View Full Version : Fuel bills

26th Apr 2018, 09:33
I'd be interested in readers' views on dual fuel bills as I'm becoming paranoid about mine.
I have a floor mounted combi boiler running 13 radiators and 2 towel rails. It's over 13 years old. It is soon to be replaced by a wall mounted condensing combi of similar capacity.
Until recently I've been paying 133 per month for dual fuel. The supplier wanted to increase the payments to considerably more than that so I've switched to another supplier charging 140 per month. I've a debit to pay to the first supplier so I was probably paying less than I should have done.
Enquiries of friends etc. show that people are paying anything between 30 to 150 per month albeit for different sized properties. The nearest example to my property is my neighbours and he pays 150.
I've always thought my bill was excessive but is it ? Will the change to a condensing boiler have the benefits I'm hoping for ( everything I've been told or read indicates that there should be a decent saving ) or am I throwing more money away ?

Pontius Navigator
26th Apr 2018, 09:59
As your boiler is 13 years old there may be other factors to consider. Has your home insulation been upgraded? Has the way you use your home changed - more or less people - different occupancy times?

Your original boiler will have been of a given output for a standard home and typical usage in 2005 (or even earlier). You may find you could use a boiler with a lower capacity.

Then as far as costs you should consider spend to save on electricity consumption. Have you changed over to LED bulbs throughout? CFL do not save that much on light bills. Then there are your main consumers, washing machine, tumb!e drier, dishwasher and fridge freezer. We have just moved home and had to buy new appliances. Everyone is A rated or better. I did say spend to save :). We were lucky and got huge discounts in the Boxing Day sales with delivery in one case delayed 2 months. Old appliances not left behind were soon snapped up in eBay.

26th Apr 2018, 11:19
I would be careful about replacing a 13 year old boiler if it is working well and has no great history of failures. A new one will not be significantly more efficient, so no great fuel savings, but is likely to be less robust and therefore likely to have parts failing in 3-5 years. The savings are unlikely to ever cover the capital outlay.
'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.
I recently had to renew the gas safety cert for a rental property in which the boiler is a similar age. The gas fitter provided by my agents 'found' a couple of items that 'needed' replacement but advised that a new boiler was really required due to its' age. I requested the cost of the replacement parts but was fobbed off with 'they are difficult to source'. I contacted a different gas fitter who inspected the boiler said nothing wrong with it and issued the required certificate. He has my work in future.
More money to be made on new boilers than repairs for those companies looking for their profit rather providing an economic service to the customer.
The boiler in my own house is the original one from 1988 which is still working fine and will continue to be used for as long as possible. But it is an oil fired one!

26th Apr 2018, 12:04
When I had to have a new boiler 9 years ago, it had by law to be a condensing one and there was no perciptible change to my gas useage or bills although it was supposedly more efficient.

Gertrude the Wombat
26th Apr 2018, 12:08
I refuse to pay random amounts per month. I pay quarterly in arrears, and if I don't like the estimated meter readings I can submit the real ones. (Or ones I've made up so that I pay the amount I want to this quarter :).) Not least because this is only a third of the work - there's four bills per year to put through my accounts system, reconcile against bank statements etc, instead of 12. (Times three because we've got two houses knocked together with separate fuel systems, only one of which is on a duel fuel bill.)

26th Apr 2018, 12:15
I pay about 120/month in a 1990s 2000 sq ft house with a wife who likes to be at 30 degrees C at all times when awake (well it seems like that!). That includes maniacal use of UFH in our conservatory, which she likes to use all year round. Six year old Worcester Greenstar.


26th Apr 2018, 12:22
A couple of years ago my fifteen year old oil-fired boiler sprang a leak in the water jacket and I decided to replace it. I put in a newer version of the same, but condensing instead of the original non-condensing. I found I was using about 40% less oil. Some of the saving may be due to more efficient combustion, less mass to heat up (the jacket is stainless steel sheet rather than cast iron) and other general improvements but I bet the main part of the saving comes from the condensing aspect. The flue feels considerably cooler which surely indicates less heat going up the chimney.

26th Apr 2018, 12:30
Our new house has no fuel bills at all, in effect. It's all-electric, as there's no mains gas and we had no desire to fit either an oil or LPG boiler, so have no boiler at all, just a small air source heat pump. The annual electricity bill is around 350, for heating, lighting, hot water etc, but we get an income from the electricity generated and sold back to the grid from solar panels on the roof (which were installed far too late to attract the big subsidy) of around 900 a year. Adding the two together means our total fuel bill for the year is around minus 550. The profit from selling excess electricity that we can't use ourselves pays for the telephone and "broadband" costs, with a couple of hundred pounds a year left over that goes towards the Council Tax. We don't pay for water or foul drainage, as we have a well for water and a treatment plant for sewage.

Adding up all the costs for running the house for a year, including the money we set aside to repair and maintain the water supply and sewage system, house and contents insurance, and Council Tax, we fork out a total of around 2100 a year, with most of that being Council Tax and insurance.

Our old house was around the same size, but was built back in the early 1980s, and despite adding cavity wall insulation, more loft insulation decent double glazed doors and windows and a condensing gas combi boiler, the fuel bill used to be around 1100 a year, for gas and electricity, on a dual fuel tariff. Adding in the house and contents insurance, telephone and broadband,the water and sewage bill and the Council Tax, made our total annual house running cost there around 4,200 a year.

We now find we have nice bit of additional "holiday money" each year, just from getting rid of our fuel bill and massively reducing our water and sewage bill each year. I can also run my car for free for around half of the year, at least for local trips, because it's usually charged up from excess solar panel electricity generation for more than half the year. That saves about another 300 a year that would otherwise have been spent on petrol.

26th Apr 2018, 12:38
1800 sq. ft. granite built listed building. Single glazed sash windows eight foot high in public rooms. 133/month seems to pay for it with extensive use of washing machines dishwashers and all electric kitchen including that power drinker Neff Pyrolictic Cleaning. This system heats up the oven so much that all the gunge inside is reduced to ashes.

I tried secondary foil on the bedroom windows but when an Aberdeen zephyr blows the draughts through the windows unsticks it.

LED all through except bathroom and ensuite which have 12 volt tungsten spotlights. The towel rails are dual fuel so in the summer they, and the floor, can be heated by electricity.

I've given up changing suppliers because their estimates are so far out and I'm on a fixed tariff until next year.

26th Apr 2018, 13:18
Will the change to a condensing boiler have the benefits I'm hoping for ( everything I've been told or read indicates that there should be a decent saving ) or am I throwing more money away ?

Obviously you're making an initial investment, but the savings should make it worth while. My current property came with an almost new condensing boiler; it's the first time I've had one and I've been delighted. There's no water tank - it's hot water on demand - and incredibly cost efficient. My current dual fuel plan costs 50 a month for a 1990's era 4 bed detached which over the course of the 1-year contract I expect to be about in balance. Admittedly the heating is only switched on between November and April, and even then only in the evening. But during the summer the gas usage goes down to virtually nothing - just hot water for showers and washing up.

26th Apr 2018, 15:30
I’ve had a floor standing non condensing boiler for the last 20 yrs. It was serviced a few weeks ago and was given a clean bill of health by my plumber. I use it to heat 11 radiators, the water is heated by electricity on a cheap rate night tariff.
my dual fuel dd bill is currently 90 per month. Last month I received a 60 rebate.
My plumber reckons some condensing boilers (especially Italian ones) are rubbish!

27th Apr 2018, 12:24
Thank you all for your replies.
My home is a four bedroom bungalow with an upstairs conversion. One bathroom, one cloakroom and an ensuite. Built in 1965. Cavity wall insulation and quite well insulated elsewhere.
It does have an exceptionally large conservatory. The usual electrical appliances with washing machine and tumble dryer in constant use. It's the gas consumption which has always niggled me. The Worcester Highflow boiler first broke down a few months outside it's ( then ) two year guarantee and it's required repairs about every eighteen months - two years since.
I used to pay quarterly but became fed up with paying a huge winter quarter's bill. Online fixed tariffs are much easier to deal with.
I think the underlying cause of my high gas consumption is the length of time the central heating is on - 0730 to 2230. I control it by the thermostat in the hall. Mrs PJ happens to like a higher temperature than me !
VP959 - I have to admire the way you've sorted it - I can only envy !

27th Apr 2018, 13:07
VP959 - I have to admire the way you've sorted it - I can only envy !

Thanks, it was my goal, post-early retirement, to build ourselves a retirement house that cost virtually nothing to run. The idea was to divert all the money we were spending on energy to having better, and more frequent, holidays, whilst living on our pensions!

On the topic of gas boilers, I can confirm what's been mentioned above about condensing combi boilers. At our old house I invested in a new condensing combi around 10 years or so ago, to replace a very old system boiler and hot water tank. The result was that out gas bill dropped by around 30% immediately, just by changing the boiler. I was amazed at the difference it made, it saved far more energy cost than anything else we did to that house, and we replaced all the doors and windows, had cavity wall insulation fitted and added extra loft insulation, but none of those improvements came close to the cost saving from fitting the condensing boiler.

27th Apr 2018, 20:50
I refuse to pay random amounts per month. I pay quarterly in arrears, and if I don't like the estimated meter readings I can submit the real ones. (Or ones I've made up so that I pay the amount I want to this quarter :).) Not least because this is only a third of the work - there's four bills per year to put through my accounts system, reconcile against bank statements etc, instead of 12.
I do the same.(3 bed bungalow with no cavity walls)

28th Apr 2018, 12:32
Veep, what size is your house?


28th Apr 2018, 13:09
Veep, what size is your house?


About 1400 sq ft, but only two large bedrooms, both with en suite bathrooms. The idea was to discourage relatives from coming to stay with hordes of kids..............

It's about the same size physically as a new 4 bedroom detached house, but designed so that as well as all the normal rooms, there are two separate studies, one for me, one for my wife. It was also designed to be wheelchair and old age-friendly. So wide doors with flush thresholds everywhere, provisions in the wall by the stairs to both structurally support a stair lift and a hidden power feed for it, the ability to convert my study into a ground floor bedroom, with a currently hidden, but built in, access to the adjacent ground floor WC, that can very easily be changed to include a shower, if either of us gets to the point where we're housebound.

28th Apr 2018, 13:56
When I retired and returned to the UK I decided I was not going to move again, so being realistic about future physical capabilities we looked for a house that would have room for an internal lift. We found this company which produces lifts with a very small footprint and will fit in our stairwell where the stairs go around the corner.

https://www.stiltz.co.uk/?infinity=ict2~net~gaw~ar~45248412338~kw~stiltz%20lifts~mt~e ~cmp~GOO-BRA-PPC-MAIN~ag~Brand%20Plus%20Lifts%20Exact&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI47qd2__c2gIV6LvtCh0SsAoUEAAYASAAEgLKmvD_Bw E

Much better than a stair lift.

28th Apr 2018, 14:47
We did look at fitting a lift, but it would have meant making compromises with the entrance hall design. We have got the option of adding one up to the landing at a later date, but there's no easy way to hide it from view, so it would be "on show" as you walk in the front door. We've decided to see how we degrade with increasing age and consider fitting one if either of us gets to that stage. I suspect that just converting my study into a ground floor bedroom with an en suite will be the easier and cheaper option, given that the door way and all the plumbing is there, but presently boarded over.

28th Apr 2018, 15:13
VP you’ve put a lot of thought in to your house but when considering your needs for old age, may I ask why you didn’t build a bungalow?

28th Apr 2018, 15:25
VP you’ve put a lot of thought in to your house but when considering your needs for old age, may I ask why you didn’t build a bungalow?

We've lived in a bungalow in the past, and hated sleeping downstairs! Not very rational, I know, but we both just prefer the idea of "going upstairs to bed".

As a secondary consideration, we had a house footprint area limitation imposed on us by the planners, as the new house is within a conservation area and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so the planning policy and guidance has a strong preference for smaller footprint houses in our immediate area, and we were "encouraged" by the planning officer to keep the external footprint of the house to less than 900 sq ft, and also advised that the roof pitch needed to be at least 45 deg, as steep roof pitches were a part of the "local vernacular". Combined with a ridge height limit imposed by the planners (well, specifically the conservation officer) we ended up with more floor area downstairs than upstairs and vaulted ceilings upstairs. I like having bedrooms with 4m high ceilings, though, the added height does make those rooms feel more airy.

28th Apr 2018, 15:33
$30 every two months. $50+/- in opposite summer.
What's a boiler? Finickity are they?

28th Apr 2018, 15:36
Much better than a stair lift.

And I'm guessing, significantly more expensive?


28th Apr 2018, 15:51
VP I understand what you mean about sleeping on the ground floor. We lived in bungalows when overseas and at first found it rather unsettling, especially as we’d lived in a third floor flat in UK.

28th Apr 2018, 20:51
No problem with sleeping on the ground floor. I built a house in Scotland which was fairly large. Four bedrooms, main bedroom en-suite, bathroom, shower room, entertainments room with bar and dancefloor. The lounge and dining room plus a massive kitchen were upstairs so it was built on the Scandinavian principle that the heat from the house rises so the living area was positioned to suit.. Being in the sticks it required LPG to heat it.
I never worried about the heating bills.

28th Apr 2018, 21:28
A bit of advice if your boiler plays up.

Give her a slap and tell her to get back into the kitchen...:E