19 Oct 2018
Understanding your energy bill
Energy bills can be filled with confusing jargon, which means customers often don’t pay much attention to them. However, monthly bills can be a vital way stay on top of energy consumption and manage household outgoings.
The benefits of regularly checking your energy bill
By regularly checking energy bills, customers can stay up to date with their household’s energy consumption. This means they’ll be able to accurately identify periods of heavy gas and electricity usage. This makes it possible to take steps to cut back at those peak times and save money. It also means customers can spot if their usage suddenly spikes – this could be due to an error. The sooner you notice these issues the sooner they can be rectified.
Bills will also show if there are any tariff changes, meaning customers know when their contract is due to end and if they can find a better deal elsewhere.
What is included on your energy bill?
To help you understand your energy bill a bit better, here is a quick rundown of all the different things that will appear on your bill and what they mean.
Energy supplier name
This is the name of the company that supplies either your gas, electricity or both. Most suppliers offer dual fuel discounts, meaning you can save money by getting your gas and electricity from a single supplier.
The name of your chosen energy tariff
The tariff you are on will affect how much you pay for your energy and what, if any, additional benefits you are entitled to. Your bill should include a tariff comparison rate too, which makes it easy to compare your tariff to others to see if you are on the best deal.
Your energy usage in kilowatt hours
The gas and electricity you use is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Your chosen supplier and the tariff you are on will affect how much you are charged for each kWh you consume, as well as the area you live and the method you choose to pay your bills. Other charges that may be applied include standing charges, which is a fixed charge from your supplier for providing gas and electricity, as well as VAT, which is capped at 5%.
The dates of your energy usage
This is the period for which you are being billed. This is helpful to identify which times of the year your energy usage tends to increase or decrease. If you owe money to the supplier, the amount will be identified as debit and either your monthly direct debits will increase as a result, or you will be back billed for the amount you owe.
If you have been overcharged, then the amount will be marked as credit. In this case, your monthly direct debits may reduce. You can request a refund; however, this can take a long time to process. It can be a good idea to leave the credit in your account to be used towards periods of higher energy consumption, such as winter.
Meter reference number
The bill will also include your MPAN for your electricity meter and your MPRN for your gas meter. These unique numbers allow you to identify for which meter you are being charged. If you decide to switch supplier, you may need to provide them with this reference number.
Another helpful way to determine if you are on the best deal, your personal projection. This estimates how much energy you will use in the next year. It’s based on your current tariff and energy consumption.
When your contract is due to end
If you are thinking of switching, then you may want to pay attention to the date that your current contract ends.
Is your bill based on actual or estimated readings?
Your energy bill will also show you whether your charges are based on actual meter readings or an estimation of your usage. Your bill will usually include a ‘C’ for customer to indicate you have supplied meter readings or an ‘A’ for actual if the supplier has taken the readings. Alternatively, it may include an ‘E’ for an estimated reading. If you are being charged based on estimated readings, then you could end up paying too much or too little for your energy usage.
It is recommended that you provide your supplier with up-to-date meter readings at least every three months. You can supply them with readings over the phone or via your online account as frequently as you like, and this information will allow your supplier to adjust your bills accordingly.
Another great option for tracking your energy usage is to have a smart meter installed. Most energy suppliers offer smart meters at no extra cost and installation is so quick and easy. They allow you to accurately track your gas and electricity usage in real time and they will automatically send readings to your supplier, so you don’t have to.
Different ways to pay your bill
Your bill will also include the method in which you pay your supplier. One of the best payment methods is by monthly direct debit. Not only will this automatically take payment from your account each month, but most suppliers also offer discounts for direct debit customers.
Other payment methods available include monthly or quarterly payments, as well as prepayment meters, which are usually offered to customers who struggle to meet their bill payments. Prepayment meters allow you to top them up with cash as and when you need to use gas and electricity.
Going paperless with your energy bill
If you want to be more environmentally friendly, then you have the option to go paperless with your energy bills. Some suppliers even offer discounts for customers who do so. Not only will you be reducing the use of paper, but you will also be able to access your past bills. By referring to past statements, you will be able to more accurately analyse your energy usage to determine if you can find a better deal elsewhere.
How Hoppy can help
If you’ve looked over your energy bill and feel that it’s a little too high, then you can compare energy deals in your area in just a few clicks with Hoppy. Give it a go and see if you could save money by switching today.