Friday, October 21, 2011

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

I'm not always a fan of talking about politics.  Well, other than when I'm sitting in the pub with friends like James and David anyway.  However a recent rant stems from the result of the summit with the 'big six'.  That might sound like a line from So I Married An Axe Murderer, but rest assured the members of this sinister mob don't include Colonel Sanders or the Q-Monster.

It's the six big energy suppliers, namely British Gas, Eon, EDF, Npower, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern.  Or 'The Bastards' as they could be called.

Some of these companies have, or by using agencies have indirectly used bordering on illegal methods of touting their wares with door-to-door salesmen offering cheaper bills by direct debit.  "Sure, Mrs. Jenkins!  We can lower your payments to 6s2d a month!".   What they don't tell you is that twelve months later when they finally pay someone to read your meter you'll get a bill for hundreds and hundreds of pounds.

I don't want to get into the whole privatisation of public services argument, I have a strong belief that essential public services like water, gas, electricity, roads, railways should be publically owned and not sold off to the lowest bidder who will make a packet in the short term but cost the public in the long run.  Remember Railtrack?  They paid out millions to shareholders over years and years, saw share prices rise, but arguably made those profits by reducing maintenance for the short term gain.  When they went pop after mismanagement and a number of high profile accidents, we had to pump millions in to keep the railways going.

What I'm trying to say is that having to make a large profit out of an essential service sits uncomfortably with me.

So why am I so pissed off with the energy suppliers?  I'm not, particularly.  I'm more pissed off with the lack of control we have over them.  The energy suppliers have a duty to their shareholders.  Put a child in a sweet shop unattended and what will they do?  But that's OK, because we have Ofgem don't we?  Yep, we do.  The same Ofgem who revealed up to 800% increases in profits taken from our pockets in a couple of years.  I was well chuffed when the energy supplier summit was underway this week.  Here's the chance for Chris Huhne to sort them out.  Taking the piss, they are.  Go get 'em, Chris!  You've got the facts on your side, give 'em hell!

The result?  Wow, what a result!  It's not the fault of the 'big six'.  Guess who's fault it is?  Yours.
You didn't check out the competition did you?  Why not, are you some sort of idiot?

I did a bit of work to try find out who the best provide for us is.  I'm not talking about using comparison sites (of which there are many, and they seem to give different results - commission?)

It's almost as though the government don't mind an energy supplier cartel because it nets them millions in tax.

This is a very serious issue, especially for the proportion of our society are living on the bread line and have to choose between heating and food.  I hope that this winter there are few or no elderly people die of hypothermia.  So let's look at what the energy secretary wants the elderly and infirm to do along with the rest of us.

What Chris Huhne is implying we're stupid for not doing:

All you have to do is go through your bills for the last few years, and work out your average usage for the last couple of years or so in order to estimate your usage for the next few months.  That should take about two to three hours, that's if you've kept all your bills.   Then you have to work out your primary and secondary usage as they're priced differently.   What's that, you don't have actual meter readings?   They're all estimated bills?  Oh dear.

Don't forget you have to do this for electricity and gas too.

Then armed with these figures it's just a case of going to the websites of the 'Big Six' and looking at their rates.  As an example, Eon have 39 different tariff selection screens on their website.  So let's play it down and say there's only 35 on each site.
Big girl's blouse

So you have to look at 210 web pages and obtain the rates.  Some are duel rates so you'll have to take that into account.  Write down the prices for each of these two hundred plus tariffs.

Now you have to look at the other discounts.  Can you save by paying direct debit?  What about dual fuel savings?  Paperless billing?  Oh, and don't forget standing charges.

Right, you've done all that.  Brilliant, you're half way there!  Now all you need to do is plug in your usage rates from earlier, estimating what you'll use in the next six months (remember keeping all those bills and making sure they actually took your meter readings?).

Grand, job almost done!  Now look at the bottom line.  You'll need to look at all the permutations of gas only, electricity only from each provider and find the cheapest for each.  Now you're left with 6 rates for gas, six for electricity and six for combined for your specific usage.

Now look at these together.  Compare all 36 options, plus the 6 dual options.  Once you have all 42 combinations down then choose the cheapest one.

This will be fine for the time being but don't forget that the energy suppliers change their rates every few months, so you'll have to do this around twice a year.  That's if they all change rates at the same time, but they tend to raise their rates one after another.  It's almost like they're seeing what they can get away with, isn't it?  So it's safe to say there will be 6 to 12 price changes in the year, so keep your figures so you can repeat the process accordingly.

You might want to do this with some of the other providers as well, not just the big six.

Now then, that wasn't difficult was it?

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