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Let’s talk about energy price rises

Do you have a question for our experts about how much your energy bill may rise, or how to switch supplier?

Energy suppliers are facing a struggle to stay afloat and consumers are feeling the effects thanks to rising wholesale gas prices. Six energy suppliers have ceased trading in the past month, and with the price cap on out-of-contract energy deals ending on 1 October, many consumers may see record high prices.

Read more about what you can do about the energy price rise

Many of you have been in touch with questions and concerns about how this affects you and what to do if you’re affected. We’re keen to hear from more of you: do you have a question that we haven’t answered yet?

Energy supplier guidance from Which?

If you have been, or worried you may be, affected by energy price rises or by your energy supplier’s failure, here are some essential guides from Which?: 

How worried are you about your energy supplier going bust?
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Let’s talk

If you have a question for our experts about energy price rises or supplier failure, please ask in the comments below.  We’ll pass each of these on and answer you as soon as we can. 

We’re also keen to hear about your experiences. Are you in supplier limbo? Has your energy bill unexpectedly gone up? Let’s talk about what you’re going through.  

If you have a question that you’d rather not ask in public, you can always get in touch via our contact form

Comments

I renewed my fixed price contract with Ovo and it starts in October. The wholesale price of gas has risen greatly and I would like assurance that the company will be able to supply at the agreed contract price for the next year.

If you have a fixed price contract then it is exactly that – unless your supplier goes broke and ceases trading, in which case you will have a different agreement to sort out with a replacement supplier.

Latest news, BP and ESSO reporting fuel shortages due to lorry driver shortages.

Wavechange if you have the OVO App you may be able to find more assurances re contract price.

Fixed prices should be honoured by a new supplier when transferring.
(Source BBC spokesperson)

Beryl — I agree, but they can’t be. If the new Ofgem-appointed supplier was forced to take on uneconomical contracts then none of them would offer to do so. This is an unfortunate side-effect of the ridiculous excess of inadequately funded suppliers allowed [encouraged, even] to enter the market.

I do not want to see my supplier burdened with loss-making contracts just for the sake of more market share which might never repay the carry-over costs.

As John says there is no obligation for a new supplier to honour the prices you had with the failed supplier – that contract is terminated when they fail.
This is what Ofgem say:
When we appoint a new supplier using the Supplier of Last Resort process, we try to get the best possible deal for customers.

Suppliers we appoint will likely put you on a special ‘deemed’ contract when they take on your supply. This means a contract you haven’t chosen. A deemed contract could cost more than your old tariff, so your bills could go up. However, they are covered by the energy price cap Ofgem sets, which ensures you get a fair price if you are put on one.

When contacted by the new supplier, it’s best to ask to be put on their cheapest tariff or shop around if you want to. You won’t be charged exit fees. This is a challenging time in the market and we know that there may not be many tariffs available when shopping around right now.

Deemed contracts can cost more because the supplier takes on more risk. For example, they might have to buy extra wholesale energy at short notice for new customers. So they charge more to cover these costs.

As your initial contract with the new (SoLR) supplier allows you to leave without penalty, you are free to shop around to see if you can get a better deal.

More here https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/news-and-views/blog/how-youre-protected-when-energy-firms-collapse

Wavechange, either you are psychic or I am! I have just this minute received an email from OVO which reads:

Hello Beryl

“We’re Here For You This Winter

We’re getting in touch following all the recent news about the energy market, just to reassure you that OVO Energy is in a strong position, and your energy supply is perfectly safe.
Looking after our members (that’s you) is our top priority, that’s why we buy lots of the energy you will need in advance.”

🙂

Thanks Beryl. That email arrived after I posted. It’s reassuring. 🙂

I was hoping that there is not something in the T&Cs that allows the supplier to increase prices in very unusual circumstances beyond their control, Malcolm.

As soon as you here your energy supplier has failed and gone out of business, you are advised to take photos of your gas and meter readings so the correct costs can be attributed.

Hopefully the extra profits being made somewhere in the gas supply chain are being passed to funds to support less wealthy nations transition to sustainable energy generation.

I am skeptical about the time that will be taken to switch to a new supplier. I was with Green Network Energy (GNE) and was automatically switched to EDF when GNE failed. That was on 28 January 2021. I did not get a final bill until 23 May 2021 and EDF did not complete the switch until 13 August 2021. I have now switched to Neon Reef and I am trying to get a final bill from EDF but they are very difficult to contact. No doubt they will say how busy they are at the moment but this process started in January. If I am switched again I will end up on a deal costing me over £2,000 a year, with me trying to contact at least three different companies to sort everything out.

Well, we got an email the other day from our supplier (Green) to say they are no longer trading. I’m not looking forward to find out who our new supplier will be and the tariff they’ll put us on.

When people selected a cheaper energy supplier, did they not think it would be prudent to bank the savings in case things went awry? That would have cushioned the blow when a higher tariff comes along.

I doubt many would have predicted the current spike, which hopefully will be sorted out by normal market forces. “Make hay while the sun shines” is, or was, I suppose the motto of most of these small energy suppliers who made profits while prices were stable but can exit when things get tough – they had no business plan to cover (temporary) wholesale cost hikes by purchasing forward, and no intention of addressing that, unlike the major players.

I’ve been saying for years that I don’t understand why my all-electric heat pump installation in a house insulated to Scandinavian standards is costing three times as much to run as typical gas-fired central heating in a poorly insulated British-built home.

Now we know the energy suppliers have been cross-subsidising their gas supply businesses with over-priced electricity tariffs, whilst natural gas has been fundamentally too cheap for the amount of CO2 it emits.

Get used to it. And if anyone is now thinking of insulating the loft after all these years of enjoying cheap energy, that will be the next shortage product.

While a heat pump uses electrical energy efficiently the kWh (unit) energy cost has been 6 or more times that of gas for a long time. Heating might therefore be expected to cost 2 or 3 times gas fired systems.

Using gas to generate electricity gets about 40% of the energy to the home, when taking account of thermal efficiency at the generator, transmission, transformation and distribution losses, so better to use gas for heating directly (on cost grounds and also emissions, given off at the generator).

I don’t know what evidence there is for gas tariffs being subsidised by electricity but I am pretty certain that, certainly, before we had 70 energy suppliers, variable tariffs subsidised fixed cost fixed term contracts.

Our focus should simply be on reducing our use of energy. This has been successful in domestic lighting by switching to cfls and leds. A straightforward substitution in most cases. Insulation – wall, window, loft – is in principle the obvious contender but much more costly to implement. Cheaper than heat pump installations in many instances, however. But on monetary pay back terms probably not yet a case to be made for all but loft insulation, (wall insulation depends on the construction) although if significantly higher energy costs are threatened the balance will change. In that case, financial benefits will begin immediately and could offset the cost of a long-term loan. Something the energy companies should be persuaded to offer, but backed by a proper group of trusted installers.

I’m well aware of the relative conversion factors and transmission losses, but others may not be, so thank you for explaining.

In my case, I don’t have access to mains natural gas, so it was never an option to burn fossil fuel for domestic heating and hang the consequences for the environment.

As to suppliers – well they are simply retailers. They have few overheads, other than call centre staff and basic office equipment – computers and telecoms. How these businesses are making annual losses, yet are legally required to operate on a “going concern” basis is beyond me.

Clearly, those that are failing have not hedged the costs of their fixed tariff gas supplies and are now throwing in the towel. Electricity does not suffer quite the same fluctuations in wholesale prices due to a mix of energy sources. Plus any price variation is driven by UK demand, not global demand, oil and gas cartels. Hence my statement that energy suppliers are subsidising their unhedged gas operations from the steady revenue of selling electricity.

And why dual fuel tariffs deserve any discount is another mystery. Is that not a subsidy?

I was an early adopter of low energy lighting and bought my first lamp in 1985. When I moved home I went through the exercise of installing low energy lighting for a second time. Buying a modern well insulated house was a priority though I have not yet replaced my elderly gas boiler. Two service engineers advised me to keep it because new ones are less reliable and I have witnessed flooding when friends’ boilers with aluminium heat exchangers have started leaking.

It’s worth thinking beyond the monetary advantages of insulation because a well insulated home is more comfortable. It’s rising council tax bills that worry me more than energy cost. Even with my old boiler, the cost of gas and electricity will be less than £1000 for the coming year – providing my supplier survives.

A problem is how tenanted properties are dealt with. Current legislation does not bring houses up to a proper standard and the costs of doing so may significantly impact rents.

@malcolm – I wasn’t aware that gas consumers don’t pay a fair share of the environmental and social obligation costs (2.4% as opposed to 25.4% of bills). That sounds like another big subsidy to me. But granted that no one has made a profit out of energy supply in the last two years.

@wavechange said: “It’s worth thinking beyond the monetary advantages of insulation because a well insulated home is more comfortable.”

Absolutely right. My walls are faced with MDF, a closed cavity filled with 150 mm of mineral wool (fibreglass) and an outer retainer of compressed fibre board. Then a conventional cavity and an outer brick skin.

Because the inner walls are no colder than the ambient room temperature, they radiate more heat and we feel comfortable in a room with an air temperature of only 18-19 degrees Celcius. 20 degrees is actually too hot, unless sitting motionless. (Air temperatures taken from a Fluke HVAC meter, not a thermostat setting.)

That may become standard as the cost of heating increases. I once stayed with friends in a very efficient home in Edinburgh and it was an interesting experience.

At present and for part of the year I open and shut the door into the conservatory to control the amount of warm air coming into the house.

Ofgem have assigned customers of Avro Energy to Octopus Energy, Utility Point to EDF and three other failed energy companies to British Gas.

The costs of administration of these transfers and subsequent switching of customers not happy with their new supplier will obviously be passed on to consumers.

Indeed they have.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58652083
https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/09/failing-energy-companies-latest-updates/
It will be interesting to see what tariffs are offered. I was with Avro, over half way through an attractive fixed price contract. My email from Octopus says ”We will be in touch with your rates and charges soon, but they will be cheaper than anything available from any other large supplier today — and cheaper than the fixed prices we’re currently offering new customers on our own website.”. I’m not particularly reassured by that but I did make hay while the sun shone.

As I anticipate the market will revert to a more normal level at some point I will probably wait a while before looking to change to a better fixed contract deal ( hopefully one will arise).

At least Octopus seem to provide good customer service and hopefully they are large enough to survive these difficult times.

Switching to a low-carbon system

Over the coming decade or so, new types of heating system are likely to become available. Alongside ground and air source heat pumps, we can expect to see other technologies that use electricity to generate heat.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/insulation/article/how-to-make-your-home-more-energy-efficient-aGWRW8t8YX1j – Which?

Anyone care to speculate what those might be? Not the Heat Wayv microwave boiler, I trust!

https://www.heatwayv.com/

I recall we discussed the Heat Wayv boiler before, maybe in The Lobby. This electric boiler is still not in production. Perhaps they are focusing on one that is oil-fired, maybe with snake oil.

We need electricity to provide the energy for ….. electric heating, including heat pumps. Does anyone know where that will come from?

Not on a windless and sunless day in January we don’t.

It will come from an interconnector……. oooh, hang on, won’t Scandinavia and Europe also need extra electricity…….? Maybe global warming will be a good thing, after all.

However, our ingenuity may come to our rescue, once we’ve realised the tides can provide a huge amount of green energy. Geothermal – ground source energy but deep down – may be a next resort.
” Geothermal energy development in the UK has been limited, partly due to the lack of high enthalpy resources, but also due to the availability of cheap fossil fuels.[4] However, when comparisons are made to countries in a similar tectonic setting, it is clear that the UK is underutilizing this potential resource. The lack of geothermal development has largely been a result of the availability of North Sea natural gas during the 1980s and 1990s.[4]” (Wiki)

There is plenty of opportunity to reduce energy consumption by proper insulation, as Em and others have pointed out. Turning off heating in unused rooms works well for me.

When I heard that another three energy suppliers are closing I called a friend who is with Enstroga. A glance at the accounts on the Companies House register could have encourage him to look elsewhere when he selected a new supplier.

Unfortunately it appears Ofgem does not have retrospective powers (unless they find suppliers have defaulted on their licence conditions).

Maybe there needs to be a requirement for satisfactory progress to continue as a suppler, for example the company not running energy supply at a loss for two consecutive years and an absence of comments about going concern by the auditors.

I read that the process of transferring customers to a new supplier is expensive and presumably all the recent failures will result in higher energy bills in future.

The friend who is currently with Enstroga said he had read that one of the large suppliers could fail, according to the BBC website, but I have not read that.

A City firm has been put on standby to take control of a large energy company amid fears that one could collapse soon, overwhelming the existing safety net put in place by the regulator, Ofgem.”.Whether that is to back up Ofgem in the potential event of such a failure, or whether they have one in mind, is not stated.

A company has the right to continue trading, even at a loss, if it believes its business model and financial situation is capable of surviving a difficult period. Taking action that would precipitate its failure would no doubt result in the company seeking redress.

This seems to be a relevant report, though not on the BBC website as had been suggested to me: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/sep/30/ofgem-prepares-for-looming-failure-of-a-leading-energy-supplier

Maybe the company in question could be Bulb, which is in discussions with Octopus.

It is where the quote in my comment came from. Whether the Guardian has accurate information or is speculating remains to be seen.

We have far too many energy companies and the present spike in prices will weed out more of the weak ones. Quite how the larger companies will fund taking on their ex-customers within the price cap, likely increasing their losses, is a relevant question. Should a commercial organisation be expected to subsidise such customers (who have probably benefitted from cheap fixed price deals with a dodgy supplier)? Should the government pick up the bill since they introduced the price cap? It seems to benefit (by limiting bills) everyone, rich or poor, when perhaps we should be targeting financial assistance at those most in need, perhaps on Universal Credit and pension credit?

“Advisers at the charity [Citizens Advice] warned that many will face fuel poverty this winter and could end up turning off their fridges and freezers, relying on hot-water bottles for warmth and requesting support to buy extra duvets and blankets.”

Where do they get these belt-tightening ideas?

Turning off a fridge might save £2 per month – ignoring any benefit you would get from the waste heat. Pour a 4 pint container of milk away that’s gone off, and that’s your “saving” gone too.

A freezer costs £1 per week to run. Frozen foods are often cheaper than fresh. And if you make just one extra trip to the shops to buy food, other than walking, again that is any potential saving gone.

I guess turning off these appliances will save enough money to keep a hot water bottle heated up. But that would suggest that people are paying nothing for their heating at the moment.

A bit like the “heat or eat” slogan. Instead of dreaming up such nonsensical stuff they should turn their minds to considering more practical solutions.

Whilst I would not wish to return to the house heating of my youth – just a coal fire, single glazing, no wall or loft insulation, so when the fire died down the house became a fridge; ice formed inside the windows and warmth only came from the insulation provided by eiderdowns and several blankets.

We need to look after the vulnerable. We could begin by targetting the Winter fuel allowance only at those who need help, not all the over 66s irrespective of income

Perhaps turning off fridges and freezers is what people might do rather than what CA suggests. I hope so. I recall a couple of older people who would go into the kitchen without turning on the fluorescent light because they believed that it would take an enormous amount of power to start up. I tried and failed to educate them but education only works with those who are receptive.

It makes me wonder whether interventions in a market, like price caps and safety nets against company collapse, are in the long run helpful. Better regulation, company compliance, effective auditing, solvent trading, and directorial accountability might be more effective in protecting consumers — plus, of course, a powerful, authoritative and intelligent consumer watchdog.

The purpose of the price cap is to protect those who do not switch to a cheaper tariff. It’s introduction was supported by the main political parties. The reasons why people do not engage with the market have been explored and the research has been published and might be worth reading. Switching to a cheaper supplier is normally better than relying on a price cap but the cap reduces the amount that our wonderful energy companies can exploit some of their customers. At one time, energy companies exploited those on prepayment tariffs by charging them more than customers who pay in arrears. Buying energy by monthly direct debit is generally the cheapest alternative but that does not help those who don’t have bank accounts and may put money in a jam jar to pay the next bill.

I have not had much contact with people who have been struggling financially but when I moved home many years ago I temporarily lived in private rented accommodation, in a flat with electric heating and a meter that took 50p coins. I soon established that the landlord was charging me and two of my neighbours about four times the permissible charge for electricity. The landlord agreed that I should deduct the excess charges from the rent, backdated to when I moved in until the (private) meter had been adjusted to correct rate. I asked him to do the same for my neighbours, who were not poor just vulnerable to exploitation.

There are – or were – around 70 energy supply companies that have given unprecedented choice. Most did not have to choose a wonderful company and be exploited.

As I said, better regulation [by Ofgem] could have prevented under-funded companies entering the market.

I remain of the view that proper social welfare payments and other support, properly monitored, are the best way of assisting people who are unavoidably poor relative to their essential outgoings, whether on account of age, illness or condition, size of household, or kind of property. Capital support with insulation and improvements would be all that is required in many cases and would provide long-term relief.

Helping people to get on the right tariff could also make a major contribution. Penalties for the premature exit from fixed-price tariffs possibly need looking at to see if the balance is fair between the supplier and the consumer.

Since eating provides fuel for your body to operate and to keep it warm, if you have to choose between eating and heating, eating is the obvious choice. The elderly and infirm who are forced to live a sedentary lifestyle need extra external heat to keep them warm. These are the people who will suffer more from energy hiked prices.

Reality, as you have previously commented on Malcolm, is not something you aspire to when it suits your purpose. One way to escape from it is denial – a common coping mechanism used by such people who are unable to see beyond the confines of their own Id.

Mike says:
4 October 2021

I have stuck with my standard variable contract (pay on receipt of bill) with British Gas, as all the fixed price deals require monthly direct debits. My energy bills are always well below the price cap, and all the advice to go on to fixed price contracts assume your usage is at the price cap. Where is the advice for people with low energy usage? My dual fuel costs have been below £600 p.a.. I regard direct debit contracts as a means for the supplier to use their customers for interest free loans, i.e. as a bank. They can increase the monthly payment at will to raise capital, as Bulb have just done.

I have had problems with two of the large energy suppliers pushing up my direct debit when I already had a substantial credit balance, so I see your point, Mike. It was a nuisance to have to call them each time this happened but each time it happened action was taken, usually cancelling the planned rise in direct debit. Companies must notify customers in advance before increasing a direct debit, which is what helped me.

Usually it is significantly cheaper to choose a fixed contract paid for by monthly direct debit rather than staying on a standard variable tariff. I now use a supplier that lets me change my direct debit online or make an additional payment. At present I am £13.57 in credit, which I am happy with.

If you go onto a price comparison site, just enter your predicted annual gas and electricity usage ( e.g. what you used last year) and you can choose an appropriate deal, whether variable or fixed. The direct debit is set to reflect this annual usage, often spread equally each month so your winter payments are less than you use, your summer ones making up the deficit..

My suppliers have automatically refunded any significant credit balance.

As Mike has said, customers are providing interest-free loans. Ofgem has recognised the problem and hopefully we will see action. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-9587969/Will-Ofgems-new-proposals-refund-credit-balances-save-money-bills-up.html

Perhaps equal monthly payments should be an option rather than the default.

Would you prefer customers to pay much more in Winter than use overpayments in Summer to help them through an expensive period? On a fixed direct debit some energy companies effectively lend you money in winter when you use most energy but charge you less, then make it up in the Summer.

Perhaps we should be clear exactly what we should be tackling. When you agree a fixed price deal, for example, as many do, you will have agreed the way you pay and the monthly amount. The main area perhaps to tackled, that are best described as interest free loans, is when we have to stump up the first month’s payment in advance.

You lend money in this way in various ways where you pay upfront – your council tax for example. And you do the same to help your employer by giving them a month’s labour before they pay you.

I pay Which? in advance, as far as I know, for my magazines and the NT for a year’s ability to visit their sites.

All could be described as free loans. (OK, interest free, but with interest rates so low the interest hardly matter).

You can request your energy credit balance refunded. The CA tells us:
How to claim

Contact your supplier and tell them how much credit you’d like them to refund you. Their contact details should be on your bill or online account.

You’ll need to give them an up-to-date meter reading. Check how to read your gas or electricity meter if you’re not sure.

Your supplier might not give you a refund if they have a good reason. For example, they might not give you a refund if you only have a small amount of credit on your account during summer. This is because you’re likely to need the credit for your higher bills during autumn and winter.

If your supplier says they won’t give you a refund, they must explain their decision.”

I like this bit: “They [an industry insider] added Ofgem did not consult providers about these plans before announcing them, leaving many providers wondering how they would stump up the money the regulator is asking for.”

My account is in credit with a mid-sized energy provider and they have refused to return the surplus. Given it represents over 1% of their Cash in hand and at bank in their last company filing, I can see why they might now struggle to return it.

It might be best if we all just paid the same for energy and allow the competition to occur earlier in the supply chain. I’m not sure if we can afford the present business models.

As energy comes from different sources, funded in different ways, from companies with different costs, I see no logic in expecting us all to pay “the same”. Just what does “competition earlier in the supply chain” mean? Competition has, so far, given us a choice of tariffs, some significantly cheaper than others.Those on low incomes might welcome this ability to minimise their outgoings. We need to think about the vulnerable.

One could argue that the those on low incomes, and the “vulnerable”, are least able to take advantage of these cheaper tariffs, since they are most likely to be living in rented accommodation and unlikely to be able to sign up to fixed tariffs, especially those with exit penalties.

So, in one sense, they are being exploited by the rest of us who are sophisticated enough to search out cheaper deals.

We don’t have the option to change our water supplier, or council. I’m not sure why gas and electricity utilities are any different.

This information is a little old now (at least 4 years) but does describe the effects on the vulnerable.
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/Energy/Energy%20Consultation%20responses/Vulnerable%20consumers%20and%20high%20energy%20prices.pdf

Many in rented accommodation are just as able as others to choose as beneficial a tariff as possible. There has also been success encouraging reluctant groups to join the tariff switching habit to get best value.

Up till now, fixed tariffs have saved many people money, and it is not unreasonable to require the contract to be honoured by both parties. Hence the penalty, although you’d only think about moving if prices dropped significantly. If your own supplier reduces their prices you can switch to another of their offers without penalty.

Those on prepaid meters also have choices: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/switch-prepaid-gas-electricity/

My energy account allows me to increase or decrease my monthly fixed rate payments according to my summer and winter usage, so that at the end of my previous fixed rate deal my account balance was almost zero. This was made possible to allow complete autonomy over my monthly payments.

This would not be possible with a standard variable account when energy prices can fluctuate. Any increases were mainly due to my usage according to weather and temperature fluctuations and conditions, mainly during the winter months, or the addition of a new appliance.

I enjoy being given autonomy over my monthly energy payments and given the opportunity to top up if my usage increases which, in turn, stabilises my monthly DD payments.

Wavechange, OVO are currently the second largest UK energy supplier after British Gas, with an estimated 5 million customers, since acquiring SSE and other smaller energy suppliers, so hopefully they will be able to maintain their current predicted strong market position.

Beryl – I’m with Ovo too and we both enjoy the opportunity to control our payments. I’m very well aware of their suddenly increased market share following the acquisition of SSE and so far I have not seen any significant changes. I suspect other suppliers now provide this flexibility to those who manage their accounts online. The main reason that I switched to Ovo was because Which? reported their customer service was good.

The main problem is not so much we much we pay now now as for the future supply of electricity. We will need much more. An expensive infrastructure will need to be added, whether nuclear power, tidal barrage, hydro, and the capital cost needs to be recovered. Who will fund it and over what term will the costs be recovered? I suspect this will need public money, such as we use to fund HS2, the Channel Tunnel and Cross Rail. How will unit electricity costs then be set – sold on to commercial energy companies to join the mix of other generation and passed on to us at a combined average price? As we, the public, will have effectively provided the capital will we pay for this again in the unit charges to save on taxes? But whatever, different companies will still have different mixes and costs so tariffs are likely to be part of the competitive element.

I agree. I hope all the development and production costs are spread in a fair way across the population. If power was nationalised, the government could look at ways of linking tariffs to income in the same way as that is taxed. However, there is a different competitive model in place and people swop around regardless of income. The fragility of the market, run (it seems) on a shoe string, begs the question of what happens when we are relying on a single power source to run everything and there is no fall back when that fails, be it in bad weather, industrial disruption or just a shortage.

Urgent Problem possibly affecting many more than me.
My smart meter system, which has been working OK for 5 years has suddenly developed a fault on the gas side and my energy supplier seems to be unable to deal with it. The responses I get convince me that they really don’t understand the system. My current tariff ends at the end of this month and it would be better if the issue could be resolved before switching. I only discovered the problem by accident and I suspect many more Which subscribers could be in the same position. There are three parts to the system 1) the smart gas meter 2) smart electricity meter 3) In-Home-Display IHD. The IHD is certainly malfunctioning. Most of the screens are ‘frozen’ at the date the problem occurred. It still displays the ‘cumulative’ gas consumption (what you would read on the meter) and this seems to agree with the manual data read (which is quite difficult to make, as the meter is outside in an awkward position). However the gas meter read data is not entirely in agreement with what I read and I am concerned that a faulty reading at the point when the fault occurred may have been concealed by the ‘cumulative’ data acquisition. I need to know what data the supplier collected on the day when the fault occurred, (it should have shown nil consumption but doesn’t.) I am not optimistic I can get that. The IHD supplier believes it is most likely a software fault which can be rectified remotely, but it’s down to the energy supplier to fix and over a month has passed without anything positive happening. Try to choose a supplier who responds to problems! I have read all the Which? narrative on smart meters and in the light of my experience, it’s pretty good.

Hi Tom – The display shows your gas and electricity consumption but is just a display and does not report your consumption to your energy provider. What happens, I understand, is that the smart gas meter passes on information to the smart electricity meter and this communicates via the mobile phone network to the energy supplier. The display does not have to be switched on to report your use of gas and electricity.

My display stopped showing my gas consumption some weeks ago, following a power cut, but I can check my use online and I could see my daily use being recorded. I went on holiday and when I turned on my display it was working normally.

I suggest that you have tried turning off the display and see if it works again. If it has an internal battery, disconnect the mains supply and leave it overnight before turning it on again. If it still does not work, hopefully your supplier will either sort out the problem or – more likely – refer this to a contractor that supplies and maintains smart meters. They should supply a new smart meter if they cannot fix the problem. Best of luck.