Eye-watering energy costs

The UK in the energy vanguard

Here in the UK, many have taken pride in our enlightened energy policies.

We led the world, under Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s, with privatising state utilities – so our gas, electricity, telecoms etc are all in the hands of private companies. Guarding against the natural tendency to monopolies in such sectors are our industry-specific regulators OFCOM and OFGEM.

More recently (though following an initial lead from Mrs Thatcher), we have been one of the leaders in moving to renewable, ‘green’ energy. In 2019 renewable sources exceeded fossil fuel sources for the first time. Not long ago our media was proudly boasting how we had managed to power the country for two months without using any coal.

UK Energy consumption by source, 1965-2020

Not for us the Japanese/German greenery-gone-amok policies of turning off nuclear power mid life. Not for us the hypocritical and myopic German policies of reliance on brown coal and Russian monopoly gas. And not for us using fracking to unleash new reserves under our precious, fragile, green and pleasant land; we’d rather let the Americans do this in their flyover states and then pay them, now a net energy exporter themselves, a premium to liquify it and send it over to us. Who wouldn’t?

And to top it all, the UK has been one of the fastest markets to adopt Electric Vehicles (EVs), hastened by a variety of subsidies and tax incentives. EVs pay lower car taxes, lower congestion taxes, lower parking fees, and could be purchased with the help of several thousand pounds of subsidy. Over half of new car enquiries are for EVs, and over 20% of new registrations are for pure or hybrid EVs.

Being in the vanguard in 2019

The results of these enlightened energy strategies have seen our CO2 emissions fall faster than most OECD countries. We were paying, until recently, only a modest premium for our greenification. Consumers have had a choice of over 70 companies, and many hundreds of tariffs – allowing such innovations as Electric Vehicle-specific tariffs, empty-property-specific tariffs and tariffs accumulating loyalty points. And our privatised, competitive model has been ‘improved’ with a Labour Tory retail price cap, restraining operators from milking the can’t-be-bothered-to-shop-around segment.

The chart below shows what this felt like chez FirevLondon back in 2019. Those halcyon days when I worked away from home five days each week, drove a petrol car, and lived in one house – admittedly my Dream Home. The Dream Home consumed around 46k kWh of energy each year – admittedly far more than an average (smaller) UK household – yet cost me less than £250pcm of energy. My car usage was far less than an average household, so the fuel for that cost me only around £1k per year – ensuring I could drive a large-engined funmobile ‘cheaply’ (25p/mile doesn’t add up to much if you don’t drive many miles!). My total fuel costs amounted to less than £4k per year. Of that, the taxman received around £840 p.a. of tax and fuel duties – chiefly from my petrol car. Energy is taxed at a reduced rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) of 5%, compared to 20% for normal expenditure.

Energy costs p.a. in 2019

How times change

Now, unfortunately, in 2022 it turns out that the world looks completely different.

It turns out that we haven’t been securing our supply after all. We might not import any Russian gas but we have let our entire system be priced based on real time gas prices, which in turn are set by Russian gas – the lessons from banks reliant on wholesale markets failing in 2008 apparently being lost on us.

This is leading to incredible financial windfalls for renewable energy providers, which will doubtless stimulate further such investment that will help us in the long run, but – to paraphrase Keynes – in the long run we will all be dead broke.

This commitment to gas does at least extend to investing in Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) infrastructure, allowing us to import that fracked gas from the USA. And gas from Qatar and Australia of all places. And it allows us to export it to who-needs-LNG-we-have-Russia central Europe.

It also turns out that our competitive market with 70+ suppliers didn’t make any allowance for financial strength, resulting in the around 30 suppliers going bust under the unsustainable price cap. The cost of these bailouts has landed not on the consumers risking fly-by-night suppliers (as it would in many markets) but instead on the rest of us – contributing to ‘standing charges’ doubling in three years.

And, it turns out, the take-up of EVs in prosperous parts of the UK is leading to infrastructure problems with our electrical grid. Developers in West London are not being allowed to connect new homes for more than 10 years.

And while at least we haven’t hurried to shut any nuclear power stations down, it turns out that we didn’t approve a single new nuclear power station for almost 15 years, haven’t built one for 20 years, and we are on course to have a third less nuclear power by 2050.

So with Europe’s gas supply chain being viciously jerked by Putin’s Kremlin, the retail price cap has been shooting upwards. The latest announcement, in late August, shows pricing from October reaching over 50p/kWH for electricity, and 15p/kWh for gas – both around 5x the prices back in 2019.

Assessing 2022: dual homes, electric vehicle to boot

Since the end of 2021, I have now got two homes to deal with. The new home, my Coastal Folly, was built about 10 years ago by a paid up member of the eco green brigade. It runs entirely on electricity – with air sourced heat pumps and an induction oven. It has the gizmos – including underfloor heating, instant-on hot taps, warming drawers, a wine fridge and a built in coffee machine. When I inherited the property it was consuming 26k kWh (i.e. 26 MWh) a year of electricity. This is significantly less energy in total than my Dream Home in London, but the Dream Home’s heating is by gas which is a lot cheaper. So I was bracing myself for a significant hike in my annual energy bills.

At the same time as buying the Dream Home, I swapped out my petrol-driven funmobile for a more practical modern Electric Vehicle. Going increasingly ‘all in’ on electricity. The EV is doing regular return trips between the Dream Home and the Coastal Folly – over 200 miles each trip. So my mileage has increased around fourfold – making me now an above average UK driver (in mileage, if not ability).

Mindful of the steeply increasing energy costs, Mrs FvL and I have been pruning our energy use considerably. In the last two years we have:

  • Replaced many of the Dream Home’s single glazed windows with double glazed, modern replacements
  • Fitted a new roof in the Dream Home, with improved insulation
  • Turned down the heating / hot water times considerably, especially in the Coastal Folly
  • Dialed back the Dream Home’s underfloor heating in the main bathroom
  • Serviced our 7 year old boiler regularly, and bled the leaky radiators almost weekly

Spurred on by inheriting a smart meter in my Coastal Folly, I have finally had the Dream Home’s meters upgraded to smart meters. Smart meters make a massive difference to one’s state of mind, especially for analytical test-and-measure types like myself. I love having the realtime monitoring and historic logging that the meters give me. I now have a strong sense of exactly how much my office desk arrangement costs (about 200W, so about 2 kWh over a working day), the impact of turning lights off when moving around the house (not much, as most of my bulbs are now LEDs), and what my Dream Home’s garden electrical bits/pieces are costing me (about 4 kWh a day).

New energy me, 2022 version

So, the latest price hikes are a trigger for me to examine what my combined energy bill now amounts to. Based on the current, about to be superceded, prices the chart below shows my estimate of the current damage.

Energy costs p.a. in 2022, based on June prices

Despite the shocking headline figure, there is quite a lot of good news contained in the analysis above:

  • My Dream Home’s energy usage has dropped 26% – demonstrating that what gets measured, gets done. I’m now consuming around 34k kWh (34 Mwh) a year in this home, down from 46Mwh. That’s still a lot – around 2x a typical house – but I’ve saved one average household’s worth of energy consumption.
  • My Coastal Folly’s energy consumption is ‘only’ 15k kWh a year, I estimate. This is around 40% lower than when I inherited it, for various reasons. And it’s very similar to an average UK household. Even though the Coastal Folly is around 2x bigger than an average UK home, and significantly bigger than my Dream Home, my Coastal Folly’s modern construction, use of energy-efficient heat pumps, and relatively low occupancy rates are all helping to minimise its energy consumption.
  • My total home energy consumption is barely any higher than in 2019. Eat your heart out, Paris accord.

And there is further good news for me, in that the taxman is getting significantly less out of me for my energy usage. But for the country as a whole, this is not good news. No wonder the government’s sums aren’t adding up. Despite my energy spend more than doubling, my tax/duties have dropped from around £800 a year to around £500 a year. Most of this is because I have stopped driving a petrol-powered car. Expect the UK government to take a leaf out of Australian state governments’ books and start charging additional tax on EV drivers.

And there is plenty more bad news:

  • Ouch – my total energy bill now exceeds £10k p.a. An increase of £6k per year is attention grabbing. But what really hurts is how little discretion I feel I have over that increase – most of my annual expenses of this size are things I make conscious choices about every week – such as eating out, travelling, and shopping. But my energy bills are very hard to make short term savings with.
  • Those standing charges – the ‘fixed’ cost of having any energy at all – have almost doubled. This is pretty scandalous, given that the network as a whole is creaking at the seams. It reflects, mostly, the cost of bailing out those failed suppliers.
  • My EV is now costing, per mile, a pence/mile that plenty of petrol-powered cars can beat. Expect the rate of adoption of EVs to slow down.

Energy as a property tax

The OFGEM announcement last week confirmed the next level of the retail price cap. While anticipated, the figures are truly terrifying. Here are my 2022 expenses, at the October price cap levels (and in fact assuming we keep the June standing charges – which is probably too optimistic). My energy expenses will, from October, exceed £20k per year.

Energy prices p.a., based on standard variable prices from October ’22

I am an above average consumer of energy. But I am not a 1%-er, energy-wise. If I am facing costs of £20k for driving an EV 15k miles a year and consuming <50k kWh (50MWh) of energy at home then hundreds of thousands more across the country will face similar, or worse. And many of those people do not have the six figure income that I am fortunate to have, nor some of the options that I have – e.g. renting out either home on AirBNB, installing solar panels, or turning one house ‘off’. These figures spell ruin. Something must be done. My strong hunch is that something will be done – let’s watch and learn what it might be.

In the meantime, I’m curious to know in comments – how many 000 kwh a year are you using? Have you tried reducing usage – and if so, with what success? What do you think the government should do about the impending financial disaster?

(NOTE: Updated to correct some missing ‘ks’ after comments that my Coastal Folly consumes 15k kWh, not 15kWh. I have stuck to k kWh instead of MWh because our statements quote everything in kWh and pricing is in kWh and not everybody can readily translate from M into K. Thanks for the comments!)

33 thoughts on “Eye-watering energy costs”

  1. The only idea I can come up with is that the government should support energy companies so that all consumers gets an allowance of cheap electricity and gas up to a certain amount of units. Beyond that figure, the price per unit would change upwards quite dramatically. This would ensure support is given to those who really need it. For those of us in a strong financial position, it provides an incentive to cut down on waste.

    Tax reductions won’t target the people who really need help and the same with VAT.

    A clear lesson delivered by the government to us all so that all consumers can understand why the benefits of wind/solar farms are not mitigating the huge price rises attributable to gas/oil prices. Maybe it is but it is as yet not understood.

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  2. My bill went from 117 a month to 214 in April. Forecast to go to £343 in October. For a 4 bed semi about 1600sqft

    I’ve now got smart meters but not sure how else I can reduce tbh . All lights led don’t leave lights on . Use oven dishwasher and washing machine. Barely use tumble dryer . TV is new all appliances energy efficient

    Very glad I fixed my mortgage last year at0.99% for 5 years

    Shopping bill including alcohol has increased from around £480 to around £700 (seems really expensive but other than cutting alcohol were not dining on lobsters every night though we don’t skimp in this area admittedly. Wife is vegetarian and I buy a lot of fish etc which is pricey) for a family of 3 plus dog and rabbits . Other bills have also gone up nominally as well. We’re looking to cut down on meals out to which is an easy offset and will save us a couple of hundred a month.
    I am maintaining my high savings particularly pensions but it certainly stings !

    as you say all this plus increased mortgage costs I don’t know many other than perhaps members of the fi community that will have the budget bandwidth to absorb all this plus the rapidly increasing food and other costs . Even relatively healthy income households are going to struggle.

    I think of my colleague whos probably typical with a big £400k mortgage prob £1800 a month. 85k a year income plus 25k spouse but an expensive £500 a month car lease ( electric though but that’s the net cost after the tax saving ) .

    He’s also got private school costs on top . Something needs to give . From what I can tell his cash savings bonuses and share options pay the private school at present but they’re going to dry up rapidly in a recession plus I’d imagine school fees are going to be hiked rapidly over the coming year or two which may be a nasty shock

    I’m in no way gloating just pointing out that even the middle to upper earners are going to struggle. People can joke about first world problems but it will all feed into lower spending and a recession and i truly think thr government doesnt understand how steetched alot of peopleare nowadays maintaining a typical middle class lifestyle let alone the lower income households just making ends meet. The tide is truly going out and there will be an awful lot found to be swimming naked

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  3. An interesting post. Yes, something has to be done – ordinary folk can’t afford this madness. Our electric supplier E.ON lauds their service as “100% renewable electricity at no extra cost” – well, that didn’t help anyone!

    I think your annual energy figures should perhaps be in mWh (megawatt hours) as 15kWh seems amazingly low for a whole year for your coastal place?

    This has made me go and add up the electric smart meter data for the last 12 months for 2 properties we have, something I was getting round to. Annoyingly, E.ON don’t seem to provide annual usage or even downloadable CSV files so I had to go in their app and get figures for the last 12 months and throw then in a spreadsheet. Maybe I missed something.

    For a terrace property running entirely on electric water and storage heaters I have a total of 3435 kWh for the last 12 months. This covers the whole of last winter so some of that is on night rate (economy 7 or whatever they call it now). The occupancy on this property is low – a few days a week, but I have to leave some heat on when not there in winter or pipes may freeze.

    For our 4 bed detached house with oil fired central heating the electricity usage is 1705 kWh for the last 12 months. Surprisingly the usage goes up more than I thought in winter than is accounted for by lighting and the heating pump / boiler electrics running more of the time. I think this is the electric clothes dryer my other half got for drying our washing!

    The price of heating oil has gone up but I think it might start to work out cheaper than mains gas now. We don’t have any standing charge to pay for the oil tank, maybe just some maintenance every 5 years to remove water from condensation. So that is one advantage compared to mains gas with the standing charge for that increasing. We have bought 1200 litres of heating oil over the last 12 months but have 600 litres left. Annoyingly, the tank is rarely low enough in summer to be worth filling when prices are low.

    I think we’re going to have a close look at electric usage in the coming months to reduce it – smart meters will help. Stop leaving computers running all the time, a few remaining lightbulbs to replace with LEDs, train ourselves to not completely fill the electric kettle – just fill it from the cup or teapot that is going to be used – things like that. Diminishing returns, but I will be taking a close look at this electric clothes dryer – maybe buy a timer for it 🙂 We will also be turning the heating down, putting jumpers on and using the fireplace more this winter.

    We’re still on a 2 year rate fix for electricity so the shock will come in February next year.

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    1. Thanks for the excellent comment. You are right that some of my figures were missing a k.

      Fascinating that your 4bed dh electricity usage is under 2000 kWh. Go, electric clothes dryers, I reckon!

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  4. I have a 13,000sqft 7-bedroom house with indoor heated pool. The pool is a big user of energy. Apart from using gas to heat the water, it has an (electric) air handling unit which must run 24-7 circulating and dehumidifying the air, and when the pool is in use and the cover off, the air temperature must be heated to 2 degrees above the water temperature to prevent condensation damaging the walls.

    My overall electricity usage is 38mWh and my gas 110mWh annually. What was a £10k bill will turn into a £50k bill, which is mad. No £400 subsidy is going to touch the sides!

    I’m making efficiency savings where I can. All LED lighting. New boilers. A smart meter, and an obsession with tracking my energy usage.

    I could decommission the pool for winter… but then you don’t go and buy a 13,000sqft house with an indoor heated pool to not use it! Crossing my fingers that this is just short term pain and a couple of years down the line things normalise.

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    1. Holy smokes. Having just read the first comment, whose energy usage is less than a quarter of mine, I then get yours – with energy usage of 5x mine. Wow. Based on what you’ve said I have to ask if a swimming pool can be kept going in the current climate. It’s cheaper to fly to the Caribbean a few times, even at current air fares! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Good post. Thanks. Im a similar position, only one home, but bills will be £15k. Leaky Victorian mansion. Even though this is no problem from a wealth POV it’s going to take an unacceptable fraction of our post tax income. We’ll be turning the thermostat down from the usual 18c

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  6. Looking at my smart meter readings the spikes are dishwasher and oven – considering an air fryer which should easily pay for itself, also wash in sink every other day (which I don’t find too bothersome especially when wfh)

    I guess everybody has their limits as to what extra work they think is worth it

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  7. Geeking out on this now I got frustrated with not being able to get hourly smart meter data out of E.ON who say they are “working on it”. After some Googling I found this excellent site on how to get hold of your smart meter data: https://www.smartme.co.uk/meter-data.html#gsc.tab=0

    I’ve now got a free app called “Bright” from a company called Hildebrand Technology. I just had to give it my post codes + smart meter IDs and permission to collect my data from the Data Communications Company (DCC). I can now see the electric usage down to 30 minute time periods in their app (I had to tell the electric co to collect data every 30 mins). There is still no way to download the data in this app but it has some good slice and dice features and there is an API I can use to get raw data when I have time to craft up some code. There’s probably a catch with this being free – for one thing they have my details and access to the data in their system, so they can use it for analytics. I ought to read the T&Cs more closely..,.

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  8. What on earth is the average household doing to use 8k kwhs of electric a year? Even in the dream home this seems very high. Are you running air con and electric underfloor heating?

    Fill the roof with solar panels, install a Powerwall or two and buy your electric at 7.5p per kWh on Octopus Go?

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      1. He is referencing your diagram which has the magic 8 number in the dream house electricity box

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  9. Dear FvL,

    In case this helps you, or any other reader, you could take a look at the “Octopus Go” tariff. There are various requirements but if you are eligible, you can charge your EV at very low rates between half past midnight and half past four in the morning.

    I am lucky enough to have this tariff and an EV, and my driving costs have been rendered negligible (this also presumes that you can tell your car when to charge and for how long, definitely possible with my Tesla, by setting the charging start time, the charging limit and doing some basic maths).

    You can also run the dishwasher etc. during the cheap rate period if you can be bothered.

    Best wishes to all, and thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anon! Yes you raise a very good point. I have looked at Octopus Go. The blocker for me is that my Heat Pump experts are telling me to run it on all day long. This sounds counterintuitive but so far I have learnt the wisdom of taking their advice. And that means my hot water/etc would be generated all day long, on high ‘day rate’ tariffs, and my car – which only charges once a week – wouldn’t save me enough via ‘night time’ tariff charging to compensate for it.

      My initial assessment was that Octopus Go would suit me if I had a gas boiler and my EV. So it may yet be a good idea in my London home.

      Simplistically, if my EV takes equal charging in London and at the coast, then the EV is 3Mwh out of 11Mwh (8+3) in London and 3MWh out of 18MWh (15+3) at the coast. Octopus’s Go EV tariff is compelling enough that 3/11ths might be worth using it, but I am pretty sure 3/18ths isn’t worth it.

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  10. Many thanks for sharing the enormous utility bills – I’m feeling a much better about my £5k bill (October – 3600 elec 19k gas). £50k !!!! I’d be decommissioning for a while and joining a gym.

    Not sure how you can run a house under 2000kwn, my American FF seems to be approaching half that number

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  11. I enjoyed reading this because it’s good to see just what can be done to change power usage and reduce it overall.
    There is a sense of helplessness about much of this cost of living crisis and it’s nice to read about proactive steps that you can take to make a significant difference.
    Unfortunately, many won’t have the resources or foresight to do the same and will pay more as a result.
    But there’s always more that we can do – the big first test though is at what point do we turn the heating on??? In chilly Scotland, we’ll do well to make it passed the end of September

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  12. Coming late to this party via the Monevator roundup.

    Like you, and probably everyone, I’ve been taking a hard look at our energy consumption. We live in a mid-terrace Victorian house in London, about 1500 sq ft. Theoretically energy usage should be low. Annually it’s about 19k kWh gas which is OK if highish, but 9k kWh electricity which seems crazily high.

    I’ve finally started the process of replacing all the halogens/incandescents with LEDs – long put off because we use a lot of dimmers and I’ve always struggled to get LEDs working properly with dimmers, without flickering – even using the “right” dimmer modules, expensive bulbs etc. I’m also going to take a hard look at the underfloor heating in the kitchen.

    Other than that I’m at a loss to work out where we’re using so much electricity. The smart meter gets installed in a couple of weeks so hopefully that will help (and thanks Bill for the suggestions, looks very useful).

    Reducing consumption is obviously a good idea for lots of reasons, but I expect we’ll still be left with bills that are much higher than before…

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  13. Metering your electricity consumption, on as fine-grained a times scale as you can (1min is probably good enough, things like coffee machines and ovens can diddle on an off on that sort of timescale) will help you no end. Like me you pay about the same for electricity than gas in the DH, though you use more kWh as gas, and I an concentrating my fire on electricity because the higher loading gives you more bang for the buck.

    One thing I discovered is that if it’s on all the time, no load is too small to be worth chasing, and with electricity, you often have many small loads. I was running 350kWh/month, I have now got that down to 300 – it was 245 last month but we were away for a few days. I still have too many static loads, and by other people’s standards 300 is still too high, though being a geek means I probably have more small static loads, which I am working on.

    Investing in renewables is one way to claw back some of that Government pork on renewables, though the income focus probably suits me better as a retiree than you, who can probably find better opportunities for allocating capital anyway. I really can’t be bothered with domestic green microscale stuff, they will prize my gas boiler from my cold, dead, hands before I get an heat pump. Tesla powerwalls frighten me. That’s 13.5kWh, a shade under the energy in about 2 litres of petrol. I wouldn’t keep 2 litres of petrol under my stairs in case of a house fire, and LiIon battery fires aren’t put out, you stand back and watch ’em burn. The answer would seem simple – put the battery outside the house 😉

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      1. I looked it up out of interest. The calorific value of a litre of petrol is equivalent to about 9.5kWh. So 2 litres of petrol should cover it!

        If we had solar panels and a battery installed, the battery would probably go in our detached garage. The worry would be 2 small cars in there each with about 40 litres of diesel in them and the heating oil tank next to the garage with up to 1000 litres of kerosene. Seems like the perfect storm could happen if we had a battery and it went up! The oil tank is annually condemned on boiler service due to the proximity to a building but we don’t have to do anything about it unless we replace it…they changed the reg’s since it was installed. Many properties in our village have a heating oil tank on or next to the house wall. It will be interesting to see if any reg’s appear in connection with placing powerwall type batteries near these…

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      2. No, sadly it is ~2 litres. In fairness that’s thermal heat, you will get about 25% of than in mechanical grunt from an ICE. Nevertheless it explains the problems with range on EVs, the energy density of batteries just ain’t all that.

        It’s a real bastard to get rid of a litre of two stroke mix if you finished the job earlier than expected. Well, it’s easy to get rid of it, just hard to get rid of it in a controlled fire in a sort of safe way, out in the open 😉

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      3. Fair enough – I stand corrected! I have been focusing on outputs not calorific inputs but as you say from the fire risk is another point of view entirely.

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      4. > Seems like the perfect storm could happen if we had a battery and it went up!

        @Bill, true, but diesel is quite hard to ignite. And TBH, if the fire is already outside the house you gotta hope the people got out first. In your example there’s probably a case to be made for fire detection in the battery, though I’d imagine a powerwall already has this, and you could clear the site and muster at a safe distance. Diesel doesn’t’ contain both parts of the fire, because combustion engines draw oxygen from the air as the other part of the reaction, which is not the case for batteries other than fuel-air cells. Once thermal runaway starts to occur in LiIon, the decomposition of the positive electrode provides the oxygen.

        Strategies on aircraft for battery fires in PEDs seems to be fire containment bags, at home if your mobile hone starts smoking throw the bugger out of the window 😉

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  14. Mmm. The problem of liIon batteries… they will make the news at some point in the future. I spoke to a fireman the other day who said they are still waiting for the best solution. Current thinking for EVs is to use a skip and dump the EV in it and pack it with sand/foam, cover and leave it. At the moment he says they have to wait with the EV and this would make them unavailable to go to another incident. This would make a diff media story to the ambulances waiting outside hospitals.

    I dread to think about the house fire. I have only seen the EVs burning on the driveway when they have overheated while charging… they just don’t have the solutions yet and using disruption methods to just keep ploughing on and hope someone eventually comes up with the solution.

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  15. I know everyone is saying get a smart meter and be able to track usage at short data measure points but we are sleep walking into the variable tariff with them.

    The idea is to get smart meters fitted so that rather than a set of rates based on hours of the day, the pricing will be based on variable loading.
    How do we control/manage our usage then when one day it is 20p pkWh then the next day due to demand the rate is 50p pkWh for th same hour of the day? …. We will find it even harder to manage costs and the removal of fixed price bands based on hours of the day will be gone. It will all come down to demand and we as domestic consumers have no control on that..

    Just a thought ….

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    1. > but we are sleep walking into the variable tariff with them.

      The reason I went for an efergy solution using a clamp, despite the possible discrepancy for poor power factor loads was precisely that. I don’t want them cutting me off remotely without looking me in the eyes 😉 Your power drain is also a data leak, it’s pretty obvious when you are on holiday. I will be a refusenik until they pay me to make it worth my while, or I do something like invest in Ripple renewables that makes it worth my while. At the moment there’s no win in it for me.

      > It will all come down to demand and we as domestic consumers have no control on that..

      There is something theoretically to be said for intelligent power management – many domestic loads (dishwasher, washing machine, arguably freezer) don’t particularly have to run at a specific time, just get the job done by a specific time. A data link between the smart meter and these heavy loads could reduce power costs, but the devil will be in how the savings are allocated. 1/3 to the consumer and 2/3 to the CEO’s pay rise is most likely, looking at other privatised utilities.

      Active demand management has been part of industrial use tariffs for decades, and could help go with the flow with renewable sources. But cui bono tends to reply that it’s the supplier, not the end customer, in general, when dealing with unsavvy consumers. Industry has more clout and can afford to pay purchasing managers to shift the balance a bit more in their favour. Domestic customers who may have only a sketchy grasp of the energy used on what, perhaps not so much.

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  16. > Your power drain is also a data leak, it’s pretty obvious when you are on holiday

    This is a good point from Ermine. On the smart meter data, I found it surprisingly easy to get access to our own meter data from the smart meter Data Communications Company using the Bright / Hildebrand app. To authorise it I provided our postcode and house number then it gave me back the MPAN (Meter Point Administration Number) which I had to confirm was correct (you can find it buried in menus of the in home display unit, but I just said ‘yes’). The final piece was to give them the GUID (unique ID) which is written in the clear on the bottom of the display unit that sits in our kitchen. The meter data is then being sucked into the cloud infrastructure of a 3rd party (Hildebrand) and you get no notification of this – so presumably anybody else could do this if they had this GUID off the display. It might be handy if you have an elderly relative and you want to know if they got up and put the kettle on this morning (although there is the phone for that…).

    So if you have a smart meter, it might be worth locking the display unit way if people come into your property to do some work or put some tape over the ID sticker or even remove it.

    On the plus side, if you already have a smart meter this allows to get access to your electricity usage data at up to 1/2 hour resolution, something not all the suppliers putting in these meters are making easy. I’m finding the data is slightly delayed by 12 hours for our main property, I think because the 4G signal is weak and the meter is sending data sporadically but good enough for them to have billing data monthly. There are gizmos you can buy that get real-time data out of the smart meter if needed like the Glow CAD for about £70.

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  17. It’s curious how many people here hate capitalism. The ONE thing capitalism does well is to create resource use incentive structures. And the comments here are essentially asking for a bailout on excess energy use.

    Like the guy complaining about the cost of heating his pool. Aside from creating a time machine and preventing the bad idea of shutting down nuclear power, what exactly is being asked for, here?

    That simply the government pays for it? Where does that money come from? Presumably the people here pay a lot of taxes, so that would be from you.

    A poor person earning £25k pays about 10% (so £2500) in taxes per year. How much do you contribute to the government purse? With income tax, pension contributions maybe being above annual allowance, future pension withdrawal tax, and capital gains tax I pay close to 100x that.

    If you have a mansion with an indoor pool maybe you pay even more.

    Do you really want to subsidize heating your neighbours pool, or (like the author of the post) having their second home be “on” 24/7/365? Or maybe we should skip the middleman (the tax man), and just pay it ourselves?

    The top 1% of adults paid 34% of income tax 2018-2019 (assume same now). So largely this is YOU paying this, either way.

    At least if the incentive structures are kept in place (by not having a cap) you and your neighbour will turn off your pools, thus reducing demand, and prices with it.

    Communist plans where everyone is just bailed out at whatever use they want are terrible.

    The whole point of capitalism is to improve the world by creating an incentive structure to “pay” people for doing the right thing. And you want to abolish that?

    Like

    1. I don’t think too many people on this blog hate capitalism. And even the guy with the pool was not complaining about it – quite the opposite. I haven’t interpreted any comments as asking for a bailout.

      My blog post’s point was that prices are getting to a level for the average household where households will simply be unable to cope. And in such situations governments tend to need to step in. As happened in many capitalist countries over lockdown, with ‘furlough’ and its like.

      The incentives are already working, with prices at about 3x what they were 2 years ago. Pushing prices up a further 80% increases the incentives, but when people sense those prices are temporary and the supply shock has long lags, the additional incentive is questionable.

      I, and I think many other readers, would agree that top 1% people (like many of us) do not need or deserve support. But in the name of simplicity, and the signalling benefits of taming inflation, we are likely to benefit and in practice the cost of subsidising us is dwarfed by the cost of subsidising the people who really need it.

      And in any case, there are no obviously successful capitalist national energy markets that I am aware of. Monopolies, externalities, subsidies and geopolitics have far more impact than any capitalist would ask for. Be careful which distortions you wish for.

      Like

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