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03 February 2006 @ 09:55 am
Yesterday was partly a day of small annoyances. Got an electricity & gas bill - going to have to put up the monthly payment for that, which is annoying as I'd rather they wrote to me and made a suggestion about amount for monthly payment rather than let us get substantially adrift over a quarter and seem like they're happy to ignore it. Looked at uswitch but the best deals they showed up were merely cutting 2.5-5% off the annual bill, and I wasn't convinced enough by the assumptions that uswitch make that the estimates were accurate to within that sort of degree particularly as in at least 1 case the quoted price per kWh was significantly higher than I'm currently paying but apparently I'd still save money - it gets fuzzy with the discounts though and I didn't work through an example to see if my gut feeling was correct. At some point (after I've filed all our paperwork) I'll go back to the site and do it the more accurate way - enter an average annual usage in kWh. Neither of the other two ways of entering the data could be done without fudging the numbers. We pay a fixed monthly amount for gas & electricity combined so entering it as two seperate costs for the two utilities would involve knowing the actual proportion of the costs that are gas over the year otherwise the site makes a false assumption about usage. And entering the actual amounts from this quarterly bill involves working out 'actual' values from the non-discounted ex-VAT numbers, which is much easier to do but is caught by the other problem - it asks you whether you cook with gas or electricity. I have a gas hob & an electric oven. It makes a non-trivial difference (0.8% of annual spend is a largish chunk of 2.5-5%) which you answer, and you can't answer both. If the prospective discounts had been higher I'd've not been fussed about the possible errors, but as I'm aware our usage is not typical I'm not convinced the assumptions are valid and the proposed small saving might vanish in reality.

We're not typical because not many households run 4 computers 24/7, which isn't likely to change. But thinking about our usage did spur me to look round the house for things I could change about electricity usage, which is something we'd been thinking about from a point of view of being greener but not got round to doing - so the telly/DVD player/PS2 are off at the wall now, as is the upstairs hifi during the day. I'm going to find the plugs for the phono & phono pre-amp coz they can go off except when in use, and we're going to try and remember to switch off the downstairs hifi at the wall for overnight. And I'm going to get used to it being darker ;) I like to have lots of lights on when it's dim like this in the daytimes, but it is a bit of a waste having lights on in rooms I'm not in. I was surprised while I was looking at how much of our electrical stuff doesn't have real off-switches, it's switch it off at the wall or have it on standby.

The other annoyance was that I'm going to have to go back into town today because something I bought had an expiry date that I wasn't aware of (to check) till I got home, and it has expired so it's not much use. So today I get to go into the shop again and make a fuss (politely, of course ;) ).

I did pick up a bunch of books in the library (mostly book N of a series where N != 1, and I've not read the first book), and bought myself the next book in the Dresden Files ("Fool Moon" by Jim Butcher). Which I've finished already :) I liked the way it's beginning to set up a series arc rather than this being not quite connected episodes with a common cast of characters, which seems the default with PI series. I did want to shake Harry sometimes and tell him to just trust people with a bit more of the information, but that is at least a plot-point in itself rather than a mechanism for setting up the plot if you see what I mean. Good book.

The other book I finished before I went to town - "Blue Genes" by Val McDermid - wasn't as good. I'd got it free with a copy of Cosmo a few years ago, and while I was cataloguing stuff a couple of days ago I realised I'd not ever read it, so I did. Straight-forward thriller/PI story set in Manchester in the present day (of when it was written, over 10 years ago now). I think it just all felt a bit unreal - the plot just worked its way out with no feeling of suspense, our heroine always had someone to give her the information/teach her the skills she needed/set up the meet she wanted. From in story references she was supposed to be someone with great integrity and sense of justice, but that didn't feel adequately conveyed by the characterisation - she trotted through the story breaking the law on a whim, using other people as suited her needs and never seeming to consider anything to be an action she wouldn't take because it was against her ethical system or what have you.

New week of flute practice:
  • Harmonic Exercise 1 - still splitting notes
  • Tone Exercises 1-4 - lowest notes are the biggest problem, but the whole lot can be breathy at times
  • Technique Daily Exercises I, major & minor - up to top B now
  • Technique Scale Exercise A - up to top B
  • Platonov Studies 5 & 6 - these are all definitely too easy so far, but it's fun to play something I can just play
  • Teleman, still working at the the embellished Adagio, the Vivace is getting faster
Current Mood: contentcontent
Current Music: Maxïmo Park "A Certain Trigger"
Ceci n'est pas une viemarble on February 3rd, 2006 12:48 pm (UTC)
You might find this useful:

I just used the service they recommend to switch to Powergen Age Concern, so I get 12.50 for using the service, and PG sent me a bunch of energy saving bulbs for joining them too.
Margaretpling on February 3rd, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC)
£12.50 back from the service isn't enough to make me switch in & of itself, but I shall keep that in mind if I do decide to switch anyway, thanks :)
Onyxonyx_uk on February 3rd, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
I have moved over from npower to Londen Energy from noticing them on USwitch. I know I will make quite a saving since the higher tariff on London energy is lower than the lower tariff on npower. The difference is about 5p a unit for electricity and 0.7p for gas. I also get approximately 30 quid for doing everything online and DD and I get necter points too.
Margaretpling on February 3rd, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC)
That does sound like a decent difference - the differences I was seeing were pretty much all in the fractions of pence range for electricity as well as gas, I think the Powergen tariff we're currently on is just one of the better ones for our area or something.
Jonathanmcurtains on February 3rd, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
It's worth noting that uswitch is not exactly an impartial comparison service; they take payments from some suppliers to show tarifs that are not available generally.

For green + cheap electricity I recommend npower juice.
Margaretpling on February 3rd, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC)
Right, I wasn't aware of that - but I guess that's better so long as I switch through it as I'll then get even better deals than if I do the research myself (if there was anything worth switching to anyway).

And thanks for the link, but I think it looks a bit more expensive than we're currently on and I was looking to save money :)