/ Home & Energy

Energy deals shouldn’t be this complicated

Call centre staff

We’ve launched our third investigation into how energy deals are sold over the phone – energy companies are getting better at offering us the cheapest tariff, but are still struggling to give us accurate quotes.

We rang up the six major energy companies twelve times over the course of a week in November 2012 and asked for a quote for their cheapest deal. Putting aside some of the strange prices we were quoted, what struck me most is that it still feels far too complicated to work out the best deal.

Even after analysing fifty or so of these calls, I was still discovering new jargon and an array of discounts that I didn’t fully understand, from paperless billing discounts to Nectar points as a ‘thank you’. I was also left bamboozled by the subtle differences between unit rates and standing charges that many salespeople listed at the end of the call.

Struggling with the sums

Two of the most striking calls were when salespeople tried to figure out a quote for us using pen, paper and a calculator after their computer system went down:

‘So 15105 x 0.0374 is 565 just about. Right 365 days at 29.616, this can’t be right, that’s £2,000, that doesn’t make sense, try that again. 565,365 times 0.29616, put a point in, it might make a difference. Right £108 that makes more sense. Right so gas would equate to 673, that’s without VAT. VAT at 5% would make that 6, £700 more or less.’

When you see the professionals scratching their heads and performing some seriously complicated maths, it does make you wonder – does it really need to be so confusing?

The answer is… simplicity

In November 2012 we did an investigation that showed that only 8% of people could work out the cheapest tariff when presented with six different energy deals. It’s hardly surprising that most people don’t even bother trying to find out the best deal for them, even though some could save hundreds of pounds a year.

That’s why we are calling on the government to ensure that prices can be easily compared at a glance, like on petrol forecourt displays. A single unit price would allow people to find the cheapest energy deals with ease.

At the moment, the maths just doesn’t add up. It’s time to simplify the process and cut down the jargon, so that we can all have clear, easy-to-compare gas and electricity prices.

Comments
Profile photo of b martin
Member

I am at a loss to understand your remarks under the heading ‘struggling with the sums’. Are you being deliberately obfuscatory or just ignorant ?
Referring to the details quoted the following is obvious-
15,105 is the estimated kWh consumption for one year; £0.0374 is the cost of 1kWh of gas, hence15105x0.0374= £564.93 gives the cost per year of the gas cosumed. 29.616p or £0.29616 is the standing charge per day, hence 365x£0.29616=£108 per year.Adding£564.93and £108 gives a cost of £672.93 for gas for the year. Bearing in mind that this is only an estimate it would be true to say that the future gas bill will most likely be between £700 and £770 allowing for the inevitable price rises.
In future I reccomend that you chose one of the more complex tariffs to youse as an illustration.

Profile photo of banjo
Member

Most call centre staff, irrespective of their industry, would be in deep trouble if their computers went down. Try getting an insurance quote from anyone without the computer for them to play with.

Obviously you record the phone calls but I’m slightly puzzled by the point of it all.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

This topic has been thrashed to death already. There is no agreement among previous contributors as to whether you should have standing charges or not, dual unit charges or not, so why go through all this again? It seems like Which? has one agenda regardless of other opinions.
Given unit charges and standing charges and a record of your kWh consumption it really is not beyond most people to work out the cost, or have someone help them or use a comparison site.
Forget Nectar points – they shouldn’t be a factor in choosing a deal.
I’m all for having a very small number of options, that is sensible. What is not sensible is oversimplifying just for the sake of it.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I support what Which? trying to achieve. Although I don’t find it hard to do the necessary calculations, I respect that many people will find them difficult. We should consider others.

I am strongly opposed to the standing charge on principle, because it means that higher users pay less for energy. We need to do what we can to conserve energy.

Which? has suggested (again) that domestic gas and electricity prices should be as simple to compare as petrol forecourt displays. That’s fine for me. I’m not aware that any company selling petrol has suggested we pay a standing charge to help cover the cost of delivering fuel, the cost of the pumps and paying the staff running the filling station. Getting rid of standing charges will certainly help towards simple, easy to understand pricing for everyone.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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The energy companies have significant fixed costs and the issue is whether all users – big or small – should make a fair contribution to this infrastructure. I believe they should – others may disagree. The system at present allows the larger user to pay a substantial amount towards this fixed cost by way of a standing charge. A small user may choose not to pay this charge, but instead opt to pay a higher unit rate that helps recover some of this – but for a very low user the contribution is small. You could argue that the larger user is subsidising the smaller user by paying more towards the infrastructure.

It is misleading to say that the larger user benefits from paying less for energy – they are simply paying separately for infrastructure and energy. The smaller user has these costs combined into one charge.

Whilst many of us conserve as much energy as possible there are many who use significantly more energy than others for unavoidable reasons that do not need repeating. They should not be penalised.

Ay present the user has a choice – you can pick the tariff that gives you the lowest bill. Surely such a choice is reasonable.

There is no black and white answer here. Oversimplification can be counter-productive – choice is what consumers should be given.

Profile photo of johnecon
Member

Why should the infrastructure cost be divided per customer and not per unit of consumption? Do it the second way and you have the same marginal price at every level of consumption, which is a simple tariff and does not give large consumers a lower incentive to save a unit than small consumers. Infrastructure in the form of pipelines, cables and the like is equally utilised by each unit. Billing systems and so on are a per customer cost but in an efficient organisation should be relatively small.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Because in a given area it costs just as much for the infrastructure to provide a low and a high domestic user.
It is a fallacy to suggest that larger users have a lower incentive – energy is expensive for all of us and I for one do all that is reasonable to minimise my consumption and bills. The present system allows consumers to choose the tariff most appropriate to their needs. You can work out which supplier and which tariff givers you the lowest estimated annual charge and opt for that.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Why work out anything if we can simply compare the price per unit? Supermarkets provide unit pricing to help those who can’t do mental arithmetic to compare prices.

Though I am keen that we should all be able to handle calculations, not everyone can. Is there anything wrong with what Which? is trying to achieve?

Profile photo of johnecon
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The only part of the physical infrastructure with costs independent of usage is the part from the mains to the consumer’s meter, which is as I say a minute portion. Gas from third party oil and gas fields pays a tariff per cubic foot to use a pipeline, not per company or per third party field. I consider this to be analogous. If you insist on putting excessive costs into a standing charge the large consumer does indeed have a lower marginal cost than he or she should have. I believe the true fixed cost per customer to be so small that it is not worth the administrative expense of separating it out. The customer pays this admin cost and the cost of maintaining superfluous tariffs.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Who funds transmission lines, generating capacity, pipelines, gas storage, investment in new power sources including green energy solutions, tidal, and so on. Some comes directly from the consumer. It is needed whether you buy a lot or a little.

Profile photo of johnecon
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I agree, wavechange. I am good at mental arithmetic and am a large user. I live in an 1897-built solid granite walled flat in Aberdeen and my flat does not have the roof. I just don’t grind axes and would like my future great grandchildren to have a planet to live on.

Profile photo of dave newcastle
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Malcolm R, oil refineries have complex expensive equipment to maintain and yet the petrol/diesel price per unit at the pumps is easy to understand.The gas and electric suppliers need to stop making excuses and get on and introduce simple unit pricing.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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It is not about who has complex plant – most industries and services do. It is about alternative ways of charging. Not whether one is right and one is wrong. If you pay phone line rental and call charges or have unlimited calls for a fee, if you buy a railcard then benefit from cheaper fares, if you have a prepaid prescription card so don’t pay for individual prescriptions – these offer alternative charging methods. That does not make them wrong – it gives the customer a choice of the best method for their circumstance.

Profile photo of johnecon
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I agree, Dave. All this promotion of “choice” by the industry is a smokescreen to make a simple comparison between suppliers more difficult, i.e. to reduce choice where it counts, between rather than within suppliers. If Malcolm R’s alternatives are not equivalent to each other one group of customers is subsidising another. If they are equivalent, they may as well be replaced by a single tariff to the benefit of all. Two Sainsbury’s Energy guys are permanently camped in my local supermarket these days. I would not speak to them any more than I would speak to a charity mugger but seeing them and Malcolm R’s and similar comments every day is bringing me nearer to comparing prices online and probably finding that I should switch from Scottish Hydro to M&S Energy.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Ofgem’s Retail Market Review document is available on their website. Primarily it deals with the simplification of tariffs so one would hope that if, and when, the proposals are implemented the current complexity will diminish.
I assume Which? has been involved in, or are aware of, this consultation. Do they disagree with it and are they making separate proposals to government? At some point a consensus has to be reached for progress to be made.
Ofgem seem to recognise that the fixed cost element of energy supply should be shown separately from the energy cost, and proposes tariffs that consist of a standing charge + energy unit cost. It is a PDF so if you search under Standing Charge you can find their proposals.

Profile photo of andrew in harrogate
Member

Are you about to have another “Big Switch” like you did last year?

Profile photo of rosealee
Member

A point I believe missed in this discussion,albeit a simple one,consumers who are low users often do this out of necessity ie low incomes or pensions, not choice. Who would choose not to keep their home at a warm temperature,but have to instead heat their home for a limited number of hours on a low temperature? That is why spreading the cost is unfair to include everyone.High users of energy need to pay more,low users as already mentioned need to keep costs down.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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It is not up to energy users to subsidise indiscriminately – not all low users are poor, and not all high users are well off. It is for the Benefits System to target those in need with appropriate support.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Some time ago I registered my interest in a Ready to Switch collective switching scheme. The offer came in somewhat later than promised and here is a summary of the prices and discounts:

Electricity up until 900 kWh £0.2175 / kWh
Electricity above 900 kWh £0.1158 / kWh
No standing charge

Gas up until 2680 kWh £0.0692 / kWh
Gas above 2680 kWh £0.0351 / kWh
No standing charge

Gas & Electricity annual discount of £5.25 (incl. VAT) per fuel and Online Energy Service annual discount of £5.25 (incl. VAT) per fuel are available to qualifying customers (Subject to ‘Online Fixed Price Energy September 2014 Offer’ Terms and Conditions). Cashback of £46 (incl. VAT) is included in the calculation above for the first year only (Subject to ‘Online Fixed Price Energy September 2014 Offer – Collective Switching Scheme January 2013 Cashback’ Terms and Conditions)
All prices include VAT at 5%. Prices fixed until 31st August 2014. Please note that your direct debit billed amount may vary according to usage. You will find details of the ScottishPower offer, prices and Terms & Conditions under the header “Online Fixed Price Energy September 2014”.

OK, good that there is no standing charges, but bad that the prices are complicated by the dual price bands. Ready to Switch claims that that I will save £128 compared with my present e.on Energy Online tariff, but e.on have five different plans to tempt me with. Instead of looking at them I put my details into uSwitch and established that the offer from Ready to Switch was the best of the bunch, so I have accepted the offer and put a reminder in my diary to check prices in mid-2014.

I do hope that Which? will carry on their campaign for simple gas and electricity prices that can be compared as easily as the price of petrol.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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wavechange – the use of a two-tier unit tariff is just another way of recovering standing charges by the difference between the initial and ongoing unit costs. In this case they are for electricity £91.53 and for gas £91.39.
The overall costs are not bad – I use npower and the gas cost is around the same, while the electricity unit cost is around 10% more than npower.
Ofgem (document referenced earlier above) also favour a simplified system – an annual standing charge plus a single tariff. Simplification is on its way – but it won’t please everybody.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I appreciate the reason for the two tier pricing, Malcolm. You want to keep the standing charge and I want simple unit pricing. I read the Ofgem document when wind power was the topic of conversation. Let’s agree to disagree – and continue to agree on many other things.

The most important thing for me to remember is that unless I review prices in mid-2014 I will land up paying more than necessary for energy.

Profile photo of johnecon
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You cannot compare prices unless you are in the same location. Back at the time of the “Big Switch” the best terms in Aberdeen were from Sainsbury’s Energy and M&S Energy whereas all the talk elsewhere seemed to be about Cooperative. One reason you have to review prices in mid-2014, wavechange, is that ridiculous £46 cashback. It’s just like all those one year special deals on ISAs, mortgages etc. designed to make you think that interest rates are higher or lower respectively than they really are. What consumers need is straightforward, competitive prices that change as little as possible from year to year. It is only people like you who switch every year who make fools of these practitioners of foolish marketing. If everyone switched every year, the daft deals would soon disappear.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Thanks Johnecon. I have been aware of regional pricing since I first switched supplier, many years ago, and it is something that has been mentioned on Which? Conversation.

Having sorted out my energy supplier it is time to review my savings. It’s great that we have companies that offer ethical investments, excluding companies that sell tobacco products or exploit overseas workers, but its about time that we had the opportunity to open a savings account or ISA without having to remember that the generous rate of interest is likely to disappear in a year or so. No doubt someone will remind us that the information is in the T&Cs but perhaps it is time for companies to think a little more about customers and less about their shareholders.

Member
Ronald MacLean says:
21 February 2013

We saved a lot years ago when we switched supplier.(With Which?)
We had stopped using gas and had installed a ground source heat pump plus more insulation. Our total energy purchase is between 9000 and 10000 kWh pa, all electric. The initial units are expensive but the bulk of them cost almost exactly 10pence each so a monthly payment of £92 requires little adjustment.
While we use more electricity than average, I think that our total energy use is not unreasonable. Theoretically, only electric power can be produced with low Carbon emissions.
If N-Power, not one of Which? favourites, can make a profit with our tariff, why can’t we have unit prices close to 10 or 12 pence from all?
Gas supplies are limited and will be increasingly expensive. I believe Which? should be encouraging heat pump installations. Modern air sourced units are now increasing in efficiency and are simple to install.

Member
Malcolm Duke says:
22 February 2013

While the aim for everybody to be on the cheapest tariff is laudable, this means that deals that best suit some people no longer exist.
I’m all for a simple system, but over-simplification leads to lack of flexibility.
Having solar PV and thermal, I don’t want to have a standing charge since I’m using next to no gas for eight months of the year. I would prefer to pay for what I use. Yet because my energy supplier (e.on) can only offer five tariffs, they no longer have a tariff without standing charges!
There is still a lack of detail in the information the average customer can get. Comparison websites are fine, but they are all blunt instruments that don’t present the details very clearly. All I want is a spreadsheet with all tariffs from all suppliers so that I can do accurate comparisons. If anybody knows where I can find that, I’d be very grateful.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

This is another reason to get rid of standing charges, and also dual pricing systems that charge more for a certain number of units.

We don’t pay a standing charge when buying fuel for our cars. All the costs of distributing and selling petrol and diesel are included in the cost per litre.

Member
Daniel says:
24 February 2013

I was with SSE, they had numerous tariffs, none of which seem to workout any cheaper for me regardless of standing charge or no standing charge, some had unit ceilings, some didnt.

After using a switching website and being a relative low user there was little saving or none to be made moving to any of the big 6.

I only switched in the end because SSE started penalising non DD customers by nearly doubling the standing charge if you didn’t switch to paying by DD.

I have switched to the Co-op, they have one tariff, they let me know when prices are going up, they let me know when prices are staying the same and the reasons why.

Member
Paul S says:
2 April 2013

Recently had notification of impending price changes – apparently because Ofgem says it has to be done to make it clearer and fairer. So my gas and electric will change from a 2 tier charging system to a standing charge and one rate.
This new structure means my gas is going to be subject to a 47.3p daily standing charge for god’s sake. As a low user that will mean my yearly bill is over £170 before I even use a whiff of gas!!!. To put this in context – I used less than £7 of gas last year!!. Coincidental is it that these changes come into effect in the summer when we will all be using less energy???
It’s not rocket science working out how much you are paying for energy and anyone with an ounce of intelligence can do it. And if your not able for some inane reason then there’s a multitude of comparison sites out there that will do it for you….sheesh!!.
At the end of the day if Ofgem and/or the energy companies want it to be easier for people make them introduce a single price per unit with NO standing charge!. It cannot get simpler than that and it’s much fairer than the way they want to do it despite Ofgem saying it’ll be fairer – my circumstances show standing charges are far from that.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Paul S, suggest you change your supplier to one that offers a single unit price with no standing charge. They are available now – Ebico for example – and is among the options being put forward by Ofgem. What may be fair to you may not be fair to someone else of course!

Profile photo of ellen
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I think changing Energy Supplies is not the answer to cheaper bills, that action must put the administration cost very high. We are with Southern Electric, no problems there.
New Technology is the answer to actually reduce your consumption.
Energy suppliers don’t seem to want you to reduce your energy consumption seem to only go for insulation and light bulbs. You can change Energy Suppliers and then the tariffs change, where is the logic in that.
We have reduced our consumption of energy considerably by using only 6 Solar panels, Schott and an intelligent central heating control, Klimat K2007.
Cooking on a hob more often and the use of a portable halogen oven. and a magnetic device fitted to our water inlet to eliminate chalk, as we live in a hard water area. foil behind the radiators.
Our newest acquisition is the Energy Egg it switches off power at the plug, great. Wonderful another few coppers saved.
The old saying take care of the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Ellen

As you say, the cost of us switching suppliers costs money and we – the customers – will pay the cost. It would be good if Which? could give an estimate of the average cost of a customer switching.

Magnets will not affect the hardness of water. Anyone still selling them for that purpose should be reported to Trading Standards.

If I recall correctly, Which? said that the EnergyEgg was one of the eco-gadgets best avoided. We had someone using Which? Conversation to promote them last year.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Ellen, you need to consider the cost of the equipment to trade off against the savings – unless you intend to save energy for its own sake. The Energy Egg was examined earlier, and was not cost effective I believe.
Soft water will prevent scale build up and marginally save energy in time, but I don’t believe the electrical methods are particularly good or effective. Best to fit a resin/salt one. It won’t pay for itself in cash terms, but it’s much nicer to bathe in slippery water!

Profile photo of ellen
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wavechange/Malcolm R
Yes it would help to know costs of changing suppliers.
Energy suppliers, lets face it, do not want to sell less energy. To me it seems like they are doing things, to make you believe that they are doing something to reduce costs. All that is happening is that they are moving goal posts. Cost will always go up and just changing Energy Companies does nothing except make them more competitive, and we are then bombarded doorstep sales etc. this must be a high cost practice. give me a solid supplier anytime.
The use of a magnet on the water inlet pipe keeps my kettle relatively free of chalk. and only a swish round with a brush every few months. Comparing my kettle others who do not have this fitted is quite something to see. have you tried it out? I am not after soft water, just something that keeps the pipes and boiler relatively free of chalk. we also use Calgon in every wash in our washing machine. I saw my old tank when it was removed in the 70’s half full of the stuff, and understood then why took hours to heat with the immersion. You can only use the information you learn, hear/read about to make decisions
The Energy Egg I think is one you have to try, it seems to me it has its place. One dizzy friend of mine, went out leaving the hair straighteners on (on the bedroom floor) and in the middle of the night stepped on them and had burnt feet. In a teenage household it would give peace of mind to parents from a safety angle and under these circumstances would save cash, let alone saving your home from potential fire.
The purpose I would use it for is to use plugs that are placed in ridiculous places . Our practice has always been switching off the power at the plug, but now its difficult to reach some of these plugs rendering them obsolete. I do like gadgets, and this one I think will be very good for the young, the aged, and the forgetful, and if it saves a few pennies it will also pay for itself eventually.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Ellen – There have been numerous trials of these magnets and they have no effect on water hardness. I’m a scientist and have a particular interest in companies that sell products that do not work. The change you have seen may be due to changes in hardness of your water supply. Mine is softer than it used to be, though still described as very hard.

I suggest you have a look at the Conversation about Calgon: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/calgon-washing-machines-limescale-live-longer/
I think you would be better to use a water softener.

As far as the EnergyEgg goes, I was simply passing on advice from Which?
http://www.which.co.uk/energy/energy-saving-products/guides/10-eco-products-you-dont-need/

Profile photo of ellen
Member

Wavechange, thank you for pointing out the Calgon findings, now I feel uneasy, the only thing I have based it on is the fact my old washing machines lasted 3 to 5 years, and now I have one that has lasted over 10 years. yes it could be lower temperatures or cold fill or a better machine, am I prepared to change a ritual, I am not sure. Also actually seeing chalk disappear from the outside of the pipe. Yes I would love a water softener perhaps it is not such a luxury item.

The findings on the Energy Egg I find harsh, I do think there is a real place for this gadget in family homes, for elderly and infirm, for safety and ease of use. if there is a small saving then so much the better then it will pay for itself. The £40 would be a worthwhile spend.

I looked carefully at all of the other suggestions and was disappointed to read that Intelligent Heating Controls and weather compensators, “go beyond the best practice” it seems to me as though Which has shelved these valuable resources and not considered at all. when in my experience the Klimat K2007 saves 30% and payback is considerably a lot less than the 12 years it will take to pay back for my solar panels, and that is with the high early FIT . It offers weather compensation and intelligence to give a living temperature that is set at your comfort levels. Why on earth would you turn down a thermostat and feel uncomfortable, when you can enjoy warmth and know that you are using less energy, and was easily retrofitted.
We take daily readings and have adjusted our cooking to reduce costs, why on earth would we want a smart meter, its easy to know what your daily usage is, and what sends the dial up faster than anything is the Oven.

Profile photo of johnecon
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Ellen, when tariffs differ, changing suppliers is very much the answer to cheaper bills. Technology in the form of smart meters offers little help. Consumption in a household is driven by who feels cold and who does not, and who is prepared to wear more layers of clothing and who is not. I live in a ground floor and basement flat so have no roof to insulate. I have solid granite walls and refuse to have internal space taken up by internal wall insulation. I therefore consider part of my energy bills to be equivalent to a rent or a mortgage on some of the living space I enjoy. I also am with part of SSE, but it is only being very busy with other things that stops me considering switching.

Profile photo of ellen
Member

johnecon, I like the perspective you take on the cost of space. There is always a price to pay and that you can choose your options. Having to deal with sometimes desperate Sales people is not my favourite occupation.
We have the luxury of a south facing lounge, and pull the curtains when it gets too hot, but in the winter the temperature doesnt change in our home much at all, it is 26/27 degrees in our living space and between 17/19 in the rest.
With a really intelligent heating control you can decide your own comfort level and it stays that way, you don’t notice any changes in temperature. I know when we visit some homes to take an extra jumper. The best thing is that we pay less in bills than our friends who have their homes at a much colder temperature.
Getting more for your money is an obsession which I am happy to follow. even if you pay to do so initially, in everything we have done the cost has always been recouped eventually.

Profile photo of johnecon
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Ellen, wavechange, of course customers’ switching involves a cost and customers end up paying it. The best way for this cost to be avoided is for all suppliers to be so competitive that no one finds it worthwhile to switch for such a small saving.

Profile photo of wavechange
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As long as this is achieved legally and not by price fixing, johnecon.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Suppliers will have different costs – admin and energy purchase – just like any other business. Competition is about making one supplier more attractive than another for some (but not all)consumers. So shopping around is one way of maintaining competition – just like food, insurance, or whatever.

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Yes, wavechange, it has to be achieved by competition and not by price fixing, and prices have to be more attractive for *most* consumers in a particular region to be truly competitive, Malcolm R. Ironically, if a high degree of competition led to universally competitive prices and no one switching any more, suppliers might think that no one was concerned about prices, which could be a market, but not legal, green light for price fixing. I am convinced that this low risk, typical utility industry should have its profits regulated to a maximum rate of return on assets employed. Apart from the unlikely strategy of accepting a lower rate of return, competition would then be a matter of reducing administration costs and making purchasing and the physical infrastructure as efficient as possible so that prices could be low.

Profile photo of ellen
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Malcom R I woke up this morning, thinking did he really say that “unless you intend to save energy for its own sake”
What is the Green Deal all about! we have to use less energy. Are you willing to take the chance on the consequences.

“The Energy Egg was examined earlier, and was not cost effective I believe”
Perhaps it doesnt save much energy, but it delivers in otherways, ease of use and a safety angle. I ask no more from it. GB is renowned for not acknowledging new ideas I say give it a chance to prove itself. After all there are loads of really worthless goods on offer in our shops.

” I don’t believe the electrical methods are particularly good or effective. Best to fit a resin/salt one. It won’t pay for itself in cash terms, but it’s much nicer to bathe in slippery water!”
Sorry I don’t want “nice” just results, as our washing machine has lasted 10 or more years without servicing in a considerably hard water area, I am satisfied with that. We looked at the water softeners many years ago , but never felt the cost justified the purchase. the £25 cost involved and the fitting this magnet into a pipe seems to work. We also had one of the Scale-watchers purchased when they first came out in the late 70’s ( the electrical ones) and yes it does reduce the chalk build up. That was after our pump ceased up, and saw the content of our old tank.

We will keep buying things to reduce our costs We are already 30% lower on central heating, and more than that on electricity. We brought a cup cake maker for our grandchildren, which take two minutes to bake. They have the fun and the results and I save more by not using the big oven. So that pays for itself as well. Why keep handing cash over to pay for increasing bills and not look at how to reduce them.
The energy Companies I believe should look at new ways to provide power.
What about the Wave Power in Hayle Cornwall or Solar in Africa, they would become the richest Nation if all that sunshine was harnessed, and exported.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Ellen, don’t lose sleep over it! Yes, I did say that as a personal view. If we wanted to save energy for its own sake, we would not take foreign holidays (fly and cruise energy consumption), we’d drive as little as possible in the most economical cars around (or use public transport), we’d have much smaller houses to minimise energy costs etc. These are lifestyle choices that we can all make if we wish.
It was estimated as cheaper to buy a new washing machine when it finally failed than to use softener tablets in every wash. A resin/salt softener might well be cheaper in the long term thant treating an individual appliance – depends how long you stay in your house.
You do pick up a point I have made elsewhere – we are surrounded by a huge and reliable source of energy – tidal – and yet I see little enthusiasm for developing it. Instead we waste money on wind farms and feed in tariffs for solar panels (and HS2).

Profile photo of ellen
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Malcolm R, Yes I agree with the use of tidal power. Not much information is being generated about this particular energy source. The last time I heard was that the project was producing power for 8000 homes. If this is true then who would take this forward? Not the Energy Companies thats for sure.
The wind farms in Cornwall look majestic, but I would not like to live down wind from them, also they are high maintenance apparently. Solar I feel has little maintenance, and even with the original feed in tariff it will take 12 years to pay for our installation. Our most cost effective purchase is the Klimat K2007.

With regard to the washing machine, over the 10 years of use you are right, after a quick calculation,we have probably spent over £500. on Calgon. the washing machine a Hotpoint top of the range. but are willing to make this decision to use it as I don’t think the cost of putting the machine into landfill was taken into account.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Ellen, I imagine tidal power installations might need to be government funded (EU?). Like nuclear power the high cost might be difficult unless a consortium got together to rip off the taxpayer. Better to invest our money in tidal than HS2 – still creating jobs bit with a useful outcome.

Profile photo of ellen
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Malcolm R, We do not hear much about Digesters,
There is one on a Farm near us, and its placed less than a mile away from our home, its been the a few years now and there is no smell at all. it is for vegetation only and powers the Farm. It saved the constant flow of tractors to the landfill as well, which used to put time onto every journey.
Sorry its a far cry for Energy Deals but once on my band wagon! If the Energy Suppliers took that kind of initiative I am sure I would join them in a flash.

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Wavechange, thank you for pointing out the Calgon findings, now I feel uneasy, the only thing I have based it on is the fact my old washing machines lasted 3 to 5 years, and now I have one that has lasted over 10 years. yes it could be lower temperatures or cold fill or a better machine, am I prepared to change a ritual, I am not sure. Also actually seeing chalk disappear from the outside of the pipe. Yes I would love a water softener perhaps it is not such a luxury item.

The findings on the Energy Egg I find harsh, I do think there is a real place for this gadget in family homes, for elderly and infirm, for safety and ease of use. if there is a small saving then so much the better then it will pay for itself. The £40 would be a worthwhile spend.

I looked carefully at all of the other suggestions and was disappointed to read that Intelligent Heating Controls and weather compensators, “go beyond the best practice” it seems to me as though Which has shelved these valuable resources and not considered at all. when in my experience the Klimat K2007 saves 30% and payback is considerably a lot less than the 12 years it will take to pay back for my solar panels, and that is with the high early FIT . It offers weather compensation and intelligence to give a living temperature that is set at your comfort levels. Why on earth would you turn down a thermostat and feel uncomfortable, when you can enjoy warmth and know that you are using less energy, and was easily retrofitted.
We take daily readings and have adjusted our cooking to reduce costs, why on earth would we want a smart meter, its easy to know what your daily usage is, and what sends the dial up faster than anything is the Oven.