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Why it’s important to understand your energy bill

By understanding just what's on your energy bill, you could be in a great position to save money. Find out how...


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It can be pretty confusing going through your energy bill as you try and navigate how much gas and electricity you’ve used. You may pay monthly or quarterly bills, but regardless you will still receive a regular bill that could come as paper document or on your supplier’s website.

There is normally some variation with energy supplier’s bills, but by and large they are mostly the same. However, there might some terms you’re not used to, so let’s go through them one by one:

Your bill should tell you how much energy (measured in kilowatt hours, or kwH) you’ve used since your last bill, as what you paid per kwH - this is known as your unit rate. Your standing charge is an additional fee that suppliers will include on top of your unit rate

Does pretty much what it says - it makes it easier for you to compare tariffs, and appears as a single figure that compares unit rates and standing charges, enabling you to compare the rate given to you by your supplier with the rate of those by other suppliers.

Ofgem (the energy regulator) have stated that all suppliers need to display to you tariffs that could be more cost effective for you, so be sure to check this every time you receive a bill. However, your suppliers are only obligated to show their own tariffs, not those of their competitors. That means, you could be getting a better deal somewhere else…

This is showing you what you have paid in the past 12 months.

This shows you an estimate of what, based on your current usage (as well as staying on the same tariff), you’re likely to spend on energy for the next 12 months. Use this figure as a benchmark when thinking about switching suppliers

Just like any other utility bill, this tells you what currently owe; if you pay by direct debit, the bill acts as a guide as to whether you are in credit our debit with your supplier./ In addition, you are within your right to question any substantially bigger debits with your supplier, although it’s probably worth pointing out that overpaying or underpaying happens regularly in winter and summer, retrospectively.

On every bill from every supplier, you’ll see a summary of your contract. Here you’ll find the end date of your contract, how much it’ll cost you to end the contract earlier (known as an early exit fee, and the name of your tariff. This might seem pretty standard and not that interesting, but trust us, this is one of the most important parts of your bill. It is critical that you know just when your contract ends; it is not guaranteed that you’ll roll over to a equivalent tariff. Instead, you might get moved onto the standard tariff, which could see you paying more. So if your current deal is about to end, start comparing (and saving) now.

Simply put, the MPAN number identifies your unique electricity meter, and the MPRN identifies your gas meter.

On most bills, the tariff name will show up on the first page of your bill. A lot of the tariffs that exist on the market sound extremely familiar, but you should familiarise yourself with the name of your tariff, as it will come in handy at contract renewal time.

Key highlights

  1. Make sure you take the time to get to understand your bill, as you'll be able to see just how much you're paying on energy every month or quarter, making it easier for you to know whether it makes sense to stick or twist with your current supplier.

Anthony is a content creator. He has written this article especially for ClearScore.