The Great Green Problem

We have had a fair few problems with going green over the years. A few years back we were victims of green solutions to heat homes by a company who should have monitored their recommended fitters a bit more closely. That mistake cost us our life's savings and we ended up having to sell it on to someone with a smaller house, who'd use it for it was meant to be, a solution to underfloor heating. That bitterness aside, we decided the best thing to do was to turn to green energy suppliers and do our best to insulate and conserve energy in the home. We had a full high spec re-wire of the entire house, fitted an A-rated boiler, we halved our energy use from when we first moved to Pig Row and relied on economy seven heaters fitted sometime back in the 1970s and as efficient as the coal supply in the early part of that decade. Our bills back then just to switch on the immersion made us wept and put us into debt to one of the big six nasty utility companies who when Carol was eight month pregnant threatened her with all sorts over the phone. So, after that we refused to have anything to do with the big six, surely if we went to a Green company there would be a better transparency ethos? A more forward thinking approach to how energy is supplied. 

Great green problems with electricity and gas companies

The problem lies in the fact the bigger a company gets, the worse it can get as the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, and the right hand is really just taking money from the left hand and desires to be one of the big six. This came to a head for us a few weeks back when we received our electricity bill via our online app but no gas bill. We waited. We waited. We have always paid for what we have used, we used to pay quarterly but the company said their new app would allow us to pay monthly and have lower costs. We try to avoid direct debits because frankly this our money sat in their account, and we need it. A week later we had to phone them up and then got an inkling that the professional green utility company we once loved was now like the big six, there was the automated message, the muzak, and a shocking twelve minute wait to hear a human voice that was confused as much as we were to why we had not received our gas bill. Roll out the excuses rather than the apologies (sounds like a familiar trick we've seen played before), (1) The reading may have not come through, (2) It's probably been passed to the billing department, and; (3) You're using far more gas than you did last month. Now, funnily enough we keep track of our usage after the immersion heater problem and knew for a fact that we used 10 units less last month than we had that month. Ha-ha, yes we have figured out your stupid mathematical equation for how much we have used of something; is this equation transparent? No, not really. Just by putting it on a bill doesn't actually make it transparent, it just makes the customer think, 'I can't be bothered figuring that bugger out'. So, we had the equation, jotted down the diary (we even do it after submitting our readings so we don't get any nasty surprise bar the surcharge nonsense which is creeping up). Someone therefore was telling a lie. We pointed this out and the call centre got flustered, not according to their records, we were using MORE gas, WAY MORE GAS THAN WE NORMALLY USE. OH MY GOD, WHAT IS IT WITH YOU LOT. ARE YOU POWERING SPACESHIPS INTO ORBIT?! Ha-ha. They sounded so worried for us, they didn't 'want us to get into any unnecessary debt with them'. These were the very same words that had been thrown at Carol when she was eight months pregnant, in tears, to one of the big six. We were ready for this bullshit. We'd been hear before. You want transparency? Let's do it. So, we did some basic maths with them over the phone and still they couldn't see that 81 was less than 91. Basically, minus 10, we told them. They told us the billing part of the company would sort this out, they weren't on the right system, they could only take payments. Where had gone the helpful team that could do it all when we used to phone up? They all have different systems now. We all know that in an age of connectivity this seems rather a dubious claim. So off they trotted to do some functional skills maths as we sat down and looked at our files and it was when Carol pointed out, 'I bet we're using less than we did last year' that the penny dropped. We checked our records, and this shows why it is so important to keep your bills for a least a year. They thought we were swindling them. Not that we had embraced conserving energy, no it was merely their worry that we were lying about our readings. We never have. We never will. We pay for what we use. That is part of the green ethos, to do your part. This was apparent in our final bill, see the above image, which did show that last year we were nearer to using 63 kwh of gas a day and now we're nearer 40. How did we do this? Simple. We insulated our house and more importantly we stopped heating rooms we were not occupying during the day or better still, we just put on the stove using wood we had foraged or better still we came across this wonderful invention called, a jumper.

Harvesting fallen wood.

We wonder, in an age where the gas and electric reader has gone the way of the dodo in favour of phone apps, how many others have suffered this? Sure, utility companies cannot call you liars but they can investigate possible problems with your account which mysteriously vanish when you provide evidence of your readings. Be wary, some of green companies are on the slippy slope to being one of the big six and forgetting the movement is about everyone being responsible and transparent. So, we are being transparent here and are now exploring a new unfolding area in the green movement, taken from how many utility companies operate, the bulk buying of green gas and electricity within a collective. This is being done by Bulb which claims to be a transparent community and so far, it has been, easy to move, quick to reply, their app is so simple and avoids accusations or investigations by billing departments because you simply photograph your meter.

Moving to Bulb from Ecotricity

Goodness, that seems like a logical step in the right direction because photos are dated coded. You may not know that but the app does. Now, we're not all saying to rush out and join such a scheme but you have to admire a company that professes to have the lowest tariffs in the UK, including the big six. This is not a sales pitch for Bulb but we want to share with you the fact that we got £50 for going to them, that's a month's energy, and some of our friends swapped too and we got another £50 and they got £50, and so on and so on, so those debts we got in with one of the big six or the silly mistake we made with the green energy heating all goes away when we know we have enough in our app to pay our heating through winter. Our friends do too. We'll let you know how it goes on but if you want to change, feel free to use our referral code and get £50 towards your gas and electricity, we'll get £50 too*. Share your referral codes below, let's share rather than pull our hair out whilst waiting to talk to someone in a call centre.

* We're being transparent here. This is not an advert for Bulb. We do not endorse Bulb. We are sharing our concerns and hopes that this may be something that could bring you a little bit of relief over Christmas.


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