Friday, 7 March 2014

Comparing energy use with your neighbours

Research has shown that people are interested in how their electricity and gas use compares with their friends and neighbours. Maybe it's a bit like salaries - you would never ask your friends directly how much they earn but you'd love to know. Well some of our energy suppliers, British Gas and E.ON for example, are supposedly letting us into that secret. They provide online services which allow you to compare your energy use with other 'similar' households. It sounds fun but sometimes it isn't - I was horrified to be told by E.ON that my gas use is nearly double those of 'similar homes' in my area and a friend of mine who got a similar message, also from E.ON, was upset and very worried.  However, using other comparison services I get very different results.

Gas use comparison for my home from for 1 year

The chart above is from . It uses data from the NEED database which I have mentioned before (Factors driving your energy bills up and down) and anyone can use this site. It asks you where you live and some things about your house and you also have to tell it what your energy consumption which you can get from your bill. This site says that I am using just over half the average for similar properties in my area.

Gas use comparison for my home from E.ON for February

The second chart is for my home from E.ON, for February. They have direct access to my bill which makes this facility much easier to use but I don't give them a meter reading every month so they are extrapolating from previous usage. To find similar homes, initially they said they were using information about my home from census data such as the type of house and the number of bedrooms - I don't know what it found there because they refused to tell me. I filled in their questionnaire and waited a month for a better comparison but it has not made much difference - in January they said I used 84% more than average and now they say it is 79% more. 

Using the NEED spreadsheet tool spreadsheet based tool I can only enter two variables at once but using house type and number of bedrooms, which is what E.ON says it is using,  I find that I used 17% less gas than the median for matching houses in 2011.

So, says I use just 40% less than the average for similar houses and E.ON says I am using 79% more. I can't say either of them is right but I am pretty sure E.ON is way off the mark.

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