Can smart meters wind you up with paying MORE for your energy?

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  • tim_p
    tim_p Posts: 689 Forumite
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    I and just about everyone I know use only around 6pm-10pm for weekdays for example as we're working & sleeping outside of that timeframe.
    Hardly.  Stuff still runs in the background, fridges, freezers, TV boxes, stuff on standby etc. Try taking a meter reading when you leave for work and then again when you arrive home. Do this for a few days and you’ll get an idea of your baseload. 
  • B0bbyEwing
    B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,208 Forumite
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    tim_p said:
    I and just about everyone I know use only around 6pm-10pm for weekdays for example as we're working & sleeping outside of that timeframe.
    Hardly.  Stuff still runs in the background, fridges, freezers, TV boxes, stuff on standby etc. Try taking a meter reading when you leave for work and then again when you arrive home. Do this for a few days and you’ll get an idea of your baseload. 
    Another case of the crossed wires then where I thought something would be obvious.

    Although it's something I find only happens online. Maybe it's a face-to-face thing (or lack of here).

    I was talking about variables. Yes your fridge is on all the time. You don't really have a say in the matter, other than turning it off but then that's a bit silly. 
    What you have 'a say' in is do you cook a meal that involves the microwave, slow cooker, air fryer, george foreman or oven tonight & for what you choose, what time do you cook it at (again that's where I thought it'd be obvious what I'm referring to but not to make it a 3rd hit - I'm referring to smart tariffs where you may cook at 6 or leave it an hour if it's cheaper at 7 (for example)).
  • B0bbyEwing
    B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,208 Forumite
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    I was more asking about how these smart tariffs are structured since I've never been on one. 

    I and just about everyone I know use only around 6pm-10pm for weekdays for example as we're working & sleeping outside of that timeframe. So are these tariffs generally structured in such a way that you pay a ridiculous amount in this window & the rest of the time when you can't possibly use it (other than maybe programming a wash load), it's dirt cheap?
    Does this help? It's the prices for Octopus Agile today in the East Midlands:



    Compared to last Wednesday:



    And Wednesday back at the start of the month:



    And, for fun, balanced by a Sunday in July where you could earn your weekly electricity bill getting all your wash done and cooking a spread for the family ;) 



    Obviously how 'good' the tariff is will depend on you - given a significant number of people work from home (and a growing number have electric cars that they can charge overnight), it really is a tariff that is good for some and not for others.  

    https://agileprices.co.uk/ (You can click at the top of the page to see the month in your region)
    Superb. Thanks for the info.

    I wasn't aware these smart tariffs vary so frequently. I thought once you sign up then that's the deal until it's renewal time and not that the charge at 2pm today may be different to tomorrow & the next day & the next day......


  • Tracker prices for the past 90 days same rate all day no faffing around with load shifting


  • EssexHebridean
    EssexHebridean Posts: 21,287 Forumite
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    People can only deal with the statements you put out there OP - and you are getting straight answers to what appear to us to be straight questions. On reading your earlier post I too thought you weren't realising that in fact a huge amount of your electricity is used outside of the times you are consciously active. it's a bit like the concept of most of your daily personal energy output being just going about your business, not in the half an hour you might pop out for a run, for example! A surprising number of people don't realise that side of things. 

    More info on the various Octopus tariffs can be found on this link: https://energy-stats.uk/octopus-tracker-eastern-england/ - that might help to show how the tariffs are structured.  You will notice from there that with a tariff like Agile, yes, you might want to defer cooking your evening meal from 6.30pm to 7pm, but with Tracker there would be no difference. You do get notice to plan things a little ahead though - it's not like you would come home at 6pm, decide to cook tea, then they tell you the following day that you were paying £1 a unit to do it! 

    As I recall, the "peak" time on Agile is generally around 4pm - 7pm, as you'd expect. So if your routine was such that you needed to eat prior to 7pm, and only got home from work at 5.30, Agile may well not be for you. On the other hand, if you were a shift worker who was actually more likely to cook for their midday meal, and take sandwiches in the evening, it might save you a fortune! 
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  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Posts: 2,451 Forumite
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    edited 25 October 2023 at 4:25PM
    I was more asking about how these smart tariffs are structured since I've never been on one. 

    I and just about everyone I know use only around 6pm-10pm for weekdays for example as we're working & sleeping outside of that timeframe. So are these tariffs generally structured in such a way that you pay a ridiculous amount in this window & the rest of the time when you can't possibly use it (other than maybe programming a wash load), it's dirt cheap?
    Does this help? It's the prices for Octopus Agile today in the East Midlands:



    Compared to last Wednesday:



    And Wednesday back at the start of the month:



    And, for fun, balanced by a Sunday in July where you could earn your weekly electricity bill getting all your wash done and cooking a spread for the family ;) 



    Obviously how 'good' the tariff is will depend on you - given a significant number of people work from home (and a growing number have electric cars that they can charge overnight), it really is a tariff that is good for some and not for others.  

    https://agileprices.co.uk/ (You can click at the top of the page to see the month in your region)
    Superb. Thanks for the info.

    I wasn't aware these smart tariffs vary so frequently. I thought once you sign up then that's the deal until it's renewal time and not that the charge at 2pm today may be different to tomorrow & the next day & the next day......


    Agile is broadly predictable in that it's cheaper off-peak, cheaper at the weekends, and cheaper in summer - so the snapshots I've posted won't give you an idea of the average you would pay over the year. 

    But it's what I was saying before - with a smart meter you can access all of the tariffs you have now... but you also have the extra choices of a 'static' time of use tariff (where it's always cheaper overnight for charging your car or storage heating) or a 'dynamic' one (where it changes through the day/from day to day), or the tracker, or several other (non-octopus) options that all work in different ways. 

    So it's about knowing your lifestyle/preference - there's no reason for a smart meter to mean you pay more unless you pick a tariff that's wrong for you. 

    It has been more difficult than just picking a traditional fix based on comparing unit rates, but it's getting easier as more people have smart meters - because now comparison sites/supplier quotes can use the last 12 months of your actual usage to highlight to you the tariffs that will save you the most money.  
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  • B0bbyEwing
    B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,208 Forumite
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    Thanks. Very helpful.

    I'm forever cautious about change anyway. Not just smart meters. I don't always insta-believe the masses either - "it's cheap". I prefer to try & see if there's any "ahhh but........." that nobody tells you about. If there's not & if it (not just smart meters) actually is a good move then I'll do it.

    So far I'm struggling to find a reason to NOT get a smart meter so I think I'll book in.
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,822 Forumite
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    I wasn't aware these smart tariffs vary so frequently. I thought once you sign up then that's the deal until it's renewal time and not that the charge at 2pm today may be different to tomorrow & the next day & the next day......
    Everyone so far has been very enthusiastic about Octopus Agile and Tracker.
    Those are not the only smart tariffs offered by Octopus.
    My electricity is supplied on Octopus Go. This is a more conventional smart tariff.
    When I recently renewed, my options included:
    • Flexible Octopus (single-rate, conventional tariff): 27.51p/kWh, 47.95p/day
    • Flexible Octopus (dual-rate E7, conventional tariff): 14.56p/kWh low, 34.99p/kWh high, 48.05p/day
    • Octopus Go (dual-rate "E4", smart tariff): 9.00p/kWh low, 30.60p/kWh high, 47.95p/day
    There were also 12-month fixed rate offerings at pretty much the same price as the flexible tariff.
    I chose Go because I can make good use of the four off-peak hours and, thanks largely to my solar PV system, my daytime grid electricity use is really low. If I hadn't had a smart meter, I wouldn't have had this option.
    Last year, on Go, 90% of my grid electricity use was at the low rate. If I manage the same again this year, my average kWh will cost about 11p which is cheaper than any of the tariffs I had in the decade or so prior to having a smart meter.
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
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  • matt_drummer
    matt_drummer Posts: 1,340 Forumite
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    My average energy cost is a negative number, they actually pay me more than I pay them over the course of 12 months.

    Only possible with a smart meter (and the solar, batteries and heat pump obviously).

    But without a smart meter I couldn't do  it even if I had all the other stuff.
  • Another smart tariff from Octopus that hasn't yet been mentioned is Flux, which I am currently on. It is mostly similar to the single rate SVR, but it has 3 hours in the middle of the night that are cheaper (great for charging my EV) and 3 hours during peak use that are more expensive. It is also an import export tariff (I have PV). Although I have young children that mostly need feeding during the expensive period, I have found that I use more electricity during the cheap period than I do during the expensive 3 hours. This is probably due to my E W facing solar panels. Which means that as the evenings draw in, the tariff may suit me less. So over the next few weeks I will be doing a lot of number crunching to see whether the particular smart tariff I am on is still the cheapest for me, or whether another smart tariff has a more suitable structure.
    4.3kW PV, 3.6kW inverter. Octopus Tracker. Zoe. Ripple x 2. Cheshire
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