A couple of years ago I got in a slight pickle with my energy bills. Entirely my own fault – I was providing readings, but the wrong ones (yeah, I know NOW you use the first set of digits on the gas meter, and ignore the ones outlined in red. But back then I thought those were the ones we needed…).
Thanks to my ineptitude, we ended up out of balance with the billing, and needed some slightly painful re-adjustments to get us back on track again. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t kept it up for nine months before I asked the husband to do the reading for me one month, and it was so far off what it should have been I did a serious double take. Oh man, that sinking feeling…
But thankfully some lovely customer service sorted me out, and with a few months of balancing payments we had things back to rights. I’ll never forget the weight of that being-behind-on-the-bill feeling. Horrible.
Fast forward to this year, and my father in law called us in a dither – he’d had a large bill for money he owed on his energy. And when I say ‘large bill’, I mean eye-wateringly painful.
He panicked, couldn’t make any sense of it at all, just kept telling us that he hadn’t missed a payment… he’s 200 miles away, and in the end we just told him to send all the paperwork to us, and give us authority to deal with it for him.
You do not want to see the pile of odd bits and pieces of bills he sent, dating back six years – and none of it filed in any kind of order. It took quite a lot (weeks, actually) of back-and-forth between myself and the energy company to understand what had happened to the account, but eventually we got it straightened out; and an awful lot of the issue was because he had continued for years to blindly pay the amount the automatic system told him he needed to pay – but he hadn’t actually provided a meter reading in four years.
Again, a patient customer service team finally helped me straighten out the mess, get his account looking right again (he didn’t owe them a penny, as it turned out, he was actually in credit) and have things generally back under control.
Along the way I learned a hugely valuable lesson from both of these experiences; for something so important and essential as energy for your home, you need to stay in charge.
You need to really understand your energy – if you know what you’re using and what it’s costing you, then it’s easy not only to budget for it, but also to make your home run more efficiently.
I genuinely love that I can now go online and see exactly what my usage is month by month, comparing this year to last. I know I’m a sad act – but when you’ve been worrying over this utterly essential but rather unknown facet to your life, having that control brings such peace of mind.
Trust me – I know from bitter experience it doesn’t just fix itself if you simply refuse to look at it.
Which is why I was really pleased to see Scottish Power’s new idea with PowerUp to change the way we buy energy. I think it’s brilliant – literally bringing absolute control over your energy costs into your own hands (or your phone, anyway).
Isn’t it fab? All you have to do is the meter readings – and it even reminds you to do those, too. Those of us on a tight budget can check by the day exactly how much energy we’re using, and budget accordingly. We don’t have to wait for a monthly bill, and we can top up instantly on our phones as frequently as we choose with as small a payment as we can manage; right down to one day at a time. And we’ll know instantly just how much energy that gives us.
If there’s a little more cash to hand, then buying a bundle package can give peace of mind for the months ahead – and it’s smart enough to predict just how long that payment will last, constantly adjusting according to the readings you provide.
Anything that clears the mystery surrounding our energy supplies, and places simple, clear information and total control into the hands of the consumer totally gets my vote.
If you’re already a Scottish Power customer, you can get a PowerUp quote straight away to see if might work for you. If you are not currently a customer, register your interest and they’ll let you know when it is available for you.