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    • National Numeracy
      Verified User verified user
    • By National Numeracy Verified User verified user 29th Nov 17, 1:24 PM
    • 45Posts
    • 53Thanks
    National Numeracy
    Working out energy bills and direct debits
    • #1
    • 29th Nov 17, 1:24 PM
    Working out energy bills and direct debits 29th Nov 17 at 1:24 PM
    For money savers, the cost of heating your home is always a hot topic (pun intended). But for those with patchy maths skills, understanding the charges can be a bit of a nightmare.

    At National Numeracy we want to help people understand the maths behind the charges, so we thought we'd ask for MSE users' help in explaining the numbers.

    So, in that spirit - how would you work out the question below? What aspects of numeracy would you use to arrive at your conclusion?

    If you use 11,650 kWh of gas a year, what is a sensible amount for a monthly direct debit?

    Gas Tariff:
    4.0p per kWh
    Standing charge 22p/day


    If you don't know where to start and you struggle with working out bills, then the National Numeracy Challenge could help. It's a confidential and informal website, where you can assess your numeracy, learn everyday maths, and work towards getting the Essentials of Numeracy. Register for free here.

    Related on MoneySavingExpert: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cheapenergyclub
    Last edited by National Numeracy; 29-11-2017 at 2:21 PM. Reason: Adding MSE link
    Official Organisation Representative
    Iím the official organisation rep for National Numeracy. MSE has given permission for me to post letting you know about relevant and useful info. You can see my name on the organisations with permission to post list. If you believe I've broken the Forum Rules please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. This does NOT imply any form of approval of my organisation by MSE
Page 3
    • Nick_C
    • By Nick_C 5th Dec 17, 5:22 PM
    • 3,142 Posts
    • 4,176 Thanks
    Nick_C
    A friend of mine used to lecture on BSc Electrical Engineering. She complained that she spent half the time teaching maths that should have been covered at A level but wasn't.
    • Smodlet
    • By Smodlet 6th Dec 17, 5:38 PM
    • 2,323 Posts
    • 4,802 Thanks
    Smodlet
    Isn't it great to know just how well our taxes are being wasted? Were I an employer, I would not interview anyone who could not pass maths and literacy tests I would set as, clearly, the education system is failing us; otherwise there would be no need for some National Numeracy organisation. Some of the posts on here have appalled, though not surprised me.
    Last edited by Smodlet; 06-12-2017 at 6:22 PM.
    What is this life if, sweet wordsmith, we have no time to take the pith?
    Every stew starts with the first onion.
    I took it upon myself to investigate a trifle; it had custard, jelly, soggy sponge things...
    • Anthorn
    • By Anthorn 6th Dec 17, 9:52 PM
    • 3,282 Posts
    • 843 Thanks
    Anthorn
    If only it was that easy though.

    Your gas usage is probably shown in cubic meters. You need to use a conversion factor (constant) and then adjust for the calorific value (variable) before you get to your KWh usage.

    I consider myself highly numerate, but estimating the annual cost of gas is far from straightforward. You need good skills as well if you want to do this on a spreadsheet.
    Originally posted by Nick_C
    Actually not really all that difficult. For an approximate idea of how much gas you're using deduct the previous meter reading from the current reading to give the cubic metres used and then multiply it by 40 to give kWh and then multiply that by your tariff.
    • reeac
    • By reeac 7th Dec 17, 10:01 AM
    • 1,136 Posts
    • 455 Thanks
    reeac
    Some years ago SWMBO and I were buying coffee, possibly in an airport, when the till stopped working. This caused great panic because the barrista couldn't add up our order. She took our word for it but it makes you think , with all the stock control as well as finance that modern tills carry out, that reliability of these systems is critical.
    • Shrimply
    • By Shrimply 7th Dec 17, 11:25 AM
    • 849 Posts
    • 472 Thanks
    Shrimply
    I would not interview anyone who could not pass maths and literacy tests I would set as
    Originally posted by Smodlet
    If my qualifications were not enough proof of my capabilities then I doubt I'd want you as my employer.

    I find some of the stories on here a bit sad they all start "on one occasion something happened at a checkout...." I did spend a short time working at Aldi (at that point you still had to remember all the codes for the produce and had to calculate the change for yourself as the tills didn't).
    If you have spent a long shift on a till your brain is completely frazzled, you are under pressure because of the queue and the customer chiming in trying to "help" you out. Then you have customers giving you daft amounts of money for the sake of them having a coin or two less in their pocket. If the till has broken you are also trying to figure out how to fix it and what you are going to do about it. The barrista above probably didn't even know how much the drinks actually cost, because she doesn't have to. And then we make snap judgements on the ability of these people based on these incidents.
    • Hengus
    • By Hengus 7th Dec 17, 1:03 PM
    • 4,650 Posts
    • 2,822 Thanks
    Hengus
    If my qualifications were not enough proof of my capabilities then I doubt I'd want you as my employer.

    I find some of the stories on here a bit sad they all start "on one occasion something happened at a checkout...." I did spend a short time working at Aldi (at that point you still had to remember all the codes for the produce and had to calculate the change for yourself as the tills didn't).
    If you have spent a long shift on a till your brain is completely frazzled, you are under pressure because of the queue and the customer chiming in trying to "help" you out. Then you have customers giving you daft amounts of money for the sake of them having a coin or two less in their pocket. If the till has broken you are also trying to figure out how to fix it and what you are going to do about it. The barrista above probably didn't even know how much the drinks actually cost, because she doesn't have to. And then we make snap judgements on the ability of these people based on these incidents.
    Originally posted by Shrimply
    Taking your logic a step further, then why bother teaching mathematics at all? Clearly, youngsters do not need to be educated, they just need to be trained on the various electronic tools at their disposal. We are not talking about calculus or algebra here, we are talking about simple addition; subtraction; multiplication and division. the sort of skills that every child leaving primary school should, in my opinion, have.

    Time to start the car.
    • Shrimply
    • By Shrimply 7th Dec 17, 1:12 PM
    • 849 Posts
    • 472 Thanks
    Shrimply
    Taking your logic a step further, then why bother teaching mathematics at all? Clearly, youngsters do not need to be educated, they just need to be trained on the various electronic tools at their disposal. We are not talking about calculus or algebra here, we are talking about simple addition; subtraction; multiplication and division. the sort of skills that every child leaving primary school should, in my opinion, have.
    Originally posted by Hengus
    I don't think I said anything like you appear to think I have said. What logic are you talking about? Because all I said was that peoples abilities shouldn't be judged over single incidents in possible stressful situations.
    • matelodave
    • By matelodave 7th Dec 17, 1:52 PM
    • 3,175 Posts
    • 1,896 Thanks
    matelodave
    I don't think I said anything like you appear to think I have said. What logic are you talking about? Because all I said was that peoples abilities shouldn't be judged over single incidents in possible stressful situations.
    Originally posted by Shrimply
    I might challenge that if the people I were judging were an airline pilot or surgeon.
    However the incidences here are what most of us should be able to do without even thinking, a bit like walking and talking at the same time.
    Most of these people are quite capable of mastering their mobile phones or other technology without being taught so it shouldn't be difficult to learn basic arithmetic
    Love makes the world go round - beer make it go round even faster
    • teddysmum
    • By teddysmum 7th Dec 17, 6:43 PM
    • 8,623 Posts
    • 5,098 Thanks
    teddysmum
    They started chipping away at the maths syllabus, when calculus was removed from O level before the combination with CSE to GCSE.


    Calculus wasn't much/any use to futures non-maths or physics students, but it sorted the brighter mathematicians out and gave the other some brain exercise.
    • Shrimply
    • By Shrimply 8th Dec 17, 12:46 AM
    • 849 Posts
    • 472 Thanks
    Shrimply
    They started chipping away at the maths syllabus, when calculus was removed from O level before the combination with CSE to GCSE.


    Calculus wasn't much/any use to futures non-maths or physics students, but it sorted the brighter mathematicians out and gave the other some brain exercise.
    Originally posted by teddysmum
    So I do have to say that I was educated in Scotland and it does sound like there were a few
    differences. Sadly there has been recent changes to the Scottish curriculum which I don't think were for the best. But certainly the situation with teachers being properly qualified has never been an issue.

    In regard to the other statements, I'm glad that everyone of the older generation that has posted here think that they are perfect and never flounder over simple calculations. Personally, I am of the school of thought where I known that I can do these calculations mentally but it is not my strong suit. I'd rather use computers to deal with trivial mathematics while I spend my time on the problems that said computers can't answer rather than waste me time doing simple calculations with well established mathematical answers.
    Last edited by Shrimply; 08-12-2017 at 9:26 AM.
    • reeac
    • By reeac 8th Dec 17, 7:20 AM
    • 1,136 Posts
    • 455 Thanks
    reeac
    If my qualifications were not enough proof of my capabilities then I doubt I'd want you as my employer.

    I find some of the stories on here a bit sad they all start "on one occasion something happened at a checkout...." I did spend a short time working at Aldi (at that point you still had to remember all the codes for the produce and had to calculate the change for yourself as the tills didn't).
    If you have spent a long shift on a till your brain is completely frazzled, you are under pressure because of the queue and the customer chiming in trying to "help" you out. Then you have customers giving you daft amounts of money for the sake of them having a coin or two less in their pocket. If the till has broken you are also trying to figure out how to fix it and what you are going to do about it. The barrista above probably didn't even know how much the drinks actually cost, because she doesn't have to. And then we make snap judgements on the ability of these people based on these incidents.
    Originally posted by Shrimply
    The point of my contribution was not to criticise the barrista but to point out the consequences of unreliability of tills. OK?
    • Smodlet
    • By Smodlet 11th Dec 17, 11:39 AM
    • 2,323 Posts
    • 4,802 Thanks
    Smodlet
    Well, no feedback from National Numeracy about our suggestions for explaining the alchemy of working out energy bills... Lack of feedback seems to be a bit of a theme for them if this thread is anything to go by: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=73404111

    I was just gearing up to do their challenge but I won't bother now. It seems they want a whole load of personal information before you can even look at the challenge to see if you want to do it and, when asked why, they respond so that they can email certificates for participants to print out and hang on their wall... What are we, five?
    What is this life if, sweet wordsmith, we have no time to take the pith?
    Every stew starts with the first onion.
    I took it upon myself to investigate a trifle; it had custard, jelly, soggy sponge things...
    • bonus2010
    • By bonus2010 11th Dec 17, 12:11 PM
    • 118 Posts
    • 47 Thanks
    bonus2010
    They’re not any worse than any other website includes MSE here for asking for an email address or name etc. to register with.

    By giving your email address, it allows for you to interrupt the test, save your progress then resume later by signing in. It’s a long test.

    I found it interesting and showed holes here and there in my knowledge and what I’d forgotten.

    As for names, just give them a different name..sure I called myself Donald Trump
    Same with emails use a dud that you don't bother about incased you're spammed.
    (I haven't received any spam any way)lol
    • National Numeracy
      Verified User verified user
    • By National Numeracy Verified User verified user 11th Dec 17, 12:20 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 53 Thanks
    National Numeracy
    Hi Smodlet and all,

    We have been reading your responses with interest - it's been great to see so much conversation around numeracy!

    I'm sorry you're missing our response - we did thank matelodave for the original response which showed how they'd work it out, but we know there are lots of approaches (as we've seen from this conversation!) and our aim is to get people thinking for themselves and discussing approaches.

    As you can see on the thread you posted, we do respond to queries where we can. Of course we understand not everyone will want to create an account on the Challenge website, but having individual accounts for users allows us to tailor the support and resources to each learner. The demographic information we collect also informs the rest of our work as we campaign to improve numeracy in the UK, looking at factors such as age and gender.

    We've really enjoyed seeing all your responses on this thread, though - a very interesting debate about the state of numeracy in the UK!
    Official Organisation Representative
    Iím the official organisation rep for National Numeracy. MSE has given permission for me to post letting you know about relevant and useful info. You can see my name on the organisations with permission to post list. If you believe I've broken the Forum Rules please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. This does NOT imply any form of approval of my organisation by MSE
    • Smodlet
    • By Smodlet 11th Dec 17, 12:33 PM
    • 2,323 Posts
    • 4,802 Thanks
    Smodlet
    As for names, just give them a different name..sure I called myself Donald Trump
    Same with emails use a dud that you don't bother about incased you're spammed.
    (I haven't received any spam any way)lol
    Originally posted by bonus2010
    Thank you, bonus2010, you have inspired me.
    What is this life if, sweet wordsmith, we have no time to take the pith?
    Every stew starts with the first onion.
    I took it upon myself to investigate a trifle; it had custard, jelly, soggy sponge things...
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