Domestic Meter problem !

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V

veggieman

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I am brand new to this forum and, not being electrically-minded, I hope that you will bear with me.

We have a big and worrying problem regarding an electricity meter and I am hoping that someone here can give us some good advice. Apologies in advance for the long and rambling story but I need to fully describe the problem.

My wife and I are retired and living on our own here in the Shetland Islands. We moved here in April 2008 and, apart from the crap weather seemingly all year round, we are happy. Our electricity is suuplied by Scottish Hydro Electric and is monitored via two meters. We pay for our electricity via a monthly direct debit and this is increased/decreased annually with maybe a refund given if large. We are on a plan called THTC (Total Heating Total Control). There is one meter, an old-fashioned one with a wheel going round, that records the "Standard Energy" electricity used via the sockets and the lights. A second meter, a digital one, records the "Heating Control Energy" electricity used to power our storage heaters and the hot water; and an electric shower is also linked to it. It is this latter, digital meter that is causing the problem.

The digital meter model is a Horstmann Radio Telemeter Series 2A. It switches on, via radio-controlled signals at several times of the day but mainly in the early hours of the morning. We have absolutely no control over the hours that the cheaper tariff electricity is supplied to us. As I mentioned previously, it is just the two of us and we have lived in a similar lifestyle in each of the 4 years that we have been here. We have had visitors for about 2 weeks in each year and have holidayed at approximately the same time each year. We have had the same storage radiators on similar settings at about the same times in each year so the electricity that we will have used, via this cheaper electricity meter, would be approximately the same for each year. However, that is where our problem has arisen..

For each of the first 3 years, the usage of electricity via this radio controlled meter has been similar but, in this last year, it has increased by well over 200%. The meter reader tends to come to us only once per year but, if the quarterly estimated numbers are way out, we read the meters and phone them through to them. This has worked fine up till now. To illustrate the problem, I will refer to the 6-months periods, November to May, for the past 3 years. In each of the years, the November reading was an estimate and the May reading was an actual. The November readings, though estimates, would have been fairly close to the actual at the time, becuase we would have otherwise phoned them through as stated above.

17 Nov 2009 to 18 May 2010 units used 7062

17 Nov 2010 to 23 May 2011 units used 7881

5 Nov 2011 to 8 May 2012 units used 23586

It is this last reading that is the bummer. It would seem that, at some point(s) in the 6 month period to May 2012, the meter jumped by some 16,000 units. This could be in one or a number of blips totalling approximately that figure. The bottom line, financially, is that we have been overcharged by some £1,200 (including VAT) and we are being asked to increase our monthly payment from (an already expensive £145) to over £300 for the next 12 months. Gulp ! We complained to the customer services folks and, after a very long phone call and a few weeks of waiting, we now have a check meter installed which has been there for just a week. We are checking the readings daily but there is no sign of a blip in that week. We are worried that the check meter will, after however long it is installed, state that our meter has no variation to it and is thus deemed to be working correctly.

Does anyone here know of such a problem occurring with these radio-controlled meters? I have left a message for someone at the local power station (in Lerwick) to ring me back as I was wondering if there might have been a "spike" in the supply following one of our occasional power cuts that we have here. I haven't heard of anyone else having such a problem here and our immediate neighbours use either oil or old-fashioned peat burning for their heating. The peat-burning is not an option to us, by the way!

Basically, this is a plea for help as we don't know which way to turn to indicate that the meter jumped considerably at some point(s) in the 6 months to last May. Any advice will be very gratefully received.

Thanks !
 
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O

Octopus

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2
Buy yourself an "owl meter" and then you'll get an idea what, in your home is using electricity. It won't narrow down the "offending" items or confirm an inaccurate meter but you'll start to understand how and where you use the most electricity.
 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
Buy yourself an "owl meter" and then you'll get an idea what, in your home is using electricity. It won't narrow down the "offending" items or confirm an inaccurate meter but you'll start to understand how and where you use the most electricity.
Thanks for the response.

The problem HAS to be with the meter. There is no other reason at all why our usage in a 6-months period should have increased by over 3 times what it was in the same 6-months period in the previous 2 years.
It is just the two of us here and the night-time electricity is used just for the storage heaters and hot water. Nothing else. We haven't changed the usage of the heaters at all in the recent 6-months period and neither have we been having more showers and/or baths. There is no thermostat problem with the hot water as it is not coming out scalding hot and there are no bubbling sounds from the tank. We have no control over the hours as to when the cheaper elctricity is available but our lifestyle simply hasn't changed and we have been on holiday for the same number of weeks at the same time in each year.

We can only assume that, at some point(s), the meter jumped by about 16,000 units but obviously can't prove it. We will try to keep the check meter in place until the end of next May to either see if there are more "jumps" in the meter reading or to prove that our usage is roughly the same as in the equivalent 6-months period in the previous 2 years.

I wnt to know if there are previous examples of these meters jumping after maybe a power cut and/or a thunder storm. This is a very worrying issue for us as we are pensioners and simply can't afford to be overcharged by about £1,200 as we are at present.
 
K

Knobhead

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
Ask your power provider to fit a check meter. Give them the reasons you have given us.
 

Des 56

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Arms
Esteemed
If the check meter does not show irregularities,its probable the supplier will assume the readings are valid
The laws of probability however seem to be in your favour and the final decision should be disputed

I would be unwilling to have the direct debit altered to cover what I believed was an anomally,in a way thats a partial admission of responsibility for the bill

I think you need to make the dispute aware to these people Energy in the first instance,they at least should look into the problem impartially and I believe have authority to enforce their findings

There does seem to be something very wrong with that meter reading,but personally I have no information on the accuracy of these meters
 
Cancel the direct debit and replace it with a standing order. The organisation which receives the direct debit controls it's frequency and amount, tell your supplier what you are doing and why then gear up for a fight.
Good luck mate
 
O

oldtimer

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
Could be your meter is not switching to cheap rate so how do you know this well first of all find out what these times are ie midnight to 7am and then find the periods over the weekend your supplier should give you this info next does the equipment that is connected to off peak have indicator neon lights on them ? if not either get them fitted so you can see when these items come on. So if the storage heater comes on at say 9pm instead of 12 midnight then you are paying for 3 hours at normal rate ie double the cost

After saying all of this I take it you have 2 fuseboards ie normal and off peak ?
 

UKMeterman

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Arms
Hi,
Could you take some photos of all your electricty meters, the cables, fuse boxes and the storage heaters. When you take a photo of the storage heater I would like to see a photo of the control switch next to it. Could you also check if there are any timers used to control your storage heaters or other electrical loads. You made a mention of an electric shower, more details please, and could I also the controls for your hot water cylinder.

Thanks
 

telectrix

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Mentor
Arms
Esteemed
agree with last post as regards pics. and definitely go with trev's suggestion f a S/O instead of D/D. as then you control the monthly payments. not the supplier.
 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
Thanks again for the responses.

oldtimer - we have two fuseboxes here. One for the cheaper electricity, which feeds the storage heaters, the hot water and an electric shower only. Nothing else. The other fuse box feeds all the lighting and sockets. When the guy came to fit our check meter, he told us of the times that the cheaper electricity becomes available and the times fit in with when we have seen the lights on the switches by the storage heaters (when turned on by us) and the hot water tanks so there is no problem there. Wih reference to your comment about the cheaper electricity to the storage heater possibly coming on early, that would be no problem were that to occur. The electricity to the storage heaters is ONLY via the fusebox that operates with the night-time cheaper electricity.

UK meterman - I am not sue, being a new member, how to lift photos to this forum. If you provide an email address, I could take and send some to you there, maybe. We don't have all of the storage radiators on, even in the winter as we don't like the house to be too hot. When we do have the adjustable ones on, they are usually at a low setting only. The model numbers of the ones we have here, though (all made by Dimplex) are as follows:

XL6N x 2 (no controls on them)
XLT6N (no controls on it)
CXL24N (if used as a convector heater, it also comes via the cheaper electricityfuse box)
XL18N x 3
CXL24 (never used since we moved here)

The electric shower, that is used via the cheaper electricity fusebox is a Triton T80si.

As mentioned, nothing in our usage of the heaters and showers has changed from one year to the next so there is absolutely no reason why the meter would have been increased by well over 3 times the usage in the previous 2 years. We are taking daily readings now, at the same time, and we are using no more than 15 units of cheaper electricity per day (only 8 last night)at the moment which is fairly minimal, I'd say. To be charged for 23,586 in a 6-month period, even covering the winter months (within which we were away for just over 4 weeks) is plainy ridiculous.
 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
agree with last post as regards pics. and definitely go with trev's suggestion f a S/O instead of D/D. as then you control the monthly payments. not the supplier.
Instead of agreeing to pay the (ridiculous) requested £301 per month, I have agreed to pay £200 per month for now until this is sorted but insisted that I don't agree to the meter readings being in any way correct. We do all our banking online so watch the payments out. I have always got the abilty to cancel a direct debit at any time online.
As just mentioned to UK meterman, I don't know how to send photos here. I can send them to an email address if you like or alternatively, you can advise how to send them here.
Thanks.
 
P

Philpot

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
Hi being a pensioner myself I feel for you in trying to deal with electricity supply authorities when the person that you talk to has no idea what you are talking about. I had a look at your tariff and it said you were on :-

Total Heating, Total Control meters, or THTC for short, are great for your home if it has electric central heating and you’re at home most of the day. They’re only available in certain areas of Scotland.
To make the most of this meter, storage heating needs to account for at least 60% of the way you heat your home - it has to be the way you heat the main parts of your home. The main way of heating your water will also need to be done electrically, which will again be on your low price. All your other electrical usage will then be recorded on a different meter.
You'll get between five and twelve hours a day from your storage heating. We find out the best times to put it on for you by regularly checking the weather forecast. This means that you’ll have heat when you need it most, without having to worry.
[FONT=Tahoma, Calibri, Arial, Verdana, sans serif]If you have any more questions about your meter, then [/FONT]contact us[FONT=Tahoma, Calibri, Arial, Verdana, sans serif] and we'll be happy to help.[/FONT]
[FONT=Tahoma, Calibri, Arial, Verdana, sans serif]So basically they have the authority to switch your heating supply on/off as they please. This decision is supposed to be in response to weather conditions but who knows.
[/FONT]
7-11-09 to 18-5-10 7062units 183 days that's 38.6KWh/day
17-11-10 to 23/5/11 7881 units 188 days 41.9 kwh/day

5-11-11 to 8/5/12 23586 units 186 days 126.8 Kwh/day

As long as the reading you gave are for the heating alone then it should be easy to assess how long the storage heaters have been switched on per day.

I suspect that the heating has been on for most of the day ( 24 hours) so you may have had a very warm winter. It is interesting that about 40units/day for say 8 hours equates to 120 for 24hrs. Most storage heaters seem to charge in about 5 to 60 hours but they will cool down over say 12 hrs.

Did you notice a very warm comfortable house temperature?

How many storage heaters have you got ???

What rating are they? (KW rating.)

Ask them for a log of the on/off times that they have been using. This is something that they should keep records of .

Please let me know how you get on and please let me have the info
Regards Phil

 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
I sent two replies to this forum, earlier this morning, but somehow they haven't appeared in this thread. I am, of course presuming that this one actually makes it to the thread. It is a shame as I made a list of the storage heaters in one of the posts.

Philpot - the cheaper heating only comes on for certain hours and that is correct. We can tell because, if we turn any of the storage heaters on the day before, so that it can collect the electricity, when the electricity is coming across to it a light comes on. The light does not come on outside of the hours advised to us and there is no problem with this. The cheap power is available for charging the heaters up for approximately 8 hours daily. A frustrating thing with the heaters is that you need to look at the weather forecast for the following day to know whether or not you should turn a heater on to store electricity for using the next day.
If I were to use an ordinary heater, a rarity in our house, the electricity for that does not come via the cheaper electricity night-time fusebox. At no time do we have the house hot as we don't like it that way.
If the earlier post doesn't come through, I will list the heater models again in another post.
 
P

Philpot

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14
Hi Veggieman I am sad that have not heard from you. I have been looking at your problem and would really like to have the above info, especially the number of heater you have and their KW loading.
The terms of your tariff put the onus on Scottish Power to provide you with the most cost effective control of your supply. If there is a problem with the readings of the meter or the supply not being controlled effectively it is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to sort it out.
It looks as though you have about 4 to 5 heater at about 2 KW each plus water heating but with out your info I can't make any other calculations accurately. If my assumption is correct you would need at least 12 x 2KW heaters to produce a reading of 23586 or the heaters must have been on for the best part of 24hrs ( that is based on the average daily use calculations.

In any event it is important that you look at their website and invoke the complaints procedure, if you haven't already done this. Then contact the ombudsman and get some advice from him. I also think the advice about changing the DD to standing order is against the contract that you have with Scot Hydro.

I noted that you were on-line the other day so I hope you make contact.
Regards Phil
 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
I have posted 3 messages here, in the past couple of days, but none of them made it to the forum.
What is going on here? I am desperately trying to reply but can't get through.

Moderators - PLEASE HELP !!
 
G

Guest123

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #16
I have posted 3 messages here, in the past couple of days, but none of them made it to the forum.
What is going on here? I am desperately trying to reply but can't get through.

Moderators - PLEASE HELP !!
We're having a few issues at the moment with extremely cunning spammers. All posters with less than 10 posts now have to be approved by us before they can be seen.

Thanks.
 
O

Octopus

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
We're having a few issues at the moment with extremely cunning spammers. All posters with less than 10 posts now have to be approved by us before they can be seen.

Thanks.
If this is the case, can't the mods "kick back" poorly worded/inaccurate/misleading threads - might save hassle in the long run!
 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
Philpot - please see my ear lier post that has just made it through to the forum after moderator approval.
You will see that I have listed the heaters that we have here and I hope that the info is correct. I agree that it is the responsibility of the electricity company to provide us with a meter that works correctly but I feel that we will need to keep this check meter, so that it covers November 2012 to May 2013, in order to show that the November 2011 to May 2012 readings (being more than 3 times the usage recorded for the same period in the previous 2 years) were totally rubbish. We are really hoping that, alternatively, the meter shows a huge jump again whilst the check meter is in place but there is nothing doing in that direction so far.

I am happy to take some photos, as requested earlier in this thread, but don't know how to post them to the forum. If you or someone else can advise me how to post them here then I will.

Also, can someone please advise how to send a message to a forum member and/or the moderator please?
 
P

Philpot

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
Hi Veggieman Thanks for the posts, sorry you were having problems.

I sent an email to ScHydro and asked for records of the on/off times for Nov to May this year. I got the following reply


Thank you for your recent email. Please accept my apology for the delay in replying to your query.
I do apologise but unfortunately we do not have access to the information regarding when each rate of THTC tariffs in the Shetland Islands were active between November 2011 and May 2012.
With THTC, customers' heating and main water heating is controlled remotely. The length of time a customer's storage heaters are charged will vary between 5 and 12 hours per day, depending on the weather forecast for that area. The actual times may also vary.
To check the times the offpeak rate operates for a specific location you would need to contact the local depot each day and they will be able to provide you with the times the offpeak rate of THTC will run for that day.
I'm sorry I couldn't be more help than this at this time.

Kind Regards
Jennie Leung
Customer Service

It seems weird that they offer a tariff but have no records of how it is applied. This seems a very slack way to conduct a business. This should be good ammunition when taking them to task with the ombudsman. I find with this sort of thing it is best to insist that they provide you with proof of what they are saying. Ask them for calculations based on your installed load to support this huge increase in units used. After all the installed load has not changed so there should be a simple calculation to get a pretty close to the previous readings.
Send me a PM if you want any help. I'll let you know what the ScHydro say in reply to my next email.
 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #20
Philpot - many thanks for taking so much trouble on our behalf. We sense that we have a battle ahead of us to get this matter dealt with satisfactorily.

When the guy came to fit the check meter on July 13th, we asked him what times the off-peak rate comes on for us. He noted that there was a code 123 on the meter and he looked it up in a booklet. He told us that the times were as follows:

Heating: 5-00am to 10-30am, 2-30pm to 4-30pm & 5-30pm to 6-30pm.

Hot water: 4-30am to 9-00am & 4-00pm to 5-15pm.

We are presuming that they are the times as at now but we have no idea as to what they are in the winter. However, as I have said earlier, our usage of the heaters and hot water hasn't changed from year to year so there should be total consistency in the units used each year.

Apparently, the immersion heater also goes via the cheaper electricity fusebox but we have only ever used it for the first hour after we return from a holiday; maybe 2 or 3 hours in total per year !

Would it be best not to contact them until the results of the check meter are known, however long it is with us?

By the way, we have been noting the usage of the cheap rate units from June 25th which was shortly after we received the huge bill. Since June 25th, we have used only 335 cheaper rate units. At just over 7p per unit, that is approximately £25 per month, before the 5% VAT is added. This is summer, of course, but we are not big users of the heaters even in winter-time as we don't like the house to be too hot at any time.

The check meter is not showing any errors so far.

Again , many thanks for taking an interest on our behalf !
 
P

Philpot

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #21
Hi Veggie I have done some calculations based on the information regarding the heater types. They have not been very conclusive. I hadn't got the water heater wattage but I will assume 3kW and do them again. It is also interesting that the meter seems to be set to a permanent cycle. I thought that it was variable, maybe it is variable as well for very cold spells, who knows. I would like to keep in touch over this as it is a useful exercise in keeping the brain active if nothing else.
The times on/off are very useful as they give a base to work from.

Phil
 
V

veggieman

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #22
Again, many thanks, Philpot (or may I call you Phil?).
I gather that the on/off times do vary from time to time, particularly in winter, dependent upon the weather at the time but we don't have any knowledge of such variations.
Our immediate neighbours here have either oil to power their heating or, more rustically, a great big pile of peat to burn up. Thus I can't ask them if they have had similar problems.

It is certainly good to keep the brain cells active so I am happy to provide you with any further information that I can in order to help feed your brain.
 
O

oldtimer

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #23
Veggieman me thinks you have the times wrong in your previous post Off Peak is midnight to 07:00 Monday to Friday and not sure about Saturday and Sunday but even if they send a signal the heating or the hot water should not kick in unless you are on cheap rate.
The whole idea of Off Peak is that when the nation goes to bed you just cannot switch a pile of power stations off so you utilise it as cheap electricity to charge up storage heaters and immersions.

Off Peak cannot or should not come on between 07:00- 24:00 plus the only reason that they can teleswitch off the supply is if they have grid problems. plus trying to get a DNO to clarify anything is just not going to happen. Hence why I said to monitor the times first so you can compare notes
 

Marvo

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Mentor
Arms
Esteemed
Hi offpeak, it would be great if you could give us some more info on who you are and how you might be able to help.
 
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