Saturday, 14 July 2012

Moving to a New Energy Tariff.

Guess what? Despite the assurances from the Big 6 energy suppliers that they're going to simplify tariff comparisons, the reality is it's still as murky and difficult as ever.

It doesn't seem unreasonable for the Energy Minister Charles Hendry, to insist that suppliers provide details of their tariffs on a mandatory template. I can only assume that the companies have a vested interest in providing a multitude of confusing options.

Some of you will have read about my ongoing frustration with NPower, my existing supplier. I've been a customer for two years, during which time they have supplied Gas and Electric perfectly, but failed on every other service possible. The existing contract (Go Fix 6) ends on the 31st July 2012.

As you can imagine, I'm fairly keen to look at changing supplier and have started the difficult task of trying to make sense of the various websites offering comparisons of the numerous offers available. For MY energy usage the best option would appear to be "EDF Blue + Price Promise September 2013."

At this point I would emphasise that every consumer has different needs based on their lifestyle and energy consumption. This isn't intended to suggest that because it's right for me, it will be right for everyone. However, for many people the same principles will apply.

I suspect their aren't many people who keep a weekly record of their energy consumption? 
I know I'm deeply sad, but in this instance it's helped me make sense of the various options being offered. Link to comparison spreadsheet results. Even if, like me, you know your weekly, monthly, yearly energy usage,  the energy companies have one last means of confusing you. Taking the readings from my gas meter each week reveals I used 791 metric units. Unfortunately, that isn't the information comparison sites are interested in....
They want gas usage measured in kWh. Simple you think, there must be a factor I can use to turn my gas meter reading into kwh. Well yes there is, for those of you who are as deeply sad as I am here's the formulae.

NB.Gas usage (791) was measured on a metric meter (marked m3).
Check on your last gas bill to check your suppliers calorific value. NPower state 39.300.

Gas meter weekly usage Times calorific value (39.300) Times correction factor (1.022640) Divided by 3.6

791units X 39.300 = 31086.3

31086.3  X 1.022640 = 31790.093

31790.093 divided by 3.6 = 8830.58 kWh

Therefore: 1 metric gas meter unit equals 11.163819 kWh

See, I told you it was simple!

Some companies offer lower rates for each kWh of energy, but they make a "standing charge" even if you use no energy at all. Others charge higher rates for your first third of usage, but then charge lower rates for the balance.

Using the weekly data I'd recorded, I've been able to analyse the tariff being offered by four suppliers. Just in case you didn't use the previous link...

Blue + Price Promise September 2013 from EDF Energy                   Projected cost p.a. £720.35


New Energy Fixed from OVO Energy                                                    Projected cost p.a. £723.77

Online Fixed Price Energy August 2013 from Scottish Power           Projected cost p.a. £729.26

Energy Online October 2013 from NPower                                          Projected cost p.a. £768.82

Some of you may have spotted that ALL of the quotes are very similar. With the exception of NPowers 6.7% price bump, the other two suppliers are within a percentage point. I find it amazing that these multinational companies costs are nearly identical. When I do my weekly shop in ASDA they guarantee to be 10% cheaper than their competitors. If they can do it on 1,000s of products why can't the Big 6 manage it on 2?

I'm planning to switch to EDF next week and will probably use the link on the moneysavingexpert website link. which promises me either some money back or a crate of wine for using their site to do the deed. (No connection or endorsement of site implied.)

If you've found an easier method of working out what's on offer, or have got an even better deal, I'd be VERY interested.

Twitter: (@solaricarus)


  1. Hi. just one small point. the formula given does depend on whether you have a metric or imperial meter. i fell foul of this when i had a new meter fitted.

    1. Hi Pete.
      Good point.... I've amended the original post to emphasise that readings were taken from a metric meter (m3).

      If anyone needs the formulae for an imperial meter, multiply your usage figure by 2.83 first to convert to metric and then use the calculation details in my original post.