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Understand your energy bill

It’s more important than ever to check that your energy bills are accurate, not only to stay informed and in control of how much energy you’re using, but also to ensure you’re not paying too much.

The information on a typical energy bill can be confusing, but understanding it is a key step towards reducing your energy use and saving money on your bills.

With the recent energy price cap change from 1 July, it’s more important than ever to check your energy bills, not only to stay informed and in control, but also to ensure you’re not paying too much.

What to look for on your energy bill

Although bills from each energy supplier look different, they should all contain the same information:

  • Your name and address.
  • Your energy supplier’s name.
  • Your account number or customer reference.
  • Your gas and electricity tariff/s – this is the price you pay per unit for the gas and electricity you use, along with any standing charge.
  • The tariff comparison rate – this is the amount that the tariff would cost a typical customer, which can help you to compare tariffs from different energy suppliers.
  • The amount of gas and electricity you’ve used in the past billing period – this could be a month, quarter, or a year, depending on how often you pay your bill.
  • Your gas and electricity meter serial numbers.
  • A record of your gas and electricity meter readings – these are used to work out how many units of energy you’ve used, and therefore how much you need to pay.
  • The amount you need to pay your energy supplier – this should be shown in pounds and pence, together with a breakdown of the charges.

Check your information is correct

When you receive your energy bill, it’s important to check that all the information listed above is correct.

Check the name on the bill is right, and it isn’t addressed to ‘the occupier’, as well as the address details. Make sure the billing period dates are not before or after you lived in the property.

It’s also important to check the meter serial numbers match the ones on your gas and electricity meters, and check that the MPAN and MPRN on your bill match the ones on your meters.

The meter point administration number, or MPAN, is a 12-digit code on your electricity meter. The meter point reference number, or MPRN, is a number between six and 11 digits on your gas meter.

If these or any other details are wrong, contact your supplier and ask them to correct any inaccurate information. They should then send a new bill with the correct details out to you.

Take meter readings

It’s important to take gas and electricity meter readings to tell your energy supplier how much energy you’ve used. If you don’t, they’ll guess how much you’ve used based on how much energy that property has used in the past.

If your supplier has to guess, your bill may show ‘Estimated’ or ‘E’ in front of the reading to show that it’s based on estimated meter readings. These can be more or less than what you’re using and can lead to problems with billing and payments.

For example, if your energy supplier has underestimated how much energy you’re using, you could end up owing them money. On the other hand, if they have overestimated how much energy you’re using, you could end up paying more than you need to.

To avoid a problem, take accurate meter readings regularly and send them to your energy supplier. Many suppliers allow you to submit these readings online or provide an automated phone service to let you do this.

If you’re not sure how to read your meter, Citizens Advice’s handy guide takes you through the steps. If you have a smart meter, your meter readings should be accurate, and you won’t need to read your meter or submit regular readings, as your smart meter will do this for you.

Moving house?

Many problems with energy bills happen when you move house. If you’re moving into a new home, it’s important to take final meter readings from the previous property and contact your previous supplier to close your account or arrange a move.

Take gas and electricity meter readings on the day you take responsibility of your new property – this is usually the day you move in or agree the sale of your new home – and give these readings to the energy supplier at your new property.

If you want to change supplier once you’ve moved in, you can do so after you’ve given your meter readings to the existing energy supplier (ie the company that supplied gas and electricity to the previous owner or tenant).

Its advisable to check your meter serial numbers against the bill too, particularly if you live in a flat. This will make sure your new supplier is supplying the right property.

Need extra help?

If you have any problems with your energy bill, Citizens Advice has information on how to check if you’re responsible for paying a bill and what to do if you haven’t received an accurate energy bill in a while.

Ofgem also has a helpful guide that explains the different elements that make up an energy bill.