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Energy Bills estimates are very high and can't access my meter readings

NickMonks94
NickMonks94 Forumite Posts: 1 Newbie
Hello everyone,

Just writing this post to see if someone can help me regarding an issue with some energy bills I have in my one-bedroom flat... I'm a bit desperate about this.

I moved into a 1-bedroom flat in London, about 1.5 years ago. During this time I never got access to my meter readings (i.e. it is located inside a basement in another building annexed to mine, and the landlord didn't provide me any keys or any means to access it), so I was getting estimates for my bills - around 40£/month. These are quite favorable for me, so I decided to keep having them. After all, my usage wasn't going to be much different from estimates, and previous tenants from the flat didn't give any readings at all (the last official reading was in 2020, and I have serious doubts these were actually real readings...)

However, last month everything turned upside down. In April 2023, I received a bill of 175£. The reason? EDF Energy (the current energy provider), told me over the phone that "this was a catchup from previous readings since they were quite low from real ones". "Ok, nobody gave any readings anyway..." I thought; but I decided to trust and pay the fee. They told me the bills will come back as normal this next month.

May 2023. The bill from my tiny flat was... 145£/month. I start to sweat bullets and think to myself, "We need to get the real readings and opt-out for estimates". 

I decided to chase the landlord to give me the real readings, to sort this out as soon as possible; Otherwise, I would definitely keep getting these huge bills for no reason. I actually chased him back a long time ago about this but didn't go a response. Plus, as I said the estimates were quite reasonable so didn't give it much importance. 

Finally, he came back with some readings! A contractor (or the building porter, not sure) went and came back to get the readings... well, let's say the number they gave me back and the estimated one is completely different: the meter was 77.000 day/64.000 night, and the one from EDF is 59.000 day/53.000 night. That's approximately 8000 pounds. Now is when I start entering panic mode, unsure of what to do.

I spoke with EDF Energy and they told me to check again if it was the correct meter. and gave me a serial number. In parallel, a technician will come at the end of this month to install a smart meter, and stop getting estimates. However, I still don't have access to the meter! so I can't open the basement and neither confirm the readings or not. 

The landlord is very unresponsive for this issue. And the fact there is an agency in between it makes it more complicated (i.e. I don't have the contact details from the landlord and the agency refuses to provide them to me).

I'm a bit desperate and not sure what I can do. For now, I have to wait for the landlord to respond and make someone come. However this is just the first step: if the readings are that high, what can I do? Can I refuse to pay the excess bill if the last readings were made in 2020? I'm just a tenant who came in February 2022, not responsible for the other readings; plus I have serious doubts the ones they gave back then were real... 

Do you know if there is a way to either get back the estimates I had before or dispute any bills with EDF so I can pay less?

In parallel I'll update you with any news from my landlord and the energy provider... 

Thanks a lot for your help!



Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Forumite Posts: 7,424
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    Yikes!  It's unfortunate that you don't have a reading from when you moved in.  So there's no idea of how much you have used.  On that basis I would throw it to the LL to insist that YOU have sight of the meter to take a reading and TAKE A timestamped PHOTO.  That at least gives you a line at one point.  The supplier SHOULD have been taking readings yearly instead of relying on estimates.  If you stand your ground and insist that you can't have used some silly amount they might write off a lot of potential debt.
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”

    2023 £1 a day  £553.26/365
  • Mstty
    Mstty Forumite Posts: 4,209
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    So you don't have any official move in readings?

    If this were a gas meter I suspect your could haul your energy supplier over the coals for not checking it. But Electricity meters by law I believe have to be read every 2 years.

    So you could ask them for the reading they took to make sure they were compliant with the law.
  • Gerry1
    Gerry1 Forumite Posts: 9,097
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    edited 9 July at 7:35PM
    All those meter readings lack credibility because they are round numbers and have a decimal point instead of a comma.
    INSIST on reading the meter yourself, never rely on anyone else doing it for you (apart from an official meter reader).
    Do the meter sanity test.
    It links to an example out where a poster had been paying for a different flat's usage.
    Arrange to be present when the meter is replaced, check the closing / opening readings and ensure they are clearly and correctly recorded on a yellow card left fixed securely near the meter.
  • frugalmacdugal
    frugalmacdugal Forumite Posts: 9,776
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    Hi,
    NickMonks94 said:
     During this time I never got access to my meter readings (i.e. it is located inside a basement in another building annexed to mine, and the landlord didn't provide me any keys or any means to access it), so I was getting estimates for my bills - around 40£/month.
    are there meters for other flats/properties in there?
    You need to get access and properly identify the meter for your flat.
    Have you tried to gain access, maybe not so secure, or a caretaker/cleaner might have key.
    Y'all take care now.
  • SAC2334
    SAC2334 Forumite Posts: 632
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    Brie said:
    Yikes!  It's unfortunate that you don't have a reading from when you moved in.  So there's no idea of how much you have used.  On that basis I would throw it to the LL to insist that YOU have sight of the meter to take a reading and TAKE A timestamped PHOTO.  That at least gives you a line at one point.  The supplier SHOULD have been taking readings yearly instead of relying on estimates.  If you stand your ground and insist that you can't have used some silly amount they might write off a lot of potential debt.
    How is the supplier supposed to get the readings when even the occupiers can t get hold of a key to the meter room..It's getting hold of the caretaker which is the problem and meter readers have a harder job just on a random visit..
    Landlord s have good reasons to keep these meter rooms locked up because of meter tampering risks .
    The more enlightened LL get the caretaker to pin a monthly reading list on the meter room door giving serial numbers and readings incl eco 7 s..It's not hard work and only takes 20 minutes a month .
  • Qyburn
    Qyburn Forumite Posts: 1,488
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    Did the landlord not give an opening reading with the inventory when the tenancy started?
  • pochase
    pochase Forumite Posts: 3,449
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    And what opening reading did you give when you opened your account with EDF?

    How old is the flat/electricity meter? The 141,000KWh on the meter means even if the meter is 30 Years old an average of 4700KWh per year, so definitely not the extremely low usage you have been paying for.

    £40 minus a standing charge leaves you with £25 to £30 for electricity, that is about 1100KWh per year, most likely less on an E7 tariff, less than a quarter of the above average of 4700KWh.

    It is very likely that the opening reading you gave EDF, if you did that and they not just used the closing reading of the previous occupier, was very likely to low and the previous occupier gave wrong meter reading. Very hard to prove more than a year later without any proof. 


  • Gerry1
    Gerry1 Forumite Posts: 9,097
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    SAC2334 said:
    Brie said:
    Yikes!  It's unfortunate that you don't have a reading from when you moved in.  So there's no idea of how much you have used.  On that basis I would throw it to the LL to insist that YOU have sight of the meter to take a reading and TAKE A timestamped PHOTO.  That at least gives you a line at one point.  The supplier SHOULD have been taking readings yearly instead of relying on estimates.  If you stand your ground and insist that you can't have used some silly amount they might write off a lot of potential debt.

    Landlords have good reasons to keep these meter rooms locked up because of meter tampering risks.
    Not entirely convinced about that.  Electricity theft wouldn't be their problem, but dodgy ones could avoid paying for energy used in void periods.
    SAC2334 said:
    Brie said:
    Yikes!  It's unfortunate that you don't have a reading from when you moved in.  So there's no idea of how much you have used.  On that basis I would throw it to the LL to insist that YOU have sight of the meter to take a reading and TAKE A timestamped PHOTO.  That at least gives you a line at one point.  The supplier SHOULD have been taking readings yearly instead of relying on estimates.  If you stand your ground and insist that you can't have used some silly amount they might write off a lot of potential debt.

    The more enlightened LL get the caretaker to pin a monthly reading list on the meter room door giving serial numbers and readings incl eco 7 s.
    Might conflict with data protection regulations.  Also allows likely unoccupied flats to be identified raising potential risks of break-ins, squatting and even property theft.  Much better to allow controlled access, perhaps on a specified day each month if the caretaker is non-resident.
  • Mobtr
    Mobtr Forumite Posts: 535
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    Sounds like you were more than happy to pay very low bills & probably weren’t that frugal with the usage thinking you were getting away with it. 
    Once more reads are taken adjustments can be done & adjusted to seasonal. 
    If an appointment has been booked for the end of the month to change meters, have you arranged for access for the engineer? 
  • Scot_39
    Scot_39 Forumite Posts: 1,295
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    edited 11 July at 12:59PM
    Meter cabinets are kept locked - many reasons - safety - and that meter tampering whilst small is real.
    And as posts above they may contain sensitive information - about occupancy, even meter serial numbers (which we are advised to remove when posting pictures here so) maybe of some use to the unscrupulous ?
    Maybe low in terms of the 28m or so grid connected homes - but in certain areas and certain property types - I bet you rates are higher. It isn't just your average cannabis farm that bypasses meters to avoid detection. Amongst owners or renters.
    And the more clever tampers - don't necessarily take meter readings all the way to zero - an obvious red flag - almost guaranteed to provoke a meter inspection.
    And it can be a safety issue too - at least one national fire service went as far to issue a fire safety warning about it last year.
    And note note "may invalidate" buildings / landlords insurance.
    And with surveys of contractors reporting last 1-6m - that between 30% and 50% - of domestic contractors have seen some evidence of it - and many expect it has increased dramatically.  But often worry about those "anecdotal" style articles.
    But real numbers a little more difficult. 
    Did find this one set.
    Reports a 20% increase second half 2022 - but only 4559 in 6 months - so yes small - in the context of 28m+ homes.  Of course that's only those caught - so far.

    Edit - And that Telegraph articles also estimates - can be worth upto £50 on average bill.

    So why would a landlord risk the safety of his/her/it's property - and the security of other tenants supply / metering - by allowing free access 24/7.

    And lets not forget electrical SAFETY
    From the 2 I have seen - in last year - for common meter cabinets - one in an old sandstone tenement block - was not exactly to modern wiring standards when it came to shrouding/terminal protection. A careless curious finger could potentially end up contacting live in some older ones based on that example.
    So not a place to allow easy access to.

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