How to out-smart the price cap in 9 steps.

Today’s news that the Ofgem Price cap will rise to £3,549 is shocking news for millions of households. It will mean tough choices for so many which is utterly unfair given the profits that the energy producers have reported in recent weeks. Many feel helpless with energy deals non-existent and an inadequate response from an absent government not yet able to say how they will help struggling households. The new price cap per is 52p per kWh for electricity,  a huge rise on the ~12p per kWh we were paying just a few short years ago. 

But, there is another way. What if you could largely become energy self-sufficient? What if you no longer needed to pay all that Vat and fuel duty every time you fill your car up? What if you could FIX the cost of driving and heating your home for a whole year? It’s possible – over the next 12 months our home will largely be paying only 7.5p per kWh for the electric we use while millions of others are paying 52p, so how did we get to this point? No we have not by-passed the meters or built a time machine, but slowly invested in technologies that allow us to be largely energy independent. And you can do it in just 9 steps; 

  1. Buy an electric car. What’s that got to do with heating our house you say? Or ’Sure, let me just find £100k down the back of the sofa!’. But actually they don’t need to be that expensive. What do you pay for petrol / Diesel these days ? £300 a month , what if that could become £30 if it was electric? And what if you could fix that cost, I just did. And what are you paying to lease that car, or what did you pay when you bought it? I’ve been driving EVs for 10 years and I could never go back to an inefficient, smelly, expensive combustion engine. Initially I had company cars but the last 2 have been personal purchases. I bought a used EV back in 2019, it was more than I could afford so took out a 3% loan with my bank to pay for part of the car which means my total cost of driving today is ~£270 a month. Thats insurance, fuel, road tax, service, everything. 
  2. Join Octopus. I love Octopus – a new kind of energy company with innovative tariffs and tech; Once you have an EV you are allowed to join a special tariff called Octopus Go or Go Faster Tariff. The first has a special off peak rate of 7.5p per kWh for 4 hours, the latter 8.5p for 5 hours. You can charge your electric car super cheap and it’s fixed for 12 months. And if you join using this referral we both get £50 free 
  3. Pandora’s Box. What else could you shift to cheaper ‘leccy? It’s not just your car you can charge at this super cheap rate, you can use a programmable immersion heater to heat your hot water – it’s cheaper than gas! And what if you ran your dishwasher and machine machine overnight in this same period, what if you could store that cheap electric? That’s what we do and the savings add up really quickly. I even use an oil filled radiator to heat one room in this cheap period meaning it’s less effort to heat part of our house ready for the ‘morning rush’. 
  4. Install Solar PV – for every kWh you use you are not paying 52p per kWh to import that electricity, so the time to recoup your investment is down to only 5 years now. Sun’s out? Quick charge the car / put the washing machine on! 
  5. Install Battery Storage:  we have a Tesla Powerwall that is an all in one battery (inverter, calling and batteries in one box) that stores 13.5kWh. The price has rocketed recently and the cost will but a small system can be installed for ~£3k and you can keep adding too this and could make ~28kWh of storage – which you can then charge at the cheap overnight rate and run your house off cheap leech during the day
  6. Install smart charging and hot water devices – we use the MyEnergi Zappi charger for charging our car and Eddi to divert all that spare solar electric into our hot water. Both these devices stop your free solar power being exported and divert it into either free miles in our electric car or free hot water by controlling our immersion heater on our hot water cylinder
  7. Sell the power! If you have installed lots of solar panels and have excess Solar Power you can sell it back to the Grid. Octopus Agile Export has a variable price that pays you to sell your spare solar power back to the grid. The money gets credited to your energy bill, again reducing the repayment time for you initial solar power investment.
  8. Install an Air Source Heat Pump. Right now the Government will pay £5k towards the cost of installing and it is the only technology that produces more heat that it takes to run it. A heat pump can turn 1kwh of electricity into 3.5kW of heat. Or it is 350% efficient. That Gas Boiler on the wall is, at best 90% efficient, and you are contributing to the climate change emergency. 
  9. Buy a wind farm! Ok not a whole one, but Ripple allows you to invest in a wind farm and get money off in your energy bill, earlier this year I invested £1,100 in a new wind farm and also invested via Seedrs. This new wind farm is being built in Scotland and once it goes live next year it will pay for the investment and more over the ~25 years lifespan of the windfarm. Whilst the Scottish wind farm I invested in is now closed for new investors the next project is about to open, and here is my referral link : 

Yes all of these do need an investment of one degree or another, but to be no longer tied to energy prices you have no control over, or to know exactly what it’s going to fuel your car for the next year, or free!,  allows a degree of certainty that can never be delivered by governments dependent on the income stream from fossil fuels, oh and all of the above help you save the planet as a nice aside. 

I will post a YouTube video showing all the kit and how we got to this stage, let me know what questions you have and I’ll do all I can help. Keep in mind there is a huge upsurge in demand for solar panels, batteries at this time.

Last night our energy company paid us for electricity! Today we get paid to drive, shower, cook and power our home.

It was about 4pm on Saturday 15th February 2020 a post of my Facebook feed showed a picture of negative energy pricing for later that night. Essentially people on an energy tariff called Agile from Octopus were going to be PAID to use electricity overnight.

Octopus Agile Tariff 16/2/2020

Our family has been on the Octopus Go tariff since we installed more solar panels and battery storage in spring 2019.

With the Octopus Go tariff you pay 14.9p per kWh for 20 hours a day and then between 00:30 and 04:30 that drops to 5p per kWh. So every night both electric cars are charged, the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery charges and the Mixergy Hot Water tank heats to 100%.

However with Octopus Agile tariff the cost of electricity varies throughout the day in half hour segments. It can be as cheap as 1p per kWh overnight but at peak times this can leap top over 25p per kWh. So to maximise Agile you need to be able to vary when you use electricity, either use smart devices or set appliances to come on when the cost is cheap. Having battery storage allows us to store energy when it is cheap and avoid having to pay when the cost per kWh is high.

Agile Octopus per kWh Rates15 -16 February 2020

Storm Dennis. How can energy prices go negative? I mean, electricity still has to be made and transmitted, nothing in life is for free! Well I have seen this happen 3 times in recent weeks. You can’t turn off wind turbines! There have been some significant storms hitting the UK in recent weeks, and when the wind is blowing at gale force, but it is the middle of the night, well there is too much electricity in the grid. You can’t turn off wind turbines, or indeed Nuclear Power within a few minutes, so far better to incentivise consumers and industry to use the spare energy but paying them to use the spare energy.

Want to join Octopus Energy? Use this link and we both get a £50 credit !

So that Saturday night I contacted Octopus via twitter and a couple of emails later I was switched from Octopus Go to Octopus Agile and ready to be paid to use electricity for the first time in my life. Overnight the cars charged, the hot water heated, the underfloor warmed, washing machine spun, dishwasher cleaned. By 6am the house had 63.5 kWh of energy, about what the average UK house used in 6 days. Initial cost analysis below:

Our Agile Octopus 16 February usage vs Standard Tariff

Monday Update: Data from the Octowatch app lists that for the entire 24 hours on Sunday 16th as usage: 94.9 kWh – total cost : £0.86. Amazing !

So today, the 16th February we will actually be in energy credit. The Mini PHEV can drive 20 miles, the Tesla Model S can drive 220 miles, the Mixergy 250L tank will deliver 5 showers, and the Tesla Powerwall 2 will run the house all day, and we were paid to do all that. Mad, mad times. Hopefully all houses will be able to do this within a few years with smart devices switching on when prices drop, helping the National Grid maintain a constant load, and hence more efficient.

Now of course all that infrastructure in the house is not free, the cars, battery storage and hot water cylinder all have a large upfront cost. However, when I wrote the original business case for those investments I had not even factored in negative energy pricing, as that comes more common, the return on this those investments increases. Oh and nice aside, should the lights go out in Storm Dennis, the house can run on battery power for a couple of days.

Want to join Octopus Energy? Use this link and we both get a £50 credit !

A quick equipment list

  • Tesla PowerWall2 with Backup Gateway 2
  • Mixergy 250L Hot Water Tank
  • 2017 Tesla Model S 75D
  • 2019 Mini Countryman SE Cooper PHEV
  • Also installed: 7.3kWp Solar Array – 26 panels

MyEnergi Hub & App brings full remote control to Zappi & Eddi

Hot on the heels of the new Zappi charger launch, Lincolnshire based smart energy company MyEnergi have announced the launch of their keenly awaited mobile app and hub.

Once installed, users will be able to monitor the energy use within their house as well as control smart power diverting devices like the Zappi and Eddi products. Zappi allows excess power from renewable energy sources, such as Solar PV or a Wind Turbine, to be redirected to charge an Electric Car rather than be exported to the National Grid. Eddi diverts excess power into an immersion heater within a hot water cylinder heating the water for free.

Screen shot of the new MyEnergi App
Screen shot of the new MyEnergi App

A pre-requisite for the app to work in the brand new Myenergi Hub which retails for £85. This new hub brings together the Zappi and Eddi real time status as well as the ability to monitor energy flows from Renewable Energy sources, the grid and even connected Battery Storage devices such as the Tesla Powerwall 2.

The look and feel is very similar to the Tesla mobile app which has a dependency on having either a Tesla car or Powerwall device whereas the Myenergi app monitors energy flows by simple CT clamps meaning users can choose any brand of Battery Storage or solar panels.

The new hub and app will be available in February 2019. Full details on:

Nissan LEAF Plus pricing Leaked in the USA?

In 2019 I will be replacing my VW Golf GTE that I will have had on a 2 year Company Car lease. Frankly I have had enough of short range plug-in hybrids and it looks like we are now finally seeing the longer range battery packs, but still at a premium.

The Jaguar iPace looks like an amazing car but pricing in the UK starts at £68k. So all eyes are on the next iteration of the Nissan LEAF with an upgrade from the 40kWh battery pack to 60kWh. But when will the new model be release and what premium for this bigger battery pack? Interesting news from the USA overnight with a potential leak of future pricing from Cars Direct

Those waiting for an extended-range Nissan LEAF with a 60-kWh battery pack may be in for a wait. Initial order guides reveal the new variant is slated to begin production in January 2019, about 5 months after the brand started building the 40-kWh model.

Although Nissan hasn’t provided official specs yet, the 60-kWh LEAF is expected to have a range of up to 225 miles. That’s nearly 50% more than the 151-mile range of the current LEAF. Dealers are just now starting to receive 2019 LEAFs with the 40-kWh configuration.

In terms of price, the 40-kWh LEAF ranges from $30,885 for the S to as much as $37,095 for the SL before applicable state and federal incentives. Nissan’s preliminary pricing sheets show the 60-kWh variants commanding about a $5,500 premium over their 40-kWh counterparts.

If that proves to be the case, that could result in a price range starting at just over $36,000 for the 60-kWh LEAF S and extending to around $42,500 for the SL trim. As a result, the LEAF could become a compelling alternative to the Chevy Bolt EV, which ranges from $37,495 to $41,780 and offers up to 238 miles of driving.

Interestingly, we’re seeing evidence that around the same time that Nissan introduces S, SV and SL trims with the 60-kWh configuration, the brand will stop building the 40-kWh SL model. We don’t have an official reason yet from Nissan, but we think we can offer a guess.

At just over $37,000, the 40-kWh SL could equate to a less-attractive option if Nissan is able to offer the 60-kWh model at around $36,000. While the entry-level trims will allow the brand to advertise lower payments, the benefits of upgrading could become a bit clearer for consumers.

One factor that could play a big role in purchase decisions could be the scheduled phase-out of the $7,500 federal EV tax credit once 200,000 vehicles are delivered. Last month, Nissan said U.S. sales of the LEAF reached over 123,000 cars since the model’s introduction.

In contrast, EV automaker Tesla recently told customers to place orders by October 15 to get the full amount. We won’t speculate on how long it’ll take Nissan to get to that point, but it at least appears that early 2019 could be a more exciting time to cross-shop the LEAF with competitors like the Bolt in terms of specs and pricing.