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Blog Post 8 February 2022

How to understand your energy bill

Energy bills are set to rise across Great Britain from 1 April, and while the UK Government has introduced some measures to offset the increase, it needs to go a lot further to cover the full 54% increase.  

A typical household could save up to £356 a year by following our energy saving tips. This won’t cover the whole increase but, combined with support from the government, it will go some way to reducing your bills. 

Why do I need to read my energy bill?

Before you can reduce your energy use and start saving, you need to know how much gas and electricity you use – and how much you spend on using it – in the first place.

All this information is in your bill. It’s usually split into gas and electricity use.

It’s more important than ever to check your energy bills, not only to stay informed and in control, but also to ensure you’re not paying too much.

What’s included on my energy bill?

Although bills from each energy supplier will look different, they should all contain the same information. This includes:

  • Your name and address.
  • The name of your energy supplier.
  • A customer reference or account number.
  • What tariff you’re on for your gas and electricity. This is the price you pay per unit for any gas or electricity you use, along with any standing charge (a fixed daily amount you have to pay for energy, regardless of how much you use). Tariffs are identified by their name, which can be found on your bill. The main two tariff types are fixed rate and variable. Your energy supplier might offer different tariffs or call them by different names.
  • The tariff comparison rate. This is the amount that the tariff would cost a typical customer, which can help you compare energy tariffs offered by different suppliers.
  • The amount of gas and electricity you have used in the past period covered by the bill (this could be a month, quarter or year).
  • The serial numbers for your gas and electricity meters.
  • A record of the gas and electricity meter readings, which are used to calculate how many units of energy you’ve used.
  • The amount of money you need to pay your energy supplier, along with a breakdown of charges.

What should I check on my energy bill?

Now you’ve got this list, the first thing to do is to check all the information is correct. If any of the information listed below is inaccurate, you could be paying the wrong amount, or even paying for someone else’s gas and electricity!

  1. Check the name on the bill is right, and it isn’t addressed to ‘the occupier’, as well as the address details.
  2. Make sure the dates which the billing period covers are not before or after you lived in the property.
  3. Check the meter serial numbers match the ones written on your gas and electricity meters.
  4. Check the MPAN and MPRN on your bill match the ones on your meters. The meter point administration number, or MPAN, is a 12-digit code on your electricity meter. The meter point reference number, or MPRN, is a number between six and 11 digits on your gas meter.

If these or any other details are wrong, contact your supplier to make sure they are corrected. A new bill should then be sent out to you.

Why do I need to take meter readings?

If you don’t give your energy supplier meter readings, they guess how much you’ve used based on the information about what that property has used in the past.

This is known as estimated readings. Your bill may show ‘estimated’ or ‘E’ in front of the reading to show that it’s based on estimated readings.

Estimated readings can be over or under what you’re actually using, and could lead to problems with billing.

If your energy supplier has underestimated how much energy you’re using, you could end up owing money that you haven’t budgeted for. On the other hand, if your energy supplier has overestimated how much energy you’re using, you could end up paying higher bills than you need to.

To avoid this, take accurate meter readings and provide them to your energy supplier, who should be able to send out an accurate bill.

How do I take accurate meter readings?

Look at the reading number on your meter and write it down. Many energy companies allow you to submit these readings online or provide an automated phone service to let you do this.

If you’re not sure how to read your meter, Citizens Advice have a handy guide that tells you how.

If it’s in an awkward spot that is difficult to access, your energy supplier may be able to arrange to move it for you. Speak to them about your options.

If you have a smart meter, your meter readings should be accurate and you won’t need to read your meter or submit regular readings, although it doesn’t hurt to check!

What happens to my energy bills when I move house?

Many problems with gas and electricity bills happen when you move property. When you move, always take final meter readings from the previous property and contact your previous supplier to close the account at that property.

Take gas and electricity meter readings on the day you take responsibility of your new property (ie the day you move in or agree the sale of the property), and give these to the existing gas and electricity supplier of the new property.

In the new property, you can change supplier once you have given your meter readings to the existing supplier (ie the company that supplied the previous owner/tenant, and which will still be set up to provide gas and electricity to the property).

To recap

  1. If you’re having problems with your gas or electricity bills, check that your details are correct on the bill.
  2. Avoid estimated readings by giving your supplier actual meter readings.
  3. Give meter readings to the supplier at your previous and new properties when you move house.

Now you know how much energy you’re using – whether it’s gas, electricity, or both – follow our advice, keep an eye on your monthly energy bill, and see how much you could save.

Last updated: 8 February 2022