Wednesday 4 December 2013

Time for a move

Oh what a nightmare it is to compare gas and electricity prices, and to identify which supplier will be the best one to move to. I've only done it a couple of times since I've been in this house, and now is the time to do it again. I find it an awful struggle to understand numbers, oh I can do the basics, like manage my own finances, but anything complicated I stare at a page of numbers and they don't register at all. My mind goes blank. I have been reading up about dyscalculia, a form of number blindness, and I am convinced I have a mild form of that. Maths at school was a nightmare, I didn't learn a thing apart from the adding, taking away, multiplying, and dividing. I bluffed my way through, mainly copying from my friends book. Later on, when I did a transport related course I had to leave the room because I had a panic attack when it came to vehicle costings. I failed miserably, that's why I now avoid anything to do with lots of numbers.

They say they are making it easier to work out your utilities costs, to understand your bills, but looking at the reverse of mine which I have just received from British Gas, there are more numbers than ever on there. It's taken me an hour to understand it.

Anyway, I need to move from British Gas, not because of the price increases, I can budget for that, but the fact that they have introduced a 25p a day standing charge on both gas and electricity, so that's going to bump my bills up big time. 50p a day for 365 days a year, chuffin heck.

I've done a comparison on the Ebico site, putting in my figures for kilowatt hours used, and they are going to be cheaper. I am a low user so I am going to benefit because they have set their standing charges at zero. Also there are no penalties for quarterly billing, so I can keep that and don't have to sign up to direct debit which I don't want to do.

I'll wait and see what happens next. I believe it takes a few weeks for it all to go through. In the meantime I will pay this £60.81 British Gas bill tomorrow. The standing charge came in on the 23rd of November, so for four days I've already been charged £2. Not for much longer BT, I'm out asap.

Toodle pip.


  1. Yes, the standing daily charge is a bit unfair, it skews the cost in favour of the bigger user, 50p a day is only 1p per unit if you use 50 units, but 50p if you only use 1 unit.

    And you're right about the way they all present their charges differently, it's almost impossible to do a straight comparison., even for somebody who's good with figures.

  2. We are at their mercy, well almost and I think it is the world over.
    Good luck and I know what you mean by all the numbers.

  3. Hi Ilona, i'm with British Gas and i nearly turned in my chair when i realised that its £180/year just for standing charge so a big thanks for blogging about it.
    When i changed last time BG gave me a lower d/d but surprise surprise 12 months later they needed to increase it.
    Theres only one thing for it, get rid of the gas and lecky, get a dolly tub and mangle for the washing, open up the fireplace to cook on an open fire and add a generator to an exercise bike which would generate power for the lights and keep us warm while peddeling.

  4. BG are really pushing their luck if they think people will stay with them and pay a standing charge plus their high tarrifs for energy use. Hope you have luck with the change over because British Gas do not have a good reputation for managing things like that well; my sister had awful trouble with them when they tried to keep charging her months after she'd left them. Sorry to be glum about it but keep an eye out just in case. You're not alone, Ilona, in finding it hard to work out the fuel companies' costings. They might give out more information to be 'transparent' about their pricing but they put it in such a way its still incredibly difficult for the lay person to work out their usage and actual costs accurately. I've stuck with Scottish Power Online for the past few years and have frozen my prices until next November but I'm still not sure whether that's the best deal...I think it is on the comparisons I did but I'm in debit with them at the moment because they lowered my direct debit payment so much it didn't cover what we were using and now they've had to increase it to take that into account. I use DD for convenience and because they don't charge for bills that way, but I'm not sure it IS any easier when I get problems like this. I think it might be easier to go back to my old method of years ago, putting money by each month in an envelope and paying at the bank or post office, although they probably charge for you to make a payment nowadays. The companies also charge you if you leave them early so I'm tied in now until next November anyway but I'll definitely be looking around again when this contract runs out.

  5. Good luck with it all. It sounds a ridiculous amount for a daily charge, I think this is another 'big boy' we will be glad to see the back of.

  6. I can sympathize with the headache of working the figures out. We're with npower and I've been shocked at this introduction of their daily charge. Its going to really put our bills up as we're low users, too. Very unfair.

  7. I totally understand about these bills and how complicated they can be. I can't for the life of me figure out my cable, internet and phone bill (it's 3 in one) and it drives me crazy. I don't have the patience to try and compare with other companies and then have to have them come and hook everything up, etc., etc. This is why I have not made a move to change to another company. Call it laziness or whatever, but I just know that I can't figure out all the taxes and other charges on the bill and try to compare it to other ones. My heating/gas/electric bill is simple. They don't send you 20 pages but set it out clearly. I stay with them because so far I have not seen any other company cheaper. That standing charge you talked about sounds illegal!

  8. How do they manage to get away with it I'd like to know, its infuriating isn't it?
    I usually don't change as I find as soon as you change the new lot put theirs up and it was a waste of time and effort but 25p a day is a bit increase, hope the move goes well.

  9. I could have written this as I too have number blindness and cringe whenever anyone mentions any type of maths. I cant even do my times table and it prevented me going into a couple of professions I would have loved. I'm afraid dyslexia and the like were not know back then. Anyway I came on to say take care as I have been listening to the news and I know there are storms over your way and people being evacuated. Not sure if you will be affected.

  10. In the US we have no choice. There is one gas company and one electric company and when the price goes up, we pay it or go without. I know what you mean though. I just went through this figuring out which medical insurance is best for the next year.

  11. Hi Ilona,
    You say you managed to learn adding, taking away, multiplying and dividing at school so I can assure you that you don't have discalculia. It isn't something that would develop later, you would have had it from birth and would have been totally unable to learn even the basic maths. Rest assured you've not got it.

    It's so easy for us to read about something and convince ourselves we've got it. Have you noticed the tremendous rise in people who are allergic to gluten? All fuelled by the things they've read.

    Energy tariffs are difficult for the best of us. If you can manage your finances now and do the basic maths you're doing just fine.

  12. Your post prompted me to look at my rate increase letter from EDF. On Economy 7 tariff the daily standing charge is unchanged at 18.90p. The day rate goes from 17.60p to 18.71p (6.3% increase) and the night rate is 6.38p going up to 6.84p (7.2% increase). So the cheaper rate has the higher increase - I just wonder where the heck these energy companies think people are going to find the money to pay these bills.

    I've always said that before any newly elected MP takes his or her seat in the Commons they should live for 6 months in Social Housing on Job seekers Allowance. Sort of National Service for MPs.

    Linda xx

    1. I also agree with your idea of national service for MPs! I bet that none would be able to cut it for even one week. We, who are the experts at thrift, saving and living on little should be the ones that get to be in charge.

  13. We have a similar site here in NZ it sure makes it easy to do a comparison only wish it gave the options to check all those other pain in the butt thinks like insurance, phones etc

  14. Its a good job you aren't at school now Ilona, you should see the maths homework my son brings home at GCSE level. I used to wonder what possible use some of the maths had in the real world.
    The vehicle costings you mention would be enough to worry anyone when fuel alone accounts for nearly £1/mile but i couldn't imagine where algebra could be used for costings.
    Your postings are well written and your maths skills are good enough to spot a bargain, what more would you need?
    I can't help thinking that schools are trying to over educate and its having a negative effect.


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