Advice Needed: Strange electricity meter readings

Hi everyone,

I need some advice with regards to my electricity readings.

I am currently a customer with EDF energy on the standard tariff, I live in a small city center 1 double bedroom apartment. I have recently received a very high bill based on my own readings that I have provided to EDF. Having lived here for a year and half the amount of electricity I am using per month seems very strange.

1st bill: July 07 to August 07
444 units used in a month

2nd bill: August 07 to Nov 07
average 491 units used per month

3rd bill: Nov 07 to Feb 08
average 705 units used per month

4th bill: Feb 07 to May 08
average 719 units used per month

Recent bill: May 08 to Sept 08
average 861 units per month :eek:

Looking at the units used per month, I am sure there is some sort of mistake. From the figures I am using more electricity in summer than in winter, which seems impossible as I had the heater on over the winter and have not purchased additional appliance. Plus in April/ May I installed energy saving light bulbs and never turned the heating on.

Having looked at the units am I right in thinking that there is some error?? If so what can I do apart from talking to EDF about it??? Any advice or thoughts regarding this are much appreciated.



  • whatatwit
    whatatwit Posts: 5,424 Forumite
    Hi, a few general points for you to consider.

    - Is your flat all electric?
    - Is your meter actually in your flat, or a communal area, it is not uncommon for meters to be mixed up and incorrectly labelled.
    - How is your water heated and if by immersion, how many hours is on for and if by timer, is the timer working correctly.
    - Try doing a daily read and noting what has been on during that 24 hour period.
    - Have any of the bills detailed above been based upon estimated figures.
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  • Magentasue
    Magentasue Posts: 4,229 Forumite
    My first thought would be an immersion heater.
  • kazwookie
    kazwookie Posts: 13,863 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary Photogenic First Post
    If it is in a communal area, as it been hijacked?? someone else tapping into your meter?

    I would ring the supplier and have a chat, and check the readings on the bill
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  • yellowsaver
    thanks for the replies

    just to add a bit more information in reply to some of your comments.
    Yes the whole flat is electric, with the meter in a communal area. I will check with the building management and see if there could be any mix up over the labelling of the meter.
    I do have a immersion heater, what is strange about this is when I first moved in up until March 08 the immersion heater was constantly on all the time. Eventually it cut off and I had to get maintenance to come and have a look at it. This is when I found out that it was constantly on, which I instantly thought was the reason my electricity bill were quite expensive. From March 08 onwards I limited the heating with the timer, so it would charge for 3 - 4 hours during night. But I still seem to get these huge electricity bills without the immersion heater being on all the time.
    All my meter readings are actual ones, some of them were given by me doing an own reading. So I don't think readings are incorrect, maybe someone is tapping into my meter. I'll give EDF a ring and see what they say.

    Cheers :T
  • Magentasue
    Magentasue Posts: 4,229 Forumite
    From March 08 onwards I limited the heating with the timer, so it would charge for 3 - 4 hours during night.

    Cheers :T

    Why at night? Do you have Econ 7?

    Why 3 or 4 hours - how long does it take to heat the tank?

    I'd try 2 daily readings - one 24 hour period with immersion on as normal and one with it off.
  • yellowsaver
    No specific reason why I charge it at night, mainly just so I can get a good supply of hot water in the morning. I'm not on economy 7, i'm on the standard tariff. Not sure why its on for 3 - 4 hours the electrician that came round to fix the heater set it saying that its best to leave it for that long to full charge the hot water.

    Just had a word with EDF, they also find it strange that I'm using more units in summer than in winter and ask me if I had gotten any new appliances, which I haven't. I've been asked to get 7 days worth of meter readings and then have a chat with them.
  • Magentasue
    Magentasue Posts: 4,229 Forumite
    Last time I used an immersion heater, I'm sure it took less than an hour to heat the tank. People will argue that if the tank is well insulated, it won't cost much to leave it on longer than necessary but that wasn't true in our experience. We'd always get high readings if someone forgot to turn it off.
  • Premier_2
    Premier_2 Posts: 15,141 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    How long it takes to heat a water tank with an immersion heater depends on a number of factors:

    1. The size of the tank
    2. Whether it is insulated
    3. What temperature the thermostat is set to (this controls when the immersion heater cut out if at all)
    4. The initial temperature of the water before heating

    Assuming the tank is insulated and it is one that is about 3" tall, then yes I would agree that the tank should heat up in about 60mins, 90 mins at the most even from tap cold water. But I have seen some tanks at least 5" tall.

    The other thing that is often incorrect is the temperature the thermostat is set to. This should be set to about 60deg max. You'll be surprised at how many are set way above this figure, even by professionals. It may sound quite low, but believe me it's too hot to put your hands in for long! The other thing to note is that if the immersion heater is side mounted and near the bottom of the tank - that is where the thermostat is. It may only be 60 deg at the bottom of the tank but the top of the tank where the water is drwan from will be a lot hotter. Set a low mounted immersion heater thermostat at about 80 - 85 deg or hotter (and many are!) and the water at the bottom of the tank may never get to this temperature whilst the water at the top is boiling away furiously.

    I sometimes believe the so called professionals set the temperature so high so that it burns out the immersion heater quickly and so they can be back within 2-3 years and charge another £150+ to fit a new one. Set the thermostat at about 55-60deg and the immersion heater will last a lot longer.

    The thermostat is hidden behind the usual gey or black cap on the immersion heater. Ensure the electricity supply is switched off before removing the cap. Tha cap is secured usually by one nut (sometimes one screw instead) and you'll see the thermostat. It can easily be adjusted by use of a screwdriver.

    Anyway, even if the immersion heater was on continuously because it didn't cut out by the thermostat, it would only use 12kWh in 4 hours. That still leaves another 16+ kWh being used per day on average. Seems an awful lot where no electrical heating is being used.

    A simple check to see if you have the correct meter (it probably is if it's actually within the flat) is to turn off all your electrical appliances (don't forget the fridge/freezer!) - the meter should be stopped. Turn on a light and the meter will rotate. Turn it off again and the meter will stop.

    Also you may want to check the meter a few times during the day with everything turned off too. It the meter is going when everything is turned off then either the meter is faulty or someone is stealing your electricity. To check which, then turn the supply off at the main fuse box - it the meter then stops, someone else is using your supply (assuming you did actually turn off everything in your property); if the meter is still going the chances are the meter is faulty.
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