Billing FAQs – Energy Suppliers

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Understanding bills from your Energy Suppliers isn’t the easiest task with numerous charges, costs and a catalog of technical information.

They have a tendency to over-complicate bills and readings, so here are the top 4 questions we received from our customers about their bill, hopefully, these help you in the future.

Do I need to do anything if I have not had a final bill from my old supplier?
If you have not received a final from your old electricity or gas supplier within 28 days of switching, then you need to contact them. It’s important to get this bill as soon as possible, so you can check the readings and charges before thinking everything is sorted. If you’re a Switched On customer, we do this for you, so all you’d need to do call your account manager and we’ll sort the rest!

I think my bill is incorrect: what should I do?
If you think your bill is incorrect, firstly you need to check if the readings are based on actual, rather than estimated. While you’d think that the supplier would have a reasonable idea of your usage and could estimate it, we’re still amazed about how they overestimate so frequently.

Before you pay the invoice manually or the Direct Debit is due, call up your electricity or gas supplier with an actual reading. They will then re-bill the account, usually within 5-8 working days. If you think the charges are incorrect, then we’d recommend checking these against the contract you agree to double check. Remember, depending on what type of meter you have, there may be a number of additional charges which are included every month.

Why do energy suppliers use estimated readings?
Your suppliers’ official answer will be… “If we cannot obtain readings for your property – perhaps because you were out when the meter reader called – then we will generate an estimated reading.”

The actual answer is that it all depends on when they produce the bill. Even if you read the meter during the month, if their billing period doesn’t end on the reading date, they will estimate the bill. Most suppliers rarely will visit your property regularly to take a meter reading, so we recommend reading your meter every quarter. Record the readings on a spreadsheet and put a calendar reminder for you so you don’t forget.

How do Energy Suppliers work out my gas charges?

In the UK, we use Kilo Watt hours (KWh) for billing purposes. For gas, to get the kWh figure, we have to convert the usage from your meter from terms to KWhs. Here’s how energy suppliers do it:

1) If you have a meter that measures in hundreds of cubic feet (hcf): The supplier will take the amount of gas used, shown as ‘hcf’ on your bill and they multiply this by 2.83 to convert the figure into cubic metres (m³).

If you have a meter that measures in cubic metres (m3): they take the amount of gas used, shown with³’ on the front of your bill.

You’ll be able to tell which type of meter you have by checking the number of digits that make up your meter reading.

Imperial Meters will have four digit readings, not counting any numbers in red or after the decimal point and are measured in cubic feet or ‘hcf’.

Metric Meters will have five or six-digit readings, again, not including any numbers in red or after the decimal point and are measured in cubic meters or ‘m3’.

2. They then multiply this figure by a conversion factor of 1.02264, then by the calorific value. Calorific values vary; you can find the calorific value they’ve used for your meter under the readings on your bill.

3. Next, the energy suppliers will divide this figure by 3.6 to show your usage in kWh.

4. Finally, they multiply your usage in kWh by your unit prices to work out your gas charge.

If you need anything else

If you have any questions about your bills or would like a second opinion, please contact the team on 01943 609213 or email us; our farm electricity specialists will be happy to help!

Rhys Boven
Rhys Boven
Rhys is Managing Director of Switched On Rural and Switched On Energy. His professional work involves the management of energy and other services for both commercial and rural clients. Rhys's role in running Switched On, takes him across the Country from his Yorkshire home.

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