Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The (Surprising) Cost of Electricity and Fuel

A Four Year Cost Comparison

First of all, the electrician has been and completed the wiring, so we have lights in the kitchen, bathroom and back hallway. Secondly, I've managed to plug a few more holes to cut down on the draughts, so it is steadily becoming less of a trial trying to heat Frugaldom.

Out of interest, I searched out my past accounts to compare electricity costs. I've only looked back as far as 2008, as the other files are backed up on a different system, but what I did find reminds me sharply of the costs incurred when you have no fixed abode and need to rely on private rentals!

In 2008, we lived in a 4 room, 3-storey, terraced house that relied solely on electricity for heating. This was supplied via storage heaters on an Economy 7 electricity meter and that house was very cold in winter!  During 2008, the household budget had to cough up £1,311.40 in total for fuel and energy - a fair whack when working on a budget of just £4,000 for the year. £1,218.90 of this was electricity.

In 2009, we lived in a 3 room, semi-detached bungalow that relied on storage heaters on Economy 7 style electricity meter and had an open coal fire in the living room. That house was equally cold in winter! During 2009, the household budget had to cough up £1,336.82 in total for electricity, coal and logs out of a challenge budget of £4,000 for the year. £1,030.00 of this was electricity.

In 2010, we were still in the same house, under the impression that we had a long lease. We eventually got permission to install a log burner in the kitchen, which previously had no heating in it at all. It was an extremely long and freezing winter. Excluding the purchase price and fitting of the stove, I spent £1,533.00 in total of my £4,000 budget on electricity, coal and logs. £1,190 of this was on electricity.

In 2011, we bought our 4 room, fixy-up, end terraced cottage with an open fire and back boiler - no other heating. I stuck with my challenging £4,000 per year household budget and have now spent everything that needs to be spent on fuel and energy. Despite the latest price increases, the overall cost of electricity, coal and logs has amounted to £1,305.87 and that includes two months when we were running two houses. £877.67 of this was electricity.

There is still a great deal of work to be done in our new home but every step of the way includes investigating how we can best cut our energy and fuel costs, while trying to create a warm living environment - something that can be very difficult to achieve if you are living in someone else's house, paying them rent.

The first steps have been taken, getting the place watertight, dried out and aired. We have begun the long task of draughtproofing and insulating, along with planning on how best to improve on the heating. It may take another few of years of scrimping, saving and creative DIY, but it's all progress along the way.

In 2012, my challenge is to keep with my £4,000 household budget (excluding council tax) and try to get the cost of fuel and energy below £1,200.00  It's a tall order when living in a fairly rural part of Scotland with no access to mains gas and no conventional central heating system, but I feel that it is within reach and, as we invest in improving the house, I'm sure savings will be easier made as each improvement project is completed. £780.00 of this is allocated to electricity

For now, I'm happy to be heading in the right direction and hope to cut down on coal use in favour of burning logs, which are reported to be carbon neutral. But we need a dry log store before that will happen. 

How much has electricity increased in price since 2008?

I raked out an old electricity bill from 2008 just to see how things had changed and was rather surprised by what I found.

In November 2008, we were paying 21.9p per day standing charge and 13.52p per kWh

In December 2011, we are paying 25p per day standing charge and 12.24p per kWh

If we estimate costs over a year at 5000 units or kWh ...

2008 costs = £755.94
2011 costs = £703.25

In money terms, our electricity has reduced in price since 2008, unlike the price of coal, which has increased by around 40%. Talk about needing a naths degree to work out how best to save and spend?
Frugal living combined with a curious interest in numbers certainly has its advantages! :)

NYK Media


  1. Congratulations! You'll be looking back at this in 12 months time and amaze yourself with how much 'stuff' you get done. Hope you have a lovely Christmas and best wishes for next year, looking forward to more adventures xx

  2. Thanks Mrs T, apologies for editing this post while you were in process of reading it and commenting, but I'm sure you'll understand why when you read the results - I had to include them! LOL

  3. Extremely interesting reading and well worth doing.

    I hope your savings on fuel go to plan. It sounds like you are well on your way to getting your little 'fixy up' warm and cosy, keep going!!

    Have you installed the wool insulation in the kitchen yet?

    Sue xx

  4. interesting , I saw a programme the other day that was calling for a simplification of energy prices so consumers can better understand the true cost. They want all providers to have the same standing charge price and onnly compete on actaul energy prices, the idea being you can see at a glance what the real cost is.

    We dont pay a standing charge but our KWH price has gone up 3p in 2 years.

  5. Sue, the insulation fitting is done, see for details. :)

    Shaz, when you work prices out over the longterm, there's very little real difference if you're having to rely solely on electricity. With no standing charge, simply multiply your unit price by 5000 (or whatever) then add on the 5% VAT. With previous rate, do exact same, but also add on annual standing charge plus the VAT It's the easiest way to see if any discounts for direct debit, paperfree billing ot whatever are really helping.

    I didn't even compare 2008 to now on a like for like basis - we were on a normal meter with Economy 7 through the night and getting all the discounts we could for instant payment and paperfree billing in 2008, whereas we are now on pre-payment meter being charged standard Scottish Power rates. Does that mean top end of the pricing structure now is still less than cheapest options in 2008?

  6. Fabulous that you have managed to get the cost down- very thought provoking though. I have totted up how much we have used this year and currently it is standing at £780 for the year- This is heating a three bedroomed terraced house. Our energy providers always try to work on £1200 for the year, but i am always way under that. I did think of re installing the fire myself as i find that i miss a coal fire- and i could save my self more money. I am looking into how much it would cost and whether the saving is worth it.

  7. Have you looked into home based wind and water powered turbines?

    Scotland, Northern England, Ireland and Wales seem to get extraordinary amounts of rainfall. We should be able to put the wind from the storms and rain to good use.

    In Sweden, Farmers sell cow slurry to electricity companies. In Brazil they extract ethanol (I think its that) from land-fill tips to power their cars.

    I often go passed houses at night with every light on that look like Blackpool illuminations.

  8. Dave, the 'investment' costs of these things make them prohibitive to most of us, especially when living on a tight budget. Nice to think about them, but not within financial reach of the likes of us, I don't think.

    Apart from that, I live in a terraced cottage on an ordinary street, so no potential for developing back garden to such an extent. Would love a water wheel, though, and we do have a stream running through the garden! :)

  9. Yes I know you have the stream. Isn't it sad too to see all that energy going down the stream?

    There's a town near me that used to have a wool mill with its own waterwheel in the 1930's. They used to use it to power the towns street lights.

    I agree with you that the 'investment' costs make them prohibitive to most people.

    I have been reading about the farmhouses years ago. Residences would be built over the top of the cow stall and the heat would rise and keep the people warm!

    People where much more organic and ecological in the past than we are today!

  10. Delete " Surprising " and put " painful " ! Happy Christmas all ! Debs : )


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