Understanding your gas and electricity bills

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Find out everything you need to know about your gas and electricity bills

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Summary : Understanding your gas and electricity bills can be tricky at first if you’re newly responsible for a property. But don’t worry, we have laid out all the information you need here to get you started.

What is an energy bill?

An energy bill contains a breakdown of your gas and electricity usage and costs, as well as other information that your energy supplier must legally include. Everyone’s energy bills look different, depending on the exact specifications of your plan. These will change depending on: Understand your energy bills

  • Your payment method.
  • Whether you have a single or dual tariff.
  • What type of meter you have.

However, on each bill, you will get a breakdown of your tariff, your consumption and your own details. In no particular order (because each supplier’s bills look different), your bill should include:

  • Supplier contact details.
  • Your information – home address, supplier account number, and information about the statement (address and ID, most often).
  • Conditions of your contract (termination date, exit fees, etc.).
  • Your energy consumption.
  • Any other costs involved in your plan, such as the standing charge and VAT.
  • Options to switch to a cheaper tariff.
  • Terms and conditions (make sure you read these properly!).

It’s important to check your meter readings regularly so you can compare them with your statement and ensure you aren’t overpaying and that there aren’t any mistakes.

Most energy suppliers include all of this information on their bills, just sometimes in a different order. So you should know what to expect when you receive your first bill.

How do I pay my energy bill?

There are two main payment methods that most suppliers follow. The first is direct debit:

  • Direct debit payment means that the required amount comes out of your bank account every month without you having to do anything.
  • This payment is often based on an estimate of how much energy you will be using.
  • However, if you want more accurate billing information, you can send your supplier your monthly meter readings.
  • Usually your bill will arrive a few days after the direct debit has been made.

The second preferred payment method is Pay As You Go (PAYG):

  • PAYG means that you are in charge of your bills.
  • You top up according to your usage, either online or at a PayPoint. These are usually Post Offices, supermarkets and off-licenses.
  • Your supplier should send you an annual statement to keep track of your account and payment, and stay in touch!

Both payment options are very easy, but dependent on your energy consumption and how much control you want over your bills.

Why do energy prices change?

Energy prices fluctuate with the market. If the price of energy from generators rises, then often suppliers have to reflect that increase in their tariffs.

Gas and Electricity Prices

Moreover, prices reflect simple supply and demand. If demand increases, prices more than often do as well. And if one of the Big 6 increases their prices, the other 5 typically follow suit. You can always opt for a fixed tariff to exempt you from paying extra.

How can I get lower gas and electricity bills?

The most foolproof way to get lower energy bills is to switch your plan. If you haven’t switched energy suppliers in a while, you’re probably overpaying for your energy. This is because the length of time you have been on the same plan greatly affects the price of your plan. Not only do energy prices fluctuate, but your energy requirements change a lot over time as well. Give us a ring to compare prices! At Switch Plan, we:

🔥 Compare all providers on the market to bring you the best deal for the lowest price.

🔎 Analyse all other aspects of the deal to make sure the plan fits your values and consumer habits.

💬 Find a plan that is suited to your personal energy needs based on some basic information that you can provide us over the phone.

We will do everything for you over the phone in just 20 minutes. It’s an easy, quick and free service! Read our switching guide to find out more about how we work.

Struggling to pay your bills? 

First things first, get in touch with your supplier and see if they have any reduced plans or schemes to help those on low-incomes or in other vulnerable situations. Your financial situation might make you eligible for extra support to help you pay your bills. You might be able to get support for heating your house through winter fuel payments, financial schemes to help you reduce or pay off your debt to your provider.

Did you know?

There are a number of government energy schemes that help vulnerable people stay warm and pay their bills. Just ring up your supplier and see what you are eligible for by giving them some details of your situation.

Call us to switch your energy supplier for free!

0330 054 0017

Notice

FAQ

🤷‍♂️ Am I responsible for paying my energy bills?

If you own your home, then the answer is yes. You are responsible for paying your energy bills and this makes you accountable for any failure to do so. You become responsible for paying your energy bills from the day that you become the owner of your new home, so make sure you are aware of your new tariff.

When you move into your new property, make note of the meter reading from the previous residents of the property. This is to make sure that you aren’t charged for this reading! The previous residents should have left information about their supplier (and your new supplier!), but if they haven’t, don’t worry. You can visit the ofgem website to find out who is supplying energy to your new property. www.ofgem.co.uk  

⏳ I haven’t received an energy bill in a while - why is this?

Don’t be concerned if you haven’t received an energy bill from your provider in a while. It is important, however, that you get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible to rectify the situation. This is because you need to make sure that you aren’t back-billed by your supplier. Back-billing is when your supplier charges you for energy that you haven’t yet paid for, but that you have used.

Ofgem - a government regulatory body - has ensured that customers are protected from back-billing if they have made efforts to contact their supplier. Back-billing can be complex and requires a single heavy payment. So, the moment you notice you haven’t received an energy bill, get in touch with your supplier.

💰 Can I switch energy suppliers if I am in debt?

Normally, yes! If you have been in debt to your supplier for less than 28 days, you can switch. Your debt will simply be added to your new bill from your new suppliers. However, if you have been in debt for more than 28 days, you must pay the outstanding debt before you are allowed to switch over.

⛔ How can I complain to my supplier about my bill?

If you have a complaint about your energy bill, the first thing you should do is contact your supplier. Every supplier should have specific contact details for customer complaints, and a subsequent procedure to deal with them. If all goes well, your supplier should deal with your complaint quickly and efficiently, and act accordingly.

However, if you are unsatisfied with your supplier’s response, or if they cannot help you with your specific complaint, you can contact the Energy Ombudsman. They are an unbiased and free service that will help you resolve your complaint and ensure your supplier corrects the problem. Visit their website here: https://www.ombudsman-services.org/.

⚠️ I think there is a mistake on my energy bill. What do I do?

It’s not uncommon for suppliers to make mistakes on their customers’ energy bills. Ofgem even calculated that in 2017, 1.3 million customers overpaid for their energy because their suppliers made an error. To avoid being overcharged, make sure that you properly read your energy bill every month. Take monthly meter readings yourself so you have a reference for how much energy you have been using.

However, if you do notice an error, get in touch directly with your supplier. You can contact them through their complaints contact details.

📱 Can I choose to receive paperless bills?

Yes, and if you do, you are often entitled to discounts! Your supplier will have a process that allows you to switch over to paperless bills. If you have any queries about this process, get in touch directly with your supplier - their contact details will be on their website.

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Written by eleanor

Updated on 22 Sep, 2020