Why your energy bill is so high and what to do

Listen, can you hear that noise? Turn the TV down, silence the radio and you can just about make it out. It’s the plaintive cry of some unfortunate soul who’s just opened an envelope. Not just any old envelope, but one of those with a little see-through window and a printed name and address. A bill, in other words. And that sound you can hear – haunting, chilling, almost tear-jerking – is the plaintive cry ‘Why is my energy bill so high?’

It’s a cry which echoes up and down the UK, month in and month out. You’ve probably asked the question yourself, wondering why your electric bill is too high, and what to do about it. The good news is that there are a few obvious high electric bill causes, and simple energy saving tips that you can take to save yourself serious money. In fact, ‘serious money’ is probably the wrong phrase, since being more than £300 a year better off (that’s how much the average UK household could save on energy bills) is likely to make you smile from ear to ear if not laugh out loud.

So why is my energy bill so high?

Let’s start with the most obvious answer – you’re on the wrong energy tariff.

More than half of the households in the UK (54%) have spent the last three years on their supplier’s default tariff. The default tariff is what you end up on if you don’t make the effort to switch to a less expensive tariff, and the shocking news is that energy companies tend to reward their loyal customers by letting them sit on the most expensive tariff they have. So the first answer to the question ‘What do I do if my electric bill is too high?’ is to switch to another provider.

Even if you’re on the best tariff in the world, however (which you will be if you come to Look After My Bills and switch gas or switch electricity), it’s still possible that your electric bill is too high, and that could be caused by a range of issues.

1. You’re using more

First of all, ask yourself if you’re using more energy. Has it been unseasonably cold? Have you had guests staying who were in the house all day while you were at work? Central heating tips like a thermostat on every radiator and insulating your loft and walls could help to keep your bills lower no matter what the circumstances are. Read our guide on average UK room temperatures to help benchmark your usage.

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2. You’re paying an estimated bill

Perhaps you’re not using more and you’re being asked to pay an estimated bill. Energy companies sometimes provide an estimate for your usage based on, for example, the amount of energy you used in the last year. If you’ve recently followed lots of sensible energy saving tips, however, then the estimate could be much higher than your actual usage.

3. Your meter reading was wrong

Another possibility is that you took the meter reading yourself and got it wrong. Or maybe the energy supplier took a reading and made a mistake. Make sure you learn how to read your meter and compare the figure on the bill with the numbers on the meter. If they’re too far apart, then something’s gone wrong.

4. A new tariff

Maybe you did the sensible thing a year or so ago and switched to an ultra-attractive tariff. Your supplier should let you know when you’re at least 49 days away from the end of that contract, but that’s the kind of detail it’s easy to lose track off. When you do reach the end of the great tariff you chose, your supplier will simply put you back on the default, variable tariff which, by a wild coincidence, will be the least affordable tariff they offer.

5. Expensive appliances

It’s possible that your bill is high because the appliances in your home are expensive to run. In simple terms, the bigger an appliance like a television or fridge freezer is, the more it costs to run on a yearly basis. You can minimise the impact of this by purchasing appliances with an A rating for energy efficiency, since appliances like washing machines, cookers, televisions and dishwashers all have to come with an EU Energy Label.

6. Vampire energy

Yes, you read that correctly. Vampire energy isn’t a green energy company based in Transylvania, it refers to standby items eating electricity. When you put an appliance like a television set into standby mode rather than turning it off or unplugging it, it carries on using electricity. The same is true of charges for devices like mobile phones, tablets and laptops, which use a small amount of electricity as long as they’re plugged in, even if they’re not attached to a device. In each individual case the amount may be very small, but add up the number of appliances in your home with standby mode and then include all those chargers that are plugged in 24/7. Still wondering why your bill’s higher than it should be?

So, if you think your bill is too high:

  • Check the meter reading
  • Try to cut the amount of energy you’re wasting
  • Make sure you’re on the best tariff
save money on energy

If you don’t think you’ve got the time to find a better supplier, think again. In just three minutes Look After My Bills will seek out the best possible tariffs and let you choose a deal that suits you. Before you know it, you’ll be saying ‘I know why my energy bill is so much lower’.