AliG

Electric boiler confusion, and EV charging.

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This story seems to come up every so often, regarding people with electric boilers and massive electricity bills.

 

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-7966625/The-eco-boilers-cost-5K-year-green-energy-deal-gone-wrong.html

 

It allows the Daily Mail to pander to their older readers who believe everything new is bad.

 

Reading this story though, I couldn't help but wonder did Falkirk Council deliberately install boilers that would be very expensive to run as I suspect installing electric boilers was a lot cheaper for them than installing gas boilers and the running costs weren't their problem. It is now exacerbated by people being locked into some very expensive electricity pricing, but anyone who knows the price of electricity versus gas knows that this would create a massive increase in heating costs.

 

The story keeps calling them eco boilers. In no way should an electric combi be called an eco boiler, clearly people have no idea of the difference between these and ASHPs.

 

The DM then have a further story today about banning every new home being connected to the gas grid, that ASHPs will cost £10k to fit and that they won't work in older poorly insulated houses.

 

Assuming that gas boilers are eventually banned, then over time they can be replaced with ASHPs, however, I was thinking is this as simple as it seems? Even relatively modern houses will have heating systems designed to use 75C hot water from a gas boiler. Is the replacement of boilers as simple as it seems?

 

 

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The poor UK housing stock and how to heat it, is one of the many elephants in the MMGW room.

 

It is all very well many of us on here being smug our new houses are energy efficient and designed form the outset to use an ASHP properly and are working very well.   But quite what to do with the millions of Victorian houses etc and how to heat them, and who will pay for all the upgrades is another matter.

 

I have never understood electric boilers.  If you are going to heat with direct electricity, then what's wrong with panel heaters or resistance UFH? 

 

Why are all these council tenants locked into an expensive electric tariff? Does a council tenancy overrule the free market?

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The more I look at it, the whole thing stinks.

 

I just had a look at what I pay for electricity. I got an awesome deal at 11.41p/kWh just before Christmas (with a high standing charge which is OK as a high user)

 

When I looked on uSwitch I noticed that the ScottishPower standard tariff is 16.77p/kWh. What has probably happened is that people were signed up for a 1 year deal with the new boilers that has now expired. I have been amazed in the past couple of years when I have discussed changing supplier with people and they have no idea that they can change and of how much extra they will pay if they don't sign a new deal. Of course council tenants could have a poor credit score that stops them getting the best deals.

 

Even on a sensible tariff though, you are probably looking at a bill of around £3-4000 a year. Electricity costs around 12-13p/kWh compared to around 2.5p/kWh for gas. An electric boiler will be more efficient but if you had a £800 gas bill in a modest house then you would fully expect to get a £3000+ bill if you changed to electric heating. Surely the council knew this.

 

It seems that a lot of complaints are being directed at ScottishPower. Now they are not helping by moving people onto a standard tariff, but really no matter what these people would have very high bills. For example the local MP is asking ScottishPower to resolve it. Frankly this just reinforces my view that politicians are often very ill informed.

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It becomes clearer as I read more.

 

I didn't realise that these houses don't have gas.

 

The boilers are advertised as saving money compared to LPG, oil and storage heaters by using the economy10 wet electric tariff. This could well be true.

 

The website suggests they should cost £1300/year to run, but that is based on a 2 bed house and 11,000kWh per year(2012 tariffs are used). For hot water and heating you are probably looking at 20000kWh. After all that would only be £5-600 a year in gas including the standing charge.

 

People may indeed be using them incorrectly if they are running them all the time and not mainly at night on the economy tariff. Looking at the spec they can hold around 400l of hot water. I guess that the idea is that you heat this up on the economy tariff at night then use it to provide heating and hot water during the day. I am not sure how this would work in practice as once people had a couple of showers the water would need reheated to be hot enough to warm your house. 400l of hot water would store around 30kWh of energy. If you use half of this for hot water, you only have 15kWh left for heating. This is nowhere near enough to heat a poorly insulated house.

 

I think these people are indeed complaining about expecting bills of £3000 because they have always had expensive electric heating and getting bills of £5000. The problem may indeed be that people have not signed up to new lower priced tariffs.

 

I am gobsmacked tbh, it just shows how tough things can be for people if they don't have good technical knowledge. That kind of bill would be crippling to someone on an average income.

 

 

 

 

Edited by AliG

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Always fabric first... stop the heat escaping and then you'll need less of it in the first place.

 

If you just slap any form of electric heating in without improving the fabric then you're asking for trouble.

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DM says...

 

Quote

 

Once households had one of the new boilers installed, they were offered access to Scottish Power's Domestic & Economy 2000 tariff, which was available only to those who had a certain type of boiler and who lived in a specific region of Scotland.

On this deal, they were charged two different rates. They paid 7p per kilowatt hour (kWh) for their heating, and 12p/kWh for powering appliances and lighting.

But the supplier has since hiked the prices, to 16p/kWh and 18p/ kWh respectively — rates described by one expert as 'absolutely outrageous'.
 

 

 

 

It seems they had two meters one for the boiler and one for everything else which is making it hard to switch because there aren't many (any?) tarriffs that are set like that.

 

7p is about same as LPG and a more than Oil according to my favourite comparison site. 16p for heating is crazy money.

 

I notice in the video the people also say they aren't powerfull enough.

Edited by Temp

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Thanks @TempI had just assumed it was an economy 10 tariff, there are so many tariff names. It is similar but not the same as economy 10 and therefore it seems that ScottishPower are the only people to offer it and there is no way to shop around.

 

I found this explanation at ScottishPower

 

image.thumb.png.5d754a3f778ca9d6d0c59d274aac86db.png

 

It does indeed seem that when these boilers were installed ScottishPower were offering the off-peak electricity at 5-7p/kWh which tbh is a fantastic price for 18 hours a day.

 

At some point last year they put the price up to 16/18p off peak/peak. This is much higher than normal online electricity prices.

 

I think these customers could probably move to a ScottishPower normal online price at 13p/kWh, a look at Scottishpower's website suggested they could just move to a normal tariff, but it is not clear at all and maybe they will say they cannot do that with their meters. The chances of getting the kind of deal they used to have seem pretty slim. So it seems to be a combination of an inherently expensive electric heating system plus ScottishPower believing they have these people over a barrel and overcharging them.

 

At a guess on the old tariff people probably paid an average of £2000 for electricity, the same amount of electricity would cost £4000 on the current tariff and if they moved to a single rate online tariff they could maybe get that back down to £3000ish.

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Just like banning the sale of new ICE cars in 15 years. The banning of gas boilers will never happen. 
 

It’s just pre trade deal posturing. “Our standards are already higher than yours, so why should we align ourselves with your standards”. 
 

The whole thing could well do a 360 just like diesel cars. 

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8 hours ago, AliG said:

I found this explanation at ScottishPower

 

I notice that talks a lot about storage so the tanks they have must be thermal stores. They don't look big enough to switch to some sort of night time rate.

 

158097701902847107880.jpg.ccb6e34ed861bd524167a1211d2cdc37.jpg

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Isn't this the tariff that @newhome has and complains about?  It was something specific to one supplier and a derivative of the former Total control" system.

 

You can change supplier but you must first change to ordinary economy 10 with a bit of rewiring of the consumer units.  But then not that many suppliers do economy 10.  To use Economy 10 properly you want a storage boiler.  These are usually little more than a very large thermal store with three 3KW immersion heater elements.  When you look at the economy 10 cheap rate periods you get 3 bursts of cheap rate including an afternoon cheap period so you don't need to be storing heat for particularly long before using it.

 

The controls should have been set up so it only heats the tank on the cheap rate periods.

 

The big problem though is with any off peak tariff the peak rate electricity is more than most of us pay so that won't help the bills.

 

I know of one of these boilers here, heating a small cottage used for holiday lets. Even though the house is small, she constantly complains how much it costs to heat.

 

As I say, this is just the beginning of the issues many many people will have if they have to heat with non fossil fuels.  I am still of the opinion that heat pumps are the only sensible solution as they effectively bring electric heating costs down to comparable levels to gas, but they cost more than this sort of electric boiler and will usually mean some drastic changes to how the heat is distributed, at the very least changing to high capacity / low temperature radiators.

 

EDIT:

 

Looking at the picture above, I am willing to bet there was a blown air central storage heater system in that cupboard before, the old Electricair system. They were the standard heating in several of the council estates in the town around here, and quite a few are still there and working.  Parts are still available for them so they can be maintained, though it was one hell of a job stripping one down enough to change the main fan motor several years ago,  It would probably have been better for the tenants to just keep those and maintain them.

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45 minutes ago, ProDave said:

Isn't this the tariff that @newhome has and complains about?  It was something specific to one supplier and a derivative of the former Total control" system.

 

Yes that’s the tariff I’m on from Scottish Power. I still don’t pay huge amounts for heating from a tariff perspective but I have a big TS to heat (475l) so it’s not particularly efficient in summer for example when I have to heat the tank just to take a shower. In hindsight putting an electric shower somewhere would have been advantageous. 

 

Here are the details of the tariff I’m on.

 

694F6208-E2D0-455F-885E-E7F6064E2DAD.thumb.jpeg.0ecbbc85752534a6257fe62d3d007929.jpeg

 

71581967-35F3-4459-A088-1F0BC7C3FD42.thumb.jpeg.ee6c35385ca4dc0320c16b3b4a8eab22.jpeg

 

For ‘control’ read ‘heating’. I have been thinking of changing but haven’t found the right tariff yet. But a colleague has moved to Octopus Agile and apart from 3 hours where the cost is £££ the rest of the time the tariff is much cheaper. I may do some experiments and see whether heating the TS up overnight will allow me to run the UFH in the afternoon in an economical way. Almost all of the tariffs are less than my current rate, I just have to avoid running heavy usage things between the punishing hours of 4pm and 7pm. The standing charge is cheaper than mine. Apparently they let you know the tariffs 24 hours in advance so if you’re organised enough you can change the heating timings if you have a storage boiler. 

 

Next step is to find someone decent to rewire my 2 consumer units into a single meter. I may just wait until the weather improves before I swap though as running heating at 15p instead of 8p in the interim will be ££££. I also need to work out how to charge the car overnight as currently I just plug it in when I get home. That would be in the £££ period so maybe I would need a spark to put in some sort of timer. I don’t think my unit in the garage has that although in truth I’ve never actually looked at it. 

 

Example Octopus Agile tariffs below. On one day it even went minus! 

 

B1DE7B62-C5B7-47A6-AE77-A35A6193774B.thumb.png.bda7bb8cb308dba8d231f4469e8638fd.png

 

F9B7360D-010C-4C7A-9AFB-734012C1BB8A.thumb.png.bb2d314b851bcb62aa1a4d9ba8f705a9.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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53 minutes ago, newhome said:

Apparently they let you know the tariffs 24 hours in advance so if you’re organised enough you can change the heating timings if you have a storage boiler. 


Do you know if this is via any type of REST API or some sort of query string ..? Just thinking you could use an RPi or similar to work out the heating algorithm for the next day

 

@TerryE one for you..??

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It’s a REST API. Plenty of links but here’s one. 

 

https://octopus.com/docs/octopus-rest-api

 

My colleague uses this app. He was going to write his own but seems to be little point with this available. 

 

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/appadvice.com/app/octopus-energy-watchdog/1439618267.amp

 

You need to have a Smart meter installed that I didn’t really want but I’m prepared to compromise on that if it saves me money 😉

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So I couldn't search to find if a cheaper tariff was available as most of the switchers cannot search these tariffs and it seemed to know what kind of meter I have.

 

Is the 16/18p/kWh issue then that the people have allowed their deals to lapse and moved to the standard tariff? Your tariff is a lot cheaper.

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Just a slight correction - Octopus Energy API docs are here - https://developer.octopus.energy/docs/api/ 

 

Check out the fantastic https://www.energy-stats.uk/ to get a quick overview of Agile and it's pricing.

 

I'm just starting out on this path but have been simulating 3 tariffs over the past few weeks and Agile is coming out consistently cheaper with my particular usage profile -

Agile cost for Jan was £38.18

vs GO @ £48.56

vs SuperGreen @ £60.10

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13 minutes ago, MrMagic said:

Just a slight correction - Octopus Energy API docs are here - https://developer.octopus.energy/docs/api/ 

 

Check out the fantastic https://www.energy-stats.uk/ to get a quick overview of Agile and it's pricing.

 

I'm just starting out on this path but have been simulating 3 tariffs over the past few weeks and Agile is coming out consistently cheaper with my particular usage profile -

Agile cost for Jan was £38.18

vs GO @ £48.56

vs SuperGreen @ £60.10

 

This illustrates well how an individual usage pattern can make a massive difference to the best choice.  For us, Agile would have cost £68, Go would have cost £76 and our existing E7 cost £57. 

 

The problem for us with Go, and to a lesser extent Agile, is that we tend to need the cheap rate for the full 7 hours of the E7 period.  Car charging, in particular, doesn't fit well with either Agile or Go.  4 hours at the maximum charge rate of 7 kW is only just over 1/3rd of a charge for the car, and I can often need a bit more than that after a day out somewhere.  The UFH also needs more than 4 hours to get enough heat into the slab.  If I increase the flow temperature to reduce this time the room temperature tends to overshoot a lot the next day.

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There was a bit on Radio 4's You and Yours about someone paying £400 a month to run a couple of 'electric heaters'.

That is around 2 MWh.

Or around 2.8 kW.

No idea how large the place was, or how much she is actually paying for electricity, just that it had leaky windows.

Was about the new fines coming in for landlords who rent out G and F places.

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29 minutes ago, MrMagic said:

Just a slight correction - Octopus Energy API docs are here - https://developer.octopus.energy/docs/api/ 

 

Check out the fantastic https://www.energy-stats.uk/ to get a quick overview of Agile and it's pricing.

 

 

That is fantastic, given me a better idea in a quick scroll that I've managed to gather from numerous times through the Octopus website.

Basically, at this time of year anyway, you could get a fairly long way with with Agile by just having a bunch of timer pastiches to turn off the heaviest loads between 4 - 8pm.

 

20 minutes ago, Jeremy Harris said:

Car charging, in particular, doesn't fit well with either Agile or Go.

 

Definitely going to have to do some more modeling on this, but it does give me a pang of regret we didn't install 3 phase after all, as it would open more options for  rapid charging a car and  a wall-mounted battery at the very cheapest rate.  It's fairly moot as don't have either those things to charge yet! But I see them both as inevitable at some point.

 

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44 minutes ago, AliG said:

So I couldn't search to find if a cheaper tariff was available as most of the switchers cannot search these tariffs and it seemed to know what kind of meter I have.

 

Is the 16/18p/kWh issue then that the people have allowed their deals to lapse and moved to the standard tariff? Your tariff is a lot cheaper.

 

Well I didn’t need to do anything for 4 years as they accidentally left me on a 2014 tariff for 4 years (heating rate was 6p). Then they found out, said that I would move to a new tariff on a particular date (more expensive but it was ok) and then they completely screwed it up by moving me to the standard tariff instead that was £££. I complained and they ‘corrected’ it but right back to 2014 (which they’re not allowed to do) and said that I owed them a 4 figure sum when I had been about £600 in credit before this. I ended up taking them to the ombudsman, got £250 in compensation, my old bills restored and they offered me an expired tariff for 18 months which is what I’m currently on. They are a shambolic company however and  I do need to move away from them. 

 

It’s a long haul with getting them to issue correct bills and tariffs and I suspect that this may be part of the issue for the people in the article. Scottish Power will put people onto a standard tariff in a heartbeat and often incorrectly IME. 

 

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1 minute ago, joth said:

 

Definitely going to have to do some more modeling on this, but it does give me a pang of regret we didn't install 3 phase after all, as it would open more options for  rapid charging a car and  a wall-mounted battery at the very cheapest rate.  It's fairly moot as don't have either those things to charge yet! But I see them both as inevitable at some point.

 

 

 

It wouldn't make much, if any, difference, as the number of EVs with 3 phase chargers is limited and those that do only charge at 16 A per phase.  My car is one of those that does have a three phase charger onboard, but it only charges at 11 kW from 3 phase, versus 7 kW from single phase (because it can charge at up to 32 A on single phase).  This isn't an unusual arrangement; there aren't many EVs around that can charge at the max that AC charging can deliver, which is about 22 kW at the moment (32 A on three phase).

 

Car charging is a real pigs ear when it comes to some of the ToU tariffs, as the lowest charge rate possible is 6 A, single phase (so about 1.4 kW) and smart charge points just don't seem to work very well with some cars, and not at all in the case of the Tesla  Model 3.  It will not charge at all under normal smart charge point control, much to the annoyance of all those that have had to have a smart charge point installed to get the OLEV grant.  Other makes have a few issues with smart charging, too, and it seems that there's a fair way to go before all the problems around smart charge points and the different ways that EV manufacturers have implemented their charging systems are resolved.  The only half-way reliable system seems to be to use the car's built in charge scheduling, and that really restricts charging to tariff like E7.

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13 minutes ago, Jeremy Harris said:

as the lowest charge rate possible is 6 A, single phase (so about 1.4 kW)

Is that for any EV, or just yours?

I can understand limiting the load when charging from a regular socket, but 6A is a bit low.

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12 minutes ago, newhome said:

They are a shambolic company however and  I do need to move away from them. 

 

The last two times I bought a new house the builder signed it up to ScottishPower.

 

Both times ScottishPower were informed of the meter readings and that I now owned the house yet never billed me.

 

Both times I had to make considerable effort in calls and emails to get them to actually bill me for electricity. I didn't really see why I should have to put enormous effort into getting them to send me a bill.

 

The first time it took over a year from moving in and months of effort on my part before they actually billed me. By this point I argued that they couldn't just send one massive bill after over a year and expect someone to pay it and so they discounted it by 20% or something like that.

 

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1 minute ago, SteamyTea said:

Is that for any EV, or just yours?

I can understand limiting the load when charging from a regular socket, but 6A is a bit low.

 

That is the lowest rate that a Tesla will allow you to set the charging at. So as @Jeremy Harris says you are using 6Ax240V or around 1.3kW to charge the car. In my case I am on thee phase so it charges at around 4kW at 6A. A Model X can go to 24A so I can charge at 17kW maximum.

 

In the summer rather than try and faff around with smart charging I simply told my wife to only plug in the car after the school run in the morning and set the charge rate at this minimum level so that a higher percentage is supplied by my solar panels (5kW system). Looking at the difference between my winter and summer electricity use and considering that we have a quite high level of background electricity use I think we manage to use nearly all of our solar production.

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13 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

Is that for any EV, or just yours?

I can understand limiting the load when charging from a regular socket, but 6A is a bit low.

 

 

Any EV, nothing to do with the make.  The charge point control protocol that they all use when AC charging only allows the charge current to be advertised from 6 A minimum to (normally, it can going higher in some countries) 32 A maximum.  The problem is when a smart charge point starts to vary the advertised current available in order to make charging better fit a varying tariff.  Not all EVs play properly with charge points that do this, as it was never contemplated when the standard was written, and with 6 A as the lowest current it means that the charge point needs to turn off if the tariff, or something like PV generation, changes to indicate that less than 6 A would be useful.  This then requires the whole handshaking cycle to be gone through when charging recommences, and some EVs just don't respond to that.

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28 minutes ago, AliG said:

That is the lowest rate that a Tesla will allow you to set the charging at.

 

23 minutes ago, Jeremy Harris said:

 

Any EV, nothing to do with the make.

Ah, I thought it was the maximum from a wall socket.

So what is the maximum it can deliver, 10A?

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