East London Energy


#84

Hi there,
Thank you for getting in contact.
As soon as I received the August bill and quarried it I was adviced by the team not to pay while they investigate . ElE have sent the same guy Dan to my property 3 times and have still failed to get back with a reason. At one stage I was calling every day and getting such poor customer service, I then demanded to speak to Donna Crossan whom refuses to speak with anyone until the investigation is completed but had sent me and e-mail saying she would be in contact by the 23 of December. December has clearly passed an as you can guess Nothing is heard.Now she Igrones my follow up emails. This is ongoing since August so my current bill is now adding up to £400+
Please bare in mind weekend my property is empty and during the weekend, I work full time so by the time I get in all I do is have a bath and bath my 1yr old then my day is over.
I have never needed the heating on and the fact we live in flats the heat travels up meaning my home is be warm regardless.
So I’m beyond baffled and beyond let down with the service.
Now I’m clueless and going to be way out of pocket once they come to some form of conclusion.


#85

So just to clarify: ELE are sending out people to check their heating system? So we should approach ELE about our heating system and not the landlord? I would’ve assumed it was the landlords responsibility - but whatever works :smile:


#86

East London Energy meeting with EVRA Thursday, 22 January 2015


Myself, @ian_king and @Robert_Vesty met with ELE yesterday to discuss a wide range of issues, including ongoing problems around setting up systems, the CHAC, and more concerning problems about recent spikes in bills.

I’ve written these up fairly quickly, so please scan through to find the section you are most interested in and let us know if you have any questions. We’re also hoping that ELE will join Yonder soon, so you can also put your questions to them!


Overall message from ELE: We know we’re not getting customer service right at the moment, but we do appreciate the feedback from EVRA and we hope to improve. We have made progress on some issues but there is plenty more work to do.

1 CHAC

The CHAC reflects secondary heat losses in your building and it is supposed to increase slightly in the summer when you are using less energy and fall in the winter when you are using more. At the last meeting in October, we spent a lot of time talking about the CHAC and ELE has gone away and done their homework.

One problem is that the fluctuating CHAC charge each month confusing and makes budgeting difficult for many residents. ELE said it is now in the final stages of agreeing a new billing system that involves smoothing out the payments across the year.

This would mean you have a standard CHAC charge each month. The finer details have yet to be confirmed, but ideally it would be based on a block-by-block basis, using historical data, rather than projections. Either way, we are seeking to ensure value for money for residents.

The downside to this approach is that the standardised CHAC could mask technical problems that we otherwise pick up when we have an unusually high/ low bill.

ELE told us that they had also considered changing the CHAC charge so that it better reflected the size of properties. At the moment, the CHAC is split equally between all properties in a block regardless of the number of bedrooms. However, to do this, they would need agreement from all residents, which they are unlikely to secure from those who would have to pay more.

Additionally, sharing out the charge on a square footage basis could mean that some townhouses would end up paying more than they would on gas.

2 Talking more to GLL and Triathlon

ELE realise they need to spend more time talking to our landlords to resolve the issues. Many of the problems are not solely the fault of ELE, as their responsibility effectively stops at the front door. ELE was meeting with Triathlon and GLL on the same day we met them. Ideally we would have liked to be there too!

One example of everyone working together is the instruction booklets. Currently, Triathlon, ELE and GLL all produce different instruction booklets for residents. ELE is hoping to write its own standardised version to clear up any confusion and make sure everyone has the same one.

ELE is also keen to make some videos to help us understand how to work the systems.

ELE has started sharing its call logs with GLL and Triathlon, so that everyone knows which properties have which problems. So far, ELE has shared its logs with the landlords and they are now waiting for Triathlon and GLL to do the same.

3 Phantom usage

Some residents have discovered that their flats are “requesting” heat despite their thermostats apparently being on 5C. For example, the bathroom radiator will get hot despite the heating apparently being off.
We told ELE about this issue, which they agreed needed to be addressed. It could be that a valve is not shutting off properly or that the thermostat is not working.

We asked ELE to conduct a flat-by-flat audit to check that everyone’s system is working properly. ELE told us they were meeting with GLL and Triathlon and would request this.

In the meantime, if you think you have this problem, please call ELE and ask them to send out an engineer.

4 Call centres

ELE has employed more people in the call centre to deal with maintenance issues

Some calls have been dropping off half way through a conversation. ELE had been using internet based phones, and is switching back to the normal landline next week, so that problem should be solved

5 Price review in April

We (EVRA) hope to get an adjustment reflecting the recent fall in gas prices (Our heating is 70 per cent gas and 30 per cent biomass). ELE said this was likely, but they cannot confirm it yet, as they need to factor in inflation too.

Open evening

ELE is hoping to hold an open evening in the third week of February for residents to come and discuss their concerns


#87

Outstanding work @ian_king @cjshankleman and @Robert_Vesty !

Thank you very much for this detailed write up, this definitely sounds very promising and I hope this leads to less confusion about the heating system and our bills.

Cheers
@NiK


#88

To echo @NiK thanks very much for all your work here @ian_king and @Robert_Vesty , this is amazing for so many residents as it means we’re getting somewhere.

Due to the nature of these things, this is most likely going to take a while to get sorted. In the meantime though, I think what we need is a stop gap to help stem the massive energy bills we’re getting. I know I certainly can’t wait another month (or two) as I’m struggling to afford these bills right now.

Does anyone know of the definitive steps to start to get the system optimised. There have been so many helpful comments but it does get confusing as to what the best steps are. For example, is it best to call ELE or the landlord to check the system, can I optimise my thermostat in a particular way for now, etc.

I do apologise if someone has summed this all up elsewhere, I’ve just got a bit lost on what the best practice is (leading me to hack the system and turn it off completely!!) ahead of a definitive solution being given.

Thanks a lot in advance,

Tim


#89

Hi all

I have my own theory on the CHAC before taking this to ELE.
It’s based on the idea that the CHAC is expected to be higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

I’ll use an extreme case and simplified figures to help illustrate it.

Imagine in the summer, we don’t need any heating or hot water so we turn off our heating units. This means there isn’t any heating demand from the flats, ie 0 units of energy used.
However ELE needs to maintain a base level of heat in their system in case someone does want a hot shower. This base level of heat isn’t being used so it is lost. Let’s assume this base level is 10 units of energy.
We’re charged for this energy loss of 10 units in the CHAC.

In the winter, everyone has hot showers and turns their heating to full. This creates lots of demand (let’s assume it’s 9 units of energy) and uses most of the energy pumped out by ELE (still assuming its 10 units).
So the CHAC charge is only 1 unit.

The example above agrees with the notion that CHAC is higher in summer and lower in winter.

(Side note - I know ELE absorbs the cost of the first 15% of energy loss and that there is a system to return unused heat to the central system but not using that here to keep things simple)

All of us have seen a lot of variability in the CHAC which isn’t consistent.

There’s two things that affect it - the amount of energy we use or the base level of energy pumped out by ELE.

ELE increases the base level of energy when they anticipate higher demand. However if the energy isn’t used then it’s lost.
So in the winter example, if ELE pumps out 20 units on anticipation of high demand but demand is only 9 units then we’re paying a higher CHAC in the winter than the summer.
Effectively we’re getting charged for something we can’t control which is the base level pumped out. This model is different to how gas and water is used and charged, and I think unfair.

Any thoughts?


#90

Mikey, this is sort of how it works I believe. However, I would say that to state it is unfair is not correct. Electricity has a transmission loss in double digit percentages, which you pay for in your electricity bill, while the efficiency of a gas boiler means that your unit charge of gases for the energy recieved covers this inefficiency compared to the heat you recieve from a heat network, so again, this is just hidden within your gas bills. Every other heat network has the heat loss hidden within it’s bills, whereas ELE have to split it out because the Olympic Legacy folk made them. Lastly, for water, there is a awful lot of water lost to leaks around the UK, and especially in London, and this will also be hidden within your water bill, so again, I’m not sure how this is different.

I am slightly worried I may be being seen as always being on the side of ELE, I’m really not. I am on the side of wanting people to be informed, for the system to work properly and for people’s bills to be correct. Happy to discuss further, and happy to discuss in person as well.

Ian


#91

Ian, I agree with your points made. I think the worry is at least twofold - 1. the variability of the CHAC and 2. comparability to other utility companies.

Leakage is hidden in the either the standing charge or unit charge for gas/elec/water. If ELE built the leakage into our unit charge then this may be a fairer way of dealing with it, i.e. its proportional to an individual’s usage.
I heard that the same system is used in a development in Greenwich where the CHAC is built into the unit charge however this doubles your unit charge - quite steep!

Then there’s the comparability to other utility companies. Based on some quick research, the unit charge is a little more expensive than gas - this can be accepted to an extent. However you then have to factor in the standing charge which is much higher than gas companies (over double) and also the CHAC (which varies and uncontrollable).

There are a few solutions to this problem all with their own pros and cons. Happy to meet up before the open evening to chat through the issues.


#92

Hi Mikey,

ELE simply were not allowed to build the CHAC into other charges. This was beyond their control. The reality is all heat networks have loss, it’s inevitable due to the laws of thermodynamics (sorry to get geeky).

Comparability to gas or electricity is actually extremely difficult, and varies from one heat network to another. The industry body is currently working on a comparison tool to enable this.

Plus, for gas, the network gets a huge Government subsidy every year, which heat networks don’t, and on a heat network you don’t have a gas boiler, rather you have a heat interface unit (HIU). Howeverm the HIU is owned by the heat network, so in effect you lose the cost of maintaining and replacing a boiler from your outgoings. This is then replaced by a higher standing charge which in part covers the heat network maintaining and replacing the HIU. This is where it all starts to get difficult to provide a comparison, and the like for like isn’t correct unless you take into account the entire system from end to end over a lifetime.


#93

Mikey, also, to change the fundamental way they charge would require every single person on the site to agree to a new contract. Given this would benefit some, and not others, it’d be unlikely to be a realistic outcome. I’d also say, as a very low usage user, I actually benefit at the moment quite well from system leakage as it means I don’t really need to turn my heating on. So in my case, the relationship between CHAC and usage may be an inverse link? Argh, this all makes my head hurt :frowning:


#94

HI all

Ian and Jess have done a great job on filling you in on our meeting on Wednesday with ELE. Just to add-in, it seems to me that there are three areas to deal with, each with different timescales:

  1. IMMEDIATE: GLL/Triathlon with help of ELE need to urgently investigate into whether peoples’ systems are set up properly and to understand the recent spike in bills. (I’m with Ian that we need to be better informed, as I’ve typically just blamed it all on ELE, but clearly GLL/Triathlon are at fault if systems aren’t set up properly). EVRA have now requested an urgent meeting face-to-face with reps from GLL/Triathlon and we’ll keep you updated on developments. There’s talk of ELE making an instruction video, but, in the immediate-term, if there’s a real appetite for a short 2-min how-to video on setting thermostat to 5 degrees, which is effectively ‘off’, then we can talk about making one to share while we’re waiting for ELE to do the official one.

  2. SHORTER-TERM: ELE to improve customer service, improve the way CHAC is operating*, for GLL/Triathlon to properly work with ELE to solve issues and better educate us about how to use the system. *(now I understand why CHAC would be cheaper in Winter because of the hot water flowing more readily instead of sitting in pipes like it would be with Summer’s lower usage)

  3. LONGER-TERM: The issues around overall cost and District Heating in general (as Matthew Aylott from WHICH? Magazine has alluded to in this thread) need to be tackled industry wide and at government level. Yes ELE are, in my opinion, over-charging us, but they’re in-line with the whole District Heating business in the UK. We need better consumer protection, and we need to fight for proper subsidies for this technology which is certainly delivering cuts in carbon (good) but not delivering cuts in costs (bad), so that the consumer isn’t bearing the brunt of infrastructure costs (which we are). For me, the whole point of living in a B-rated state of the art 1-bed flat with its super-insulation etc. is that I should have low energy bills (circa £20 per month). I don’t and this for me is a huge issue. But to be really clear, this is an industry issue, not just an ELE issue. Although that’s not to say that I don’t think ELE couldn’t lead the way on this, given that this site is such a high-profile/flagship development.

Rob


#95

Hi all — so here is our leap into winter attached. Ive not got the skills to build a flashy spreadsheet like @Nik (which is amazing)
Hope this helps, the increase is probably my own fault for user error ツ

Edit: turned the settings down to 9 degrees yesterday, it’s honestly like a sauna upstairs in our bedroom — so hot I want to open a window. Kids bedrooms are really cold. Making a call tomorrow as it’s not right - I’ve tried and no doubt looking at £100 bill for January.


#96

Check your channels!

You can do that by holding down the up & down arrows, it will eventually say ‘info’. Click the up or down arrow until you see ‘area’ and then click the tick. It will then take you through the channels one by one, telling you if they off or on and allow you to change it if it’s off (click the up or down arrow until you see ‘on’ and then the tick to go to the next channel).

The various heating areas are fed by the channels, so if some are off, some rooms will be warm while others cold.

If that doesn’t help call management to check your pumps are all turned on and working! :slight_smile:


#97

Gosh - I had no idea that heating and hot water could be so complicated! I definitely didn’t expect to still be having issues 9 months into my tenancy. Whilst I haven’t yet actually felt the need to have the UF heating on at all, I did this last weekend set the timers and temperatures to 18deg for a few hours a day to see what different it might make. So far, I haven’t noticed a difference at all. The towel rail in the bathroom still hasn’t come on (which is actually the only thing I’d really like on right now!) so I have no idea what temp the heating needs to be at in order for that to kick in. I will be doing a full analysis of my bills in the next 7-10 days as I am very concerned that this is costing me much more than my old cold 2 bed flat with the heating on full most of the year! I did wonder whether (like having your gas boiler checked every year) if it’s appropriate to get someone in to check the system seeing as it’s never been on - this Danny sounds a gem!
I am gutted to have missed the 22nd mtg but am thankful for the notes @ian_king @Robert_Vesty @cjshankleman and hope to hear confirmation of the date for the open forum next month so I can try to keep the date free!


#98

Providing the system’s working correctly (which is a big if, reading the rest of the thread…), it should be fairly simple. If you set the temperature at 18 degrees the heating should only come on if the temperature in the flat falls below 18 degrees. You can check the current temperature by holding down ˄ and ˅ together until the display says ‘info’ pressing tick and then scrolling down.
I have mine set at 18 degrees all the time, but the heating doesn’t come on at all because the residual heat in the building seems to keep the place at around 19/20 anyway.

The heated towel rail’s a whole other kettle of fish, as it has its own thermostatic control but appears in most flats to not heat up unless the under floor heating is also demanding heat.


#99

Hi, a really interesting thread but it seems like a resolution is still a long way off.

The talk about ‘channels’ is something I hadn’t heard before, I live in a 2 bed and have checked the channels and only 1-5 are on and the rest of off. Should I turn them all on? Or would ELE or Triathlon be able to tell me which ones should be on? Do the higher numbered channels represent something in my flat or are they just a basic setting which means channel 10 for example may not exist? Thanks!


#100

@cjkeating I live in a one bed, and it only uses the first 3 channels - 1 is living room, 2 is bedroom, 3 is bathroom. So I would guess that in a 2 bed only having the first 5 channels on should be ok, but as far as I’m aware having the additional channels on shouldn’t have any affect as they’re not connected to anything.
You should be able to get an idea of how many channels you have by looking at how many pairs of valves there are in the utility cupboard.


#101

No sure what the “channels” are either. I’m in a 1-bed in Galena and have the tiny programme board in the lounge and a tiny dial in the bedroom, plus a HTR in the bathroom. The good news is after programming my system at 16 standard, then up to 18 for an hour in the morning and a couple of hours at night, my HTR has been getting hot - yay! Now I need to monitor the meters to see how that will affect the bills. L


#102

Hi Ian,

First and foremost apologies for my tardiness. a) I didn’t realise I’d had a reply, (I’m new to forums), and b) work is very busy at the moment & so I haven’t had time for log on for much else. Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Whilst the bill I quoted was the first I’d received since moving in on 19th October, I had received two previously. The first was for £68.34, of which 13p was for energy consumption, and the 2nd was for £33.42, of which £8.07 was for energy consumption. Therefore the third bill on top of these for a cold flat seemed like a lot. However, I do accept I feel the cold more than the average person. I notice that since my post a lot of ‘conversation’ has taken place, so for now, I shall bring myself up to speed with that and monitor my consumption & bills, taking it further if Ifeel I need to once I have a better understanding of the charges.

By the way, getting Triathlon out to help with the heating, a service they actually offer/advertise in their newsletter, is a whole other story. Don’t get me started on that one.

Thanks again for your help.

Kindest regards,

Roseann.


#103

Hot water - ELE are saying not their responsibility and we should contact Triathlon who will send IDEAL, even though this is affecting some of us in N07. Anyone had any luck reporting this?