Vari-fair tariff vs. Smart


I’m in the process of leaving EDF for Bulb, mainly due to EDF’s inability to fix IHD issues - although I’m not holding my breath now that I’ve discovered the Bulb community and read some of the experiences here!

I’ve not hunted particularly hard but had a couple of questions and apologise if they are covered in an obvious place:

  1. Is it possible to download my data from Bulb in CSV format?
  2. Do Bulb take half-hourly readings if you are on the vari-fair tariff or is it required to switch to the expensive ‘smart’ tariff?

I calculated that I would be paying £7-8 per month more on the smart tariff based on my actual usage from the past three months.


1. Is it possible to download my data from Bulb in CSV format?

No. The best you can do is get an HTML table that lists daily readings. I copy and paste that into a text file and then have a python script that converts it into a .csv for me. I’ve asked about this twice already. I was told about 5 months ago that it should be possible for them to give me a data dump of everything they have “in a couple of months”. I followed up a couple of months later and have not had any response. Even if this were possible it would be a manual process, not something simple like an API. There was plans on the roadmap for an API but I believe it’s been shelved due to lack of developers and time spent even trying to get the basics working.

2. Do Bulb take half-hourly readings if you are on the vari-fair tariff or is it required to switch to the expensive 'smart' tariff?

I believe it’s possible to request this, but can’t say for sure since Bulb don’t really know either. I read someone else on this forum asking about it, since obviously you need access to the half-hourly data in order to work out if switching to the smart tariff would be beneficial. If I recall correctly the final communication on that was Bulb confirming they were now taking half-hourly readings, but there’s still no way for the user to get them.

Thanks Hooloovoo - this doesn’t seem terribly progressive and it’s not hard to provide. Maybe I could make a subject access request for my data under GDPR but then life is getting shorter.

I could potentially automate the parsing of the HTML table but indeed without half-hourly readings it would have been next to impossible to determine that a Bulb smart tariff would cost me more than vari-fair. I do still pull data from my old home energy monitor although it’s not so accurate on the power usage.

Likewise I considered a formal data request, but as you say life is too short and frankly what’s the point? That just gets the data up to today, and you can’t keep making the same request over and over again every month, or quarter, or whatever.

There’s been lots of discussion on attaching a CAD to our meters to access the 10 second cadence data. See here. But this all appears to have come to nothing as well. The latest IHD that Bulb are supplying has WiFi connectivity and claims to be a CAD, which sounds perfect, but again neither Bulb nor the manufacturer are setup to use it so there’s no way of getting the data out that way either. There also doesn’t appear to be any ports open locally on the device in order to attempt to work out a communication protocol - it all has to go via “the cloud”.

I’ve been considering getting a Raspberry Pi based Open Energy Monitor, which is accurate on power usage since it monitors the voltage and calculates real power. But this doesn’t help in getting the gas usage data.

All a bit depressing really.

Thanks Hooloovoo - C’est la vie.

The device that Bulb are installing has an integrated CAD, as Bulb purchase and install the CAD it is therefore their option to enable that service rather than the manufacturers. Am pretty certain that at some point they will do so for consumer usage data however in the short term I’d expect them to start using it to deliver firmware updates etc that aren’t available for the IHD via the DCC (which seems to be a bit of a miss for whomever wrote the specification)