East London Energy meeting, Wednesday 18 March 2015
East London Energy, 1 Waterden Road, QEOP, E15 2GP
Rob Vesty and I met with ELE and @TriathlonHomes this week. Unfortunately @GetLivingLondon couldn’t attend on this occasion. Rob is in the process of writing a short statement up, which we’ll agree with ELE and Triathlon (and maybe GLL). The good news is that ELE are working on a few things. My understanding has been developing quite a bit over the months.
We can split the issues everyone is complaining about into roughly five pots:
1. The size of the bill
2. Cases of problems with installation of the kit / equipment
3. Lack of education on how to best use the heating within our homes
5. District Heating across UK
Now, we can either compare to gas or electricity; while it is impossible to do a proper comparison we can do some rough stuff. However, to give you a few things to think over, for gas we would have a BOILER. The average life of a boiler in the UK is 11 years and if you divide the lifetime costs of a boiler (checks, maintenance, replacement, etc.) it equates to an average of around £250 a year. As we are on a heat network we do NOT have this cost, so a better comparison is to therefore subtract £250 from your annual bill, so £20.80 a month (this isn’t perfect but you get the picture - owners would pay this directly at some point, while renters would pay through their service charge I would imagine). For electricity, the unit charge is double that of the heat network, at 14p/kWh, and the kit (e.g. electric radiators) are likely to also add to that bill over time, although I am not sure how much. However, it is widely believed that electric heating is one of the most expensive ways to heat your home. So, if you account for these costs that suddenly makes the bills here not quite so bad for most (not all) people; but certainly too expensive and not the kind of ‘cost saving’ we were sold.
Kit / Equipment
The heat system we have involves different bits. The easiest way to look at it is the bit up to the flat, and the bit inside the flat. Up to the flat is ELE, inside the flat is the landlord or owner. The obvious exclusions are the Honeywell box, heat meter and the heat interface unit (HIU) which are ELE but live inside the flat. So, if you heating is off and you are getting high bills because sensors in the flat are broken, etc, this is not necessarily for ELE to fix, but for the landlord/owner. Sadly it is not clear cut, but many of the problems will be the landlord. They are working on having a much better process for this. I think Rob will point to the Triathlon complaints procedure in terms of what we believe is the best course to try and get compensation for bills WHEN it is down to a fault which has been logged and an engineer has had to fix something. PLEASE NOTE that not all faults will lead to a higher bill. So that gives the different avenues of the Energy Ombudsman (for ELE), Triathlon complaints procedure and the House Association Ombudsman (Triathlon) and presumably trading standard for GLL?
For me this is a big thing. ELE, Triathlon and GLL understand this as well. It is worth noting that whacking you heating on to 21’C+ is going to lead to a high bill and that up to residents, not ELE or anyone else. Assuming your system is working properly then most people are unlikely to need their heating on above 18’C, and many will have it on at around 16’C if not lower. This is something to play around with to see what works for you. This would be the same whatever heating system you had.
In the winter we all ‘benefit’ from any heat loss as it the heat will naturally help warm our properties a bit. Clearly in the summer this isn’t quite so ideal. The best way of trying to understand the CHAC is that when no-one has their heating on the water is standing in the pipes rather than being used in the properties. This means it just loses heat and so the CHAC goes up. When lots of people have their heating on, the water is flowing through the system and being used, so the CHAC goes down. My guess for February is that lots of us turned our heating off, or changed our heating patterns quite a lot, which meant the heat wasn’t being used and hence a high CHAC resulted. Bit odd for February to be honest.
District Heating UK
Many of us residents have been directing our frustration at ELE, but it would be fairer to direct it to the District Heating industry UK-wide. We are paying towards the infrastructure costs involved in this new technology. The heat network is here because of City Hall’s planning requirements rather than anything else. Heat networks are potentially one of the biggest opportunities in the UK right now and so it is very much in the industry’s interest to do things properly. If it’s any consolation, ELE are listening and they ARE working with us on this, and I believe, that although changes are slow (largely due to the amount of different organisations involved in the Olympic Park, legacy, etc etc) they don’t want to rip people off.
Let’s keep sharing data on this private thread:
Please get help where you can to set your heating temperature regime efficiently.
We realise this isn’t ideal, but hopefully it does mean things will improve with time.
Rob is in the process of writing a short statement up, which we’ll agree with ELE and Triathlon Homes (and hopefully Get Living London ).