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Gas usage seems high in an unoccupied house

  • 13 March 2023
  • 18 replies
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Dear All 

 

Please help/advise us 

 

We are executors of our late mothers house which was badly damaged by a broken pipe in December 

 

Our insurers have declined our claim stating they ‘do not consider’ we have adhered to the conditions of an unoccupied house on the renewed policy that we keep the heating on to maintain a min temp of 10 degrees

 

The meter readings between 1st Oct and 17th Dec amount to 11units 

 

The system was set at a  temperature of 12.5 degrees to ensure it would kick in and keep the heat above 10 degrees required 

 

we cannot explain why the record shows  11 units - nor do we know if this is reasonable given the system, we are sure, would only kick in when the temp dropped below 12.5 

 

As I read through some of the comments on this forum, i wonder if perhaps,(and if 11 units are too low) was the meter reading correctly recorded ? -  if not how can we correct these figures 

 

Ovo are unable to supply accurate details as there is no smart meter 

 

any explanation or assurance would be greatly appreciated as we are also very stressed at the appalling treatment and customer service of the insurance company and the deterioration of the house 

 

please help if you can 

 

Kind Regards 

 

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Best answer by BPLightlog 14 March 2023, 16:54

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Userlevel 7
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Good afternoon @Darroch ,

Firstly, please accept my condolences for your loss. I will inform the Forum Moderators of this thread and your situation as soon as I have posted this reply.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Blastoise186 and I’m one of the trusted Forum Volunteers who helps out on the OVO Forum. We act in a personal capacity and don’t work for OVO.

To make things a bit easier, we could do with seeing photos of the meter and heating system if it is safe to do so. Forum volunteers such as myself are pretty good at figuring out puzzles, but we could do with this extra information to understand how that setup works.

If there’s anything else we can do to help, please let us know. We can’t access the account from here, but we’ll certainly be happy to offer advice.

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Hi @Darroch. Hope everything gets sorted. 
If you think about temperatures during part of December (and then also part of January), I would think that a frost setting would indeed kick in during the - degrees overnight. 
Ours certainly did although that was with a 12 degree low setting. It will depend on the specifics of the situation of course. 
Looking back at the data, the heating did come on when minus outside to the tune of approx 4 kWh per day. Don’t forget that the readings would be in either cubic metres or cubic feet and so are not directly kWh 

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Hi @Darroch 

You say the meter readings amount to 11. Is this based on estimated readings or did someone supply a reading to OVO on 1st Oct and 17th Dec? 

 

Userlevel 1

these were actual reading taken by my husband at the time of the policy renewal -( and to update OVO that the house was unoccupied) and again by the underwriters when they came to inspect the property 

 

Userlevel 7
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Thanks for confirming.

If that’s 11 based on the meter display then it converts to about 120kWh. Does that sound right to you? Or was it 11kWh?

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@Darroch Do you have any historical bills for November/December for previous years? 

Userlevel 1

Thank you for all your feedback - i will post a time line of events with readings and pictures of the meter as requested 

 

We very much appreciate your support at this stage 

 

regards

 

Userlevel 7
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@Darroch Are the underwriters saying the damaged pipe is due to frozen water?

Is there anything unusual about the damaged pipe, for example particularly old, in a colder part of the house etc.?

Does the house have a gas combi boiler or a gas boiler with a hot water tank?

Did you have a timer on the heating or was it on permanently at 12.5 degrees? 

 

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This is obviously just a personal opinion but if the 11 units relate to around 120kwh as suggested, I would consider that reasonable considering my own overnight use over a similar period. 
I wonder if the underwriter has considered the conversion to kWh in their calculations?

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Thank you for all your feedback - i will post a time line of events with readings and pictures of the meter as requested 

 

We very much appreciate your support at this stage 

 

regards

 

You are, of course, most welcome. We will be happy to offer you as much advice as we can so please do feel free to ask us any questions you might have.

We’ll be here for as long as you need our help.

Userlevel 1

thank you so much for al your comments 

To cover all points raised i thought it best to post some pictures and write a time line of heating used to hopefully help me find a reasonable explanation of the gas used and establish that this was sufficient use in order we can address the rejected claim with our insurers 

 

3 bed end terrace house 

No smart meter 

Combi boiler 

 

Became unoccupied end of July 

OVO were notified and given a meter reading - 2950 units 

Insurance policy renewed as executors August and stated the condition that from 1st October the heating was on to maintain a temp of no less than 10 degrees 

we set the temperature to 12,5 to ensure this 

Damage was broken pipe (below) not frozen pipes as the loss adjuster assumes - 18th Dec 

and at requirement of insurers all water/electricity was switched off to keep house safe 

 

loss adjuster visited on 22nd Jan and took meter reading of 2961

 

A variance of 11 units which our insurers ‘do not consider’  sufficient usage to comply with the 10 degree condition

 

we followed these instructions and cannot explain the volume of units - nor can we understand if this amount was sufficient or not 

 

any explanations or advise would be extremely appreciated 

 

kind regards

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m sure there will be other comments @Darroch but just on the water/electric switched off, surely the boiler would need electricity to function/time even while the property was empty? 
I’ve also just noticed that the meter reads in cubic feet and so 11 units would equal around 340 kWh rather than 120 (which assumed a metric meter). This might need highlighting.

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I have another concern here as well. And it’s a big one.

If your insurance company told you to turn OFF the utility supplies to the property, but also insists that you keep them ON to warm the place up, that sounds very much like a conflicting set of instructions and terms, which could invalidate the decision they made.

There’s no possible way for that boiler to operate unless all three utilities are active at the same time.

I’ve also re-run my calculations for the gas usage factoring in the imperial meter and got 339.7 kWh, which I’ll round up to 340 kWh just to make the numbers easy.

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Some rambling thoughts... 

It wouldn't need the mains water on to run the central heating but it would have needed the electricity. These boilers don't auto top up the water in the central heating circuit as far as I know. 

I am a bit confused about the period the 340 kWh covers, assuming everything but the boiler was turned off which may be true. I think we need a  better understanding of the period this relates to.

The timer is set to auto i see, so this normally means it is timed to come at certain times for a number of hours. What was the schedule on each day. The schedule may not have been set the same every day. It would be good to find out the settings for each day. Was it just a couple of hours for example. 

We know there was a reading in Oct, but when did the actual leak happen do we think, i assume sometime before the adjustor visited. The leak would have resulted in a drop in pressure and the boiler would then not normally fire up. Was the boiler still working when the assessor first visited? 

Of course i am assuming that broken pipe is a central heating pipe, it may in fact be a cold water pipe or a hot water pipe and not one of the main CH pipes at all. Do you know what it is? What was the insulation like across the length of the pipe? 

The boiler is rated 21kW, so full belt from cold it could belt out close to this in an hour before modulating on/off when the weather was cold for the central heating. 

It is really hard to know if 340kWh is enough as every house is different, lofts can get cold vs the rest of the house, and we don't know over how many days and how many hours this relates to. 

You may need to pay a plumber to look at the pipe and give a professional opinion about whether it looks like it was due to freezing pushing the joint out or some other factors. 

Userlevel 1

Hi 

Thank you again for these encouraging thoughts 

 

to confirm 

 

we had all utilities on constant from 1st October (as per the executors policy ) set at a temperature of 12.5 to ensure 10 degrees was maintained 

 

This was not a timer - it was set at a temperature and would have been activated whenever the  house dropped to 12.5

our insurers sent out a damage limitation company a few days after the damage on 18th Dec and they told us to shut down the house and keep out as they suspected Asbestos - they took samples and advised the results could be a few weeks given the time of year  - we cant remember the actual date of this but it was definitely before Christmas 

 

 

Regards

 

Userlevel 7
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we had all utilities on constant from 1st October (as per the executors policy ) set at a temperature of 12.5 to ensure 10 degrees was maintained 

 

This was not a timer - it was set at a temperature and would have been activated whenever the  house dropped to 12.5

our insurers sent out a damage limitation company a few days after the damage on 18th Dec and they told us to shut down the house and keep out as they suspected Asbestos - they took samples and advised the results could be a few weeks given the time of year  - we cant remember the actual date of this but it was definitely before Christmas 

 

The Auto setting is definitely a timer, so i have to disagree unfortunately.

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The Center controller is certainly set to auto. What we cannot see is what program was set for each day and so it will not be possible to determine the temperature setting except for the time shown on the photo. 

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Updated on 22/11/23 by Abby_OVO

Just reviewing your timeline @Darroch , I take it that the 11 units of gas consumed would be between the end of July and 18th December if supply was turned off at that point. 
Although a very low usage for that timeframe, given the 12.5 deg setting and presuming that the boiler didn’t turn on until perhaps December - I have a recorded average outdoor temperature of 9.5 deg in November and 4 deg in December - then 340 kWh might look reasonable. What I’m not sure of is the boiler operation at that point given the usual need to top up pressure or the settings on the control as mentioned earlier. 

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