Complicated bills; and tariffs that are difficult to understand have harmed the reputation of some of the major gas and electricity providers – with British Gas the latest to admit that there is a lack of public trust towards the energy industry.
With the cost of gas and electricity increasing, and the winter months traditionally being the most expensive period for usage anyway, it’s increasingly important to know exactly how much you are using and how much you are being charged. That’s why we are offering a brief guide to help you understand your gas bill.
Turning the page
Page one of your gas bill should be relatively straightforward. Typically it will include: your customer reference number, which is unique to you and should be quoted in any disputes; the bill period, i.e. the length of time you are being charged for; the total to pay, meaning how much you owe; and any automatic discounts that have been applied.
The bill gets a little more complicated on page two where you should find sections including:
– Gas consumption: How much gas you have used during the billing period. With an old gas meter this will be measured in imperial units; and these are then converted into kilowatt hours (kWh), the standard measure of energy usage.
– Tariffs: Each bill will have either: a standing charge and one tariff; or two tier tariffs with the first amount of gas charged at a higher rate.
– Conversion formula: This outlines the formula for converting the units into kilowatt hours. In addition to the metric conversion, it will allow a factor for calorific value, which is the heating power of gas and will vary depending on its composition, such as its moisture content.
In addition, you should also find information outlining contacts and the complaints procedure with an outline of steps to follow if you have an issue.
Some bills will feature a final page which outlines your usage for this bill compared with the same period one year ago. It will feature a projected cost, which assumes current tariff rates.
How to keep your bills affordable
Of course the most important part of any bill is the bottom line – and nobody wants to pay more than necessary.
There are steps you can take to reduce your consumption however, and therefore reduce your bill total. These include investing in cavity wall and loft insulation; fitting a lagging jacket to your hot water boiler; only boiling the right amount of water each time you use a kettle; taking showers instead of baths; and only opening the refrigerator door for as long as necessary. In addition, ensure you’re on the most competitive tariff available by comparing rates at a price comparison website – monthly online direct debit deals are usually the cheapest.
Photo by Giorgio Tomassetti on Unsplash