iPhone apps for Octopus Energy customers

There are now a few different mobile apps to choose from if you’re a customer of Octopus with a smart meter and an iPhone or iPad: Octopus’s own octopusenergy (free), Octopus Energy — Agile Watcher (£0.79), Octopus Energy Watchdog (£0.99) and Octopus Watch (£1.99 — with optional subscription for additional features). Since I’ve now tried most of these apps, I decided to write a review of each of these, to help end users select the best app for them.

Note that since I wrote this post, a new free app, Octopus Compare, has been released (link to appstore). It doesn’t handle gas or export, but on the plus side does handle Go / Go Faster tariffs. I’d say it is definitely worth getting, perhaps alongside one of the others.

Part of my phone’s homescreen!

It is important to note at the start that with the exception of octopusenergy, these apps are designed for customers on Octopus’s Agile tariff. They can be used by smart meter customers on other tariffs, which will at least tell you your consumption (and what your electricity would have cost on Agile), but you will miss out on much of the value of the app.

octopusenergy (free)

This is the app (link to appstore) created by Octopus Energy itself, and is aimed at general customers, many of whom won’t have smart meters. It shows you your recent bills, but has no ability to drill into them. It lets you submit a meter reading (though this is unnecessary for smart meter customers). If you have a smart meter, I probably wouldn’t bother with this app over the Octopus Website.

Octopus Energy Watchdog (£0.99)

Octopus Energy Watchdog (link to appstore) has been my go-to app for the past year — it gives Agile prices, historic electricity costs (reflecting Agile prices and actual consumption), and historic gas consumption. There are nice charts which I have grown to find helpful, and the ability to download two months of historic consumption and price data.

Octopus Energy Watchdog — Usage

Octopus Energy — Agile Watcher (£0.79)

This app (link to appstore) has improved quite a bit recently, and now does much of what Octopus Energy Watchdog does, at a slightly cheaper price point. It displays 30 days of historic consumption (electricity and gas) as well as 7 days of Agile prices. All information is provided as tables (ie no charts), and there is no way to export prices to csv.

All up it is a good app, I just felt that Octopus Energy Watchdog had enough extra features to justify spending the extra 20 pence, at least as things currently stand.

Octopus Energy — Agile Watcher

Octopus Watch — base version (£1.99)

The base version of Octopus Watch is also a good product, with quite similar functionality to Octopus Energy Watchdog. The main limitation of Octopus Watch relative to OEW is that it doesn’t include gas. On the plus side, it allows you to easily see when the cheapest rates are (I like the ability to sort by price). It has functionality to set alerts, or interact with Siri, which both seem very useful. It also allows you to download 3 months of historic data, which is more than OEW’s 2 months. A final benefit of Octopus Watch is that it allows you to subscribe to get additional features described in the next section.

Octopus Watch with Subscription (£1.99 + £7.99 per year/£0.99 per month)

Octopus Watch offers a subscription to get additional features: ability to drill down into the daily history, carbon intensity, predicted Agile prices out to 48 hours, and a consumption analysis report. Whether you find these worth paying for will depend on your level of consumption flexibility and engagement. Personally, I’m not too interested in carbon intensity (I shift my demand based on Agile price), but some people do find this really useful — it can be set to notify you when the lowest carbon periods are to turn on your washing machine. For me, the subscription is worth it for the predictions and the analysis report. But I could well imagine others deciding the base product or Octopus Energy Watchdog was sufficient.

Some general comments

Each of Octopus Energy Watchdog, Octopus Energy Agile Watcher, and Octopus Watch rely on the Octopus API, which relies on Octopus getting the right data from your smart meter. This isn’t guaranteed, and if Octopus can’t reliably collect your data, there is nothing that any of these app developers can do to overcome that. For most customers it is mostly alright, but be warned.

Related to this, each of the apps has come up with a different way of deciding when to check for new data. Agile Watcher seems to do it most often. Octopus Energy Watchdog checks when you go into the app, and then again each hour — if you want to jog it into checking again, you can just exit the app and reopen it. Octopus Watch generally checks each hour, but does do some clever stuff to pull in more frequently after 4pm when the latest prices are generally available. Octopus Energy Watchdog currently defaults to only pulling in consumption data since the latest figure it had previously collected, but there is the ability to force a full refresh.

Each of these apps try to pick up your meter details automatically, but occasionally they fail, for example picking up your export meter instead of your import (consumption) meter. Each app allows you to manually override these settings, which can come in handy. Some people take advantage of this flexibility to have two apps, one set to pull in consumption and one to pull in export volumes.

Conclusion

Octopus Agile customers with iPhones are now well served for apps that help us track our prices and costs, so a lot of thanks should go to each of the developers. My view is that having one of these will definitely save you time, and almost definitely money.

I would like to see at least one of these apps introduce real functionality for customers who aren’t on Agile (say if they are on a fixed tariff or GO) — these customers may not be screaming out for an app, but it would be useful. And finally, if one of the apps allowed customers to enter an export MPAN as well as an import one, that would be useful functionality for the minority of customers who do have both.

Note for users of other platforms

Octopus Watch is available for Android and Apple Watch. There are also apps called Octopus Agile and Octopus Tariff for Android, but I haven’t used either of these (I don’t have an Android phone). Finally, both the Octopus website and my own smart meter website (described here) work for anyone with a web browser — though obviously a website loses a lot of the easy usability found in an app.

Fascinated by what makes societies and markets work, especially in sustainable energy. http://guylipman.com.

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