Getting comfortable with energy bills

by Tim Deakin Domestic Energy News

Getting comfortable with energy bills

Here’s everything you need to know about your gas and electricity bills

Energy bills aren’t the easiest things to understand. With all sorts of numbers and jargon involved, it can be difficult to get your head around exactly how much you’re paying and why you’re paying it.

But getting to grips with your household overheads is obviously important. How else are you going to know if you’re paying a fair rate for your gas and electricity? That’s why we’ve created this handy guide revealing everything you need to know in order to get comfortable with your energy bills.

Back to basics

Energy providers are obliged by Ofgem to ensure that bills are simple and engaging, but for many people the combination of tables, technical terms and small print can still be confusing. The amount of information included in your bill will differ from provider to provider, but a typical energy bill will include:

• The name of your tariff or plan • Your energy consumption • Conditions of your contract, such as exit fees and end dates • Contact details • Information on cheaper tariffs

Our instinct is often to glance at our bill, see what we owe, then put it away, but try reading your energy bill cover to cover to absorb some of this key information. This will help you to compare and contrast different tariffs when the time comes to shop around at the end of your contract.

Understanding and comparing your tariff

Your bill will likely include a comparison rate, showing how your tariff stands up against other options. This is a bit like the APR rates on loans and credit cards, and makes it easier to compare costs across the market.

Ask yourself: could I get a cheaper deal? If you’re on a standard tariff, the answer is probably yes.

Your energy consumption

Of course, one of the most important aspects of your bill is your energy consumption. Check the amount of energy you’re using in kWh (kilowatt hours), and also check whether your meter readings are listed accurately.

There is a code to help you with this. If you’ve supplied the meter readings yourself, you should see a C for ‘customer’ beside the figures. If someone else has come to take your meter readings, you’ll see an A for ‘actual’, while estimated meter readings will be listed as ‘estimated’.

If you get an especially high bill, make sure you check whether it’s based on accurate or estimated meter readings. It might just be that the estimated readings are too high, in which case you’ll need to call up your supplier, provide the actual readings and ask for a revised bill.

Check the terms and conditions!

The dreaded Ts and Cs might be boring, but they’re also important. They should be clearly set out on your bill, and will detail the specifics of your current plan, such as exit fees should you wish to change tariffs.

You should get between 42 and 49 days’ notice of the end of a fixed term contract, and exit fees should no longer apply once you’ve received this notice. This means you’re free to switch to another tariff.

It’s always worth checking other tariffs once you’ve received this notice, as the alternative is often to be put on a standard rate which won’t offer any incentives and savings. Sometimes it’s even worth switching in spite of exit fees if the savings are worth it.

Check your emergency contact

You should find details of how to pay your bill and contact details for your supplier on your bill too. Make sure you take a note of these details, as you should contact your supplier if anything goes wrong with your supply. If you’re struggling to pay your bills, get in touch with your supplier and see if there’s any help they can offer, such as a prepayment meter.

Hoping to find a better deal for your energy use? Let The Energy Check help. Click here to start using our comparison service, or get in touch with our team today by calling 0800 031 48 00.

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