How to Read Your Electric Bill

Unless you're a real science whiz, you probably find your electricity bill confusing. While the structure of an energy bill can vary from provider to provider, we'll discuss some common features and terms that appear on most electricity bills.

Use this information to help you better understand your charges and tariffs, so you can spot any errors or discover if you're paying too much. For reference, the average UK gas and electric bill per household is around £113 a month (£54.6 on gas and £58.7 on electricity), and the average cost per kilowatt for electricity is 16.3p/kWh.

Below is a list of common terms you'll find on your electric bill, and what they mean.

kWh

kWh is the abbreviation for a "kilowatt hour," which is a measure of a unit of energy. You'll see this term on gas and electricity bills to show either how much energy you've used or perhaps the price you're paying per kWh.

Standing Charge

The fixed amount you pay per day just to be hooked up to your energy supply. The standing charge is separate from your usage charge, which is calculated based on how much energy you use.

Balance

Unlike your credit card bill (to which you'll nearly always owe money), you can have a credit or a debit with your energy provider. Depending on your direct debit amount, it's common to accumulate a credit (or a positive balance) in the summer months and a debit (or a negative balance) in the winter months as you use more energy to heat your home.

Tariff Name

Have this handy if you're going to compare energy prices on a comparison site. And if the name is anything like, "Standard Variable Tariff" you're probably on their most expensive rate.

Tariff Ends on

The date your current tariff ends. Be alert to this date, because when you're current tariff ends you'll be rolled onto a different tariff which could be more expensive.

Exit Fee

You'll need to pay this if you switch plans before your current plan ends. Some plans have no exit fee.

Annual Consumption

The amount of energy you are expected to use, based on your usage history. It is stated in kWh and you might need this number if you're comparing prices with another supplier to estimate costs of another plan. Good to have handy.

MPAN and MPRN

These are your electricity supply number (MPAN) and gas supply number (MPRN). The MPAN starts with an S and the MPRN is a string of 10 numbers. Have on hand to switch—it's the unique number assigned to the gas or electricity meter at your property to identify it.

Direct Debit Amount

The fixed amount you'll pay your supplier each month. This number can go up or down, if your supplier thinks you're using more or less energy than anticipated. While a direct debit amount is "fixed," this does not necessarily mean your cost per kWh is fixed!

Comparison

You may notice the supplier pointing out that you could save money on another tariff. If so, it's always worth looking into but beware of differences between plans like exit fees and fixed vs. variable charges.

Whether you are a Pay As You Go customer or have a credit meter, it's a good idea to learn how to read an electric bill to help you spot any errors. With the average UK household spending nearly £600 per year on electricity, it's definitely worth understanding your bill to help you catch any mistakes—they do happen.

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