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Death and taxes

In this world, nothing is certain
except death and taxes.
- Benjamin Franklin

The postman arrived early today, with the daily paper and a rather fat envelope from ErDF.

The two monthly electricity bill, and...?

Extra paperwork in there. A rather badly printed page (drum wearing out or charge transfer wire dirty?) congratulating me on only having used 1233kWh over the last year. I'm apparently one of the households with the lowest consumption.

They want me to give permission to have the Linky (smart meter) report regular (half hourly?) tracked consumption to better track my electricity use. Like hell I will.
Obvious mission creep is obvious. At least, for the moment the law states that without permission by the client, they can only collect periodic reports of consumption. I do wonder how long until they get that overruled to be able to perform invasive monitoring?

Anyway, Yay! Félicitations! I have used 36% less than last year. Well, the primary thing here was that it was a mild winter and since Mom is no longer I bought myself a heated blanket instead of constantly running a 1kW oil radiator. So the house was a little colder and I was a little warmer. Win!

I should point out that five years of boarding school offered such joy as a heating system only capable of heating half the building at once (with a 2/3 bias towards the senior half), having to run around in the snow for "games" (P.E.) whilst wearing shorts, and generally expecting one of the (single glazed) dormitory windows to be open all through to winter.
Consequently, I am quite used to a colder environment. I am not one of those British that insists on having the house be in the upper 20s in midwinter. I find that to be quite intolerable.
I'd actually quite like a kotatsu. Maybe some day...

They then break down my year's electricity bills.

I like how people are so conditioned to paying whatever ErDF sends that has a euro amount on it that they have to clearly state that this isn't something that one is expected to pay.

Over the past year I paid €338,05 for my standard 9kVA "blue" tariff electricity, or an average of €28,17 a month. Which works out to be just shy of a euro a day.
Of that, €121,34 is for the actual electricity used, almost the same (€114,86) is for the provision of the service, then €62,08 is taxes and contributions, and finally €39,77 in taxes. Yes, one pays tax on tax. Lovely, huh?

Or, to put in into perspective in addition to the pretty chart:

  • 36% in electricity consumed
  • 34% in service provision
  • 30% in taxes and stuff

Indeed - nothing is certain, except death and taxes.

The bill this time (bi-monthly) was ~€50, for 168 units. These are quoted as being €0.0999 each (the ridiculous pile of nines because they probably think it's psychologically better than €0,10 per unit - just like with petrol prices). At least they rounded to the nearest whole centime.
However, in reality, when you take the number of units over the cost of the bill, it runs to a rather less impressive €0.28 per unit. Obviously the more I use, the less the per unit cost will be (as the service provision is a fixed amount), however since I don't plan to suddenly use more, I think it is best to just assume that each unit consumed is about a third of a euro.
The definition of a unit is a kilowatt consumed over the course of an hour. So heating water for a bath/washing means running the 2kW immersion heater for about five hours (it's a 200 litre tank). Which is about 10 units, which makes the maths dead easy - €2,80.
In reality, I don't need the water fully heated, in the winter it is nice but in the warmer months a cooler shower will suffice, though I tend to warm it a little more in order to get multiple showers out of one heating.
If there's grass in my hair after mowing and it is hot, I have no qualms about washing my hair from the hosepipe hooked to the outside tap. Who needs heat when you're a heatbeat away from sunstroke? ☺

I don't have a washing machine. The old mechanical thingy failed a couple of years ago (when engaging the motor, there's some smoke and the electricity trips out - I'd consider that to be fairly terminal) so I wash by hand using, well, whatever temperature the water happens to be.

I leave my Pi running 24/7. I can now, given as it's a miniscule draw (maybe something like €15 per year?). The monitors, when they are on, are flat panel and not CRT. Old tech, but in the region of 35W rather than 70W. I watch movies on my phone. I am writing this on the tablet. Thanks to devising a way of placing blog content directly into the blog, I have a lot less need to start the PC. Programming for fun? The Pi. Writing stuff? I don't use OvationPro much any more, I use Google Docs. So can use the tablet. It runs off a USB supply. As does the phone.
Most of the light bulbs are LEDs now. I don't have the habit of leaving all the lights on. My room, normally, is lit by a desk lamp pointed upwards. It's a 12V projector bulb (LED). I don't like it bright.

So, in essence, the main power draws are:

  • Irregular hot water.
  • The Livebox (needs to be on all the time for phone and internet, and I don't think it is particularly efficient; but then since I spend ~€65 a month on my comms, it would be churlish to lose sweat over a few euros for powering the thing!).
  • The fridge.
  • The kettle - for a Rick without tea is a barely animated corpse.

I don't plan to change my habits. I'm not aiming for even better next year (if it's a cold winter, then that will have an effect). I'm just looking at how I use electricity, and trying to wonder about those (several at work) who are utterly gobsmacked by my consumption as they pay their bill monthly and it's at least three digits.


Just to put this into context for a laugh - at work we recently had a new fancy washer-machine installed. Things go in one end, there's a power prewash. Then a wash. Then a rinse. Then a blow dryer. Then a second stage blow dry. And stuff still comes out... not exactly dry. Anyway, when this machine is fully operational (all the heaters, motors, pumps, etc) it draws 150kW. It is running most of the time, so if we assume it's fully operational for two thirds of the time (the final third can count for when it's stopped or the heaters have switched off), then this thing is potentially drawing 150kW for about ten hours a day. Which is 1,500 units a day. Or a ridiculous thirty one thousand a month. That's as much as I am likely to use in a quarter of a century! Fuuuuu..........



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VinceH, 4th August 2020, 17:10
I'm about mid-contract for this year, and so far I've used about 45% more units than for the same period last year. Part of that increase is probably because I was home a lot more. I increased my monthly payment a couple of months ago to cover it. 
I also deal the online side of my parents' contract (which is both gas and electricity). They use a lot more than me anyway, and their electricity use has gone up as well - by a broadly similar amount if looked at as a percentage. In terms of units, though, their increase is more than my six month total. 
In fact, their highest *month* is more than my six month total. =:o 
Whereas I can say "lockdown" as an explanation for my increase, they're retired so were home that much more anyway; there probably is *some* increase for that reason, but I just can't see it being that much. I've pointed this out to them, and they've just more or less shrugged and said it's because mum has cooked more, and used the washing machine and tumble dryer more during the lockdown. 
But the figures still seem ludicrously high to me. 
On the subject of smart meters, apparently when I took on my current contract, I agreed to have a smart meter installed - but I don't remember any mention of smart meters when I did the annual price comparisons etc. Apparently, it was in the terms and conditions which (naughty boy) I didn't read. 
But that stupid oversight on my part aside, I think it's very naughty of the electricity supplier to (try to) get people on smart meters that way. They haven't been able to install one yet because the first time they contacted me (email or text message IIRC) I just said something like "No. I don't remember agreeing to that" without knowing it was in the Ts&Cs. At a later point I was made aware of that, but then the lockdown happened, which saved me an argument. 
As things have eased, I received another message with the option of saying I'd rather put it off if I felt vulnerable due to the pandemic, so that's what I did. 
If I'd had to argue about it, my argument would have included saying "It's £30 to get out of the contract, so let's end the contract and I'll find another supplier." 
(And I'll be watching out for catches like that next time around!) 
Rick, 8th August 2020, 16:43
You might, if you want to pursue it, have a good argument that by burying something in the Ts&Cs, it is not something that you can choose to agree or disagree to, and by not pointing this out, they are effectively removing your ability to choose. 
France, as I mentioned, got around this by having the monopoly electricity supplier install smart meters. People don't have a choice. 
Yeah, it's a reasonable point - why would two people who are home a lot suddenly using more power? It seems...peculiar.

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