In June 2012 Ebico Trust funded Energy Action for Rutland, a partnership between Change Agents UK, Rutland County Council and other local organisations. The project received a referral from Age UK about a concerned pensioner whose direct debits for electricity had recently been increased from £69 to £169. Energy Action for Rutland officer responded quickly with a home visit a few days after the referral was made.
He found the resident was living alone and was unable to afford this sudden sharp increase in her energy bill, and was also lacking the confidence and knowledge to challenge the energy company in question.
Upon inspection, the property was heated using storage heaters, whilst water was also heated on the off-peak economy 7 tariff using an immersion heater; nothing unusual about this situation, but the bills highlighted something alarming. Despite the resident seemingly using little day-time electricity (occasional cups of tea and watching TV), her usage between the 21/12/11 and 12/03/12 during the day was 2343 kWh, whereas the night-time usage was only 534 kWh. An energy monitor was installed and minute by minute usage was downloaded to reveal that the day time usage was far higher than we would have predicted, despite the resident promising that she wasn’t using several portable electric heaters every day!
Meter readings were then taken twice daily alongside the energy monitor data – it was then that the officer noticed dissimilarities. The energy company were contacted and the meter was replaced shortly afterwards.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Not only was the meter confirmed to be faulty, the night and day-time usage for the past 4 years had been charged the wrong way around! So, when storage heaters were charging and water was being heated, it was being charged on the peak rate rather than the off-peak night time rate. The field officer persisted, and after months of negotiating on behalf of the resident, the resident in question received over £2,500 back from the energy company. She was then able to finally switch onto a cheaper tariff, and away from the supplier she had lost all confidence in.
Ebico uses it’s surpluses to help provide financial support to community energy and cost saving initiatives such as this through the Ebico Trust for Sustainable Development, and we’re absolutely delighted to hear about, and pass on, stories such as this.