Energy Bills & Statements…
It’s true there are more fun things to do than examine your energy bill – and often they are not the easiest thing to read. But bills contain a lot of useful information – much more than just what has to be paid. They provide information on how much energy has been used, whether bills are based on estimates or actual readings, your customer reference number and a range of information on your tariff and charges.
Whether you receive bills online or by post its important to check that they are accurate but also to see if there are ways to reduce future bills. Energy companies will have different ways of presenting your bill but generally they should all contain similar information…and you should be able to spot details like your annual consumption, tariff name and unit rate.
Also remember if you manage your account online you can check your bills, and previous bills whenever you like as well as comparing energy usage and submit meter readings.
For people who use a prepayment meter (Pay as You Go) there will not receive a regular bill but will receive an annual summary or statement. This will include details of the tariff, energy used and other information.
What you should find on an Energy Bill…
Although the exact wording may differ bills from energy suppliers contain similar information:
Name and Address
Check the bill is addressed to you and is for the correct property which is displayed under the Supply Address. If you have not registered with the supplier the account may be addressed to “the occupier”. If so contact the supplier and register your details. If you are moving out of a property, your supplier may require a forwarding address in order to close your account.
Account or Customer Reference Number
This is your unique identification number and is usually printed at the top of your bill.
Meter or Gas Point Reference Number
This number identifies the property and meter to which the gas or electricity is supplied.
Check that the bill only covers periods when you were living in the property.
Meter Serial Number
The meter serial number on the bill should be the same as the number printed on your meter. If these are different, then the bill may not be for your meter and you should contact your supplier so this can be rectified.
Check your meter reading on your bill against that on your meter to ensure it is compatible. If a reading is estimated (E) or has been provided by the customer this should be stated on the bill alongside the reading. If your reading is estimated contact your supplier with an up-to-date reading. This will ensure you receive a bill based upon an actual meter reading. If you have difficulty reading your meter, contact your supplier and ask what assistance they can provide.
The amount used is usually shown on the bill next to the meter readings and is the actual number of units used during the period of the bill.
Do you have a brought forward balance?
If the bill is high, check for a ‘brought forward balance’ or ‘balance from previous bill’. This means that money you owe from a previous period has been added to your latest bill.
Payments that you have made are usually recorded on the bill. Check that these are correct. It is always a good idea to keep receipts for any payments you have made.
Amount to pay
This is the total amount that is due for payment. Check whether the bill is for a debit or credit amount. If the total to pay has a minus sign (-) next to it, or the letters CR, then your account is in credit and you do not owe any money.
More About Gas and Electricity Bills
Electricity and Gas bills are charged in pence per Kilowatt hour (kWh) and meters usually measure in kWh.
The rate you pay will depend on the tariff you are on, the company you are with, your payment method and how you receive bills. The best rates are usually available if you choose to pay by direct debit and receive bills online.
If you see two different rates on your bill this may mean that your rates changed during the billing period. This may because the tariffs have been changed/reviewed within the billing period or an introductory discount period may have ended.
Some suppliers may also display a breakdown of average daily consumption and a consumption comparison graph to compare usage with the same period last year. Both bills and annual statements will also provide a summary of ‘Fuel Mix’ which explains the fuels used to generate your electricity and their impact on the environment.
Unexpected HIGH Bill
The following are common reasons why some bills may be higher than others. You should check these to ensure your bill is accurate.
Although an obvious point make sure the bill is for the correct address and not for another property. Also make sure you have not been billed for the wrong meter by checking the Meter or Gas Point Reference Number or Meter Serial Number on your bill actually match the numbers on your meter.
Check whether the meter readings are estimated (an E may be displayed beside the meter reading). Estimated bills will not be as accurate as as actual meter readings. If this is the case, take an actual meter reading and provide it to your supplier so they can produce an accurate bill. If you are moving home let your supplier know and provide a closing meter read otherwise your account will be estimated.
If the bill is based on an actual meter reading – check the reading on your bill against your meter. An inaccurate meter reading has been used by mistake.
Check that the bill covers the dates you were resident in your home and not for dates before you moved in. Also ensure that when comparing billing periods you take into account summer usage will often differ from winter usage.
Not receiving bills
If you are using a utility service and not receiving bills it might be tempting to say nothing…but you have a responsibility to bring this to the attention of the supplier. Consumers often believe that if the company does not bill them they won’t have to pay. This is not true and you will receive a backdated bill for overall usage once this error is identified.
If you think there may be a fault, keep a log of meter readings every day for a week. If you have done this and still think there’s a fault, contact your supplier with this information. They can carry out tests on your meter to find out whether is faulty.