Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Bills, bills, bills.
Energy bills can be confusing. Your energy bill contains really important information, but they are often filled with confusing terms, codes and numbers. At The Energy Community we often get asked for help on how to understand energy bills. And, we know that for you to save the most money on your bills getting to know your bill is one of the most important steps. We want to help you in understanding your energy bill. In this Know-How we will cover the basic parts which are common to all bills (no matter which supplier you are with), explain what each bit means, why they are important and how you can use them.
Your energy bill is probably the only way that you will have contact with your energy supplier in a year. Most people will receive bills regularly, probably once every three months, but for some people you may only receive a statement once a year, particularly if you are on a prepayment meter.
All energy bills will look slightly different, but they will contain the same basic information. Below is what a typical quarterly energy bills may look like (front and back). In the following sections we will go through each of the important bits of information and explain what they mean.
Remember there are usually two sides (or more) to your bills! The front side contains a brief summary of your energy usage over the bill period, and the back (or page two, and any additional pages) gives a more detailed breakdown of your energy usage and further information.
Now lets go through the bill in a little more detail and highlight some of the important bits.
1. Name and address – make sure this is correct. We don’t want you paying for the electricity and gas of other people!
2. Bill period – This will be the dates that the bill covers, usually twelve or three months
3. Your account number – This may also be called a customer reference number. This is unique to your account and you will need this every time that you are in contact with your supplier. If you have it to hand when you contact your supplier it will make it easier for them to identify you and deal with your enquiry.
4. Supplier contact information – Different suppliers will have different methods of contact e.g. telephone, web chat, post or e-mail. It is important to quote your account number in your correspondence.
5. Estimate or accurate – Usually printed on the front and in bold, will be whether your bill is based on a meter reading estimate or accurate. If it is an estimate you should read your meters and submit the reading to your supplier quickly. Your bill may then be re-calculated so it accurate and charges you what you actually used.
6. Your payment history – This will include the balance from your previous bill and any payments made to your account since the previous bill.
7. Your balance – this will tell you whether you are in credit (you are owed money) or debit (you owe money).
8. Your tariff – This will tell you the name of the tariffs you are on. Examples of tariff names include Standard, Fixed (end date). Remember that each energy supplier will often call similar tariffs different things. If you are unsure remember to ask. If you are on a fixed tariff you will also be told when it ends and any exit fees for leaving that tariff early.
9. Your personal projection – This is an estimate about how much energy you will use and how much it will cost over the next 12-months. This is either based on your usage over the previous 12-months or an estimate based on the information you have provided to your supplier (property type, typically monthly spend etc.)
10. A tariff comparison check – Your supplier will tell you whether you are on their cheapest tariff. If not, they will tell you, which is, and how much you could save by switching. Two important things to remember: your supplier will not automatically switch you to their cheapest tariff and they do not compare tariffs from other suppliers. You may be able to save even more money by switching to another supplier.
And now for the second page (back of your bill, or other pages).
11. Meter readings – the previous and current meter reading. Also, you will be told whether these were estimates (this could be shown as an ‘E’ next to the meter reading) or submitted by yourself or read by your energy supplier, therefore accurate (this could be shown as an ‘A’).
12. The number of energy units used – this is the amount of energy that you have used over the bill period and is based on the meter readings. This be shown in kWh. Not sure what a kWh is? Check out one of our old posts.
13. Unit price – This is the price of one unit (one kWh) of energy
14. Standing charge – A standing charge is a set daily charge that covers the cost of maintaining the supply of gas and electricity to your property. This is a fixed price, but varies by supplier. The total charge is calculated as the daily price multiplied by the number of days in the bill period.
15. Discounts – if you pay by direct debit, receive paperless bills or are on a dual fuel tariff you may receive a discount (the size of any discount will vary by supplier).
16. VAT – All energy bill are subject to VAT (set at 5%).
17. Tariff comparison rate (TCR) – This is a quick way of allowing you to compare between tariffs. We discussed TCRs in previous post.
18. Meter point reference (MPR) – a unique number, much like a car registration number, to identify your gas meter. This will be printed on your bill and displayed on your meter.
18. Meter point administration number (MPAN) – the same as the MPR, but displayed on your electricity meter. It is important that the bill you receive matches that on your meter.
19. Meter number – Your meter numbers can help you identify your meter if for example you live in flats or your meters are in communal areas with other peoples. The meter number should be stamped onto the actual meter and will appear on your bill.
Remember, don’t worry if your bill doesn’t look exactly like the one we have shown in this guide. Yours will contain all the same basic information. But, if you are stuck, or unsure, you can always get in tough with us via Facebook or our Twitter. We are always happy to help.
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