Every month we update our Open Road Map. This is a rough timeline of what we’re working on at Bulb. .
If you’ve got a great idea for a new feature or think there’s something we could do to improve things for our members, post it on Community and we’ll add it to the Open Road Map.
Each month we update Community about things we completed during the previous month, what we’re working currently and what our members want to see us doing in the future.
Here’s April’s update:
@corvus suggested that we should change naming conventions on monthly statements.
We send statements by email and they can be downloaded from your Bulb account. Currently when you download a statement onto your computer and save it as a file it’s automatically named something along the lines of Bill8963537.pdf.
It was suggested that we change the names of your bills to something a little more meaningful. So when you download or save your statements, you know they’re from Bulb and are in date order.
With your help, we have decided to go with this naming convention:
We’ve added this to our internal road map and will be released ni the next update to our billing system.
Things we’ve done
Usage graphs for smart meter data
We started installing SMETS2 smart meters for Bulb members in February 2019 and we’ll continue to roll them out into 2020.
One advantage of having a smart meter is being able to see exactly how much energy you are using and when. Access to real-time data about your energy habits helps you find ways to cut your bills. And it helps us understand how we can balance the demand on the grid to help lower carbon emissions.
When you have a smart meter installed, the engineer will also set up an In-Home Display. This is a small device that connects to your meter wirelessly. It shows how much energy you’re using (kWh) and how much that costs in pounds and pence.
We think the In-Home Display is a great way to help you save. But lots of our members have said they’d like to view their smart data in their Bulb account. Members with a second generation smart meter are now able to view their monthly energy usage graph in their Bulb account without needing to brush cobwebs off their meters and send us readings.
Right now, we’re focusing on rolling out smart meters to every member that wants one. But we’ll be designing and building new ways to display your smart data to make it more useful. Check out our plans to improve the usage graphs in a previous post.
If you’d like a smart meter installed, you can join the smart meter waiting list to be the first to know when we’re installing in your area.
We’re rebuilding the way we generate our emails to include more useful information.
As we’re building a new system from scratch, we’re testing it with a limited number of members first. To start, we’ve made some changes to your monthly statements. The new statements have all the same things the old one had, including:
- Whether the statement was based on estimated or actual meter readings.
- Asking for your meter readings if you haven't sent one in three months or more.
- Requesting that you set up a payment method if you don’t currently have one.
Once we’re happy that’s working well, we’ll roll it out to more members. And we’ll include more meaningful things in the statement email, like:
- A sentence explaining whether your balance is good for the time of year.
- If it isn't, we'll recommend you increase or decrease your payments.
- We'll include your supply address in the email.
- We'll tell you if there's a Direct Debit that's been taken from your bank account but isn't showing in your Bulb account yet.
- If your monthly cost is unusually high, we'll explain why.
- If we're sending you a statement for an unusual billing period, we'll explain why.
And then we’ll move on to other communications, like your monthly meter read reminder, payment update and some of the emails you get during your switch to Bulb.
Electric vehicle calculator
We’ve built a new electric vehicle (EV) Calculator and we’ll sharing the link more publicly in the upcoming weeks. We’re giving Community a sneak peak at the calculator first.
If you’re a Bulb member with a compatible SMETS1 smart meter , you can join our Smart Tariff (beta). We’re working on making it compatible with SMETS2 smart meters too. You’ll get cheaper, off-peak electricity from 11pm to 7am, so you can charge your electric vehicle for less.
The EV calculator will help you compare our standard tariff to our smart tariff and see how much you could save if you switched.
Things we’re doing
Changing the way we review your payments
Our members have told us that the maths behind what we ask you to pay each month isn’t clear enough, so we’re re-evaluating. Our goal is to make sure that throughout the year your account balance is in credit, you have an active payment method and that you’re paying enough to cover your energy consumption. No one wants to get ‘bill shock’ or a request for a payment they weren’t expecting, so we want to help you keep on top of your account.
We’re looking at different ways to do this, and the best way to help you understand what you’re paying. We expect to roll this out over the next quarter. But first we’ll be talking with our members and running trials and experiments.
It’s important your account is in credit because we buy energy in advance. This helps us to make your bills cheaper. If your monthly payments are not enough to ensure your minimum balance is £0 in April, we will suggest a payment increase. April is when your balance will be at its lowest throughout the year. It’s the month of the year when, for most people, the temperature has warmed up enough that monthly energy usage drops below monthly payment amount.
Back in winter 2018, we found that a number of members were unclear about how we calculated a new suggested payment amount. From the way we explained our calculations, it looked like we were asking members who joined us in winter, to keep two months credit in their account when our terms and conditions said you only needed one.
With lots of great feedback, and some more complicated maths, we think we’ve found a way to make sure that whatever time of year you join us, your minimum balance is £0 around April after year. And, as requested by Community, we’ll rewrite our terms and conditions to reflect this. This will prevent our members from getting a payment shock and will keep you informed.
Watch this space as there’ll be more to come on this.
Energy Company Obligations
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government energy efficiency scheme to help reduce household fuel poverty and carbon emissions across the UK.
Medium and large energy suppliers must fund energy saving measures that help reduce energy bills.
Energy saving measures covered under ECO include:
- Gas boiler replacement
- Cavity wall insulation
- Loft insulation
- Solid wall insulation
Suppliers either set up their own services, or work with partners to deliver energy saving measures in homes. We’re in the process of choosing a partner to work with.
The important thing to know is that you can apply for ECO grants whether your supplier is ECO compliant or not. So Bulb members can access grants now.
To find out if you are eligible, you can call Energy Savings Advice: Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm. They can help you understand whether you qualify for ECO funding. If you do, they’ll explain what to do next.
You can also use online tools such as My Eco Home. This is a website run by a company called Agility Eco that receives funding from multiple energy suppliers for ECO grants.