What’s in this guide?
Did you know that energy companies were voted with the most complicated bills, beating water companies, councils and mortgage lenders?
According to research from Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, 60% of energy customers find their bills confusing.
While it might take a long time for the major energy companies to start producing simplified billing, EnergySeek can translate some of this jargon and help you better understand your bills.
What is an energy bill?
An energy bill is a document that you will receive by post or online that is supposed to tell you how much your energy is costing you, what tariff you are on and information about how you can contact your supplier.
This is crucial information as you can detect any problems that could be costing you a lot of money, such as inaccurate billing or which potentially cheaper tariffs that the company offer.
How can understanding my bill help me?
Understanding your energy bill puts you in control of your energy, which empowers you to be able to make educated decisions about your supplier.
For instance, the Competition and Markets Authority warned 70 per cent of people were overpaying for their energy.
Costing consumers £1.4 billion more than a competitive market.
That means that by just not being aware of the market or understanding your bills, you could be losing out on literally £100s a year.
Vital information to look out for
The name of your current tariff:
You should take a look at the name of your current fare, especially if you may have forgotten or you know it is around the time for the contract to end in the case of being on a fixed rate tariff.
Some suppliers will automatically switch you to one of their most expensive tariffs unless you renew with them or change, potentially costing you dearly!
The cost of your energy in the last 12 months:
This lets you know about your expenses the previous year, which can tell you what kind of prices you’ll be expecting for the next year.
Alternatively, you can use this information to compare suppliers if you would like to switch and save even more.
An estimate of your next 12 months usage:
Another way of predicting your costs for the next year is to check out your current supplier’s estimates.
This is only a guess, however, and it does not guarantee you will spend as little or as much as the prediction.
Whether your tariff has tied you into a contract or if you have exit fees:
Sometimes when suppliers cold call you about fares, they can end up tying you into fixed-rate contracts that lock you in for three to even five years!
While the prices might sound good and this may be true, it is essential to take into consideration that it may not be the best deal for you, as switching frequently can save you £100s.
Information about your account:
Having your account information to hand when you make a complaint or call your supplier about a particular issue that you are having is essential.
It allows customer support and others to access your account quickly and will enable them to see any problems you might be having, hopefully fixing it.
Not only do most bills show you the contact information for your suppliers such as their website, email and phone number, but there are sometimes other essential numbers included.
Your MPAN or meter point administration number:
Your MPAN will be something that you might use when you switch suppliers, as it’s used to identify electricity supply points such as individual domestic residences uniquely.
Suppliers are obligated to inform you that you allow you to change and how to do it; however, the vast majority of suppliers will only tell you about their other tariffs.
This isn’t something you should rely on for all of your information.
That’s where EnergySeek comes it with a handy comparison tool, to tell you about the tariffs that are available to you right now, from different suppliers.
The Big Six
Interested in breaking down your billing?
If you are a ‘big six’ customer and you get your energy from British Gas, nPower, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, SSE or Eon, this next section can break down your bills for you.
When you receive your nPower bill; this is what it might look like.
As you can see, the bill will include your name and current residence, as well as contact details for your supplier on the right and your account information.
Your account number is what you should use whenever you ring up your energy supplier as it will help them find your account easier.
Underneath ‘your electricity statement’, you can find your account balance.
This will depend mainly on how you pay for your energy.
If you pay for your energy when you receive your bill, it will show you how much you need to pay and when, but if you pay via direct debit they will request your bank to make a payment to them from your account.
This first sheet will also include information about your estimated energy usage that is more accurate the more meter readings you submit.
Your second sheet consists of information about how your bill was calculated as well as if there have been any price changes you should be aware of.
Similar to nPower, the British Gas bill will also tell you essential information about your energy supplier, which tariff you are on and how much your energy is going to cost you.
It also informs you when you will be paying for your energy and your average usage for the period.
They are also obligated to tell you about their cheaper tariff options.
You will also be able to find information regarding your contract terms and lengths, discounts and switching information.
Like the nPower bill, it will also give you a breakdown of your spending and usage, which can better help you understand which company you might be better switching to.
Make sure you take a look at your MPAN or meter point administration number, as when you switch you will often need this information.
As you can see, EDF has a very similar structure regarding what information they offer their customers.
You can find your account information, contact numbers, how much your bill is as well as a reminder to submit meter readings as frequently as possible.
On the next pages of your bill, you will be able to see a breakdown of your usage and your costs, which is meant to help you understand your actual prices.
Finally, you will be able to see the details about your current tariff which helpfully includes whether you have to pay a termination fee.
If you have your energy supplied by a smaller company, take a look at a couple of examples below to see what their billing might look like.
Luckily, the bill you will receive from a smaller independent company like OVO won’t differ that much (if at all) from the type of statement you can expect from a ‘big six’ company.
As you can see, you are supplied with all of the same information including how to contact the company, your account number and your statement.
In the next pages of the OVO bill, you can see the same sorts of breakdowns for the cost of your energy, tariff information and even an explanation about what a kWh is.
This helpful information makes it much easier for you to be able to compare and switch suppliers, as it clearly outlines your costs and contact information.
As with the other bill formats offers by other providers, First Utility has a lot of valuable information on their first sheet.
This will tell you how much your bill will be and when they will take it out of your account, as well as your current and previous balance.
It also includes information about your tariff and your projected spend – like with most energy suppliers; First Utility shows you which of their tariffs would be cheapest for you.
However, you should always run your comparisons to make sure that it’s the best deal for you.
How to compare
Have you decided that comparing might be a good idea?
You need to take into consideration what it is that you want the most in your supplier. This could be value for money, customer satisfaction or even based on the extra services that they offer, such as the British Gas boiler care.
Next, you need to have some information to hand. This will make it a lot easier to compare electricity and gas tariffs – you will need this information:
- Your location
- Annual consumption or spend
- The size of your home
- Phone number
Did you know that you could be saving £200 a year on your energy bills?