RESEARCH

Bill Forecast: Would you like to see this idea made into a feature?

Bill Forecast: Would you like to see this idea made into a feature?
Userlevel 7

We want to hear what you think of this feature idea

 

We’re always looking for ways to help our customers manage their energy costs, and we’ve got an idea that we want to run past our forum members: a bill forecast within the app.

 

Something like this:

 

Here’s a mock up of what this could look like

 

We're interested in how people might want or expect this feature to work - let us know below if you have any thoughts on how you think this could work best for you. Consider things like:

 

  • What should it do?
  • What should it not do?
  • What information should it show?
  • How would you want to interact with it?
  • How likely do you think you would be to use this feature?
  • Or anything else you think we should consider

 

Vote in the poll and leave a comment below to let us know your take on this idea – it could help us build something that really helps our customers.

Does this sound like something you'd find useful?


11 replies

Userlevel 6
Badge +3

I think it’s a good idea but it needs to be communicated clearly that it is a predictor and based on their current usage patterns. 

Userlevel 4
Badge +1

Great idea - let’s you know if on track for typical spend or need to pull back and make further savings. So many people don’t have a clue on what they are spending and this would certainly help.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Ironically enough, I was actually talking to an OVO employee this morning about something similar (research panel stuff!). Tim knows who that person is, but I can’t reveal their details publicly.

I definitely love the concept, especially if it helps give even more insight into how the algorithm works and further improves OVO’s transparency surrounding the billing stuff (which is already a LOT better than most suppliers!).

And yeah, as long as it’s made crystal clear that the tool IS NOT A CRYSTAL BALL (and that warning is in giant neon flashing lights for good effect!) then this basically covers you from complaints from people claiming their bills don’t match the forecast because the member in question didn’t read the instructions properly.

For me, as long as it’s in the app and on MyOVO, I’m definitely cool with it existing. Perhaps also in more places in the future?

Userlevel 3
Badge

I voted "No".

Regardless of how accurate (or lucky) your forecasts might be, what should I do with the information? I'll use the energy I need for a comfortable life. If it's cold I'll use more. If I go on holiday I'll use less. If I improve the insulation, change the boiler, fit smart thermostats, adjust my heating needs, how will you know? How long will it take for you to spot new usage patterns/demands and adjust your forecast to suit? Weather is probably the biggest determinant of use/cost overall (other than tariff changes), so unless your predictions are better than the Met Office I fear the estimates will be very soft at best.

Having a forecast won't change a thing, so why bother? It's just data for the sake of data, but is it actionable? No. It's just noise. And believe me, I love my data, but only if it's useful. The data I do find useful is my historic usage and being able to see reductions in energy usage year on year as I modify my use. I now have several years of historic smart meter data and that serves me well. If I want a forecast for each month this year I could do worse than look at my usage figures last year - and then try to beat them.

Userlevel 6
Badge +3

I'd like this but instead of showing expected usage over a month it should show expected usage over a year. That would allow me to see how OVO are calculating my direct debit payments.

 

Forecasting usage over a month isn't really any use because the amount I pay isn't linked to a single month.

Userlevel 6

For me personally, it would have no benefit at all, but I can foresee some finding it useful!

 Finding the right balance with historical data & future usage & expenditure will only reveal our best guess is ??? for the next 12 months / quarter (following the seasonal winter 🥶 spring, summer 🔆 & fall)

Add in the variable’s like a long cold winter, or dare I say it, volatile ever changing wholesale costs for energy ! As if !

Buying an EV, investing in solar panels then adding battery storage, even kids coming home from uni cooking pizza & gaming all nite long with pc’s running 24/7.

adding to much customisation will make it over complicated,

adding to little will render it useless,


If I were on a fixed tariff, things might be more settled than with the quarterly price cap shift, but ovo’s account data compared to this time last month / year is something that will take some beating.

 

To be honest, I feel the the customers that would benefit most are the people who are keeping a very close eye on their expenditure already! those who’s choice is heat or eat for want of a better title,

For those already who are finding the energy crisis a financial hardship, a discrepancy of  10% swing in additional expenditure even if it is a best guess in kWh / costs is not something I would like to speculate on with my last few £££


in the posted example : expected costs £120-£175

£55 difference is just to big a cost to those who are watching every penny spent.

Giving false hope! to those who need our help the most!

even it it is well intentioned!


Tom…

Userlevel 1

I have voted no.

Personally, I don’t think an estimate is of sufficient use for many people when the “push” in the current economic climate is for people to reduce or be smarter in their energy usage. An estimate such as this is too vague and doesn’t go far enough.

OVO’s current estimates may be good enough for most people, although there are times when the process struggles and their Greenlight breakdown shows customers how they are using energy.

I think any estimating tool, to be of real use, would need to incorporate details from the Greenlight breakdown and forecast at that level and also allow customers to see the effects of changes they make both to direct changes or external changes such as Solar PV or wind turbines, etc. It could even go so far as to suggest changes and include these in the forecast.

The data display would also need to be shown at selectable levels, from half-hourly or hourly for each day in a week or month, daily for a week, month or quarter, and weekly or monthly across a year.

It should be built using as much historic data as possible, both specific customer data or “smoothed” data from customers of a similar demographic (this may require collection of a little more data from customers for this to be viable).

Yes, this would increase the complexity of the tool but OVO have the data available, certainly for customers with smart meters and this would provide a real, measurable benefit to customers.

It could be built as an online tool or made available to customers within the OVO app or as a standalone app.

Chris

Userlevel 6
Badge +1

I also voted No. It would be a nice gimmick to play around with if you could make a slider to alter energy usage, eg ‘how would the estimate change if I dropped my room thermostat by 1 degree?’. However, the programming required to make that work reliably would be far better spent fixing things that aren’t working right with the system now.

I think OVO have too many gimmicks already. Greenlight still has a glaring error in it for me - telling me most of my gas usage is on hot water, when my only gas appliance is the cooker hob! 

Userlevel 7

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to review the feature suggestion and sharing your thoughts about how useful it would be.

 

Our teams are keeping a close eye on the justifications you’ve given, and I know they agree that it’s so helpful to understand the WHY behind your choice. Thank you for these constructive comments. 

 

Let’s try and get a few more members to step in, to back up the comments with some decent polling stats: @Jequinlan you’re a data guy. What do you think? @sylm_2000 @hydrosam @James_N would the upcoming winter with a heat pump make the use case for this stronger, or does it make predictions of costs harder?

 

Keep on sharing and we’ll keep on listening,
Tim

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

Well, I would like to see a predictive model, but..

 

It needs to take into account:

 

Usage patterns

The adjustment i am making (such as reduce thermostat 1 degree or switch to led lights, or buy an ev and do 10,000 miles per annum with 80% charge at home) 

Option to factor in solar and a sliding scale

The weather impact

Price changes planned

 

Else, to be honest, I see no real use. 

 

Obv the guidance needs to come with a warning but ovo have A LOT of data so a decent math model with some AI application SHOULD be possible and would be helpful.

 

Userlevel 6
Badge +2

thanks for the invitation to comment. I voted yes as a similar feature exists for my gas supplier however it is based on my own energy consumption. As long as the prediction is personalised, data driven and accounts for the increased cost based on current tarriff it is a useful set of information for financial planning.  

Many of us feel under stress with increased energy cost so an indication can drive increased savings for the winter months or manage the increased cost of energy. I for one like to plan so a forecast is better than a shock of a huge bill followed by a revised DD. 

Lastly, the DD should be included to ensure payments reflect the consumption and no overcharging (article on BBC today) is being made. This would drive trust and consumer confidence.

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