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Discuss Worried about Elderly Mum's Gas Usage in the Central Heating Forum area at UKPlumbersForums.co.uk.

  1. Gareth Peters

    Gareth Peters New Member

    Hi All,
    Really not sure if this is the right place to post this but I'm in a bit of a mess with my mum's energy supplier and I'm desperate for someone who knows what they're talking about to help.

    End of last October my mum rented a two up- two down semi detached relatively modern house (decently double glazed and insulated) near me. Everything in the property is electric apart from the central heating boiler which is quite old (it's a Stelrad Ideal W 2000).

    The energy company, Spark energy started her direct debits off at £65 a month. At the time I thought this was maybe a little high and figured we would get it down a bit once we had some meter readings.

    Last week Spark wrote to her saying that the direct debit was going up to £95 a month at which point I went through the bills with a fine tooth comb.
    Anyway, to cut a long story a little short, I've calculated that in the 138 days mum's been at the property (admittedly over winter) according to the meter reads she's used 671 cubic metres of gas or 7,506 kwh which works out at 54.3 kwh per day average.

    My question is this, does this seem like high usage given that she only has a single thermostatically controlled boiler?

    Any help greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
     
  2. ShaunCorbs

    ShaunCorbs S. Mod Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    did you actually record the meter readings at the start as spark engy doesnt have the best rep if your asking me

    in short high charging and over charging are the main two also not reading the meter and very high estimations etc
     
  3. gmartine

    gmartine GSR

    Is that figure (£65/95) for both gas and electric combined? Some Energy Co's want you to build up credit over the summer months to cover winter energy use but your mum obviously couldn't do that. I'm assuming the Energy Co may have based the increase on the last four months use in which case it's going to be a bit high until her use decreases in which case you can get back to them. Personally I hate monthly direct debits and prefer to pay for what I've used every quarter but appreciate not everyone can do that. They probably have a variable tariff that adjusts with your readings, I'd consider that or they'll continue to want to change things.
     
  4. Gareth Peters

    Gareth Peters New Member

    Hi, thanks for your reply. Yes, I recorded and photographed the meter when she moved in.
    I suspect the meter may be faulty but Spark says they will charge us £200 if it's tested and found to be OK.
    That's why I wanted to ask some experts if 671 cubic metres of gas over four and a half months or averaging 54 kwh per day seemed like too much.
     
  5. Gareth Peters

    Gareth Peters New Member

    Yes the bill is a dual fuel charge. I was wondering if anyone knows anything about a Stelrad Ideal 2000 W boiler and if it was possible for such a device to use 54 kwh per day even if it was on full blast.Like I say, I have a strong suspicion the meter is faulty, but am not expert enough to know if that particular boiler isn't just inefficient (being old) and using a whack load of gas.
     
  6. CHRISX

    CHRISX Active Member

    Hello Gareth Peters,

    54.3 Kw hours only works out at just over £2.08 per Day including Vat at the rate that I pay for Gas - 3.8325p per Kwh inc. vat - that is not including the Standing charge.

    At that rate of consumption your Mum`s Gas bills would be covered by about a £70.00 per Month Direct debit for Winter / Autumn quarters.


    But obviously She would not be using anything like that amount in the Spring and Summer quarters so that Monthly amount should not be charged for all 12 Months.

    When You write that She only has `a single thermostatically controlled Boiler` what about the Radiators that the Boiler heats - are the Radiators on throughout the House ?

    Any idea how many Hours per Day your Mum has been using the Heating system ?

    Considering most of the usage has been during the Winter quarter - for example 6 or 8 Hours per Day would be reasonable `value for money` for just over £2.08 [34.6p or 26p per hour] not including the Standing charge - this is obviously just a `Guesstimate` for a Modern - medium sized - Double glazed & well Insulated House.

    Is there Loft Insulation ? - the recommended thickness is now 260mm - made up of 2 x layers - the top layer laid at 90 degrees from the bottom layer to prevent `Cold Bridging` through the Ceiling joists.

    As Member Shaun mentioned You should definitely keep a close watch on your Mum`s Gas Meter readings.

    You have been able to calculate the Kilowatt hours from the Cubic Metre usage so why not do some checks by noting the Meter reading before your Mum turns on the Heating - note how many hours that it is On - read the Meter again and calculate the usage / Kwhrs - divide that by how many hours of use and work out how much per hour the Heating has cost to run.

    The Calorific value [you already know that] and Kwhr cost will be on your Mum`s Bill hopefully - or perhaps on yours if Direct Debit Customers do not get itemised quarterly Bills.

    I have read online that there is some really Cold Weather coming to the UK this weekend - `The Beast from the East 2` - if the temperatures are as low as I have read the weekend would be a good time to do the Gas usage tests and calculations.

    Regards,

    Chris
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  7. gmartine

    gmartine GSR

    I was just going to say do 24/48hr meter reading test this weekend as it's going to be cold, that'll give you an idea of what her (max) usage will be per day.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. gpbeck

    gpbeck Member

    £2 a day is not a lot. It is surely more important that she is warm and safe than fretting about a few bob. Pop down the Poundshop and check out the price of a bag of fuel. If she qualifies, a basic winter fuel allowance would pay for 100 days, most of winter.
    A 28kw boiler could use 56 kWh in 2 hrs...
     
  9. jtsplumbing

    jtsplumbing Plumber GSR

    Don't forget these old boilers have a permanent pilot that is on 24/7
    this boiler is out of the ark, you need to find out if she qualifies (or landlord) for a free boiler upgrade
     
  10. Gareth Peters

    Gareth Peters New Member

    Thanks for everyone's help and suggestions. I'm going to keep a close eye on the usage while at the same time switching away from Spark (expensive, poor customer service).

    Once she's switched I'll get her a smart meter installed. Also, it looks very likely she'll qualify for a boiler grant and as far as I can tell the landlord can't refuse to let her upgrade to a modern boiler.

    Thanks again all who replied.
     
  11. Stigster

    Stigster Plumber

    The problem with smart meters is that many people get obsessed with watching the darned thing. I have had elderly customers getting very stressed out watching their smart meters. They end up worrying about it all the time when they didn't before and often turn off their heating when they really should be warm. Not saying your mother will be like this but it's something to bear in mind.

    Personally I hate the things.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber

    Never had a smart meter. But I have used an energy monitor. Useless bit of kit - it couldn't take power factor into account so it thought my fluorescent tubes were using 110W, not 55W. Also, the idea of setting an alarm if you were using more than a certain amount of power was good, but obviously would sound every time the electric shower was turned on.

    With regard to the OP's question, I can't check the actual gas input of the boiler in question on the available information, but even an 8kW input boiler (about the smallest you'll find, and probably smaller than you'd need for an end-terrace boiler) will burn 8kWh of gas in an hour if running flat out, and so it really is as simple as gas consumption multiplied by firing hours. If the boiler is running continually, then the thermostatic control won't be switching the burner off.

    If the thermostat were faulty, the boiler would overheat and you'd have significant other issues other than excess gas consumption.

    If you wanted a quick and dirty test of the meter accuracy, you could try a meter reading to 1 decimal place before and after an hour of the boiler firing constantly (perhaps when it's first switched on in the morning) and come back to us with that (and the GC number of the boiler, if you can find it) and we can tell you if it's plausible.

    You tell us you've checked the actual meter readings, so it doesn't sound like an energy supplier mistake (kWh should be approximately equal to cu m x 11).

    But, more likely, it's a poorly insulated house, like most UK dwellings, and an inefficient boiler. By law, a rental property will have an Energy Performance Certificate, which should give some indication of the level of insulation etc. What does that document tell you?
     
  13. Gareth Peters

    Gareth Peters New Member

    I just checked the boiler and the GC number is 41 415 87 if it's any help.I can't lay hands on the energy certification info at the moment until I go round to mothers but it "seems" pretty well insulated. The double glazing and doors are well fitted and don't leak, there's a decent depth of insulation in the small loft. My impression from being round there is it's a house that "holds the heat" well, plus of course it's a tiny semi so not much to heat.
     
  14. doitmyself

    doitmyself Well-Known Member

    There are four versions (30N, 40N, 50N and 60N) of the W2000 with outputs ranging from 8.8kW to 17.6kW, which one do you have? (Inputs vary from 11.5kW to 23.4kW)
    That is equivalent to the boiler running flat out for 5 hours if she has the smallest and 2 hours for the largest.

    Is there a thermostat on the wall to control the house temperature? If not, how does she control the temperature?

    How many radiators in the house?
     
  15. gmartine

    gmartine GSR

    If the spare bedroom isn't in use you could turn the rad down or off via the lock-shield (valve either end of rad) . I'd always hesitate having a "smart" meter installed especially for the vulnerable, guilt meters more like assuming you visit more than once a month and set up her account online I'd do it yourself.