Electricity bills and heating (by )

We changed electricity supplier recently, which is great, but the downside is that I've just noticed a bounced direct debit from NPower (the old one) for £661 on our joint account, to clear our remaining balance 🙁

We were paying a regular direct debit of £130 a month, which we tried to keep to by not being wasteful with the hot water (electrically heated) and by rationing the use of the fan heater (which at 3kW costs just under 50p an hour to run, which at the planned four hours a day comes out to £60 a month, the rest being our normal 'summer' power consumption)

I've no idea how we've gone £661 over in the past year 🙁 I can't find my old workings, but I know my estimate of our summer power consumption involved a lot of guesswork, and I was uncertain as to how many months of the year we'd run the heater for... but it looks like we won't be able to afford to run the fan heater at all this winter; thankfully, we've managed to plug a lot of the draughts in the house, and I'm going to try and arrange secondary double glazing (be it nice sheets of plastic mounted properly... or bubble wrap pinned to the window frames), so hopefully we'll be able to get by with the coal fire downstairs, which normally gets through something like £5 worth of coal a day.

I'll be more frugal with the gas heater in my office, too - last winter, it was used to great effect (especially once we'd managed to close the warped window properly so there wasn't a huge draught), but the office is a high-ceilinged room so a lot of empty space has to be filled with warm air before I feel much of it. I budgeted for one £15 cylinder a month, but we ended up using one about every ten days, from memory.

By comparison, Sarah's electric blanket only uses a sixty or so watts, and keeps her toasty warm all night! Which just goes to show how much of the heat from a room heater goes to heating the walls and air, rather than heating us. I need to get some time to refit Sarah's heated jacket with a cable to plug into a plugtop PSU so she can be kept warm without needing to get through batteries like they grow on trees...


  • By Gavan, Mon 27th Sep 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    How much were NPower charging? 167p per unit? That seems... a factor of ten too high.

  • By Becca, Mon 27th Sep 2010 @ 3:25 pm

    We just had our NPower electricity bill which was £600 for 4 months (between March - July). On closer inspection of the bill I found that the "customer" readings of the electricity meter that the lettings agent had given them were just wrong! Our current electricity meter reading is significantly less than the reading they have given before we moved into the place [not really sure why!!!!]

    I wonder if this means that NPower owe us money 🙂

    Also they put up their tariffs all the time. You would need to check on their website. Some of my friends give their meter reading every month so it is a more accurate bill.

  • By sarah, Tue 28th Sep 2010 @ 8:56 am

    We have also just had the meter changed and the guy said it would have been inaccurate on the higher side of things 🙁 I'm afraid I had already usurped Alaric and gotten two oil filled radiators that one on 4 Watts.

    My idea being these can run for longer than the fan heaters and wont keep blowing - we can't afford to have less heating than last year as our water froze :/ But I'm hoping things will be better with plugged leaks and stuff anyway.

  • By Cesar Gil, Fri 12th Nov 2010 @ 9:51 pm

    Hi alaric, Great blog. I share your problems with the big electricity bill, living in an apartment with lousy thermal isolation and no central heating. I see from your geek code that you are a NetBSD user. Since I have felt the attraction of the BSD world (mainly due to technical reasons) after a few years of using GNU/Linux, I noted especially two main differences: Coming from a certain GNU/FSF way of seeing things, I find interesting how the approach taken by the BSD community seems to be more pragmatic, i.e. using DRM-ridden Apple stuff, allowing binary-only firmware when no substitute is around, and so on. Please, don't take this as any kind of negative criticism, I understand different approaches could work equally well. Also, since NetBSD is my preferred new OS (friendly community, compromise with stability and correctness, portability...), It's a big change from using tools like apt-aptitude to using pkgsrc (I know pkg_add uses binary packages, but they are a bit scarce, compared to Debian-based repositories. The compiling seems to not have an end in this aging machines. Also updating all packages looks laborious. Anyway, I hope this will elevate me to enlightenment. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your projects and discoveries with all of us.

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