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Why is my energy bill so high?

Most of us know roughly what to expect when that energy bill lands on our doorstep. But what happens when you get a bill that seems abnormally high? What causes energy bills to skyrocket from one month to the next? Let’s find out. 

Most of us know roughly what to expect when that energy bill lands on our doorstep. But what happens when you get a bill that seems abnormally high? What causes energy bills to skyrocket from one month to the next? Let’s find out. 

Peter Earl
From the Energy team
4
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 6 FEBRUARY 2020

What can cause a high energy bill?

There are lots of reasons you might be landed with a hefty energy bill, including being on an expensive or variable tariff, moving into a new home and faulty appliances. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Expensive tariffs. Check when you last switched your energy supplier. Has your previous deal ended, leaving you on your supplier’s default (more expensive) standard tariff?
  • Recently moved home. If you move into a new home with an existing energy supplier, you’ll often automatically end up on a standard tariff. While you’d expect a bit of a settling in period for getting to grips with bills in a new home, being put on a standard tariff could mean your payments are substantially higher.
  • Estimated vs accurate billing. Estimated billing is when your supplier estimates your energy consumption and charges you based on that best guess. If you haven’t been giving your energy supplier monthly meter readings, you may fall victim to inaccurate billing, which can be more expensive.
  • Variable tariffs. With variable tariffs, the amount of money you pay per unit of energy consumed will change according to different criteria. In most cases, your provider should’ve informed you of any price change.
  • Faulty appliances. That ancient washing machine or a fridge that’s on the blink could end up costing you more money to run. Faulty appliances – even dodgy old wiring – can sap electricity. So, if in doubt, it might be worth having a professional check it out.
  • Your meter doesn’t work. It doesn’t happen very often, but a faulty meter could be inaccurately recording your usage. If you think this is the reason, contact your energy provider, who’ll send someone out to take a look.
  • Your consumption has changed. Maybe you’re just using more energy. If it’s a particularly hot summer or cold winter, air conditioning or central heating could’ve bumped up your bills. Or you may have had more guests to stay, or spent more time at home than usual.

What’s the average energy usage in the UK?

According to the energy regulator Ofgem, the average household uses 12,000 kWh of gas and 3,100 kWh of electricity per year.

It’s handy to know what average households use in energy. That way you can get a rough idea of whether you’re within the limits of what’s ‘normal’, or whether you need to start thinking of ways to save energy.

You should be able to find out what your monthly consumption is from your last bill. Energy use is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) so that’s what you need to look out for.

How do I know what tariff I’m actually on?

Your energy tariff should be easy to spot on a recent bill or statement. It’s usually somewhere near your customer reference number, or within the ‘your account’ section.

How can I make sure I’m on the right tariff for my needs?

You’ll need to think about what you want from your energy supplier. Standard tariffs, for example, will give you maximum flexibility as you can leave at any time without incurring exit charges, but you won’t get the most competitive price.

Fixed rate tariffs fix the amount of money you pay per kWh. So, while your bills will vary according to how much you use, the basic unit price of energy won’t change. If your usage is pretty consistent, your bills will be too. The drawback is that you won’t benefit from any reductions in wholesale energy prices for the fixed period you’ve agreed to.

Some energy providers will also offer what’s termed Economy 7/10 tariffs, which give you a certain number of hours of ‘off-peak’ energy (usually at night or early morning). If you’re not around during the day and end up doing all your household jobs at night, this could work for you.

There’s a tariff for everyone. Some purely online, which could be appealing to you, or even eco tariffs that do their bit for the environment. It’s important to decide what your priorities are, then shop around for your ideal tariff.

Luckily, Compare the Market is here to help you find the right deal and energy provider, by comparing quotes on your behalf. So give us a few details and let’s see if you can save.

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