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How to read your energy and gas bills

Here are some terms that you might come across in your energy bills and what they mean.

Download a sample bill (Word)

1 Your account number or ID

This is sometimes called a customer reference number. It is unique to you. Your supplier will use this to identify you when you contact them.

2 Bill issue date and bill reference number

When your supplier sent your bill.

3 Name and address of account holder

You can have more than 1 person named on the account. This might be useful if your circumstances change.

4 Dates

The start and end date for the time this bill covers.

5 Account balance

Depending on how you pay, this will be different.

  • Credit means that you paid more than you used. For example, £70.
  • Debit means that you owed the supplier money. For example -£70.
  • 0 or zero balance, which means that you did not owe anything.

6 How much you paid since the last bill

Your payments since the last bill.

7 The total cost

This amount is for the billing period. It could be either:

  • for the energy you have used based on your energy supplier’s estimate
  • for how much energy you have used

8 Your new account balance or amount owed

This will include any credit you have on your account.

  • Credit means that you have paid for more than you used. For example, £70.
  • Debit means that you owe the supplier money. For example, -£70.
  • 0 or zero balance. This means that you do not owe anything.

9 Direct Debit

If you pay by Direct Debit, you pay a fixed amount each month over a set period, usually a year. Your supplier will recalculate your payments if they are either:

  • too high and you are building up a large credit
  • or too low and you are building up a debt

Your monthly payments will either increase or decrease to match how much electricity you are using.

10 Personal projection

An estimate of your electricity use over a set period, usually a year. This can help with Direct Debit payment plans or budgeting.

11 Cheaper tariff options for electricity

Your supplier must tell you about cheaper tariffs. Some suppliers will even tell you of cheaper tariffs with other energy suppliers. You can use an accredited switching site to view the best deals in your area.

12 Contact details of your supplier

Includes phone number and office opening hours.

13 Emergency contact details

You can use these in an emergency when you supplier’s office is closed.

14 Complaints address for your supplier

Make sure you keep a copy of any complaint you make.

15 Your electricity supply number

A unique identity reference number for your electricity meter.

16 Estimated or ā€˜Eā€™ reading for electricity

These are those supplied by your electricity supplier. Estimated readings are based on how much used you have used before or averages.

Suppliers use estimates when they do not have an actual or ‘A’ reading from you or a company meter reader.

Suppliers may show readings you have provided as:

  • A (actual)
  • C (customer)
  • your reading

17 Your latest reading meter reading

The meter reading used as the end point for this billing period.

18 Electricity units used

The amount of electricity you have used during the billing period. It subtracts your previous reading from your latest reading.

19 The rate you pay for electricity (tariff)

Electricity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). The kWh rate is the amount you are paying for your electricity. This is also called a tariff.

Fixed tariffs stay the same for the period of your contract. If you are on a standard tariff, the cost of energy will go up and down depending on the market.

20 The charge for electricity

How much the electricity you have used costs, not including VAT. 5% VAT should be added to this.

If the VAT on your bill is more than 5%, you should contact your supplier.

Look at total cost (7) to see how much you need to pay. This includes:

  • the cost of the electricity you have used
  • VAT, which should be 5%
  • any credit or debt that you have with your supplier

21 Standing charge for electricity

A fixed cost for providing your electricity supply. It includes things like:

  • meter reading
  • maintenance
  • keeping your home connected to the network
  • maintaining the electricity network

22 Electricity tariff

How you pay for your electricity and the amount you pay is called a tariff. There are many different tariffs to choose from. They have different payment options, discounts and terms and conditions.

You should:

  • ask your supplier if you are on the best tariff
  • check if there is a better tariff with a different supplier

Switching tariff or energy supplier

23 A meter point reference number (MPRN) for your gas meter

A MPRN is attached to each UK property on the mains gas supply. You will need it:

  • when you switch your gas supplier
  • if you think there is a problem with your gas supply

24 Estimated or 'E' reading for gas

Your electricity supplier will estimate readings based on how you have used before or on averages.

Suppliers use estimates when they do not have an actual or ‘A’ reading from you or a company meter reader.

Suppliers may show readings you have provided as:

  • A (actual)
  • C (customer)
  • your reading

25 Your latest gas meter reading

The meter reading at the end of this billing period.

26 Gas units used and kWh-rate

The number of gas units is used to work out how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you have used. All energy suppliers do this in the same way.

The amount you are paying for your gas.

Fixed tariffs stay the same for the period of your contract. If you are on a standard tariff, the cost of gas will go up and down depending on the market.

27 Standing charge for gas

A fixed cost for providing your gas supply. It includes things like:

  • meter reading
  • maintenance
  • keeping your home connected to the network
  • maintaining the gas network

28 The charge for gas

How much the gas you used costs, not including 5% VAT.

If the VAT on your bill is more than 5%, you should contact your supplier.

Look at total cost (7) to see how much you need to pay. This includes:

  • the cost of the electricity you have used
  • VAT, which should be 5%
  • any credit or debt that you have with your supplier

29 Gas tariff

How you pay for your gas and the amount you pay is called a tariff. There are many different tariffs to choose from. They have different payment options, discounts and terms and conditions.

You should:

  • ask your supplier if you are on the best tariff
  • check if there is a better tariff with a different supplier

Switching tariff or energy supplier

Last reviewed by Scope on: 17/12/2020

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