Monthly Archives August 2011

What to do About Energy Price Rises

Shop around!

I did and I found gas for about half the price of British Gas – with no standing charges!

What’s more, I know what the price will be after a forthcoming rise and it’s still nearly half the price of BG who haven’t even put their prices up yet!

So the story goes; I’ve recently rented a place closer to my office so I can spend a little more time at work (madness, I know).

The letting agent told me they would contact the utility providers on my behalf and then sent me a letter saying that although they would try, I was ultimately responsible for doing it myself. That, to me, was as good as them saying that I should just get on and do it.

First of all I had to find out who my current provider was so after a little search I found the M Number Enquiry Helpline (0870 608 1524)  – this is an automated service for finding out your Gas provider and I found it really easy to use.

To find out your electricity supplier there is a list of regional numbers to call with friendly operators waiting to take your call!

I found the list of numbers here:

Having found out my supplier for both gas and electricity was British Gas I set sbout calling them to find out the best tariff they could offer me.

This turned out to be their imaginatively titled ‘Websaver 12’ tariff.

Browsing their website while talking to an operator I found the actual monetary values of the tariff before the operator was able to tell me (and the website was running slowly).

For gas in my region the Tier 1 tariff is 8.849p per kwh and the Tier 2 tariff is 3.638p.

For electricity the Tier 1 tariff is 25.101p per kwh and the Tier 2 is 10.894p.

These are the current prices with a rise due at the end of summer/beginning of autumn.

The Tier 1 price is how much a customer pays for using up-to a set amount of kwhs (kilowatt hours) and any kwhs used above this amount are then charged at the Tier 2 rate. This is usually within a set amount of time and then the price resets back to the Tier 1 tariff.

I’m not going to spend a great deal of time at home so I doubt I’ll ever make it into the Tier 2 band but armed with the facts and figures I began searching comparison sites to see what I could find.

It was that helped me arrive at my final choice and it was the fact that they don’t just display the companies they partner with but also those they don’t which, means more choice for the customer.

I noticed that if I searched without knowing my current usage and just selected a box that said ‘low use/small flat’ I didn’t see as many results as I did when I entered my actual monthly usage.

This was a little confusing at first because my gas meter doesn’t show kwhs but another quick Google and I found this link: which, converts gas meter readings into kwhs.

By entering usage figures I became enlightened.

EBICO – the UK’s only not-for-profit energy supplier has one tariff and no standing charges.

Compared to British Gas:


BG – 8.849p (yet to increase)

EBICO – 4.02p (will increase to 4.788p mid Sept)


BG – 25.101p (yet to increase)

EBICO – 13.44p (will increase to 14.69p mid Sept)

Based on my usage for the 3 weeks I’ve been in the new place I expect to lower my forthcoming bills by approximately 45% compared to British Gas and probably over 50% after British Gas put their prices up. 

Switching was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made and all it took was one quick phone call (they haven’t paid to me to say this!).

If you’ve been looking into prices lately, EDF have a pretty good offer on at the moment that fixes prices until December 2012 and the rates per kwh are cheaper than EBICO but they apply a Standing Charge which, adds about £10 per month to the bill (when taking both gas and electricity).

Higher usage could represent a saving and houesholds using a combination of more than 500 kwhs of gas (approx) and more than 215 kwhs of electricity (approx) per month could be better off with EDF.

Blink and Miss History – It’s Eye Opening!

In times of economic uncertainty, people striving to make a living can so easily bury themselves in work and while getting engrossed by work is a sure-fire way of getting things done, in this fast paced world in which we live it also means we may not be paying attention to everything else that’s going on around us.

Pause for one minute, stick your head up and look around and it’s amazing to see what’s gone by in just a few days.

Admittedly, some weeks are less impressive than others but with so much news available at all times from all over the world there is always something amazing happening. Be it good or bad news, the world is definitely spinning very fast.

And what a week it’s been!

This whole business of America’s long-term federal debt being downgraded by Standard & Poor’s for the first time is all still part of the fallout of the ‘credit crunch’. Remember that term?

The world is still trying to sort out the mess of debt that has been floating around for the last few years. Governments need to reduce their levels of debt but with slow economies the revenue isn’t sufficient to keep pace the with former rates of spending. Hence austerity measures such as tax rises and lay-offs which curb spending and attempt to increase revenue but also cause public spending to falter.

Governments have tough choices to make because no government wants their country or citizens to struggle financially.

Should S&P have downgraded the US long term debt? None of the other credit agencies did.

They apparently overstated the US debt by $2 trillion and in addition they claimed the downgrade was also due to the inability of the current administration to make decisions ‘at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenge’.

It’s true, the decision to raise the debt ceiling was made at the last minute but with so many decisions to make and so many factors to consider I would have used all of the available time to really thrash out the alternatives before making a decision too.

There was panic selling as confidence wained and investors fled to safer havens. Stock markets around the globe crashed and suffered huge losses only for many of them to bounce back days later but with warnings of more volatility to come.

Some fear another global recession which is more likely only going to be even slower growth than expected although it seems every growth prediction result these days is just short of the mark.

It seems the world is desperate to return to heady days of boom, boom, boom instead of sucking up and accepting slow, steady sustained growth and so the madness continues.

Technology, internet, gadgets and social media has altered perceptions and people still want the latest and greatest things now and they are not prepared to wait until tomorrow. As a result, Apple has more money in the bank than the US government! (I wonder, how many iPad purchases were made using a credit card!)

Lloyds is still suffering with PPI claims which pushed it to a £3.3 billion loss for the 6 months up to June and amidst all the news about London riots they slipped in another announcement of further job cuts.

Yahoo, once the US’s favourite search engine and a piece of internet history is now apparently worth less than it’s holdings in other companies so anyone able to buy Yahoo may be able to sell off these holdings and potentially make a profit!

I think the phrase is ‘it’s all going off’ but if you follow the news from around the world, it’s always ‘all going off’.

On a final note for today, London and other UK cities are a mess from the recent violence which has resulted in loss of property and loss of life and nothing good will come as a consequence of the rioting. My sympathies to all who have lost property and my sincerest condolences to anyone who has lost a friend or family member.