Hi. I’ve just had my final electricity bill from my previous supplier (SSE) and am very happy to be here.
For most people, I suspect signing-up was pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, some of us were/are stuck on weird 3-rate tariffs with multiple MPANs. To be honest, I didn’t even know what one of those was until I read the discussions here, and that was very helpful for me to understand how my electricity supply/meter needed to be set up before switching.
I bought my house about 7 years ago and every time I’ve considered switching supplier, I didn’t really know which other companies would support this kind of tariff. So I ended up just sticking with what I had. It was really confusing at first, having the immersion heater and storage heaters switch on at a few different times during the day and night, but that was the “feature” of this tariff.
To further complicate things, I had solar panels installed a few years ago under the FIT scheme. I didn’t realise until recently that this is an entirely separate thing and can be with a different company to my supplier, and I had avoided changing supplier for fear that it may either cancel the FIT payments or change the rate I was signed up for.
There are two consumer units - one for day/night and the upper immersion (topup) heater element, the other for the storage heaters and lower immersion heater element. The second consumer unit would only be powered during certain times of the day, and I’m pretty sure that the solar energy generated would not go directly to that unit (i.e. I would have to pay for the energy, even if I was already exporting it to the grid). I could be wrong though.
I have a “Solar iBoost” attached to my immersion heater, which was only connected to the top element. This basically has something that checks how much solar energy is being exported, and diverts most of what’s not being used already into the immersion heater. So while I’m at work etc. on a sunny day it is topping up my hot water automatically. I could’ve attached it also to the bottom element, but in winter it would mean that using the iBoost timer feature would mean I’d never get the “stored heat” rate (the cheapest of the three) because it would be on the day/night rate. Ugh.
SSE have been gradually bumping up their prices, and the most recent announcement I received basically opened with something along the lines of: “The energy regulator is raising the cap for energy pricing, so we are going to increase our prices.”
I set about finding out what I needed to do in order to leave, which included (obviously) finding another supplier. This part was pretty easy, thanks to comparison websites. Bulb was the cheapest. I didn’t search much further - I had a look at various information on the Bulb website and liked what I read. The crazy thing is that Bulb’s Economy 7 tariff’s night rate was not just cheaper than the existing night rate, but also cheaper than the cheapest rate on my old tariff (the “stored heat energy” cost.)
I’d established that my FIT payments would continue to be from my previous supplier, and that I can optionally move this to another company as well (though I’m still unsure if I would get the same rate by doing so - I assume the rate is fixed based on when it was originally set up?)
So, what did this eventually entail? Obviously I needed my meter to be changed, but I also needed my “stored heat energy” MPAN to be deactivated to avoid having to have a second standing charge just for that. It took a few weeks for an engineer to come out and change the meter, and I made sure that the second MPAN was deactivated before signing up to Bulb. This involved a few phone calls and a bit of waiting for things to get done.
Just to be certain, I checked that the second consumer unit was working at night only (listened for immersion heater at night as it’s quite noisy). I signed up for Bulb a few days later, but in my haste to do so, I forgot to change the tariff selection to Economy 7! D’oh! This was quickly resolved by e-mail.
Sign-up underway, I went and had a read of the Solar iBoost manual (this part’s not exactly relevant to Bulb but is one of the big advantages for me finally being off of that annoying tariff I was on!) There’s a second output which wasn’t wired up. It gets used when the first output is off (i.e. if the top immersion element is hot enough.) Effectively it switches between the two, allowing both elements to be safely fed from one input whilst being regulated by how much solar energy is being generated. I re-wired the lower immersion element into this - and I am so glad I did. It used to save maybe 3 or 4 units of electricity, now it is regularly between 6 and 9. No longer am I having to occasionally boost it overnight only for it to then decide that the overnight heating was hot enough and not do anything. During winter I can at least use its timer feature to give a short boost to the hot water overnight rather than the times being decided by my supplier (or having to wire in a separate timer just for that feed.)
Having been with Bulb for a couple of weeks, I checked my meter readings and worked out that I’ve used around £18 of electricity so far. Considering my payments used to be around £100 each month, I’m very happy with this (though obviously the solar panels help a lot so in winter the cost will be higher.)
Thanks for reading. It’s probably quite unusual for someone to be excited about changing energy supplier but there’s a few “I really ought to get round to doing something about that” situations I have and this was one of them, so it’s really satisfying to have finally made the switch. Also I just had coffee so that would probably explain the length of this message - that’s what happens when your supplier’s e-mails suggest “put the kettle on”