Curious IHD behaviour

Since 30th May my IHD shows 20p of gas usage when I check it first thing in the morning, when the meter reading has not changed. For example, last night the meter reading was 90.107m3 and this morning the meter reading still read 90.107m3 but the IHD shows 20p of usage. How come?

Hi @teejones1957

Welcome to the Bulb Community!

You’re right, that is quite curious behaviour. I’m sure there’s an explanation for the mystery of the phantom 20p gas use, though.

I’m going to send you over an email with a few questions and next steps, so if you could have a look there that would be great :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve seen this too. The only gas appliance in my house is the boiler, and it’s been switched off. I wondered whether this 20p is the standing charge?

Hi @Mark_S

That’s strange, have you noticed any sort of trends when the 20p use appears or is it happening consistently like with @teejones1957?

IHDs don’t display standing charges so it can’t be that, great suggestion though. We’ll get to the bottom of this :mag_right: :male_detective:

No trends yet, I’ve only seen it once. My smart gas meter has only recently been commissioned (thanks to Ed!), so I have I have been looking at how much I’m spending on gas, which at this time of year is only used for hot water. As a result, I decided to install a solar immersion controller, and with that working pretty well, I turned off the hot water schedule on my Hive controller. Today was the first morning after doing that, and that’s when I noticed the 20p.

Hi @Mark_S

Kudos to Ed, I’ll pass along your thanks to him.

It’s good to hear the anomalous 20p has only appeared the once for you, but it is still strange. Do keep us posted if it happens again, but hopefully on this occasion it was a one off - IHDs can sometimes display slightly inaccurately to actual usage.

How have you found using the solar immersion controller? I’ve heard of them but never seen one used, they look like a nifty piece of kit though.

So far so good with the immersion controller. I wish I’d fitted one when we first had the solar panels, over 8 years ago. It would have paid for itself several times over by now. It’s very simple in concept: the immersion heater is wired through it and permanently switched to on, but it only gets power when the controller offers it. A current sensing clamp on the meter tails lets the controller detect when power is being exported to the grid, and it offers (most of) it to the immersion heater via some circuitry that limits the wattage to what would otherwise be exported. The immersion heater works at reduced power, just taking longer to heat the water. But so far it’s been delivering enough power to get the tank up to temperature, and we do end up exporting some. I’m sure it won’t work quite so effectively through the winter, as some days the panels generate less than a kilowatt-hour in total.

Another day, another unexplained gas cost showing on the IHD. 21p this time. Both heating and hot water are off in the Hive settings. The electricity was used to charge the car.

That’s interesting. My IHD is showing 21p this morning when it usually shows 20p.

I thought it could be the boiler pilot light? But (a) a pilot light shouldn’t use anything like that much gas - 20p buys about 7 kWh; and (b) my boiler doesn’t even have a pilot light - it uses spark ignition.

Hi @Mark_S and @teejones1957

I’ve found the answer we’ve been looking for.

We’ve recently upgraded the firmware on some gas meters, and that new firmware allows the 20p standing charge to show on the IHD ‘so far today’ screen.

This is a very recent update that our smart team has helped roll out, so recent even I was out of the loop on it. Oops.

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Thanks for the answer!

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Hi @teejones1957

No worries at all.

I’m just glad this is another mystery we can tick as solved :white_check_mark:

Well what do you know?

I looked through the meter displays and there’s one that reads
V38030702
33ccf44

Would that be the firmware version?

Hi @Mark_S

That does indeed look like a firmware version, but looks like an electricity meter’s firmware to me. Unless I’ve got a few wires crossed, that is :thinking:

On reflection, I don’t think showing standing charges on the IHD is a good idea. You can see the confusion it can cause when people, like me and Trevor, who know that we’ve used no energy, see a charge appear. Is there any intention to formally notify smart meter users that the IHD now displays standing charges? Are other suppliers doing this too?

As I understand it, the purpose of the IHD is to give consumers “real time” information about how much energy is being used. But the standing charge is an administrative overhead, and nothing to do with energy consumption. It’s perfectly fine to add it to the bill, but as it’s totally unrelated to energy consumption, I don’t believe it’s justifiable for the IHD to show it. By showing it as though it was part of the cost of consumed energy, you’re in effect altering the purpose of the IHD, making it more about advance notice of what our bills are going to be. But as you’re not including the VAT it’s not even accurate in that respect.

OFGEM’s guide to smart meters has no mention of them showing elements of the final bill other than the cost of energy consumed. It says “[Smart meters] show you how much energy you are using in pounds and pence, in near real-time, through an in-home digital display. Your energy use plays a big part in the price you pay for your energy, and the in-home displays that come with smart meters can help you track what you use and understand where you might be able to make reductions that could save you money.”

I have a boiler with a standing pilot light, cost about 1/2 pence per hour.

Mine now does the same thing and it started around the same time as yours. I figured it must now be showing the standing charge, as when you click the 20p it was showing 0 kWh used.

Now if bulb can update the meters so that they show the current tariff in the first place, we will be making progress. It is ironic that the fundamental firmware on these meters can be updated remotely yet the numbers cannot?

Hi @Mark_S

That’s some great feedback, I can see where you’re coming from entirely. Being more of an overhead cost than anything, I can see how when it comes to tracking usage it may be better to omit standing charge and allow people to just see their unit costs. It’s a good point regarding the IHD not showing VAT either, perhaps an ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to VAT/standing charges would be more appropriate. That would allow people to either see their pure usage costs, or an accurate reflection of total costs on a daily basis. Much to think about :brain:

The firmware update is just one that we have released recently, I’m not aware of it being an industry-wide update. I’ll definitely be passing your comments along to our smart team, we’re always interested to see what our members think of tweaks like this.

Hi @timr11

I’ve found the thread where you’ve reported your issues in a little more detail. I’m going to respond there, and I’ll send over an email too so we can get it sorted for you.

Thanks for your understanding and for passing my comments on to your smart team.

Just as an additional thought - there’s really no need to push the standing charge info out to the IHD, because customers are able to see their daily costs, including standing charges, on the usage page in the account dashboard - https://account.bulb.co.uk/dashboard/usage - or at least they should be able to do so. In my case it seems a bit hit and miss what makes it through to that page!