Prevent a shock by checking your energy bills
Householders should check their gas and electricity bills regularly, said Midlands energy expert Ron Fox.
It follows a report by the charity Citizens Advice that up to 15 per cent of bills were incorrect from some suppliers.
This stress was often made worse as customers had great difficulty contacting the companies to ensure the amounts were corrected.
“There is often a huge divide between the best and the worst performing firms,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd, “with those at the bottom of the list having the higher number of errors.
“This is particularly concerning for those whose finances have already been stretched by the pandemic. On top of that around 11 million households in the UK saw their energy bills rise in April this year by an average of £96 a year by suppliers when the Ofgem energy price cap was increased.”
But Ron said if a bill has suddenly gone up residents should make a number of checks before contacting their energy supplier. It may be because you have put the heating on more often or started using a tumble dryer or the company has put up its prices recently.
Check also whether it says it is an estimated bill. People don’t need to pay that, but they do need to send regular meter readings to the company to get an updated and accurate one.
If householders have a smart meter and receive an estimated bill it probably means automatic readings are not being sent to the supplier. This can happen, for example, if a person has recently switched to a different company. Again, contact the energy company.
Other areas to look at are reducing your gas and electricity use and by making your home more energy efficient with better insulation. If you have a two-rate tariff such as Economy 7, you pay less for energy used overnight and more during the day.
Also ensure your meter is set up properly or you could be paying the more expensive daytime rate for the energy you’re using at night. You can check that by using a small amount of electricity during the day and looking at your meter display which should see only the daytime reading go up.
Check the timer on any night storage heaters so they come on only overnight.
Finally, if you still think there’s something wrong with the bill, you can complain to your energy provider, and if you are still unhappy, the Ombudsman.
Don’t forget if your supplier bills you for energy you used more than 12 months ago, you don’t need to pay that under ‘back billing’ rules.
“All companies have a responsibility to deliver the best possible service to their customers,” said Ron on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park in North Staffordshire, “and it is up to these poorer performing energy companies to get their act together as a matter of urgency and sort out these wrong bills quickly.”
For more information on making your home more energy efficient, call Ron on 0845 474 6641.
Caption: Ensure you don’t receive shocking news – check your energy bills regularly .