Your property and you

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1 Your property and you A guide to your property and utilities Your Property-Energy A5.indd 1 26/10/ :16

2 2 Your property and you NCHA is committed to helping you reduce the amount of money you spend on water, gas and electricity in your home. We have devised this handbook to give you advice and guidance on how to get the best value from the water, gas and electricity utilities you use in your home. The handbook is designed to help you as you begin your tenancy but there is help and advice available from NCHA on energy related issues at any time. If you would like to talk to someone in person, you can contact the free national energy advice line which you can call for help on anything from how to budget for bills, to where to buy low energy light bulbs. Call You can also speak to our Maintenance department, NCHA Energy Services team or to your Estates Officer who will be able to deal with any queries you have. Contact details are printed at the end of this handbook. Your Property-Energy A5.indd 2 26/10/ :16

3 3 Equipment to locate in your property Gas meter A gas meter is used to measure the volume of gas used. It is useful to know where this is, and it is particularly good to read the numbers regularly, keeping a note of them and perhaps informing your supplier so your bills are accurate. Consumption is measured in units, for example cubic feet for imperial meters. If measured in cubic feet you should see the conversion from this measurement into kilowatt-hours (kwh) on the bill (it is roughly multiplied by 31.3). Electricity meter This is a device that measures the amount of electric energy used by a property. Again it is good practice to know where this is and read the numbers regularly. Units used are usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kwh) so expect to see this on your bills or documentation. Water meter This measures the amount (or units ) of water you use. You can either have a metered bill or pay a set rate. If you are a low user, it may be worth trying a water meter, (but remember the trial period only lasts 12 months) contact your water company for more information If you have a water meter, you will only pay for the units of water you actually use plus a standing charge to cover meter readings and billing services. If you do not have a water meter you will pay a set rate for your water based on the rateable value of the property. Stop valves You may need to know where the stop valve/sure stop tap is in case of a water leak, or to allow maintenance of the property; these are often located under the kitchen sink. These are used to restrict or isolate the flow of a liquid or gas, through a pipe. Your Property-Energy A5.indd 3 26/10/ :16

4 4 Your property and you Choosing how to pay for utilities Receive quarterly bills Quarterly bills are usually sent every three months, which means there can be a lot to pay at once. If you choose to pay this way, it is a good idea to budget or put money aside ready for the bill. Try keeping your old bills so you know how much to budget. You will usually be sent a reminder if you do not pay the bill when it arrives. Suppliers often offer a discount off your next bill if you pay promptly. Paying by direct debit A direct debit is a way of paying your bills automatically. There are considerable discounts offered for paying this way. The amount taken can change from month to month which could make it more difficult for you to budget. Paying by pre-payment meter If you have any problems paying for gas or electricity a supplier may require you to have a special meter fitted. Electricity or gas bought using a pre-payment meter is usually more expensive. You may be without gas or electricity if you have no money but it should avoid you getting into debt. Remember that if you plan on going away you will have to put money in to cover appliances such as fridges. If you wish to remove a pre-payment meter you must contact the utility company who own it; most will charge for this. Your Property-Energy A5.indd 4 26/10/ :16

5 5 Your Property-Energy A5.indd 5 26/10/ :16

6 6 Your property and you What type of energy user are you? It would be useful to look at your last statement from a utility company whilst reading this. If you do not have one to hand you can usually request a copy from your supplier, or they may be able to tell you over the phone how many kilowatthours (kwh) you use in a year. Economy 7 bills assume a 55% night time usage. If you do not use 50% or more of your energy at night it would be worth referring to the next section on Which tariff? to determine if that tariff is appropriate for you. If you do not know how many kilowatthours of energy you use you can use the table below as a rough indicator of the type of user you are. Standard rate electricity Economy 7 rate electricity Standard rate gas LOW 1,650 kwh LOW 3,300 kwh LOW 10,000 kwh MEDIUM 3,300 kwh MEDIUM 6,600 kwh MEDIUM 20,500 kwh HIGH 4,950 kwh HIGH 9,900 kwh HIGH 28,000 kwh Low consumption household ONE bedroom one to two people Medium consumption household TWO/THREE bedrooms with two to four people High consumption household FOUR bedrooms or more with five people or more Data from linx.co.uk Your Property-Energy A5.indd 6 26/10/ :16

7 Your Property-Energy A5.indd 7 26/10/ :16 7

8 8 Your property and you How to choose a supplier You can have the same supplier for both gas and electric or choose different suppliers for each, but bear in mind they offer a dual fuel discount - money off if you choose them for gas and electricity. There is less choice when it comes to water suppliers, with one main company usually providing the water for a whole region. Comparison sites such as and can be useful to see which suppliers are available to you by typing in your postcode. Be careful not to sign up with door to door salesmen they may trap you into paying a lot more than you expected. Most decisions come down to price, but you will find the companies constantly competing and changing their prices so it is often hard to tell who is the cheapest. Choosing a supplier should be done in conjunction with choosing a tariff. Which tariff? It is important to consider your personal circumstances, what is cheap for your neighbour may not be the best option for you. Be honest with yourself about how high a user you are and when you use most of your energy. It is also important to note that if you are on a pre-payment meter you are not always eligible for all available tariffs. Standard tariffs This is the tariff that most people are on, often without knowing. When you move into a property this is usually the tariff the supplier will place you on, unless you request otherwise. Fixed tariffs Most suppliers now offer fixed tariffs which for example promise to be 6% cheaper than the standard tariff until a given date. These can be a good option but be aware the supplier will probably impose charges if you want to leave the agreement early. Additionally, these may only be offered to customers who are willing to receive bills by . Your Property-Energy A5.indd 8 26/10/ :16

9 9 Online tariffs These are by far the cheapest tariffs offered to the general public. They usually involve you submitting meter readings online and receiving your bill by . If this suits you, a lot of money can be saved. Economy 7 tariffs Economy 7 tariffs offer cheaper electricity during the night, and were originally designed to be used with storage heaters which charge up overnight. They only apply to electricity. However, be aware that the cheaper night rate often does not apply until 11pm at night, and the time can vary from supplier to supplier. Also, because you get a cheaper night rate the day rate is often twice as expensive compared to a standard tariff. Social tariffs Suppliers offer a number of tariffs for those who are disabled, suffer chronic illness or are on certain benefits. They are often not advertised but each supplier will have one, so it s worth exploring. Charities such as Age UK join up with suppliers to offer cheaper tariffs for the over 65s in particular. Your Property-Energy A5.indd 9 26/10/ :16

10 10 Your property and you How to read meters Gas meters There are two types of meter: Credit Pre-payment When giving a meter reading, you may need your MPRN (Gas Meter Point Reference Number) or M number. It is a ten digit number and can be found on your gas bill. To read a digital meter use only the figures in white. Ignore the numbers in red/after the decimal point. You may also come across clock type meters. In this instance you should look at each dial to see where the hand is pointing. Write down the number the hand in the first dial is pointing to, then move on to the next dial and do the same. If the hand is between numbers note down the lower number. Often you should ignore the number in the very last dial, to give you a five digit reading overall. Electricity meters Be aware and watch out for variable rate meters. Variable rate meters are often referred to as Economy 7 meters. They give one reading for daytime usage and one for night-time electricity usage. This is because your supplier charges you two different rates. If you have one of these read off both sets of numbers, but miss off the last number from each row, usually in red. However, if you have a standard meter you just have to read off the first five figures of the number displayed, from left to right. Your Property-Energy A5.indd 10 26/10/ :16

11 11 If you are on a standard tariff: Fridges - Can cost up to 40 a year to run a medium sized fridge. Freezers - Can cost up to 49 a year to run a medium sized upright freezer. Electric tumble dryers - Can cost up to 140 a year to run a tumble dryer, based on 148 6kg drying cycles. Washing machines - Can cost up to 65 a year to run a washing machine, based on 274 wash cycles per year (about 5 per week). Dishwashers - It can cost up to 45 a year to run a dishwasher, based on 250 washes a year (just over 4 a week). Electric heaters - A 2000W heater costs 14 a week to run, based on 8 hours a day usage. Televisions - Can cost up to 80 a year to run a 32 LCD TV based on 6 hours usage a day. These appliances will cost much more to run if you have pre-payment meters for example, and less if you have the most energy efficient appliances. Did you know? Items left on standby use 85% of the energy they would use if fully switched on. Cooking by gas costs about a third less than cooking with electricity. Washing at 40 C instead of 60 C uses a third less electricity. Low energy lightbulbs use one fifth of the electricity used by standard bulbs and last ten times longer. Microwaves are surprisingly low users of electricity, so it would often be better to heat something up in the microwave than use the oven, unless the oven is already in use. Information gathered from Information gathered from Your Property-Energy A5.indd 11 26/10/ :16

12 National energy advice helpline: Home Heat helpline: Report a repair to NCHA s Maintenance department: Nottingham Community Housing Association 12/14 Pelham Road Sherwood Rise Nottingham NG5 1AP T: or /nottinghamcommunityhousingassociation Your Property-Energy A5.indd 12 26/10/ :16

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