Big Energy Saving Week: how to check and query huge energy bills

Today marks the start of Big Energy Saving week. Here’s how to complain to your supplier if you find something wrong with your energy bill.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

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As we approach the end of January we can expect some of the highest monthly or quarterly energy bills to arrive, reflecting consumption during the colder winter months. This week is Big Energy Saving Week, run by Citizen’s Advice and the Energy Saving Trust to share advice that helps people manage their energy bills.

Rising prices

The current energy crisis is causing worry for many of us. According to new research published by the Resolution Foundation today, 6.2 million households will struggle to pay bills when the new energy price cap comes into effect on 1 April. The price cap is predicted to rise by a staggering 51% in April 2022, an average increase of about £600 a year.

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Check your bill

It is possible that your bill might be wrong so check it! Look at your bill and how it is broken down.

Take the price of electricity or gas per unit (KW/h) divided by 100 and multiply that by the consumption of the energy used. Add the cost of the standing charge, as the number of days multiplied by the daily charge and then add the VAT, which for energy is 5%.

So for example:

1) Pence per KW/h/100 x consumption 18.5/100) x 315.5 + £58.37
2) Days x daily standing charge 63 x 0.223 + £14.05
3) Sub total = £72.42 
4) VAT @ 5% + £3.62
5) Grand Total = £76.04

 

If you have a day and night rate, perform the same check for the night rate. 

If you have both electricity and gas then repeat the check for your gas bill too.

Check the reading

If your supplier has used estimated readings for a long time, it could be that your bill is significantly wrong. Take readings and submit them to your supplier.

Don’t pay the estimated bill. Instead, send correct readings to your supplier who will provide an accurate bill. It could work in your favour, as you may have paid too much and be in credit. But do remember it could also go the other way!

Check the Direct Debit

Your Direct Debit amount should be the same each month/quarter and your supplier must inform you if it will change. If it doesn’t inform you, you can complain to your bank under the Direct Debit guarantee.

Get back any credit

If you pay by Direct Debit, you may be in credit. You can claim this back, or you may want to use it to reduce Direct Debit payments or leave it there to cover the coming price hikes.

Check your meter

Although it’s quite unusual for a meter to be wrong, it’s still worth checking, you never know!

You might be asked to take daily readings for a week.

If it is showing an error message or you don’t believe you are using the amount of energy you are being billed for, contact your supplier and take a reading and picture of the meter.

If an error message is showing on a prepayment meter, there’s probably a fault. Contact your supplier speedily, who must come and check the meter within 3 hours on a working day and 4 hours on a non-working day. If you need to top up your meter while the matter is being resolved, request replacement tokens from your supplier.

For a credit meter, turn off everything that uses energy including anything on stand-by and see if the display numbers still increase. One by one, turn on an appliance. If numbers turn very quickly when you turn one on, that is probably the faulty appliance. If it’s a gas meter, there could be a leak and you should immediately contact the National Grid Gas Emergency line on 0800 111 999.

Your supplier must tell you what they’ve done to investigate the problem, how they will fix it and offer to put all the details in writing. Be aware, though, that if your supplier finds that it’s not faulty, they might ask you to pay a fee.

Complaining about a wrong energy bill

In the first instance, complain to your supplier and explain the issue politely and objectively.

If you are not satisfied with your response, you can take the matter to the Energy Ombudsman. You must wait 8 weeks from when you started the complaint or request a deadlock letter. This deadlock letter will come from the supplier stating that they will not discuss the matter further. The Energy Ombudsman will then make a decision.

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