Week 1 on the Intelligent Octopus Tariff.
With wholesale energy prices rising and the price of domestic energy increasing, I decided it was time to jump ship to a new fixed deal for my electricity. I have an Electric Vehicle and charging at peak rates isn’t something I want to consider if I can help it. The lower unit rates offered by Octopus Energy for EV charging have always been attractive but they increased in price in January 2022 and I can see another price increase looming.
I may be wrong but for my own sanity, I decided to not only take a new 12-month fixed deal early but also try a new beta tariff being developed by Octopus, the Intelligent Octopus tariff.
Switching from Octopus Go Faster to Octopus Intelligent.
I love tech but like most people, I also feel more comfortable with what I know and the Intelligent tariff is anything but traditional. Nonetheless, needs must, and in the interest of saving money and helping both the planet and Octopus, I decided to sign up for the new Intelligent tariff.
The switch from my Octopus Go Faster tariff to the Intelligent tariff was much easier than I expected. I already had the Octopus app on my iPhone and just needed to complete some preliminary questions within the app. There isn’t a separate app for the tariff its all done on the standard Octopus Energy app you’ll find in the Appstore.
Within the Octopus app I was asked to confirm;
- EV make and model.
- Charger make and model.
- Number of EVs at my home.
I was then asked to sign into my Tesla account. I presume this is to allow Octopus to have access to my Tesla’s API so they can remotely control my charge. The final step they asked me to plug in my EV (Tesla Model Y) and let Octopus try and conduct a test charge.
The test charge took a few minutes to complete and the signup process was complete…eek! All of the boxes had now been ticked.
How best to use the Intelligent Octopus tariff. – My first few days.
After some reading, I realised the best thing to do is to plug in your EV as soon as you get home. After completing the Octopus app with how much charge you need and by when you are all good to go. The Octopus app will let you know your schedule at 5 pm or later if you plug in after 5 pm.
Plugging in early isn’t an issue as its what I do anyway with Octopus Go.
I plugged in my EV and completed the charge schedule on the Octopus app.
There isn’t a separate app for the Intelligent tariff. A new icon appears at the bottom of the Octopus app once you have linked your EV up during the setup process. You simply click on this button and let Octopus know how much charge you will need and by when. I set mine to 80% by 10 am.
Day 1 Result – When I woke up I quickly checked my charge status on my Tesla app. It hadn’t charged. I did wonder if I had over complicated my charging experience just to get a few extra hours of charge a week BUT I then remembered how much prices have risen! An extra few hours of 7.5p per kWh instead of 30p per kWh is worth a bit of head-scratching! It all adds up at the end of the month when you get your utility bill.
I am always on Twitter so decided to tweet Octopus to ask for help. After a flurry of answers from lots of helpful people, including Octopus it was obvious that I had my Zappi charger on the wrong setting. I should have had it on Fast mode. You basically need to make sure your charge is in dumb mode. No schedules lurking in the background on your chargers app but have it simply ready to charge.
My battery was now down to around 36% and I needed a full charge by the next morning. My Zappi charger was in fast mode and I plugged in. I went to the Octopus app but couldn’t schedule a charge. The screen seemed to be stuck on a little timer. The type you get when you are waiting for a page to load but nothing happened.
I was really tired and just wanted to plug and go. Whilst standing outside I took to Twitter and banged off a tweet asking for help. I left the EV plugged in and went into my house. By the time I had taken my coat off and sat down, which didn’t take long, I received a reply from the CEO of Octopus, Greg Jackson. I also had a reply from one of his energy boffins who had fixed the issue!!! How mad is that?? 👏💚🐙
Hey Sarah – can’t have you chargeless! Not sure if it’s app, charger or sthg else but I’ll get a boffin for you now
— Greg Jackson (@g__j) March 18, 2022
I went into the Octopus app and requested 100% by 4 am. It was around 7.50 pm and the schedule instantly appeared in the app. My EV was due to start charging at 7.55 pm! I would get almost 9 hours of off-peak rates thanks to an early charging schedule. So I filled my washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher and got them all on as well.
If Octopus decides to start charging your EV outside the off-peak 11.30 pm to 5.30 pm slot you got all your home energy at the off-peak rates during these time slots as well! I woke to a fully charged EV and lots of clean washing!!!
I had picked up some tips from Octopus customers on Twitter and was all ready to go. I paused smart charging in the Octopus app in the morning. (This ensures there’s nothing extra going on in the background of your EV to drain the battery any quicker than it should.) So I clicked on smart charging in the Octopus app, plugged in and set my schedule.
This time the EV started to charge but didn’t stop after a minute or two as it had previously done! Ten minutes in and I manually paused the charge in the Tesla app. I tried this a few times but it just kept charging and at peak rate!
What should happen is that the EV starts charging when you plug in but then stops. Octopus can tell you have plugged in and they automatically stop the charge until your charging schedule is ready and then the schedule kicks in. Today, however, it just seemed to keep charging and I didn’t really want any charge at peak rate!
I tweeted Octopus and tagged one of their boffins who had replied the previous day. Within minutes I received a very upbeat reply. Apparently, it can take up to 15 minutes for the charge to stop once you have plugged your EV in. There’s a cycle where Octopus checks your EV status and after checking it will pause the charge but it depends where in the cycle you are.
I asked if pausing the charge on my Tesla app would cause an issue, it doesn’t. When your intelligent schedule is ready to charge Octopus will automatically unpause the charge.
So going forward what have I learnt about the Intelligent Octopus tariff?
When I get home I will;
- Reactivate smart charging in the Octopus app.
- Plugin my EV.
- Pause charging in my Tesla app.
- Set my charging limit and time I need the car by in the Octopus app.
In the morning I will deactivate the smart charging in the Octopus app and be on my merry way!! I’ll just get Octopus off its sunlounger and click “Enable Smart Charging” when I get home.
From what Octopus have said there is a fix on the way which will mean you won’t have to activate and deactivate smart charging but for now, it’s an easy workaround for the issue.
Is the Intelligent tariff as easy and convenient as Octopus Go?
The Intelligent Octopus tariff sounds a lot more complicated than plug in and go. When I was on the Octopus Go faster tariff that’s what I did. I had my Octopus Go Faster schedule all set up in my Zappi app so it matched my off-peak rate times. My EV then only charged during these times regardless of when I plugged it in.
In reality, I could do the same on the Intelligent Octopus tariff. You get off-peak rates between 11.30 pm and 5.30 am on the Intelligent tariff. You don’t need to schedule a charge more than once a month. That’s in the terms of the tariff I believe. So I could simply reprogram my Zappi with my new off-peak times and use it the same way as I did with Octopus GO but I would then get 6 hours instead of 4. I would just need to remember to use the Octopus app to schedule one charge a month.
Even though I am really busy with the kids and could do with just a straightforward charge the benefits of experimenting with the new Intelligent tariff is well worth it. Octopus allocated me 9 hours off-peak on day 2 that’s quite a saving as all my energy around the home is charged at the same rate. Plus I know that someone else is making sure I use energy when it is at its greenest and there is less demand on the national grid. It’s, without doubt, a win/win.
If you want to charge urgently and not wait for a schedule you can just click “bump” and charge at peak rates. You could also deactivate smart charging and just plugin.
For Geeks and way beyond my technical ability.
If you are into your tech and you schedule battery storage as well as your EV this may be worth looking at in Github. It’s a Python script that links with the Intelligent Octopus API.
If you are thinking of switching to the Intelligent Octopus tariff give it a go!
I hope you have found this blog post useful. It should help if you are setting up your intelligent tariff for the first time. There isn’t much on the internet at the moment on this tariff as its so new but I really think it’s the way it will all go in the future.
My personal suggestions to improve the Intelligent Octopus tariff.
I have suggested to Octopus that they add a confirmation alert after a charge has been successfully completed. Knowing when your EV charged and that it charged at the off-peak rates would just add some reassurance for customers. They have already replied saying this is on their to-do list. You really can’t beat that!
How much will it cost to fully charge my Tesla Model Y on the Intelligent Octopus tariff?
My Tesla Model Y has an 82 kWh battery. The off-peak rate for the Intelligent Octopus tariff is 7.5p per kWh. 82 x 7.5 kWh = £6.15 for a full charge. 👏🌈🚗❌🏭❌⛽️🥳🥳