Would Bulb know whether my last supplier was collecting debt from me? — Bulb Community

Would Bulb know whether my last supplier was collecting debt from me?

Hi all.

Read on of you want the details as to why I think this but for those who just want to get to the point, I know it's a long shot but would Bulb have been told whether there was any debt on my meter from my previous supplier?

I suspect my previous supplier might have been charging me for someone else's debt. I've emailed Spark to enquire if there had previously been debt registered on the meter. I'm bracing myself to be fobbed off as there's now no way for me to check since the meter has been reset when I switched to Bulb.

I'm a relatively new member to bulb. I switched earlier in the month and went on supply with Bulb on the 28th.

Previously I was briefly with Spark energy as they were the existing suppliers when I moved into my flat at the end of December, and they were utterly dreadful. First they set up a credit account and started sending me bills for an address that has a prepayment meter, then they couldn't figure out which meter was mine and messed about and caused problems with with my neighbor's meter instead which they weren't even the suppliers for and was clearly registered to a different address... It was a long, dramatic 5 weeks.

Anyway, having been with Bulb for just 6 days, I've noticed a significant drop in my electricity consumption which I'm thinking can't just be down to having switched to a better and cheaper supplier.

I previously knew nothing about how to read prepayment meters so I taught myself this week to check everything had switched properly to Bulb and the rates I was being charged were as advertised. But I never thought to check during the brief period I was with Spark (silly, I know) but having discussed it with a friend, this debt thing has just occured to me. I had no debt to pay them, but they might have been charging for someone else's.

For context, it's a 17 x 10 ft studio flat, which I personally consider to be pretty small. It's ground floor and has semi decent insulation. It has a C EPC rating. Admittedly it does have a 90" wide window which is single paned and highly inefficient (landlord is thankfully replacing it imminently for double glazing). There is a single electric radiator on one wall which I keep on a timer during the week (one hour in the morning, 3 hours in the evening). I would manually put it on for a bit longer if I'm home on a weekend. All the lights are 6w LEDs which are kept off when not in use. The internal doors to the kitchen and bathroom are always kept closed too. There wasn't a huge amount of cooking and laundry being done at the time. Maybe once every couple of days during the evenings. But I do have the standard modern things like a WiFi router and fridge etc on all the time.

With all that in mind, it cost me about £100 to heat and supply the flat in the 5 weeks is was with Spark. I personally think this is astronomical for such a small property with one person living in it. When I would check the meter, I was getting through about £4-£5 per day. But at the time I didn't know how to cycle through the various display screens to see if there was any debt being collected and at what rate.

I enquired directly with Spark what my rates were back when I was still with them and was told by email that they were 15.60p p/kWh (daytime), 9.14p p/kWh (night) and 32.04p daily standing charge. Compared to the current rates with Bulb of 15.07 (daytime) 7.27 (night) and 28.97 standing charge (yay for Bulb!).

I realise that it's the coldest time of year and all, but it's been even colder this week than it was over Christmas and early Jan and I've still only used less than £16 in the 6 days since I've been with Bulb. Even with the sub zero temperatures in UK right now. The same period with my previous supplier would have cost me at least £25 I'm sure. I've checked my meter to check that the clock and rates are correct and they are. There's definitely no debt being collected by Bulb and I haven't significantly changed my usage habits.

Based on the above info, is it possible for Bulb's better rates to have made such a huge difference? Or is it possible that I've been had over by my last supplier? And if I get the brush off from Spark, is there any way I can get any recourse or is it too late?

Comments

  • edited February 2
    I dont think they would know if they were collecting debt however if you had debt Bulb would likely have refused the switch.
    I am gas/electric but personally I dont think £100 for 5 weeks on electric is over the top at this time of year, but thats just a guess.
    One positive from this is you have become more aware and will be more in charge of your usage and costs.
    What you need to check is the kWH usage to see if less is being used.
  • scudo said:

    I dont think they would know if they were collecting debt however if you had debt Bulb would likely have refused the switch.
    I am gas/electric but personally I dont think £100 for 5 weeks on electric is over the top at this time of year, but thats just a guess.
    One positive from this is you have become more aware and will be more in charge of your usage and costs.
    What you need to check is the kWH usage to see if less is being used.

    Thanks for replying @scudo.

    Really? £100 for a studio flat isn't considered a lot? Wow. Well that's me told, I suppose. I know that electricity costs have gone up in the last year but I hadn't realised just how much.

    My previous property was a 1 bedroom flat which I shared with my ex and that was £75 per month on dual fuel with both of us living there so £100 seemed like a lot to me. Although there was double glazing, good insulation and we lived above someone who always kept their heating on... So I suppose that would have had an impact.

    I suppose you still have to heat the same amount of space regardless of how many people are in it. 50% less people doesn't automatically translate into 50% lower bills.

    Can't wait to move to a smart meter so I can keep a better eye on things and build up some credit over the summer.
  • Really? £100 for a studio flat isn't considered a lot?

    Thats just my opinion, have a read of the link below one of several on the forum.
    You dont need a smart meter to keep an eye on things just log your readings each month (kWh) or weekly until you get to grips with it, being aware is one of the best ways to keep Bills down.

    https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/8933/average-usage#latest<div class=
  • scudo said:

    Really? £100 for a studio flat isn't considered a lot?

    Thats just my opinion, have a read of the link below one of several on the forum.
    You dont need a smart meter to keep an eye on things just log your readings each month (kWh) or weekly until you get to grips with it, being aware is one of the best ways to keep Bills down.

    https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/8933/average-usage#latest
    True, but I'd also really like an IHD so I can better understand which appliances and actions are using the most energy. I haven't been with Bulb a full month yet, but I'll definitely be checking my monthly usage when the info is available.

    Having a prepayment meter makes it tricky at this time of year as you can't build up a buffer throughout the year as you would with a credit meter. I know a lot of people complain about paying extra to build up credit but I much prefer it. It keeps my bills from jumping up in the winter.

    I suppose this is what I get for moving into a flat with a rubbish prepayment meter in the middle of winter.
  • I am sure you are already aware but anything that `heats` like kettle/radiators/shower etc is what will cost the most to run.

    I started monitoring my energy about 6 years ago, I had a plug in thingy for the appliance and it registered what I had used and how much, I then swapped it around to other appliance until I got a feel for what they used how much, after a couple of weeks I had a good idea and I was bored with the `new toy` anyway.
    Since then I have my own spreadsheet and I take weekly readings which also forecasts my monthly usage so staying one jump ahead of my bill. The spreadsheet now has the last 4 years of kWh usage and £s costs, which basically means I have too much time on my hands these days. :) Drives my wife crazy.
  • Gas central heating is generally *considerably* cheaper than electric heating, and with a giant single glazed window that sounds hellish to heat.
    £100 doesn't sound out of the question but on the high side considering how careful it seems like you are with your heating.

    If you've switched from Spark pre-pay to Bulb pre-pay, any debt would have moved with you. You can switch with up to £500 of debt on a meter.
    Spark should absolutely be able to tell you whether or not there was any debt on the meter when you joined though.
  • scudo said:

    I am sure you are already aware but anything that `heats` like kettle/radiators/shower etc is what will cost the most to run.

    I started monitoring my energy about 6 years ago, I had a plug in thingy for the appliance and it registered what I had used and how much, I then swapped it around to other appliance until I got a feel for what they used how much, after a couple of weeks I had a good idea and I was bored with the `new toy` anyway.

    Indeed I am aware of that. Which is a flaming nightmare at this time of year when it's so cold! :s

    I'm an analyst so love a good spreadsheet. No judgement there. I'm very tempted to do the same. :)
    mowcius said:

    Gas central heating is generally *considerably* cheaper than electric heating, and with a giant single glazed window that sounds hellish to heat.
    £100 doesn't sound out of the question but on the high side considering how careful it seems like you are with your heating.

    If you've switched from Spark pre-pay to Bulb pre-pay, any debt would have moved with you. You can switch with up to £500 of debt on a meter.
    Spark should absolutely be able to tell you whether or not there was any debt on the meter when you joined though.

    Cheers for this reply @mowcius

    Yeah, the window is the worst... Some days I swear I can almost feel the warmth being sucked out of the room. I've just ordered some thermal curtains in the hope that it'll help a bit in the short term but I'm really looking forward to the double glazing to be fitted. I suspect that will make the most difference but I'll probably only feel the benefit next winter by the time it gets done.

    I did switch from Spark Prepay to Bulb Prepay at this address, yes. I'm awaiting the smart meter rollout with baited breath so I can go back to a credit meter tariff like I had at my old address. The trouble is that any debt that may have been on the prepayment meter wouldn't have been mine so I doubt it would have transferred to Bulb with me because I personally never owed anything. So it may be down to Spark to 'fess up to having forgotten to take the meter out if collection mode which I have heard of happening. Considering they couldn't even figure out which meter was mine when I first moved in, I wouldn't be shocked if that was the case.

    I've asked them to check but won't hold my breath for any admission of fault on their part.
  • edited February 3
    Hi Nikki,

    Just a point regarding your single glazed window (which is probably drafty, as well as having a poor insulation value)......have you considered some do-it-yourself secondary glazing.......the kits are very inexpensive. I haven't got first hand experience with it, so can't really say what the pros and cons might be, but it would reduce your drafts as well as increasing the insulation value of the window. Of course, thick curtains would also help, but only when they're drawn! (obviously!! :-) )

    Here's a link to one of the kits sold on Amazon (but as I say, this is only a suggestion rather than a recommendation)

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rabbitgoo®-Insulation-Secondary-Excluder-Double-Sided/dp/B077XCHSFN/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1549187463&amp;sr=8-1-spons&amp;keywords=secondary+glazing+kit+for+windows&amp;psc=1

    Good luck with reducing your heating bills, especially with this cold weather.
  • Thanks so much @louise1233

    That's really nice of you. I'll definitely have a look at these.
  • When I moved in here I bought a cheap infra red thermal gun (ebay) to locate cold spots / draughts in the house, I still use it occasionally for other things.
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Temperature-Gun-Non-contact-Infrared-IR-Laser-Digital-Thermometer-TRA-Approve-T/132713825487?hash=item1ee65c44cf:m:msXtW_auzGH8meG7heix1yg:rk:7:pf:0
  • edited February 3
    Unfortunately it will be difficult for us on the forum to answer this question.

    There is so many things that could be causing this high usage. Inaccurate meter reading, you have left something on that is eating your energy, inefficient heating & electrical goods, you actually using the entry & not being aware of how much energy each appliance etc uses.

    There is charities out their than can come into the home & do an energy efficiency exame & provide solutions 2 saving on energy.

    Bulb started a discussion about keeping warm at winter. https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/7243/winter-is-coming-top-tricks-to-keep-toasty#latest
  • Some days I swear I can almost feel the warmth being sucked out of the room.

    I bet you can! It's bad enough with double glazing, let alone a giant single glazed panel. Feeling the cold "falling" off the window is awful. Thick curtains should help quite a bit with this and are definitely worth having even when you get your double glazing in. When you'd typically have curtains closed is conveniently the time when it tends to be coldest and when you'd lose the most heat through the window.

    I would also recommend one of the cheap IR thermometers @scudo suggested. I've got one and it does often come in handy. Not quite as good as a thermal camera but if you take your time, you can work out where your heat's going without too much trouble. The back of your hand near door seals and skirting also works quite well to find draughts.

    It would be interesting to see how warm the outside of your single glazed panel is compared to the wall on a cold day (ideally affix a piece of tape to the window to measure it more accurately).

    Did your landlord give any indication as to when the glazing might get replaced? Imminently could be anything from a week to a couple of years based on my experience!
  • @JustSsavvy Thanks for the link. Fortunately I'm doing most of these things already. I can't even imagine how bad it would be if I wasn't!

    @scudo I'm definitely getting one of those heat guns. What a handy thing to have!

    @mowcius Just got a text from the landlord saying that the glazers are coming next week to measure up! Happy days! =)
  • @scudo I'm definitely getting one of those heat guns. What a handy thing to have!


    If you get one on time try as mowcius stated and measure the heat from the outside then when you get the double glazing do it again and see what difference there is in heat loss. The reason for the tape or sheet of paper on the window is to get the IR gun to focus on it otherwise it can `go through` the window and focus on an inside wall.
  • @mowcius Just got a text from the landlord saying that the glazers are coming next week to measure up! Happy days!

    Result!

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