Wednesday, 1 August 2012

We need more Olympic Golds and more SUNSHINE!

I realise that this is unlikely to be a huge surprise to you, but this Summer has been disappointing on a number of counts. 
The athletes and visitors streaming into the country via Heathrow's 'Terminal 5' may feel they've survived the biggest test that Team GB can throw at them. 
How wrong can they be? They probably hadn't factored in the English summer when planning their trip, they probably assumed that even Northern hemisphere countries enjoy warmth and sunshine in July. 

Unfortunately, raincoats appear to be more useful than T shirts for all of us this summer. For visitors this may be an inconvenience, for me it's revenue loss.
My system has produced less monthly kWh's than last year in June and August. Link to Output Comparison page. It may be a relatively minor dip, but minus 0.3% in June and minus 3.3% in July means once our visitors have gone home we need an Indian summer to catch up.

I'm an ex NPower customer... Hello ScottishPower.

Some of you may be aware that my contract with NPower ended on July 31st this year. After a great deal of research and considerable spreadsheet creation , I decided that ScottishPower will be enjoying my patronage until November 2013.

Their "Online Fixed Price Energy November 2013" has a number of attractions for me.

  1. There are NO penalties for cancelling the contract at any time prior to November 2013. That means that in the very unlikely event that fuel prices fall, I can take advantage of them at no cost to me.
  2. The prices quoted today are the prices you will be paying for the duration of the contract.
  3. Although the unit prices are higher, there are no 'daily standing' charges which apply even if you use no, or negligible power. I believe that solar power generation favours those who use their 'Free' electricity without the daily surcharge.

I normally do the whole deal online, but because the various comparison sites seemed to have conflicting information on the tariff prices and terms, I rang ScottishPower on their 0800 helpline. 
A very helpful and courteous young lady supplied all of the information I needed and without any pressure asked if I wanted to switch. 
The only downside to changing energy suppliers (and this applies to them all) concerns the length of time it takes. As soon as my contract with NPower finished I'm automatically transfered to their "Standard Tariff." So for the next 5 weeks until all the paperwork is completed I will be paying a premium for my fuel.

You might think by transferring you're beating the Big 6 energy companies. Well think again, It's not just athletes and visitors who are going to be disappointed in the next few weeks.

Twitter: (@solaricarus)


  1. Icarus,

    If I recall correctly part of your dissatisfaction with Npower was your direct debit amounts seeming to run counter to what you were expecting following a 30% reduction in your electricity import, leading to the all too common scenario of frequently being in credit with the utility company. Fine if that happens to be with Ovo Energy as they pay 3% interest on credit balances, but lousy for everyone else.

    Coincidentally Which investigated this issue in July and although evidence suggested that just over half (56%) of energy customers were in credit with their suppliers the conclusion reached was that the review mechanisms are still too crude. Love them or loath them, smart meters are supposed to resolve this problem, but in the mean time what can you do?

    Simple: if you are consistently in credit with your energy supplier (the norm should be in credit after the summer and in debit after the winter) call them and request a reduction in your monthly DD amounts.

    Mine have been £91 per month (£56 G, £35 E) for a couple of years now and credits were hitting the £200 mark. Armed with figures and the fact that newly installed pv panels had reduced our leccy use by 30% I asked for a monthly reduction to £70 (£45 G, £25 E). After a few moments on hold whilst the operator checked to see if this was within acceptable thresholds I got my request approved there and then; representing a third reduction in my annual fuel payments! The supplier? Npower.

    I would love to see a few other readers of this blog try this approach and report back how they got on.

    1. Hi Drambo. In fairness to Npower they offered me a 50% return of the credit I'd accrued without me even asking!

      What annoyed me was that despite being significantly in credit, they decided to increase my direct debit by 10%. Free money from naive customers, a recipe for success!