Is it time to change energy pricing to ‘meter rent’ and ‘kettles boiled’?

Is it time to change energy pricing to ‘meter rent’ and ‘kettles boiled’?

Is it time to change energy pricing to 'meter rent' and 'kettles boiled'?

Is it time to change energy pricing to 'meter rent' and 'kettles boiled'?

I’m aware this is a bit of an off-the-wall idea, but I want to play with it and test the water. It’s all about the confusion over energy bills, which is one of the things that makes the market less competitive and leaves many – especially older people – overpaying.  I wonder if even just tweaking the language to something that is more visceral could improve it.

So let me make a first stab at it; I’d welcome suggestions for improvement. I’ve modelled it on the pricing of landlines.

Note: I’m deliberately avoiding changing the actual way energy is charged for – which I think could also improve things – but that’s a separate issue.

1. Change ‘standing charge’ to ‘meter rental’. The phrase standing charge isn’t intuitive, especially when "a standing charge is set to zero" (see cheap no standing charge tariffs for more on that).

So why not simply call this ‘monthly meter rental’, a term which I think most people would understand.

2. Change ‘kilowatt hours’ to "kettle boils’. A kilowatt hour is a complex metric. While I would suggest that it remains the underlying measure, I think it could also be explained as an easier term. So I’m going with ‘kettle boils’. This would be a standard unit I estimate to be about 0.15 kWh – but at least it’s understandable (though I’d welcome thoughts on a bigger measure that would make the resulting numbers simpler).

Therefore someone would have a bill saying something akin to:

“Your monthly meter rent is £7.80 and you pay 2p per typical kettle boil. You have used enough electricity to boil the equivalent of 3,612 kettle boils this month so your bill is £7.80 + £72.24 = £80.04".

Now of course many of the people who read this blog will already be pretty energy savvy, and won’t have an issue with standing charges and kWhs. If you are, please don’t think of your own reaction to this. The question is – do you think this would make it easier for many of the general public who find energy bills intimidating and thus never understand it enough to work through comparisons and switch supplier?

So I’d love your response to this below – please include how energy savvy you are – and any suggestions to improve it are welcome.

PS: If you haven’t switched I hope the Cheap Energy Club makes it easier.