Understanding your energy bill: a simple guide

There’s a lot of useful information on your home energy bill – you just need to know what to look for. Here’s how to interpret your bill so you can see what you’re spending, check for better deals and find all the information you need to switch suppliers.

The information on your bill

Ofcom regulations state that all energy suppliers must provide their customers with informative bills. That means your bill must include key information about the tariff you’re on and how much energy you use. These are some of the pieces of information you’ll see:

- Your account details - such as the name of the account holder and the address the bill is for
- Your tariff – the energy plan you’re currently on
- Your energy use shown in kilowatt hours – shortened to kWh. You’re charged for every kWh you use. If you get a combined gas and electricity bill, the bill will include a breakdown of your consumption for each fuel type
- The period you’re being billed for - usually the previous three months. This should be shown alongside, or close to, the amount of energy you’ve used. It will also show if it's based on an estimate or a meter reading  
- The amount you owe - which is usually on the first page of your bill. If you pay by direct debit, the amount could be a credit or a debit, depending on how much energy you’ve used – i.e. it could be that the supplier owes you money
- Terms and conditions - with a summary of any key points in your agreement with your provider, such as whether you’ll pay any exit fees if you change to a different tariff
- An estimation of the next 12 months’ cost - based on your current tariff and calculated from your current usage. If you increase or decrease your energy consumption, then your bills will change accordingly.

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Is there a cheaper tariff available?

If your supplier offers an alternative tariff that would have made your energy cheaper, they must inform you on your bill. Usually this will be under a heading “Could you pay less?” This section will tell you whether you’re on your supplier’s cheapest tariff and, if not, how much you could save by switching.

Around 75% of people spend less than a minute reading their energy bill – and if you just focus on that one big number you could be missing out. Take a look at the surrounding information to see if you’re getting the best deal from your supplier.

Of course, this doesn’t tell you whether cheaper tariffs are available from a different supplier. For that, just keep your bill to hand and compare gas and electricity prices with us.

Supplied, actual and estimated meter readings on your bill

Your bill is calculated either from a meter reading or an estimated meter reading. If it’s estimated, suppliers usually send round a meter reader once or twice a year or ask you to supply the reading, then send through an actual bill.

  • If you supplied the meter reading there’ll be a ‘C’ or ‘your reading’ beside the meter reading on the bill
  • If someone came to read the meter, then the reading on the bill will be marked ‘actual’
  • If the bill is based on an estimate there will be an ‘E’ or ‘estimated’ next to the figure

If your bill is based on an estimated reading, it might not be accurate. If it seems particularly high, contact your supplier and give them an accurate reading of your meter. It could result in a recalculation.

Good news though – if you opt for a smart meter you can say goodbye to estimated bills as your meter reading will always be up to date.

Your unique meter numbers

Both your electricity meter and your gas meter have a unique number that tells your energy provider where your supply point is located. These numbers are sometimes written at the bottom of your bill or near your energy consumption.

Your electricity meter has an MPAN (metering point administration number), also called a supply number or S number. On your bill, your MPAN might be presented in a series of boxes, with a large S in front and two rows of numbers, like this:

S01012345

678910 1234567

An MPAN has 21 digits, but you generally only need the last 13 – the ones on the bottom row.

Your gas meter has an MPRN (metering point reference number), also called an M number. MPRNs are 6-10 digits long.

If you want to switch your energy provider, you might need to provide your MPAN and MPRN if your exact meter readings can’t be located during the switching process.

Example bills from the big six

If you’re with one of the big six energy suppliers, we’ve put together a guide to the way your bill is laid out. Take a look and see where to find all the information you need.

How to compare energy deals using your bill

To get a quote with us, you just need to answer a few questions – and all the answers are right there on your bill. We’ll provide you with a list of energy deals that suit your needs. Once you've found a better tariff to switch to, it's simple – the new supplier takes care of all the paperwork and the switch should take around 21 days with no disruption.