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Could someone be stealing my electricity??

19 replies 441 views
angielaalaaangielaalaa Forumite
10 posts
First Post
MoneySaving Newbie
Hi all, Sorry for the lengthy post, but Im trying to make sure all of the information is here before I press send!

I moved into a rented house on 9th Jan 2020. I didn't move in until 21st Jan. I was given the gas and electricity readings for the day I moved in by the agent and I checked them. They were correct. Fast forward to last week when I tried to get through to British Gas to give them a meter reading because I couldn't do it online. I have a bit of an issue here as the rent comes out of my husband's account, but I make all of the calls to people as he works abroad. it has caused lots of issues so far, but that's by the by.. BG told me they couldn't take a meter reading from me as I wasn't the bill holder. I explained the situation. they said they would estimate until such time that they could speak to him in person ( even though I explained that wouldn't be until the end of June). They said they could have a more accurate estimate if I gave them that day's reading and then called back one week later so they knew on average how much I was using week by week. 
I called back yesterday and told them what the reading was. They told me my bill, since 9th Jan was £290 for electricity ALONE!!!!  I worked it out on the tariff they gave me and their numbers are correct according to the meter readings, but I simply cannot be using that much energy. I either have something using an excessive amount of power or someone is stealing it .... or the meter is faulty (Is that a thing? I haven't lived in the UK for a number of years, so Im not used to any of these possibilities!)

The circumstances are as follows....
I live alone, in a small 2 bed terraced house. I have a tv ( no sky box, no digi box etc). I have a lamp on in the living room from 6.20pm until about 11.30pm. I boil the kettle 3 times a day, sometimes 4. I cook with gas and my central heating/hot water is gas (obviously pumped around the house with electric). I don't have a washing machine, drier or dishwasher. I have a fridge freezer. ( but have only had that about 5 weeks!), Upstairs I do have a tv, but it was on standby for about a week and then I unplugged it as the aerial up there doesn't work. I have had my electric blanket on about 12/15 times maximum, each time for a period of 10-20 mins.  I don't even have a bedside lamp. I use a little battery one as my electric one is too big for the small bedside table I have!! 
I charge my laptop once a day and my phone once a day. 

Can anyone else think of anything else it could be please? I am pulling my hair out trying to think what it could be. 

Just to add... my tariff is something like 24.9p a day standing charge and 17.something pence per kWh. 
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Replies

  • Gerry1Gerry1 Forumite
    2.2K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭
    Please provide all your actual meter readings and the readings on the bills and state whether they are actual or estimated.  It sounds like they've used a silly estimate for some strange reason.
    Email your husband the current meter readings and ask him to submit them online.  Also ask him to nominate you to run the account.
    You're certainly not on the cheapest tariff by long way, but that wouldn't explain the very high bill.
    To check the meter: switch everything off at the consumer unit, read the meter, wait and hour and read it again to make sure it's exactly the same.  You can also watch the red light if it has one and make sure it doesn't flash.  Then unplug absolutely everything, plug in a high power item of known rating (a 3kW fan heater or three bar electric fire is ideal) and switch it on for an hour.  Check that the meter has clocked up 3kWh or whatever.  A quicker test is to count the number of red flashes in a minute.  If it says 1000 Imp/kWh there should be approximately 50 flashes per minute at 3kW.
  • A_LertA_Lert Forumite
    184 posts
    100 Posts
    That bill is abnormally high. We're in a similar house, electric cooker, washer dryer, dishwasher, loads of cups of tea, old-fashioned lightbulbs, and our bill on a standard tarriff (not even a cheap deal) was about half that.
    Meters can be faulty, yes.
    Wiring mistakes are quite common in flats, but much less so in houses. Deliberate theft is unlikely.
    You're not entirely clear in your OP. Do you have a reading from the date your tenancy started? Which should also be the date your contract with British Gas started. Did you confirm that's correct? If you don't have such a reading, BG could be using a dubious estimate. A mistake could also have been made in submitting it.
    Another possibility: At a point when you'd be billed for electricity usage, do you know or suspect tradespeople sent by the landlord would have been there while you were not? If so they could have ran up usage, especially if the central heating was off and they start using electric heaters.
  • PetriixPetriix Forumite
    126 posts
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Posts Name Dropper
    The most likely explanation is that either (or both) of the start and end readings were wrong.

    Did you actually check the meters on the day yourself or did you accept what the agent told you?

    What kind of electricity meter is it and what are the actual readings?

    For comparison, we use about 10kWh per day, so about £2 on your extremely expensive tariff.

    It's a bit late now, but the first thing I do when entering a new property is to photograph all the meters on my phone. It takes 2 minutes and prevents any confusion. Within a day or so I would then contact the current supplier and move to their cheapest tariff that doesn't attract exit charges, otherwise you end up on the most expensive 'deemed' tariff by default.
  • angielaalaaangielaalaa Forumite
    10 posts
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Gerry1 said:
    Please provide all your actual meter readings and the readings on the bills and state whether they are actual or estimated.  It sounds like they've used a silly estimate for some strange reason.
    Email your husband the current meter readings and ask him to submit them online.  Also ask him to nominate you to run the account.
    You're certainly not on the cheapest tariff by long way, but that wouldn't explain the very high bill.
    To check the meter: switch everything off at the consumer unit, read the meter, wait and hour and read it again to make sure it's exactly the same.  You can also watch the red light if it has one and make sure it doesn't flash.  Then unplug absolutely everything, plug in a high power item of known rating (a 3kW fan heater or three bar electric fire is ideal) and switch it on for an hour.  Check that the meter has clocked up 3kWh or whatever.  A quicker test is to count the number of red flashes in a minute.  If it says 1000 Imp/kWh there should be approximately 50 flashes per minute at 3kW.
    Hi Gerry, thank you for your reply.....
    When I moved in, the meter reading was 33029. Today it read 34888. This is not an estimate. As I mentioned in my original post. the. numbers add up. It's my consumption of that amount that doesn't. There isnt a red light on the actual meter. There is a little box mounted next to the meter which has 3 lights vertically. The top and bottom are static green and the middle one flashes red constantly. That one says HAN next to it. Unfortunately I don't have anything high power I can plug in. I will, however, turn off everything tomorrow for an hour, check what happens and post my findings. 

  • angielaalaaangielaalaa Forumite
    10 posts
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    A_Lert said:
    That bill is abnormally high. We're in a similar house, electric cooker, washer dryer, dishwasher, loads of cups of tea, old-fashioned lightbulbs, and our bill on a standard tarriff (not even a cheap deal) was about half that.
    Meters can be faulty, yes.
    Wiring mistakes are quite common in flats, but much less so in houses. Deliberate theft is unlikely.
    You're not entirely clear in your OP. Do you have a reading from the date your tenancy started? Which should also be the date your contract with British Gas started. Did you confirm that's correct? If you don't have such a reading, BG could be using a dubious estimate. A mistake could also have been made in submitting it.
    Another possibility: At a point when you'd be billed for electricity usage, do you know or suspect tradespeople sent by the landlord would have been there while you were not? If so they could have ran up usage, especially if the central heating was off and they start using electric heaters.
    Hi A_Lert, thanks for replying..
    In my OP I did say that I was given the gas and electricity readings for the day I moved in by the agent and I checked them. They were correct. 
    Once I signed for the house, I came straight here as I wanted to clean it out before any of my stuff came and the first thing I did was check to make sure the meters read the same as I had just signed for and they did. No one has been here while I was away, no heaters are available to use ( the house was completely empty until the day before I moved in) and my family were popping around to check on it and to drop things off for me (tinned foods and bits of cleaning stuff etc). 

    I have just read my original post back and feel I should clarify something on the O.P. though.
    I picked up the keys on the 9th January and went straight there to start cleaning, but didn't actually move in until 21st January as I had to go to Germany for some surgery on the 13th and I flew home on the 21st and moved straight into the house then. In my absence, my mum and Auntie had arranged to have my beds and sofa delivered to be ready for my return, and some mobility aids to help me recover from the operation, so no one would have been here as they were here really quite regularly. 
     :) 

  • angielaalaaangielaalaa Forumite
    10 posts
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Petriix said:
    The most likely explanation is that either (or both) of the start and end readings were wrong.

    Did you actually check the meters on the day yourself or did you accept what the agent told you?

    What kind of electricity meter is it and what are the actual readings?

    For comparison, we use about 10kWh per day, so about £2 on your extremely expensive tariff.

    It's a bit late now, but the first thing I do when entering a new property is to photograph all the meters on my phone. It takes 2 minutes and prevents any confusion. Within a day or so I would then contact the current supplier and move to their cheapest tariff that doesn't attract exit charges, otherwise you end up on the most expensive 'deemed' tariff by default.
    Hi Petriix, thanks for replying..
    I checked BOTH gas and electricity on the day I got the keys. It was exactly as the inventory told me and I passed this number onto B.G. The meter readings yesterday were also taken by me. 
    The meter is a Landis Gyr E470.
    The start reading was 33029 and yesterday's reading was 34888. 

    I also take photographs of details that I need for future reference and did this when I got the keys. I don't dispute the start or end reading as I saw them with my own eyes. It is the consumption I have an issue with as I have nothing that draws a lot of power and I live here alone and don't have a wild life or anything! 
    I had to go onto a tariff that wasn't tying me in for 18 months or 2 years or anything long term as I don't know how long I will be here for, but it probably won't be longer than a year. I returned to the UK only to help my Mum with my poorly Dad for a while and also to be near my family while I was recovering from my surgeries after that I will be moving abroad again. 
  • PetriixPetriix Forumite
    126 posts
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Posts Name Dropper
    Ok, and are you certain you're not missing a decimal point? The 1859kWh you've supposedly used is actually more than we import in an entire year. We do have solar panels which save us a fair bit, but we also have an electric oven and do a fair amount of tumble drying.

    My next suspicion would be the meter itself. Do you have a hoover? Try turning everything off then take a meter reading, then hoover for 30 minutes and take a second reading. A 2kW hoover will use 1kWh in 30 minutes.
  • TalldaveTalldave Forumite
    1.2K posts
    Tenth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭
    It might be worth getting an energy monitor that clips onto the cable near the meter. Then you can see a live consumption figure and go around turning things off. Is there an immersion heater on the hot water tank (if you have one) that's on?
  • edited 28 March at 12:27PM
    Kitchen_SinkKitchen_Sink Forumite
    223 posts
    Sixth Anniversary 100 Posts Combo Breaker Name Dropper
    ✭✭
    edited 28 March at 12:27PM
    Hi all, Sorry for the lengthy post, but Im trying to make sure all of the information is here before I press send!

    I moved into a rented house on 9th Jan 2020. I didn't move in until 21st Jan. I was given the gas and electricity readings for the day I moved in by the agent and I checked them. They were correct. Fast forward to last week when I tried to get through to British Gas to give them a meter reading because I couldn't do it online. I have a bit of an issue here as the rent comes out of my husband's account, but I make all of the calls to people as he works abroad. it has caused lots of issues so far, but that's by the by.. BG told me they couldn't take a meter reading from me as I wasn't the bill holder. I explained the situation. they said they would estimate until such time that they could speak to him in person ( even though I explained that wouldn't be until the end of June). They said they could have a more accurate estimate if I gave them that day's reading and then called back one week later so they knew on average how much I was using week by week. 
    I called back yesterday and told them what the reading was. They told me my bill, since 9th Jan was £290 for electricity ALONE!!!!  I worked it out on the tariff they gave me and their numbers are correct according to the meter readings, but I simply cannot be using that much energy. I either have something using an excessive amount of power or someone is stealing it .... or the meter is faulty (Is that a thing? I haven't lived in the UK for a number of years, so Im not used to any of these possibilities!)

    The circumstances are as follows....
    I live alone, in a small 2 bed terraced house. I have a tv ( no sky box, no digi box etc). I have a lamp on in the living room from 6.20pm until about 11.30pm. I boil the kettle 3 times a day, sometimes 4. I cook with gas and my central heating/hot water is gas (obviously pumped around the house with electric). I don't have a washing machine, drier or dishwasher. I have a fridge freezer. ( but have only had that about 5 weeks!), Upstairs I do have a tv, but it was on standby for about a week and then I unplugged it as the aerial up there doesn't work. I have had my electric blanket on about 12/15 times maximum, each time for a period of 10-20 mins.  I don't even have a bedside lamp. I use a little battery one as my electric one is too big for the small bedside table I have!! 
    I charge my laptop once a day and my phone once a day. 

    Can anyone else think of anything else it could be please? I am pulling my hair out trying to think what it could be. 

    Just to add... my tariff is something like 24.9p a day standing charge and 17.something pence per kWh. 
    I feel sorry for you if you have been given a difficult time by the call handler, but for future reference, you can always submit meter readings online via the BG website if you have the appropriate account details (even for someone else); even easier if you have access to the online account.

    What I suggest you do is go around and switch off each of the items you mention, not onto standby but off. Then check your meter.
    If it's not recording any usage then no one else is using your electricity at this time.

    If it is, then someone else may be using your electricity, but the higher probablility is that you have missed something.
    So keep going around and see if you can find anything you have not switched off.
    (check, for example, if you have a back up immersion heater switched on that is unneccessary)

    If you still can't find anything, switch off the supply at the consumer unit, and check that stops the meter recording any consumption.  It should do.

    Leave it for as long as possible (all daytime should be achieveable based on what you say, you can always pop it it back on for a couple of mins if you are desperate for a cuppa, or better still use your gas cooker lit by a match to heat some water) , and that may highlight what you have left on that you have missed.

    I'm expecting your internet access will probably the first thing you'll find you lose :D
    (But that won't account for much electricity at all)
  • angielaalaaangielaalaa Forumite
    10 posts
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Petriix said:
    Ok, and are you certain you're not missing a decimal point? The 1859kWh you've supposedly used is actually more than we import in an entire year. We do have solar panels which save us a fair bit, but we also have an electric oven and do a fair amount of tumble drying.

    My next suspicion would be the meter itself. Do you have a hoover? Try turning everything off then take a meter reading, then hoover for 30 minutes and take a second reading. A 2kW hoover will use 1kWh in 30 minutes.
    Hi Petriix, 
    No decimal point. And I do have a hoover, but I only got it on Tuesday morning! I am planning on hoovering this morning, but honestly the house is not big enough to hoover for 30 mins! Once I have done my chores this morning, I am going to turn the whole house off for an hour and see what happens to the numbers then. This morning I took a reading and have been making notes of everything Ive done that involved electricity. I will post that (how riveting for you all!!) later today with figures from the meter at intervals through the day. 

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