This week it was reported that 1.5 million energy users in the UK had been overcharged on their gas bill due to faulty gas meters in their homes. Some of these meters were installed over 5 years ago, and Energy UK have said that some people could well have been overcharged by at least £100. If you're one of these people, or one of the thousands who are naturally concerned about fluctuating prices and getting overcharged, aren't you on the lookout for a solution? Turns out, there could be one waiting for you just around the corner...
But first, what exactly when wrong here and how is the industry responding? Consumer watchdogs, Which?, said that this was 'shameful' and a prime example of energy companies letting customers down. British Gas, currently the UK's leading energy supplier, said that over 700,000 of its customers may have been overcharged, and that they were investigating the issue. Whether or not these customers will recieve refunds, and in what form, is yet to be determined. We all have meters installed in our homes to help us control our energy usage and monitor it to save money, but events like this make it clear that they can sometimes have the opposite effect, and there's not a lot we can do about in the meantime.
How can I take control of my energy usage?
The Government might actually be taking care of part of that for you. In the next few years they're planning on rolling out smart meters into almost every home in the UK, and energy companies will be put in charge of taking care of their own customers. What these smart meters will do is allow users to track appliances and their energy usage in order keep a better eye on how much energy they're spending from day to day. It also means the end of estimated billing, putting you back in control. Smart meters will keep track of your energy usage in real time, and relay this data back to your energy company whenever they request it, so they can't accidentally overcharge you, and you'll have a better idea of what you should be paying. It's expected that this will also help people choose tariffs more effectively, helping to keep their expenditure at a minimum.
Don't smart meters just track electricity though?
This is true to an extent, as by its very nature gas is more difficult to measure than electricity as a deliverable to your home. In order to get around this, and the fluctuating prices of imported gas, many more people are starting to put their faith in purely electricity run homes. For some, that might carry some negative connotations - flats and homes that use electric heaters in particular have a reputation for being wasteful and expensive, but there are hundreds of suitable appliances on the market today that make electrical heating solutions just as effective, if not more so, than conventional gas boiler systems.
How can electric heaters be more effective than gas?
It all comes down to control. The level of control you have over your home heating is the thing that ultimately determines how much money you can save. With a gas boiler, you don't have a great deal of control. You have a central thermostat which can roughly govern the temperature in your home, but this doesn't work very well and you'll often spend a lot of time tweaking the thermostat and turning radiators in different rooms up and down to get the desired balance. This can become expensive, and because you're using gas you're at the mercy of fluctuating prices too. One of the reasons energy companies put their prices up and down constantly is because the UK buys so much of gas from overseas.
With electric heaters, such as energy efficient electric radiators, control comes as standard. You could install a radiator into each room and set it on its own schedule, so that you house warms and cools the way you need it to, following your daily routine. Technology also affords electric radiators a more advanced thermostat than the central one you'll use with your boiler system. This thermostat comes built into the radiator, so that each room can effectively run at its own temperature. Like the bedroom a little cooler than the living room? Not a problem. Only want to heat the study for a couple of hours a day? Easy.
There a many reasons we could outline for switching to electric-only living. You have more control, it's more environmentally friendly, and it could save you a lot of money in the long run. Events like this; where many people are overcharged on their gas bills because of something so simple and avoidable with the right tehcnology, is perhaps a sign that we should all be looking to take control of our home heating and upgrade soon.
Eco Stores Direct are here to bring you the very latest in energy news, views and opinions from across the UK. They are also suppliers of energy efficient electric heating solutions and are constantly assessing the market for the best products and the latest ground-breaking technology which they think will make a real difference to their customer's homes. Eco Stores Direct are devoted to helping you reduce your carbon footprint and bring down your energy bills and they work hard to raise awareness of energy efficient products that can make all the difference. For more information on their range of energy efficient electric radiators or designer electric panel heaters, call one of their friendly team today on 0330 300 4444 for a free assessment.