’t boiling but it was warm. We lived the same as we always have and for some reason the bill was insane.

Investigation

Enter Microsoft Excel: I cannot recommend enough just how important it is to monitor your electricity usage and estimated cost whenever you move in to somewhere new. If I had done this step at the beginning I could have saved myself hundreds of pounds.

Now I went into a shit load of detail to try and find the culprit and even now I still think there is an issue with the meter so we are getting an engineer in. However over the course of 7 days I managed to reduce our Electric usage by half as you can see from the graph below.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 15.31.16

  1. 50KW. Normal usage. The same usage as the first 51 days. This included 2 heaters on all the time and switching a big heater on in the evening when it got particularly cold.
  2. 48KW. This was an attempt to average the usage. So we had 3 heaters on all time but it had it on a thermostat. As you can see it made basically no difference at all. This was when it became clear that the heaters were going to be a major culprit
  3. 24.3KW. We had a major drop on day 3. We turned all but 1 heater off located right by the sofa  which we had on eco mode. The numbers were still high especially considering it was absolutely freezing in the house. So very very cold that we couldn’t wait to have a scorching hot shower and go to bed. We also began switching off everything at night by the plug.
    – 1 heater on eco
    – Everything switched off at night
    – 1 load of washing
    – 1 load in the dishwasher
  4. 24.8KW. Same again on day 4 but no washing or dishwasher except that the daily usage went up slightly. I can only attribute this to a colder day therefore the 1 heater working a little harder.
  5. 28KW. By now we had enough. We were so cold and wanted some actual warmth. It was the same as day 3 except instead we put the main heater in the center of the room on for an hour and a half on the maximum temperature. Now this heater is very good. Very hot. Fan assisted and our theory was that it was not effecient. In small doses it was actually pretty good. It was decided to change our plan of action a little…
  6. 15.6KW. We turned off all the heaters by now. Everything was off at night and we only had the main big heater on in the evening. It meant that house was freezing during the day but given that neither Faye or I are in the house during the day it didn’t matter. The main heater produced enough heat in the evening to be acceptable although still not cosy. The drop in electric went to a number that we we’re astounded with.
  7. 18.2KW. To ensure day 6 wasn’t a fluke we tried again. Still under 20 so we’re happy.

What I have learnt

  • It is a very badly insulated flat.
  • Electric heaters are expensive and there is just no point keeping the house at a constant temperature unless you have gas heating.
  • Immersion boilers are also expensive. I have worked out that on it’s own it uses about 8-10kw a night which is almost £1 a day for hot water.
  • Go through this process on day 1 of moving in!!!

Realistically the aim is to be under 25kw in a day which along with switching providers would cut over half the bill. The hope is that when the weather gets better the day will feel less cold and the house will warm up in general and we will consistently hit under 20kw a day thus averaging out a little. They say the average annual electric bill for an all electric house is £1200… Ours will no doubt be more with at least £700 expected for the first 3 months 🙁

Learn from my mistake!

6 thoughts on “The story of an extortionate electricity bill

  1. Wow those heaters and the immersion boiler are rinsing you. I use on average 130kWh of electricity per month… Although I have a gas hob, central heating, and don’t use the immersion heater on my boiler. I pay around £50 each month for electricity and gas, which should go down soon as I’ve turned off the heating.

    1. £50 a month is good in comparison to ours! We pay £35 a mont as an estimated but it is obviously far too low. We are hoping £50 – £70 a month as an average for the rest of 2013… Although to be honest who knows what will actually happen. The house really cold and fingers crossed it doesn’t feel as cold without heating in the summer…

  2. I’m not surprised, my place in Canterbury with all the electric heating off was circa £150pm. We lived in the freezing cold for two long winters because of crappy electric heaters!

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