I have always thought myself to be realistic and practical.
When buying a new printer for the computer, we took into account not only the purchase price, but how much it would cost (laser or ink cartridge) to ‘feed’, what we actually wanted to print, how many or how often.
The same went for replacing the washing machine.
We wanted it to wash our clothes, have an economy cycle and twin spin speeds.
We did not need a dryer, umpteen fancy options, nor for it to practically make the tea with a hot water fill.
We applied similar logic when buying a new car. After all, it’s a fat lot of good having the biggest and best in butch looks and technology looking impressive in your driveway if you can’t afford the insurance and running costs to keep it on the road.
Neither is it sensible to buy something compact if you need a shoe horn to get yourself in and out of it, or you have a large dog that takes up the whole of the passenger seats and boot (trunk) space.
Now we are hoping to downsize by moving house, and I have just had one of the biggest wake up calls in my life.
I am very proud of the way we live. We don’t have expensive or extravagant taste, we like the simple things, and our home is cheap to run. Well for us, anyway.
We have done the best we can to make it as economical and energy cost-effective as possible, which is reflected in the Energy Performance Certificate that is now required here in the UK before you can market your property. We looked at a very nice 2 bedroom detached bungalow which would be ideal for us, being ‘Toothbrush Perfect’, insomuch as we could move in and have to do nothing, except perhaps a little personal tweak here and there which you do to make a house your Home anyway.
The vendor has been a total brick (pun intended) and provided us with copies of the utility bills so that I could come home and run the figures.
This is what I do best. I am a number cruncher, accounts worker, financial analyst, credit controller, whatever you want to call me, though I have no fancy piece of paper to say that.
On looking at the electricity bill I blanched, trying to keep my composure and not show my ‘Oh shit’ shock. Hubby didn’t miss it though. We know each other too well.
I had already anticipated that local taxes and water rates would be higher.
We have private drainage and buying somewhere with mains sewage will add a further £250 to £300 a year to our outgoings.
Our oil boiler runs the central heating and provides hot water, whereas the property we’re interested in has electricity storage heaters and an immersion heater for hot water.
We have three bedrooms, 2 receptions, conservatory, kitchen and bathroom, plus garage. This property has 2 bedrooms (the second being used as a study and opens into the conservatory) , lounge, open plan kitchen and a bathroom plus a garage alongside.
It’s half the size of ours, and even though it is heated with electricity, I thought with the swings and roundabouts theory (ie. no oil but more on the electric bill) , I had a good idea of how much the bill would be.
Shit isn’t a strong enough expletive.
Our current electricity usage is less than 1800 kwh per annum (av 4.5 kwh a day) , and our bill around £280 for the year.
According to the March 2014 bill, theirs is 35 kwh a day (Jan -Mch) with an annual estimate of almost 9000, at a cost of nearly thirteen hundred pounds.
Go back a few paragraphs, and you will see that our property is TWICE AS BIG AS THEIRS, so I thought I was being realistic in my expectations.
I know the cost of electricity had gone up. We’ve had price increases, but I kept an eye on the comparison sites and am on a fixed tariff until April 2015.
Our current provider cannot improve on their bill tariff, mainly because there are 4 different rates with 3 sets of standing charges, and they have nothing like it. However, their own provider does have an alternative that could save them £272 a year, which I shall pass on.
If we were to go ahead and place an acceptable offer (which I’m afraid would be WAY below the asking price) , we would have the electric heating and multi meters taken out, but the cost of either oil central heating or alternative means of heating the water as well as the house in winter could cost in the region of £5000, even for a house that small.
It is illogical to purchase such a property which will cost more to run when we are already on a stretched budget. The whole idea of downsizing was to save money, not give it to the fat cats of the electricity board!