I think my meter is clocking too fast - How can I test if my high usage is due to a faulty meter?

I think my meter is clocking too fast - How can I test if my high usage is due to a faulty meter?

Show first post

147 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I found myself re-reading some of the thread following the post to which I just linked. It’s sad, but I wonder if we were within an ace of getting the Ovo technical people to explain themselves, here (apologies for linking to the Tech Treehouse, a closed part of the forum) but the key quote, where Tim is relaying a comment from them, is

With hindsight, I regret not latching on to that offer. I wonder, @Tim_OVO - do you think we might get more info? (if only in the privacy of the Tech Treehouse).

Instead I launched into an explanation of how I thought estimating should be done. Bad move by me. Focus. I need to focus more, and better...

Userlevel 7

Glad to hear our Support Team managed to get to the bottom of things in terms of the difference between readings you were taking manually and those being received automatically from the meter, @fatbloke88 .

 

If there were previously 2 registers on the meter (even if one is no longer active) there’s a slightly different method for taking readings. It could be that there were storage heaters in the property previously which have since been removed. Find out more about taking a smart meter reading manually here.

 

In terms of your usage increases over the past year, again without knowing exactly what’s been plugged in and using energy it’s a difficult one to answer. Not sure if it could just be world events which kicked off around March 2020 which might explain things? Now that you’re keeping an active eye on things going forward (and the best place to do this is the usage pages of your online account or OVO app - download for Android or iOS) you’ll be able to spot any inconsistencies much quicker.

 

Hope you’re able to see some more expected usage figures - as ever pop back here if you do need any further general help. Whilst we’re not able to access your account we may be able to advise of common issues or getting the best out of our online tools. :ok_hand:

Userlevel 2

Interesting update:

according to the consumption chart on my account the consumption values seem to have dropped depite them still not getting meter readings. They were suggesting readings of around 30kwh pd but now look much better.

 

Q how can this be without OVO receiving a meter reading?

Q why are the last 3 days back up at 30?

My readings suggest less than 20kwh pd

 

 

My readings all backed up with photographic evidence; The red values are total consumption since SUPER HIGH READING and the green are the differences between reads. Note the times vary wildly so read dates times to get a full comparison.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Hmm... looks like estimates to me, but I'll take a deeper look at this in the morning. 

Userlevel 7

Hi @fatbloke88 yes as Blastoise mentioned, we do populate that online usage graph with estimates if your smart meters fail to send us that day’s consumption. From your earlier post you mentioned that enrollment and adoption to the DCC ‘S1+’ is preventing communication with your smart meters?

 

If that’s the reason, it’s odd to see those 3 days of higher usage on the 27th, 28th, 29th. But from what I can make out of your spreadsheet screenshot, the usage indicated in the actual readings seem to match this. Are we sure these meters aren’t sending us your readings? 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

But I would need to look again at all the data that @fatbloke88 has already posted in this thread ...

Back in a bit

A progress report. As a first step, I just collated all of FB88’s contributions to this thread (even missing out contributions from the rest of us, that’s 26 pages worth in my OpenOffice Writer document - rest assured, I’ll never print it). Quite apart from the data, which I will look at again next, I am struck by the humbling combination of politeness, co-operation yet dogged persistence shown by @fatbloke88 throughout this saga - I take my hat off to you!

Right, a quick ride to the shops, then time to look at the data…

Back this pm.

(Nice joints, @Transparent!)

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I should add, I have asked for the actual read data that they tell me they have. I assume there will also be additional data to confirm that it actual read data sent/received from a smart meter. Does anyone know what I should see when they send that through?

Before diving into data - I would suggest, @fatbloke88 : if you have a smartphone, have a go with the Ovo Energy app (I use the Android version). Even though the underlying data are the same, the app definitely presents them differently.

One of its advantages is, it will display a list of the 409 (iirc) most recent smart meter readings for each of gas and electricity. They’re only rounded to the nearest integer, but that would be very helpful and additional info here. If there are any at all, of course. It's under Account, on the home screen:

What it does not show are any estimated readings that Ovo is using. I can’t remember if it shows customer readings (I haven’t had to give any of those in nearly 2 years).

Aside from anything else, I would add to my request to @Tim_OVO (to also show these meter readings in the web interface, My Ovo): please can Ovo share with customers all the readings it’s using, including those customer and estimated readings, please?

[Also, of course, those screenshots show that electricity and gas smart meter data are missing from different days and so, presumably, make their way through the system independently of one another.]

 

PS On an entirely trivial note, following a tiny edit to the above - should I give up with this pretense that the word “data” is plural? I’m clearly struggling to maintain a consistent line on this question, even when I’m thinking of little else ...

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

But I would need to look again at all the data that @fatbloke88 has already posted in this thread ...

Back in a bit

 

I have at last had a chance to trawl through the data that FB88 has posted in this thread.

Does his comment:

UPDATE: apparently at some point, someone somewhere registered ours as a dual rate meter

amount to a smoking gun?

I’m not familiar with any type of meter other than my own, but the following comments

... press “9” on the meter I was getting total consumption from both Day & Night registers even though there is no night register…

... press ”6” and look at a range of data there is a reading in there of kwh which is more in line with what is expected

look like an implied admission [admission by Ovo, implication by FB88] that the meter was “at some point” misconfigured and, possibly as a result of that misconfiguration, potentially wrong instructions were given for how to take a meter reading.

So what?

Well, a meter (dumb or smart) has a register containing a value that changes with time. That value is an indication (a measurement) of the amount supplied up to that moment, and a meter reading is that combination: a value, with the date and time at which the register contained that value. The process, “reading the meter” used to involve just looking at the meter register (i.e. physical dials and digits) and now involves coaxing the meter into displaying its register value(s) by pressing buttons. The only thing “smart” about a Smart Meter is that the “button pushing” can be done remotely, because the meter is able to communicate with the world. The remembrance of things past (as Proust would put it) is a feature of the Comms Hub (and not the smart meter). As far as I can tell, the only thing the Comms Hub remembers is consumption, known in Ovo-land as “usage”.

I would love someone to prove to me otherwise (but they have to provide evidence rather than just make the assertion, please) that the Comms Hub stores actual past meter readings, but I don’t think it does. Nothing I’ve seen, from Ovo, Octopus, Hildebrand, et al. indicates that it is possible to ask a smart meter (now):

What was your reading at this time and on that date, in the past?

The only questions that can be asked are:

What is your “current” reading (where “current” is the moment at which you respond to this question, not the moment when I submit this question for your consideration)?

What is your record of consumption, from this time and date to that time and date (in the past)?

To return to @fatbloke88 ‘s tale of woe...

What’s up?

Is Ovo’s demand for large sums of money reasonable? Maybe so, if FB88 really did consume that much energy (but even if he did, it begs the question why he’s only finding out about it “now”, when it’s too late to know FOR SURE what those readings were in the past).

All his attempts to discover how on earth his demand can have been as high as 65% of the maximum possible (25 kW) that his supply is physically capable of meeting, and remained at that high level for at least 6 days, have failed. Ovo hasn’t told him, and whenever he’s measured his consumption, it’s fallen far far short of the 16 kW implied by Ovo’s demands. There was just ONE measurement that showed just over half that level, 8.9 kW, and that was for a period of only 16 minutes. And until someone offers a very good reason not to, I’m inclined to accept FB88’s assurances that the pattern of consumption has remained more or less the same throughout this whole period, and that amounts to a level of demand which is of the order 0.5 to 1.0 kW.

FWIW, I think the onus is on Ovo to demonstrate that the meter is working correctly now, and was working correctly at the time of the disputed consumption.

Apologies for not managing to post this sooner, @fatbloke88.

BW

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Oh great… another trivial point to lighten the mood:

I agree that data is certainly plural because datum is the singular.

But, like many people, I treat data as if it is a collective noun and write data is rather than data are. I know that’s incorrect, but it’s one of my little contributions to the evolution of language.

The bigger issue here is to decide if I should continue to use the word data to refer to numerals within my energy usage which are ‘manufactured’. Data normally implies that there is authenticity within the information being presented.

Physics has created the expression dark matter in order to balance mathematics with observations at cosmological and sub-atomic levels. Does OVO use dark data in similar fashion?

This evening when I’m observing Orion, I will know that its components are held in place by something dark. Ah well… no matter  :wink:

An interesting distinction, @Transparent: I recognise that informal sense in which “data” connotes a useful degree of authenticity.

 

As one at home with statistics, I’m reminded of another version:

the plural of anecdote is data

On checking, I find that’s apparently from social science/economics/etc.

 

The wages of sin is death

or

The wages of sin are death

that is the question...

 

But now I’m rambling …

Userlevel 2

Oh great… another trivial point to lighten the mood:

I agree that data is certainly plural because datum is the singular.

But, like many people, I treat data as if it is a collective noun and write data is rather than data are. I know that’s incorrect, but it’s one of my little contributions to the evolution of language.

The bigger issue here is to decide if I should continue to use the word data to refer to numerals within my energy usage which are ‘manufactured’. Data normally implies that there is authenticity within the information being presented.

Physics has created the expression dark matter in order to balance mathematics with observations at cosmological and sub-atomic levels. Does OVO use dark data in similar fashion?

This evening when I’m observing Orion, I will know that its components are held in place by something dark. Ah well… no matter  :wink:

An interesting distinction, @Transparent: I recognise that informal sense in which “data” connotes a useful degree of authenticity.

 

As one at home with statistics, I’m reminded of another version:

the plural of anecdote is data

On checking, I find that’s apparently from social science/economics/etc.

 

The wages of sin is death

or

The wages of sin are death

that is the question...

 

But now I’m rambling …

Thanks one and all, philosophers included. Do we think Aristotle was plagued by such issues, the counting of cockroaches to reduce rent??

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Well, unfortunately the ancient philosopher Aristotle isn’t around right now, and it seems as if Timsonious and Jesstle aren’t here yet. But then again, you’ve got me at least! XD

What I can say is that the Comms Hub by itself does not store any usage data - that’s all stored on the meters themselves and the Comms Hub simply retrieves it from the meters when requested and forwards it onto whoever asked for it. For the most part, I think the only data stored on the Comms Hub is stuff like:

  • Firmware for itself and any devices connected to it (especially within the Gas Proxy when a firmware update is being downloaded) - both the active version, previous version and next version may be stored at any given time
  • Config data for itself - most likely things like how it’s meant to be communicating , which Site it’s installed at and what ZigBee GUID’s are authorised to be on the HAN. That sort of thing
  • Event logs for itself - which can be useful for diagnostics
  • Any data that is actively being processed at that exact time, such as an active SMETS Command or when an IHD is polling the meters - some of this might be held in RAM temporarily in order to process it
  • Possibly a copy of recent usage data that’s in the process of being sent somewhere, to improve reliability during data transfer - but only temporarily
  • And probably a handful of other things that are important for the Comms Hub to function

As for getting hold of a copy of your usage data, I think OVO is happy to do that for you at anytime on request. I wouldn’t recommend using GDPR or Subject Access Requests for that however. Technically speaking, OVO is entitled to charge an admin fee when handling that kind of request and there’s no guarantee that usage/billing data would come under those categories. A normal request to export your usage/billing data is probably faster and easier to do, since it won’t require OVO to do a full data dump of everything they know about you. :wink:

Or I guess you could potentially use the API to grab everything?

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

@Simon1D wrote:

As far as I can tell, the only thing the Comms Hub remembers is consumption, known in Ovo-land as “usage”.

Ah… that’s an interesting hypothesis. I wonder if the Electricity Meter (ESME) calculates the difference between its last two readings before sending the result to the Comms Hub, or whether the calculation is performed after the transfer. Both units have a processor capable of doing this, and sufficient RAM to store the results.

Perhaps the ESME retains a copy of the actual readings for each HH period.

We should be able to work this out:

a: an OVO installer, like @Chris_OVO can be sent to site to replace just the ESME or just the Comms Hub. Suppose that happens at 10:30 and the next data-request from DCC isn’t going to occur until 00:20, what data has to be recorded at that point from the unit being exchanged?

We must assume that the unit being swapped-out is broken and unable to be interrogated. The Installer has the ability to directly contact the S2-team in Bristol who can issue a SMETS-command via DCC and they have their own Enigma software (on a mobile phone) which facilitates pairing etc.

 

b: The ESME (or a GSME) is a generic device sold in other countries who have different Smart Meter Networks. But the Comms Hub is designed specifically for the GB market and is supplied for each site by DCC.

Does that provide a clue as to what data must be available from within the ESME?

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Just to step in here, as we’ve mentioned previously we can’t comment on the specifics of @fatbloke88’s billing accuracy here, as we don’t have access to their account and as this has now been referred to our Complaints Team, a dedicated complaints agent will be assigned to discuss the details with them directly.

 

I am keen to put to rest any speculation as to the accuracy of the information stored or sent by smart meters, so @Simon1D just to reassure you I have already forwarded your comments on to our Smart Metering expert so we can get the full lowdown on exactly what goes on behind the scenes. There are some very strict and clear rules about what the meter does and how it stores things. We need our members to trust the data as that's the key driver to them using the energy better and reducing their carbon footprint. So LOTS of work has gone into all this to make sure it's right.

 

I’ll be back with a full update once I hear more. :thumbsup:

 

And just to add - 

 

 

a: an OVO installer, like @Chris_OVO can be sent to site to replace just the ESME or just the Comms Hub. Suppose that happens at 10:30 and the next data-request from DCC isn’t going to occur until 00:20, what data has to be recorded at that point from the unit being exchanged?

We must assume that the unit being swapped-out is broken and unable to be interrogated. The Installer has the ability to directly contact the S2-team in Bristol who can issue a SMETS-command via DCC and they have their own Enigma software (on a mobile phone) which facilitates pairing etc.

 

 

I’m guessing @Transparent meant to tag @Lukepeniket_OVO who is our resident Smart meter installer - Chris_OVO specialises in all things EV :red_car:

Thanks very much @Jess_OVO - it's that confidence that is currently at risk, so I look forward to learning more from your update, when it comes.

Userlevel 2

Email received asking to change my reading frequency to daily, I chose HH. This now presents the issue that even if they were taking monthly readings (why?) We can not be sure that there wasn’t some glitch in the system at the point when consumption spiked last year.

As @Simon1D has suggested we may have used the energy but not now confirm or deny this and we are left (it looks like) having no way to challenge the consumption or the billing that resulted from it.

The issue for us though is that NOTHING in our consumption pattern has changed. no new appliances, no structural work or changes to the electrical circuit in the house and yet this years consumption pattern is well below the same period last year by40% approx.

In the 88 days since 14/07 our average daily consumption has been <14kWh/pd. 

The starting point for all of this was in July 21. At that time I was under intruction pressing “9” to get a reading on the SM.

Even if the DF tariff  was applied to those readings 20 July - 31Aug 21 the average consumption across that period was still only 13.77kWh/pd. I have all of those readings in photographic evidence date and time stamped with personal annotations as to how we were consuming electricity.

I suppose this is the heart of the dilemma, we know nothing has changed, yet we can not prove it and it seems neither can Ovo. Have we reached the end of it? Is there anything else we can do?

 

Cheers

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Yeah, I love Free Open Source Software as well myself. GIMP, WordPress, Joomla and Ubuntu just being some of the examples of FOSS that I use on a regular basis. It’s also why I make all of my GitHub repositories have licenses like The Unlicense that fully permit others to re-use the stuff within for my more basic stuff, and probably something with lots of compatibility if I ever did more complex things.

You’ll have to trust my word on this, but I think you’ll find my laptop Samurott very difficult to overload. Especially with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS and an NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti - not even Cyberpunk can overload it! Hehehe

Userlevel 2

let me add some further info to that last post: GAS usage on 04/08 is “-68kwh” and on on 7-8/08 appx 13kwh

how can we consume a negative value and were those other 2 days particularly cold?

 

GAS USAGE AUG 21

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Ah, so I’m not the only one sometimes getting negative gas usage (for me, only ever on days when the meter reading is estimated). I’ve had this happen a couple of times over the last fortnight, and wonder how things will look on my next monthly statement. The statement itself only gives meter readings (m^3) at the start and end of the  billing month, but to calculate how many kWh to charge for, Ovo need to know day by day usage through the month. Even Ovo must realise that they can’t use negative values there.

Userlevel 7

 

I thought about this on holiday, could my meter have “jumped” previously because NOTHING of substance has changed in the last 15 months regarding our energy usage… ​​​

 

 

Interesting theory, @fatbloke88 - and a pretty tricky one to answer here for certain. Obviously a meter should be clocking your usage accurately and shouldn’t ‘jump’ readings unless there has been a sudden increase in usage - if this was the case then it would be considered faulty.

 

Just re-reading your original posts and realised we never confirmed exactly where you noticed the jump in readings? Was it by taking a reading manually from the meter itself? Or did you see these readings on your online account?  if so was that on the ‘usage’ pages or the ‘Billing’ pages?

 

Reason I ask is that often a ‘jump’ in readings is explained by the fact that we had previously been billing to an estimated reading (for example if your smart meter wasn’t yet communicating) - when we do then get an actual reading this may be a lot higher than the previous estimated reading. This ‘jump’ in readings would account for the fact that we’d previously underestimated the usage.

 

Obviously not sure if this would explain things in your case and it certainly doesn’t clear up the negative consumption values you’ve both seen on your gas usage graphs. I’ve taken that one away to the team, but as @Simon1D suggests this could indicate that there was a drop in the communication of your gas smart meter on that day.

 

Not sure if your meter has fully completed it’s upgrade journey yet, @fatbloke88,  if the intermittent signal issues persist once the upgrade is complete,  we’d recommend carrying out a smart meter health check (which does involve taking a look at the flashing lights) and forwarding the results to our Support Team, who can advise on the next steps to getting things sorted.

 

Hope this helps - let us know how you go :slight_smile:

Userlevel 7

Hi @fatbloke88 - some more great questions to help us get to the bottom of things.

 

In answer to your first question, how you take a reading will depend on which smart meter you’ve got there. Our Secure S1 meters are read by pressing the number ‘9’ button but obviously this does vary depending on which meter model you’ve got installed. Are you able to take any photos of the meter and post them here? This really helps us see exactly what you’ve got and give the best advice relating to your meter.

 

In terms of the lights that are flashing - are these labelled WAN and HAN? These lights aren’t based on your consumption but they should flash to show the communication of the meter (both to the IHD and to us). You can find out more about what the flashing meter lights mean on this related topic -

 

 

Userlevel 2

Hi all, latest info on the ongoing saga; after days of inputting what I’ve been advised are the correct consumption values by pressing “6” on my meter, this is where we are:

Readings submitted daily most days since 01/09

Average usage  13.42kwh/pd

Readings appear to be accepted

If the above statements are correct and I believe they are particularly the readings are being accepted, why is the estimated consumption still so high through the back end of July and all of August - see image;-

This is despite the readings in Sept 21 apparenly being accepted… With no justification that I can see the consumption estimated throughout Late July and Aug are not being amended.

 

I’m confused.:confused::thinking:

 

 

 

Userlevel 2

oh one other query OVO how come youve managed to produce HH consumption values if you werent reading the meter?

 

You surely wouldn’t have made it up would you?

:thinking::thinking::thinking:

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

I’ve experienced a similar issue @fatbloke88 

From what I’ve seen of the way the Billing System works, there is only limited capability to revise the usage readings for previous days where estimates have been applied.

I think the ‘rule’ is this:

When correct readings are accepted, these are applied to the usage data going back in time until a day is reached when an actual reading was obtained.

I can’t confirm this, and I certainly wouldn’t condone it, but that appears to fit the facts such as I’ve seen them.

After that rule has been applied, any further amendments are effected by applying a one-off negative reading to bring the financial system into balance. There are two reasons for this:

a: it satisfies Ofgem regulations for the Billing System providing adequate invoices

b: it annoys the hell out of @Simon1D who is left trying to analyse historical usage containing negative gas usage :confounded:

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Nice. I wonder if your meters have just completed the migration to DCC perhaps? Enrolment & Adoption can take a while and the ability to communicate with meters undergoing the process is somewhat limited between the point where the migration starts and the meter reconnects again via DCC.

I wouldn’t know for sure if that’s what your meters have been doing, but OVO can check the system and find out for you. Now that you’re (hopefully) getting Smart readings in, it might be worth thinking about whether you want Half-Hourly, Daily or Monthly readings again. I’d definitely recommend considering either Half-Hourly or Daily mode if you’d like to help prevent issues like this again - especially since you’d be able to spot them far more quickly if they do reoccur.

It’s possible that OVO might have been able to grab and rebuild your usage data from your meters, since the meters keep around 13 months worth of data before it starts to be overwritten. This data can be retrieved at anytime by the supplier if needed, even if they’ve previously retrieved it. Comes in rather useful sometimes. :)

Obviously, you won’t be expected to pay for any energy you didn’t actually use. If OVO can verify what your actual meter readings should have been all this time, it’s possible to do some heavy number crunching to recalculate and regenerate the bills that might have been affected. If that number crunching spits out a result that indicates a refund is due, OVO will be happy to make the arrangements. I think the Support Team can either have the refund credited to your account balance or fire up BACS to throw the cash directly back into your current vault at the bank via a Giro Bank Credit. Either way, there’d be an audit trail so you’d be able to find out where it goes to.

Definitely worth asking the Support Team to take a look into this. It might take a while, but they should be able to help.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

 

...

It therefore seems decidedly odd that the Board have now decided to distance Kaluza, who develop the Billing system code, from OVO Energy who use it to invoice us.

...

 Can I count the ways … in which the “invisible hand” can push organisations into patterns of behaviour that are not even in their own best interests?

No, I probably cannot.

But I know what I support, when given the chance.

Apparently, iirc, this isn’t even a “blame the shareholders” issue, because Ovo is not a publicly listed company.

 

...

That leaves OVO with an option to avoid another fine from Ofgem, and instead to listen to its customers.

Well, they can listen to us as customers, or they can browse github (where, incidentally, kaluza already post their own code, or so I assume - I’ve never had need to look at it).

Isn’t free software wonderful?

Userlevel 7

Hi everyone, 


Tim here your resident waffler and fact checker. Thanks for the update, @fatbloke88.

 

I want to make sure it’s clear here for you and anyone else that follows that we’re discussing the usage graphs, for a time period before you’ve been submitting actual readings.

 

The best way to get accurate billing has and always will be to ensure there’s actual meter readings on your energy account. Most of the time that means a normally functioning smart meter sending them automatically. Sometimes that means submitting meter readings manually. 

 

@Simon1D and @Transparent are referring to the usage sections, and I’ll be passing on some insight from Simon to the teams involved in this area on the online account. So far so good: Anything that might help us to visualise a member’s usage so they feel empowered to make energy reduction changes is a win for everyone. 

 

Here’s where things take a turn for the worse

 

It was the issuing of incorrect bills and inaccurate estimates which landed OVO with a fine of £8.9m from Ofgem at the beginning of 2018.

As a consequence the Board of Directors decided to create their own new Billing System in-house, thereby removing the company’s future from the poor algorithms which beset the 3rd-party software.

 

 

This unfortunately is conjecture. See OVO’s statement on this fine here. OVO Group’s mission is to provide clean and affordable energy for all. Building that future ourselves is what we wanted. Kaluza (part of OVO Group) is doing just that. 

 

That leaves OVO with an option to avoid another fine from Ofgem, and instead to listen to its customers.

 

Likewise here I refer to my earlier comment about actual meter readings, billing, and the difference between that and your usage graph visualizations. 

 

This forum puts everything out in the open, for everyone to see. This is transparent, honest, and inclusive. If we all respond to that transparency with a relentless pursuit of accuracy when stating facts (which in itself is one of the house rules), these threads will be better off as a result. 

Reply