The first big freeze of the year….

… is not time to be playing around with the heater controls on your electric storage heaters, as I’ve been discovering this week.
Our resident blogger gets an energy bill shock and decides to act. He’s such a man of action!
The reason for my sudden mechanical interest is November’s electricity bill – lets just say it was a good job I was sitting down when the energy company reeled off the figures.
Like an increasing number of people, I rent rather than own and whilst electric storage heaters wouldn’t be my first choice for home heating, I was well aware of the best ways to get the maximum out of them on an economy tariff.
So what’s gone wrong? Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you more.
Firstly, from my meticulous meter readings gained over the last 6 months since I move in (November being the first month I used the storage heaters in earnest), something was obviously adrift – the lion’s share of the energy meterage was on the peak tariff rather than the economy tariff. Strange given that I’ve made sure to only use the immersion heater and washing machine at off-peak periods.
Secondly, my little 2 up 2 down property has 2 supplies and 2 meters. It’s a long story – suffice to say, both supplies register peak and off-peak periods so the final figure it a bamboozling toting up of both sets of 5 readings. Thankfully, the helpful lady at the energy company deals with that bit – I just have to take the readings.
The energy company have, following my remarks to them and my very helpful landlords, decided that yes, they’ve been billing the wrong tariff on the wrong meter readings. So I should be getting a small amount back. 1 – 0 to me!
Next, what I really needed to do was check that:
a) The storage heaters were indeed only switching on in the off peak periods
b) The storage heaters were working correctly and there were no broken thermostats., which could cause a heater to ‘run away’ with the energy usage.
Since I’d only had the heaters on their minimum input setting, you can imagine my mind racing away at the thought of “what would the bill have been if they’d been switched up to a higher input?”.
I’ve had them checked out an they are indeed all working correctly. That’s 2 – 0 to me!
So the next step is to measure their power usage to try and come up with the best strategy for running them. For the next few days, my landlord has asked me to run them at low or medium input settings, switching them off for different periods during a 24 hour period. That should establish what is best practice – as far as this property goes. Obviously, having the correct bills from the energy provider will help me gauge just how well we’re doing.
Luckily, I have a coal fire and plenty of logs so I shan’t go cold (well not in the living room anyway), but I’ve already started taking other steps to improve my comfort for as little outlay as possible.
For starters, I’m covering the old stained glass window on the front door with a taped down layer of bubble-wrap – apparently very good for insulating. The small fixed window on the stairs and the even smaller one in the under stairs cupboard will also get the same treatment.
Then I’m moving onto the interior doors leading off of the hall (which has no heating) and the under stairs cupboard with insulating strip and a heavy curtain for each.
Since there’s only me in the property, I’m hoping for big success.
There’s an interesting question about the difference between ‘being warm’ and ‘feeling warm’. It’s tempting to try a little portable heating and only heat that portion of the house I’m actually in. Since I’m out between 7am and 7pm Mon to Fri, I’m guessing that this will be cheaper than running 4 big storage heaters + I’ll know exactly what kWh’s I’m using and can budget accordingly.
Have you been in a similar situation? What have you tried?

3 thoughts on “The first big freeze of the year….”

  1. I am impressed with this blog, very nice. And I liked it. I've had my monthly bills swell, I try to check what happened. It turns out that one reason is the electric heater. I will return again to see something new here. thank you

  2. Good blog. There's loads you can do to cut down on the energy bills. Good insulation products are not that expensive. Fitting draft excluders around doors and windows also helps keep individual rooms warm.

  3. Since we built our conservatory our energy bills have gone sky high and we could not work out why there was such a big jump! It turns out that the heater in the room was an electric heater and was default set to run during the day! It was very costly….

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