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Discuss Help with a tampered eco 7 time switch in the Electrical Forum area at ElectriciansForums.net

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So, we moved in a month ago and only just noticed on our first bill that the meter has been stuck on "Low" throughout the whole day. Great! Except our storage heaters have been running 24/7 because they're wired into the off peak circuit, meaning we spent just under £100 in a month :0

Our energy company was reluctant to replace the meter (Bulb said they're only installing smart 2 rate meters "from the summer"). However, on closer inspection, it's clear the timeswitch (Horstmann VMK 7) has been opened up and tamper seal broken. The support agent then told me to get in an electrician to fix it and then claim the costs back from them. I'm worried an electrician won't touch it because it's the property of the energy company. Is this something an electrician can fix?

Also, dumb question, but it's set to ON, and to my knowledge, that means it's going to always be night rate, right? Someone's been in there and switched it manually, can I not just switch it back to AUTO? Surely the only reason I would get an electrician to do it would be to get another tamper seal to appease the energy company?
 
TL;DR
Stuck on eco 7 off peak, time switch is clearly tampered with

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Vortigern

Arms
Advent Win
Where to start...So you don't need to appease the energy company providing a seal that is their business. You have notified them, it is up to them to take it from there. At a guess I would say the storage heaters are not on 24/7. They just appear to be. They are on between 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or something close to that. You often find that the timer has switch has a booster switch separate to the timer switch, is that the case with you? I say appears to be on as of course the heaters will be hot as they have stored their heat from being on over night. Your bill of £100, is that for both the two rates together? Are you sure you are on a dual tariff does it show that on your bill? It is evident the cover has been opened by someone but that could be for legitimate reasons as well. Nothing, in any event for you to worry about. I would come to sort that out for you as an electrician and guess as above there is a slight misapprehension regarding what is going on actually. A few tests would confirm that.
 
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  • #3
Where to start...So you don't need to appease the energy company providing a seal that is their business. You have notified them, it is up to them to take it from there. At a guess I would say the storage heaters are not on 24/7. They just appear to be. They are on between 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or something close to that. You often find that the timer has switch has a booster switch separate to the timer switch, is that the case with you? I say appears to be on as of course the heaters will be hot as they have stored their heat from being on over night. Your bill of £100, is that for both the two rates together? Are you sure you are on a dual tariff does it show that on your bill? It is evident the cover has been opened by someone but that could be for legitimate reasons as well. Nothing, in any event for you to worry about. I would come to sort that out for you as an electrician and guess as above there is a slight misapprehension regarding what is going on actually. A few tests would confirm that.
So, the heaters have just one switch, the boost dial is the old fashioned vent opening style. Turning off the switch turns off the heater, leaving them on means they run during the peak. We've tested them with a NCV during the day, and also you can hear them hum when you turn the input dial up past the thermometer's click, which they don't if it's switched off. The bill was £100 even on the Off Peak rate. Bill shows a 0kwh of Day usage.

Ideally, if someone could tell me what setting the time switch should be on (ON/AUTO), and if I can do it myself, that would be helpful.
 

snowhead

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Mentor
Timeswitch should be on AUTO
It looks like you have a White meter next to the timeswitch?
Do you have another meter?

The storage heaters useage should show on the Off Peak meter, if there's nothing on the bill you aren't being charged.
When you turn on the Heater does the reading on the Meter increase , (that's now, before you put the switch back to Auto)

Keep any record of calls/emails to your supplier and content of call, in case in the future theres a dispute.
Take a photo of both? meters today to show the current readings and keep that.
 
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  • #5
Timeswitch should be on AUTO
It looks like you have a White meter next to the timeswitch?
Do you have another meter?

The storage heaters should show on the Off Peak meter, if there's nothing on the bill you aren't being charged.
When you turn on the Heater does the reading on the Meter increase?
At any time of day, the dials on the meter turn for Low only. The set up is that time switch and this meter. There's then a fuse box and a main breaker in that cupboard.

So do you reckon I could take that cover off and switch that clock to Auto myself? Should I turn the breaker off when I do it? Or have to call out someone?
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When you turn on the Heater does the reading on the Meter increase , (that's now, before you put the switch back to Auto)
Oh yeah, and just to say, the meter really starts turning when those heaters are on, they're pretty power hungry
 

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snowhead

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Mentor
Can you do a photo from further back showing the Main fuse and all the grey wires that go to the timeswitch and fuse boxes?

To me it looks like the seal is off the meter connection at the bottom.
I suspect someone has rewired it to be low rate 24hrs and it's surprising the energy supplier hasn't noticed from the readings.
Has the meter been read or did you give them the readings?
 
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  • #7
Can you do a photo from further back showing the Main fuse and all the grey wires that go to the timeswitch and fuse boxes?

To me it looks like the seal is off the meter connection at the bottom.
I suspect someone has rewired it to be low rate 24hrs and it's surprising the energy supplier hasn't noticed from the readings.
Has the meter been read or did you give them the readings?
Okay here's the whole cupboard. We just moved in a month ago and immediately changed supplier. We've only given them readings, no one has been round to check. My flatmate said he got an automated warning about the Day rate not moving when submitting the first reading, but he just presumed it was because it was his first reading. When taking our second reading just before the first bill, we noticed the day rate was completely still on the same number.

The energy company are refusing to send anyone until we get an electrician to fix the time switch (they are presuming their meter is working perfectly and it's just the time switch, and won't budge on that matter. I just want them to send someone, because the whole situation is sketch and I don't wanna get accused of anything)
 

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davesparks

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Arms
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The energy company are refusing to send anyone until we get an electrician to fix the time switch (they are presuming their meter is working perfectly and it's just the time switch, and won't budge on that matter. I just want them to send someone, because the whole situation is sketch and I don't wanna get accused of anything)
The time switch is the property of the supplier and their responsibility to maintain.

The problem is that they don't know this, especially not if its one of the 'new' energy suppliers who will have no knowledge of past practices.

That time switch will have been fitted when electricity was supplied by the regional electricity board and you didn't have a choice of suppliers. Then when all that changed and you could choose your supplier nobody kept a record of what equipment was installed where, so they all seem to just assume that everyone has a new digital meter.

The short answer to your problem is probably as simple as setting the timeswitch back to auto and checking that the time is set correctly.
 

snowhead

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Mentor
As above the supplier is responsible but they never want to admit it.

The meter is sealed O.K.

Set the switch to Auto, the Heaters will then only come on at night for limited hours and the Normal rate will be charged in the Daytime.
The timeswitch changes the meter over from Normal to Low and puts a supply out to the heaters.
White meter is what we now know as Economy 7 (E7) everything is low rate overnight.

Expect the supplier to query the readings next time.
And you may get the visit you want.
 
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  • #10
Okay I'll set it to AUTO and hound the energy company to take more responsibility in future. They're still going to claim its not their fault and so that £100 is still going down the drain. If they actually took responsibility for the faulty switch, I'd be able to pressure them into compensation for that extortionate bill. If they knew the Day wasn't going around on Day 1 like that warning we got suggested, they should've sent someone to fix it asap.
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Haha, that was worryingly easy to do. A couple turns of a flat head and the hood swung down on the time switch.
Had to switch it to "OFF" before it clicked to Day, then to "AUTO" and it stays on Day. Flicking it back to "ON" changes it to Low.
So I've made sure its right for the moment (Day), and i'll check tonight to see if AUTO actually works. There's a chance the timeswitch is just broken so the quick fix was to leave it on the night circuit. That, or most likely something more nefarious.
And the heaters went off too! Our living room one has an indicator light on the switch, which doesn't come on anymore, meaning there's no power to it, which is what we wanted during the day.

Now to pester the energy company for compensation or a good will payment I guess.
 

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davesparks

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Okay I'll set it to AUTO and hound the energy company to take more responsibility in future. They're still going to claim its not their fault and so that £100 is still going down the drain. If they actually took responsibility for the faulty switch, I'd be able to pressure them into compensation for that extortionate bill. If they knew the Day wasn't going around on Day 1 like that warning we got suggested, they should've sent someone to fix it asap.
Post automatically merged:

Haha, that was worryingly easy to do. A couple turns of a flat head and the hood swung down on the time switch.
Had to switch it to "OFF" before it clicked to Day, then to "AUTO" and it stays on Day. Flicking it back to "ON" changes it to Low.
So I've made sure its right for the moment (Day), and i'll check tonight to see if AUTO actually works. There's a chance the timeswitch is just broken so the quick fix was to leave it on the night circuit. That, or most likely something more nefarious.
And the heaters went off too! Our living room one has an indicator light on the switch, which doesn't come on anymore, meaning there's no power to it, which is what we wanted during the day.

Now to pester the energy company for compensation or a good will payment I guess.
Or they might send you a bill for the extra that it would have cost if the meter had been recording that usage at the day rate.
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It looks like someone has been tampering with the meter too, they don't normally have blu tack in them
 

snowhead

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Mentor
What they should do is monitor the daytime use for 2 or 3 months, now it doesn't include the heaters, then deduct the average reading from the Low useage so far and charge the correct, higher rate.
However as the timer was always on you may have used more Low rate than you should have been able to so there could be a correction there, but they should also monitor your ne Low rate usage as well.

I doubt the bill will change too much on a monthly basis in the future.

Now you've switched the meter over to work correctly you need to check the hot water immersion heaters.
You've probably got 2 , the lower one should be switched ON so it's on overnight on Low.
The upper is for boost, that needs to be OFF in the day unless you need extra Hot water.
 
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  • #13
What they should do is monitor the daytime use for 2 or 3 months, now it doesn't include the heaters, then deduct the average reading from the Low useage so far and charge the correct, higher rate.
However as the timer was always on you may have used more Low rate than you should have been able to so there could be a correction there, but they should also monitor your ne Low rate usage as well.

I doubt the bill will change too much on a monthly basis in the future.

Now you've switched the meter over to work correctly you need to check the hot water immersion heaters.
You've probably got 2 , the lower one should be switched ON so it's on overnight on Low.
The upper is for boost, that needs to be OFF in the day unless you need extra Hot water.
Our water immersion heater has a timer which doesn't turn, I think that one would be an actual electricians job to sort out I guess? We've got a power shower so haven't actually been using any hot water (we've been boiling a kettle for the washing up). I'm guessing whatever tenant was fiddling with the meter was just using the boost because that's how it was when we moved in.
 

Vortigern

Arms
Advent Win
If you are a tenant then it is the responsibility of the Landlord to rectify matters. In all honesty I don't think you should have gone into or got involved with that time switch personally. Delegate appropriately I would say. But let's pretend you did not interfere with the suppliers equipment. I am surprised they weren't knocking on the door with a smart meter to fit before you had even put the phone down when you asked for it to be rectified. As you say they will now notice a difference in the bill which may remove any chance of getting compensation as you have interfered with their equipment and they could get awkward about it.
 
Not easy to see clearly but that looks like an E7 4 terminal meter which simply switches all circuits onto cheap rate at specified times. Normally with storage heaters a 5 terminal meter is used which via the 5th terminal only supplies power during the off peak E7 period normally to a separate E7 consumer unit for the storage heaters.
I would contact your supplier again and ask them to sort it all out, if it has (or should have) a seal it is either the suppliers or DNOs responsibility not the customer, you could mention looking at the installation that the meter requires recertification. Failing that go to Ofgem.
 
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