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    • National Numeracy
      Verified User verified user
    • By National Numeracy Verified User verified user 29th Nov 17, 1:24 PM
    • 46Posts
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    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
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    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 1
    • matelodave
    • By matelodave 29th Nov 17, 1:55 PM
    • 3,189 Posts
    • 1,908 Thanks
    matelodave
    • #2
    • 29th Nov 17, 1:55 PM
    • #2
    • 29th Nov 17, 1:55 PM
    11,650 kwh at 4p/kwh = £466 (multiplication)
    365 days at 22p = £80.30 (multiplication)
    Annual bill (466+80,30) = £546.30. (addition)

    Divide that by 12 to give a monthly DD of £45.525 say £46 a month (division)
    Last edited by matelodave; 29-11-2017 at 1:59 PM. Reason: to add numeracy aspects)
    Love makes the world go round - beer make it go round even faster
    • Nick_C
    • By Nick_C 29th Nov 17, 2:03 PM
    • 3,149 Posts
    • 4,184 Thanks
    Nick_C
    • #3
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:03 PM
    • #3
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:03 PM
    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.
    • Raxiel
    • By Raxiel 29th Nov 17, 2:16 PM
    • 490 Posts
    • 253 Thanks
    Raxiel
    • #4
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:16 PM
    • #4
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:16 PM
    11,650 kwh at 4p/kwh = £466 (multiplication)
    365 days at 22p = £80.30 (multiplication)
    Annual bill (466+80,30) = £546.30. (addition)

    Divide that by 12 to give a monthly DD of £45.525 say £46 a month (division)
    Originally posted by matelodave
    I don't normally make 'me too' posts, but that's how I'd calculate it too.

    It's when you are trying to get from Volume of gas to monthly charge via kWh that things get... interesting.

    Edit: Nick_C beat me to it, that'll teach me not to refresh before posting.

    If I were planning ahead, I think I'd assume a flat CV of 40 as a slight overestimate compared to the average in my region.

    I actually have such a spreadsheet here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LsLIrx-lkdJ0FOrg3tSn2RB6a8k9_WUKYfXFExVWjIA/pub?output=xlsx
    Last edited by Raxiel; 29-11-2017 at 2:22 PM. Reason: added link, ninjaed
    • st999
    • By st999 29th Nov 17, 2:24 PM
    • 1,160 Posts
    • 643 Thanks
    st999
    • #5
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:24 PM
    • #5
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:24 PM
    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.
    But it is that easy, the conversion was already done for you.

    I'm in my 70's and have no difficulty making a spreadsheet and working it out.
    • Nick_C
    • By Nick_C 29th Nov 17, 2:32 PM
    • 3,149 Posts
    • 4,184 Thanks
    Nick_C
    • #6
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:32 PM
    • #6
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:32 PM
    But it is that easy, the conversion was already done for you.

    I'm in my 70's and have no difficulty making a spreadsheet and working it out.
    Originally posted by st999
    Yes, the conversion has been done for us, but in real life it is not that easy if you want to check your consumption has been calculated correctly.

    In your 70s, I would expect you to be able to set up a spreadsheet to do this, as maths was taught properly in those days, and you will understand how orders of precedence apply within your formulae. I suffered being taught under the "School Mathematics Project" when I changed schools at 13. My Maths teacher told me to forget BODMAS and simply work from left to right!

    I had many work colleagues who would not be able to set up a spreadsheet to work out a gas bill in an elegant manner.
    • Hengus
    • By Hengus 29th Nov 17, 2:43 PM
    • 4,665 Posts
    • 2,833 Thanks
    Hengus
    • #7
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:43 PM
    • #7
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:43 PM

    In your 70s, I would expect you to be able to set up a spreadsheet to do this,
    Originally posted by Nick_C
    Err no. More likely a drawn out table with computed figures worked out by using long multiplication; log tables or a slide rule.
    • matelodave
    • By matelodave 29th Nov 17, 2:58 PM
    • 3,189 Posts
    • 1,908 Thanks
    matelodave
    • #8
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:58 PM
    • #8
    • 29th Nov 17, 2:58 PM
    Err no. More likely a drawn out table with computed figures worked out by using long multiplication; log tables or a slide rule.
    Originally posted by Hengus
    I'm in my 70's and so's my wife and we can both set up a spreadsheet (in fact she's better than me at it).

    It's a long time since the old "guessing stick" (slide-rule) and log tables have been used although I do tend to use a calculator.

    I'm actually horrified at the poor grasp of basic arithmetic of the youngsters nowadays but when I sit down with the grandkids I'm as baffled as they are with the way they are being tought.

    They can get it almost the first time when shown the way we do it but it's taking weeks if not months to teach them at school.
    Love makes the world go round - beer make it go round even faster
    • Nick_C
    • By Nick_C 29th Nov 17, 3:15 PM
    • 3,149 Posts
    • 4,184 Thanks
    Nick_C
    • #9
    • 29th Nov 17, 3:15 PM
    • #9
    • 29th Nov 17, 3:15 PM
    I still have a slide rule but I'm blowed if I can remember how to use it.

    I'd be OK with log tables though. In fact it would be nice to have some use for remembering the Log of Pi; one of the many bits of knowledge that I learned as a child which are now useless.
    • Raxiel
    • By Raxiel 29th Nov 17, 3:18 PM
    • 490 Posts
    • 253 Thanks
    Raxiel
    This thread got pretty alarming.

    My kids are too young for school, guess I'll have to pay close attention to their maths homework once they're old enough to start getting it.
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 29th Nov 17, 3:37 PM
    • 1,962 Posts
    • 6,697 Thanks
    Ilona
    I had to give it some thought to work it out, and check with matelodave to see if I was on the right track. I am 68, can't do spreadsheets, columns of numbers mean nothing to me. Maths was my worst subject at school, I have number blindness.

    I don't use comparison sites because I don't understand them. I am with a company that charges the same rate for monthly DD and quarterly bills. I prefer to pay quarterly into the Post Office. They have no penalties for paying this way, and no standing charge. I keep my bills low by using gas and electricity frugally.

    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • Robin9
    • By Robin9 29th Nov 17, 4:14 PM
    • 1,980 Posts
    • 1,278 Thanks
    Robin9
    If you use 11,650 kWh of gas a year, what is a sensible amount for a monthly direct debit?[/B]

    Gas Tariff:
    4.0p per kWh
    Standing charge 22p/day
    Originally posted by National Numeracy

    Your question is incomplete. What about VAT ?
    Never pay on an estimated bill
    • dggar
    • By dggar 29th Nov 17, 4:25 PM
    • 564 Posts
    • 276 Thanks
    dggar
    I still have a slide rule but I'm blowed if I can remember how to use it.

    I'd be OK with log tables though. In fact it would be nice to have some use for remembering the Log of Pi; one of the many bits of knowledge that I learned as a child which are now useless.
    Originally posted by Nick_C

    When I first went to university in 1968 I remember a lecturer saying that the only use for log tables was to prop up a short leg of an uneven chair. The thing to use was a slide rule. (simple pocket calculators were just begining to appear.)
    • Hoof Hearted
    • By Hoof Hearted 29th Nov 17, 5:21 PM
    • 2,012 Posts
    • 1,892 Thanks
    Hoof Hearted
    If you do need to convert, 39.5 is a reasonable average for calorific value.
    Je suis sabot...
    • Flt. Lt. Biggles
    • By Flt. Lt. Biggles 29th Nov 17, 7:54 PM
    • 33 Posts
    • 14 Thanks
    Flt. Lt. Biggles
    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
    Originally posted by National Numeracy
    I consulted a comparison site and it suggests

    £31.16 / month



    ...based on the Yorkshire Supply region, and switching to Economy Energy on their Economy Energy - Direct Saver (Fixed) v1 tariff, who would then only charge
    2.615p per kWh
    Standing charge 18.99p/day




    • reeac
    • By reeac 30th Nov 17, 8:03 AM
    • 1,141 Posts
    • 456 Thanks
    reeac
    I don't see the relevance of spreadsheets if you just want to know the regular monthly payment.
    • Norman Castle
    • By Norman Castle 30th Nov 17, 8:38 AM
    • 6,409 Posts
    • 5,185 Thanks
    Norman Castle

    I don't use comparison sites because I don't understand them. I am with a company that charges the same rate for monthly DD and quarterly bills.
    Originally posted by Ilona
    You only need your annual usage in kwh which should be available from your current provider. I find this http://www.energylinx.co.uk/ easier than others.
    Do a few comparisons for dual fuel and separate suppliers and various ways to pay.
    Don't harass a hippie. You'll get bad karma.
    • Nick_C
    • By Nick_C 30th Nov 17, 8:40 AM
    • 3,149 Posts
    • 4,184 Thanks
    Nick_C
    I don't see the relevance of spreadsheets if you just want to know the regular monthly payment.
    Originally posted by reeac
    Recording the results of several meter readings and analysing the data to get an abusive figure. Forecasting where necessary.

    Added benefits of taking regular readings and using a spreadsheet are checking the accuracy of your bills and monitoring consumption, asking for your DDs to be adjusted where necessary to avoid large bills in future, or asking for refunds if you are building up credit.

    I know this all goes beyond the simple issues raised by the OP, which are quickly answered in post #2
    • Hengus
    • By Hengus 30th Nov 17, 8:54 AM
    • 4,665 Posts
    • 2,833 Thanks
    Hengus
    As usual, we have got massively off the topic. The whole point of initiatives such as The Numeracy Challenge is to give people the skills necessary to cope with life and work. Rather than doing maths for maths sake, I can well understand the logic of putting the challenge into Real World situations. It is irrelevant whether the CV is 39.2 or 39.8, or whether A uses a spreadsheet or B uses a calculator, the original post is about simple multiplication, addition and division. We should all applaud and support initiatives like this as it is extremely worrying that in a country such as ours that we still have people who cannot add up or read.
    • reeac
    • By reeac 30th Nov 17, 9:48 AM
    • 1,141 Posts
    • 456 Thanks
    reeac
    Recording the results of several meter readings and analysing the data to get an abusive figure. #2
    Originally posted by Nick_C
    Don't bring my MIL into this discussion.
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