A Consumer’s Perspective by Monica O’Wheel
In 2014, I decided to replace my gas hot water storage system with a solar hot water system. It was a significant investment, but it has been well worth it. I chose a vacuum tube system, which is not affected by frost or leakage. In winter, I use the electric booster, but in summer, the sun is enough to heat the water right through to April.
I live in a retirement village, where gas can only be used for hot water. After installing the solar hot water system, I closed my gas account, but management did not allow me to disconnect the gas connection to my house completely. As a result, my gas supplier continued to send me supply charges. I disputed this with them, but they continued to send the bills. I did not pay them, and I contacted the Energy Ombudsman. The Ombudsman said that the gas supplier had the right to continue to send the bills for a year, but I didn’t have to pay them.
My village management has now decided to replace all gas hot water systems with electric systems, hopefully, heat pump ones when they need replacement.
I hear reports that people are being charged outrageous amounts to have the gas to their home cut off so that the fossil fuel companies can squeeze the last bit of profit out of the consumers before they deal with their stranded assets. If you are also considering getting off gas, I suggest you close your gas account, ignore the supply charges for a year, and be free of gas.
Why get off gas?
There are many reasons to get off the gas. Gas is a fossil fuel, and burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change. Gas is also a dangerous substance. It is odourless and colourless, so it can be difficult to detect leaks. It contributes to indoor pollution with health impacts. Gas leaks can lead to explosions and fires.
How to get off gas?
If you are considering getting off gas, the first step after replacing your cooking, heating, and water heating with electric appliances is to close your gas account. You can do this by contacting your gas supplier. Once you have closed your account, your gas supplier will send you a final bill. You will need to pay this bill, even if you have a dispute with the supplier.
What to do if you have a dispute with your gas supplier?
If you have a dispute with your gas supplier, you can contact the Energy Ombudsman. The Energy Ombudsman is an independent organisation that helps resolve disputes between energy consumers and suppliers.
Getting off gas is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint and improve safety. If you are considering getting off gas, be sure to close your gas account, turn off your gas at the meter and contact the Energy Ombudsman if you have any disputes with your gas supplier.