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How to read your energy bill

How to read your energy bill

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Last updated: 14 July 2021

Reading your energy bill can be confusing and time consuming. When you have a very busy life, it can be a bit of a drag to sit down and decipher your bills, but it’s very important that you do. You might find that you’re paying too much, and in that case you should think about switching suppliers. 
Energy regulator Ofgem has mandated that all energy companies make their bills easy to decipher. You’ll probably know from experience that this isn’t always the case, so here are a few tips to help you work it out.

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What kind of information will I find on my bill?

Your bill will look different depending on which provider you choose to go with. But you can expect to see some basic info on all of them, such as:
  • The type of tariff you’re on (Standard Variable, Fixed Rate etc)
  • Details of cheaper tariffs with the same provider
  • How much energy your household has used
  • Details about your specific contract (e.g. end date and any potential exit fees)
  • Your energy supplier’s contact information

I’m confused about some of the terms on my bill... Can you help?

Here’s a little glossary of terms to help clarify a few of the items that customers often find confusing.
  • Customer Reference Number is an identification number unique to you, which your energy supplier will use to quickly find your account. You’ll need to quote this if you’re ringing up the company to deal with a customer service issue.
  • Bill Date is the date the supplier issued the bill to you.
  • Bill Period details the period of time this bill covers. It should start the day after your last bill and should cover no more than 1 year.
  • Last Payment is a helpful reminder of the amount you paid on your last bill. It’s important you keep an eye on this so that you can query any big increase that cannot be explained by a season change. If it’s gone up massively, then it might be time to get a new deal.
  • Bill cost before VAT is the cost of your energy usage before Value Added Tax has been included.
  • Amount of VAT added is the amount of Value Added Tax you will pay for this bill.
  • Supply Number (MPAN) is the Meter Point Administration Number. It’s an identification number unique to the ELECTRICITY meter in your property.
  • Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) is the identification number unique to your GAS meter, not to be confused with your MPAN.
  • Energy Usage Breakdown is where the energy supplier will break down your costs for you for the period of time to which the bill relates. It will indicate to you if your supplier is using an actual figure or an estimated reading when calculating the cost of your bill. 
  • Tariff Comparison Rate (TCR) shows you how much you are paying per unit of energy (measured in kilowatts per hour / kWh) once all charges have been included in the cost. This reading will let you compare energy prices from other suppliers more easily.
  • Standing Charge is the fixed amount you are charged per day to go towards the maintenance of your energy supply. However, energy tariffs without standing charges can be found.

How should I check for accurate meter readings?

The most up-to-date meter readings should be displayed on your bill. The reading will be marked with a letter indicating whether or not the reading is accurate or estimated:
  • “C” indicates that you, the CUSTOMER, have supplied the reading information.
  • “A” indicates that a representative of the energy supplier has come to your property and taken an ACTUAL reading of the meter.
  • “E” indicates the bill is based on an ESTIMATED meter reading of the bill. If this is the case, it’s important to contact your supplier to arrange an ACTUAL or CUSTOMER reading as you may be being overcharged. 

Are all energy bills formatted in the same way?

No. There is a certain degree of uniformity in terms of the information presented and the terms used, but not all of them look the same. Some can be a lot longer than others (such as British Gas, npower and SSE). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means you have to spend some time getting used to the layout so you really know what you’re looking at. 

I think I’m paying too much for my energy. How can I switch?

If you think that you’re paying too much, use our handy price comparison engine to see how much you could be saving if you were to switch to another provider. Simply fill in a few details about where you live and your energy usage. We will help you compare energy quotes from across the market to ensure you always get the best deal.
It’s important to be aware of your daily usage so that we can give you an accurate assessment of what you could be saving elsewhere, and whether you should be sticking to the same kind of deal you’re on at the moment. 
For example, if you are now working from home you might find that you want to switch to a business energy contract. Some businesses benefit from cheaper rates than households, for example a reduction in VAT. Find out more information about business energy contracts to see if you’re eligible. 

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Harry Pererra

Author: Harry Pererra

Harry turns on his experience in web design and programming to write about the latest news in the world of tech and broadband. When he isn’t writing for usave he is working towards his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and prefers dogs to cats.

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