There are many different types of utility bills that one has to fuss around with on a regular basis such as energy bills, water bills, phone and broadband bills etc which can be so complicated to understand. So here is a guide on how to monitor your energy bills to stay on top of them:
Firstly, what is an energy bill?
An energy bill highlights the utility that you are using and are being billed for a specific period for. It helps you to understand and gives you a break down on how much you have been charged for the energy that you have used for your gas and electricity during a certain period. Most people are billed on a monthly and quarterly basis or if you have a prepayment meter (pay as you go) you can top up whenever you like using a keycard.
The energy bill tells you what and how much energy you have used within the billing period. Some energy bills can even give you a breakdown of how much energy you have used per day.
Even if you pay a set amount for your energy bills per month/quarter via direct debit, you will still receive a bill that gives you a breakdown of your usage. It will also show you whether or not the direct debit you are paying is enough o cover the cost of your actual energy usage. This is monitored via your meter readings.
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How do we monitor it to make sure that we are paying the correct amount?
You can receive an energy bill via post or online through your online login with the energy supplier.
Most energy suppliers require you to create an online account once you sign up to their service which can be very handy and efficient when it comes to paying a bill or submitting your meter readings.
Once you have registered an online account, you can view your bills, submit meter readings, make payments or make changes to your current account with your supplier.
Our biggest tip would be to always ensure that you are supplying regular meter readings depending on how often you get billed. This ensures that when your next bill is issued, it will have your most recent usage information and they will bill you for your actual energy usage rather than estimating what you may have used during that period.
When suppliers do not receive an actual meter reading from their customer’s, they will assume the bill based on your previous meter readings however this won’t always be accurate as you may have used more or less energy than the last bill.
Here is a blog that we wrote on how to read your meter:
When you have submitted a meter reading and received a bill, it is always important to check whether the bill is based on your actual meter readings or if the bill is based on estimated meter readings. This information will always be provided on the breakdown section of your energy charges within the bill.
If you have a smart meter, these readings are sent automatically to your energy supplier every day depending on what type of smart meter you have. Every month/quarter the supplier will then send you a bill based on the readings given by the smart meter.
Having a smart meter is useful as it allows you to have more accurate bills. It even allows you to see how much energy you have used in real time which can in turn, allow you to be more conscious of when you tend to use the most energy and whether or not you can cut down on the consumption which can save you more money on your energy bills.
Alternatively, if you do not have a smart meter, all you have to do is ensure that you have submitted a meter reading a week or two before your energy bill is usually sent out to you. This will prevent you from ever overpaying on your energy bills as you can keep on top of your usage and bills.
Often, having estimated bills sent out to you and not monitoring your usage can lead to nasty surprises towards the end of your contract as your account may end up in debit which you will have to pay off at the end of your contract within a final bill when you switch to a new supplier.
As mentioned earlier, if you had neglected in sending out meter readings for a large period of time, the supplier would have billed you based on estimates which do not necessarily reflect your usage.
So, if you did end up using a lot more energy than your supplier expected you to use, it could be argued that you were not paying enough to cover your energy usage. In turn, your account would have ended up in debit until either you realising one day when looking at a bill, your supplier points out that your direct debit amount is not covering the cost of your usage so they will be increasing the amount or at the end of your contract which is the case for some people.
Lets take a look at an example of energy bill for gas and electricity:
All of your energy bills will have your billing address located on the front page along with the billing period that they are billing you for including information about your account and tariff. It should also give a mini breakdown of the charges that you have incurred this period.
Your gas and electricity breakdown will always be shown separately on the same bill and labelled clearly so that you know the difference too.
Electricity and gas bill breakdown
How to tell if the supplier has estimated a bill.
If you have recently submitted a meter reading, this will be reflected within the breakdown of your usage on a bill.
As you can see, this is an estimated bill as it says ‘Estimated’ below meter readings.
If you have submitted a meter reading, the bill would show the letter C for ‘customer’ below meter readings.
If an a person working for the supplier has come out to read your meter, this would show the letter A for ‘Actual’.
Of course, if you do not believe that an estimated bill is reflecting your actual usage and too high, you can always submit a meter reading to the supplier by calling them, emailing them or using your online log in to do so. They can then send out a revised bill that is accurate rather than estimated.
What is an energy tariff?
There are two types of energy tariffs.
- Variable tariff
- Fixed-rate tariff
A variable tariff means that the price for the energy that you use can vary depending on the price of the wholesale market for gas and electricity. Therefore, your bill can vary each time and the supplier can hike up their rates for gas and electricity at any time.
A fixed-rate tariff means the price per unit of electricity and gas for a pre-defined period will be locked. It is important to remember, although your monthly bills may increase/decrease, the price you pay per kilowatt hour is fixed/locked regardless of whether or not your supplier hikes their prices.
Why choose Look After My Bills?
So now you know what an energy tariff is, how will this help when using our service?
At Look After My Bills, we only ever offer fixed-rate tariffs to avoid any nasty price hikes and always aim to put you on a fair deal. If you have signed up to a fixed-tariff, this will also mean you will have to stay within the contract for the agreed duration. If you do wish to exit the contract early, some contracts may charge an early exit fee which can vary in price depending on if it is a dual fuel contract and with each supplier.
You can always find out if your contract has any exit fees on an energy bill near the ‘about your package’ section (see below).