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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorRex
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2021
    What ho one and all,

    Have just received an e-mail from my energy company, Bulb, that they are going to increase my monthly payment to cover what they feel is an appropriate monthly usage as I am apparently, underpaying.

    So I have had a look at the bills for the last three years for July, Aug, Sept. Both gas and electricity are within what I could term reasonable variations with one exception and that is 2021 Sept gas usage. I always give a customer reading when they send the reminder; Bulb estimate for Sept is OK, but my reading is around 60kWh greater than the estimate and is virtually double for Sept of the past few years.

    I have checked the meter and my reading now is only a few kWH above the current bill, so my reading was correct. There is no gas smell anywhere.

    Is it possible that the meter is giving a false reading? The meter was installed by probably SGN when we built.

    Who do I contact to check? SGN or Bulb?

    Thanks and toodle pip
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2021
    Bulb suggested they put up my payments by a ridiculuous amount at the beginning of the year. Despite my pointing to years of records showing my consumption hadn't changed, they were predicting something like a 50% increase in consumption. When they refused to reconsider, I told them I would quit. Fortunately Ripple/Co-Op/Octopus came along and meant I had to change anyway :bigsmile: And by pure fluke I chose a fixed-price contract :bigsmile:

    Bulb explain what to do at https://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/360033353271-Faulty-or-broken-meters#h_a9dac080-e0aa-40b5-8ef0-a63de78ae078

    They suggest turning everything off to check whether there's a leak somewhere, and they point out that they'll charge you £120 if you call them to come and check your meter, unless it proves to have a fault. Your choice.
    • CommentAuthorJeff B
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2021
    Having been with SSE for eons I decided to switch supplier after doing some research using Uswitch. I signed up with Bulb and gave them my estimate for our annual electricity consumption, which has been reasonably stable now for many years. This was in late summer. As soon as the winter months approached and the monthly readings naturally increased, this caused a knee-jerk reaction from Bulb who apparently started to panic because the regular direct debit was not sufficient to keep pace with the cost of the electricity we were using. To be fair to them they only "suggested" increasing the D/D rather than instructing me to do so, but I wrote back to decline their offer as I know that during the summer months the D/D would be more than ample to cover the cost.
    • CommentAuthorRex
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2021
    Interesting and thanks for the link.

    Obviously, I don't know if the meter is faulty but £120 is not about to happen. May be wait and see what the next month bill brings when compared with the same for the past three years.

    With the exception of the one anomaly, there is no significant monthly deviation that really justifies them increasing my monthly payment, when I am already a few hundred in credit.

    Will try to contact them on the morrow but I guess that Covid has allowed the bots to take over and they will tell me that all the answers can be found on the web. What a 'expletive deleted' crazy world we have created!
    Rex - Do they pay interest on the few hundred quid you are in credit? If not then if you take a few hundred quid from each customer by unnecessarily putting a hike in the monthly payments then that represents an interest free loan that could be quite useful.

    Over here where you pay a fixed average sum monthly reconciled by an annual meter reading you can request an adjustment if you think it is out of line with reality and if your request is reasonable against the facts it will be approved.
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2021
    Posted By: Peter_in_HungaryRex - Do they pay interest on the few hundred quid you are in credit? If not then if you take a few hundred quid from each customer by unnecessarily putting a hike in the monthly payments then that represents an interest free loan that could be quite useful.

    Bulb state that your account should always be in credit. That is the minimum balance is zero, and normally they owe you money for most of the year. I objected and said that to be fair the mean balance should be zero, not the minmum. They wouldn't budge. I'm not sure but I suspect that most other firms run things the same way.
    • CommentAuthorRobL
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2021
    We're with OVO, they're similar, always need a float. They pay 3% on it, so seems ok to me. They just seem to make the DD number up - we've been with them 10 years, and the DD has varied between £6 and £100 a month somewhat randomly over that period, and recently accumulated a somewhat ridiculous £1500 in the float. The DD is £6 at the moment, but given our V2G (ie. we buy cheap elec, sell it back at a profit), £6/mo is probably about right over the year. I guess our atypical energy pattern confuses their algorithm, so expect that they will push the DD up again shortly !

    I don't really understand why you don't pay in arrears for what you have used - it would focus the mind on energy use. Bit of googling...I notice that OVO variable tarrif can be paid in arrears for used energy - is there a reason for why one tarrif type can, another cannot?
    • CommentAuthorRex
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2021
    Thanks for all the comments.

    I did search the Bulb site and in fact, if I register a problem with the gas meter and it is found not to have a problem, the cost is £160.

    But their DIY test relates mainly to electricity in switching things off. If I turn off the gas, I can heat the DHW with electricity, but don't want to cook with a box of matches.

    At the moment, I am £250 give or take in credit.

    I agree, don't understand why we don't pay in arrears; must be something to do with trust. In Japan, specifically Tokyo, there is one gas and one electricity supplier. Someone comes and reads the meter every month and you get the bill. OK, no competition, but everyone pays for what they use.

    Will give Bulb a call, if for no other reason, I have never liked the concept that the energy companies can take what they feel to be appropriate from my account.
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2021
    Posted By: RexBut their DIY test relates mainly to electricity in switching things off. If I turn off the gas, I can heat the DHW with electricity, but don't want to cook with a box of matches.

    Your cooker isn't normally switched on, is it? I don't think they ask you to switch the gas off, that wouldn't help if there was a leak in the meter or pipework downstream of the valve. The idea is to turn all appliances off, so you can see if the meter stops as well.
    I'm with Bulb and keep my account in debit, I just adjust the payment every few months to only just pay for the energy I have already used.

    When I transferred to Bulb, they didn't get a good record of my previous consumption, so they based their estimated bills on the average for my postcode, which caused some strife. Obviously problem is solved since I got a smart meter.
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2021
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenI'm with Bulb and keep my account in debit

    It took a fair few years before they got around to enforcing the always-in-credit term in their contract.
    Rex, IIRC you don't have a smart meter yet? If you did, you would know (from the graph) what time of day the gas was being used. If it's a leak or a meter error, there would be gas consumption showing at times of day when you know there's no intended consumption. If it were a genuine usage, you could tell what time of day and relate that to what you were doing at that time.

    Have you done more cooking at home this year? We started baking sourdough during lockdown, like everyone else did, but were surprised to see from the smart meter just how much energy it takes to heat up our oven, couple of kWh each time. Uses less energy to cook sourdough crumpets on the hob.

    You could ask bulb to replace your meter with a smart meter, they do that for free, the new meter would be freshly calibrated.
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2021
    Posted By: RobL
    They pay 3% on it, so seems ok to me.

    and recently accumulated a somewhat ridiculous £1500 in the float.

    At 3% in a secure environment, thats a nice little earner. If youve got cash savings elsewhere might be worth doing what you can to trigger an increase in DD😁
    • CommentAuthorRex
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2021
    Managed the almost impossible by actually speaking with someone from Bulb.

    They are going to freeze my current d/d for a few months, particularly as I have a good credit record and when there has been a small debit amount, I have covered it within days.

    Regards the increase in the monthly gas kWh, seems it is because I usually give a meter reading and last moth, I did not; for the current bill, I did. Appears that the increase is covering their last month estimate and this months corrected reading. Looking back on past bills, a similar thing has occurred when I failed to provide a reading.

    Still not sure about a smart meter, but do know that Bulb have been 'pressurizing' me as they have an installation team in the area!!!
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