Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Checking out the utility usage

The wind these last few days (not of the bean variety), has been bone chillingly cold. We have been for two very quick walks and got a headache on both occasions. Just nipped out into the garden to do some cutting down of dead stuff – didn't stay out long. My hands got so cold I was in danger of snipping off a finger!

Back indoors, I decided to sit down and work out the the cost of our utilities for the winter period.

We last topped up with oil in July 2012, filling the tank but only 600 litres was required to do so (1000 litre tank). Quite a few villages in Norfolk do not have access to mains gas and oil is very expensive. We paid 50p per litre to fill up. 2 months later it was 78p and then 85p. Two tonnes of logs were purchased a few months later and as we still had a few fires worth left over from last year.

Finally, we pay £20 per month for electricity which will go up due to the introduction of a standing charge.

All in all, that works out at £71 per month for all utilities during the winter time (usually November to April for us, but it does move a little either way). That means those 6 months will cost us £423 in total. I know others can do it cheaper still but that is as low as we can get it.
 
Friends of ours filled up their oil tank at the same time but they have just ordered another 500 litres (65p per litre). Like us, they have tried to watch their overall usage. So what is the difference as we both have log burners?
 
They like to keep the rest of their house warm all day at around 15 Celsius whereas we only put our heating on for quick bursts of around 10 minutes or so and then usually no more than 4 or 5 times a day. Other than that, the oil heats up our water for baths 3 times a week and the heating and hot water is on for just 40 minutes per day first thing in the morning, still on cheap overnight rate. The wood burner is usually lit around 4pm but if we get really cold, we warm up bean bags in the microwave and carry those around with us.

On bath nights, the bathroom can be cold, but we just rush from there to the lounge and the wonderful heat of the log burner – a matter of steps.

Overnight, our clothes sit on the radiator in the bedroom and are still warm when we get up. At night time we hang our jim jams safely near the wood burner to warm through and get undressed in front of it – bliss.

Most clothes dry on airers in the front room overnight or over two nights. We usually tumble dry towels and duvet covers as they are either too hard dried on the airer or take too long and can smell musty.
 
We are lucky that we have what used to be called Economy 7 on our meter. Overnight use includes those 40 minutes every day but not top up bursts or bath water - we don't have a shower. It also includes the odd time we tumble dry overnight. 

Our night time bill is far cheaper than the day time units and on average, the split is about 3/4 night time use.

9 comments:

  1. I've just had my biils through for the last 6 months. My gas payment has remained the same, but my electricity payment has fallen by a considerable amount and I have a nice refund winging my way! I had to ring up to point this out though. I owed 7.04 on the gas so they wanted to increase my payments by 60.00 per year to cover it, and I had a large credit on the electricity account, yet they left that payment the same - you have to watch them like a hawk!

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    1. That is very true. It is amazing how they are quick to put up our bills yet invariably fail to let us know when they owe us something. Think of how much interest they must be earning as well as laughing all the way to the bank!

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  2. Very interesting to see what real costs are for real people. THEY always talk about "average households"- no such thing. I'm very new to this bloggy thing ,started one simplesuffolksmallholder but no idea how to find out how to pretty it up or how to get people reading it. Hopeless old woman!

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    1. Hi and thanks for reading. I tried to follow your name above but it brought me more or less to a dead end post. Instead I searched online for simple suffolk smallholder and found you. You may get more people visiting if you post a comment to a blog whilst logged into that blog. Hopefully then when people press your name, it will lead to your active blog. As you can see, I have people following me who use blogs that are not Google related. I would leave a comment on your blog but it requires me to supply my email which I don't do. If others feel the same, they may also not comment. Do word press insist on the email being supplied or is that something you set up?

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  3. good to hear real costs- no such thing as average household. New to this bloggy thing have one at simplesuffolksmallholder but no clue how to get people reading it?!

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  4. Hi
    I was reading in the newspaper yesterday (in work and not bought by me...) about how there will be gas shortages and that the "average" household will see their gas bills rise by about £200 next winter. For ages we've been talking about getting a woodburner (multifuel really) and it is beginning to look like this may well be the way to go. It is just working out whether it is worth the starting up costs and if it will do the job we want. We hardly use the CH as it is because it costs about £1 per hour when I measured the gas used and did the sums. Do you buy the logs as big logs and chop them up to suit?

    About tumbledrying towels and quilt covers - a friend of mine dries them on an airer and then pops them in the tumbler on cool for about fifteen minutes. The laundry is as soft as you could wish and my friend has used a lot less electricity. Just a thought...

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    1. Hi Jo, thanks for that. My tumble dryer is at the bottom of the garden in the garage so only use it when we need to. My dryer is not big enough to hold duvet covers so most of the time they dry on the line. Only tumble dry when wet weather around. Not sure if the fuel shortage is for next winter or around 2018 or so from what I've heard. Our logs come ready chopped (always wise to check first that they will fit before ordering as different firms chop slightly different sizes. We pay £70 per tonne but the price does vary. It depends where your fireplace is as to how it will heat your house. For example in a house it could push the hot air up the stairs and into the bedrooms. We live in a bungalow so if it gets too hot, the lounge door is left open and it warms the hallway and part of the dining room. Otherwise, we keep the costs down by usually keeping the door almost closed and only ticking over with the burner. If you can store lots of logs (we made our stores, much cheaper) then you could afford to use your burner for a good part of the day. You also may be able to get hold of free wood which will also help. We pick up sticks and pine cones for starting or else chop up pallets. Coal is also on the increase in price so check out that as well.

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  5. We have gas-fired central heating and run it at about 15 for 12 hours out of 24. Here in the States our village has bought electric from a different source and our bills have been quite a lot lower. Our other problem is cooling during the summer.
    Heat related deaths are much higher than cold related ones (in the summer cooling centers are opened ) The elderly are particularly vulnerable. We have thought about a wood-stove but the start up price is out of sight.
    We did invest in Ikea s warmest duvet and LLBean slippers and dressing gowns - worth every penny.
    I am re-reading your Wartime Diaries (totally addicted) ; vegetables were not rationed - right ?

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    1. No, vegetables were not rationed but you could only buy what was being grown in the UK and what was in season. There were huge queue's in the shops and often people didn't even know what they were queuing for! The U-boats took care of most everything but not all we needed, typically tropical fruit and banana's which were not seen for many years. It must have been hard in the winter with coal being rationed and gas or electric liable to go off without warning for many hours etc. We can buy gas, electric or oil from whom we like but tend to only do so with the oil as it does differ from company to company.

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