Economy / 1st January 2021

Why is your gas or electricity bill so high?

What to do about high energy bills

Find out what your rights are and what you can do

If you think your gas or electricity bill is too high, there are steps you can take to make sure you’re only paying for the energy you’re using. It could be that you have a faulty meter. Find out what your rights are and what you can do.

Why is your gas or electricity bill so high?

If your energy bill is higher than you think it should be, there could be several reasons for this:

Your energy bill could be estimated. It’s a good idea to read your gas and electricity meter regularly – at least every three months, but monthly is best. If you don’t read your energy meter and tell the energy company what you’ve used, you could be paying more than you need to.

SAVVY TIP: Gas and electricity companies only have to try and read your energy meter(s) once every two years.

You may have given an incorrect meter reading. Some meters are digital, which means they are generally easier to read. However, it’s still possible to make a mistake!
Your account could be linked to someone else’s meter. This is most likely to happen when you switch gas or electricity supplier, but it could also happen if a new property is built in your road or if you live in a house that’s been divided into flats.
Your meter could be faulty. If your meter doesn’t measure the amount of gas or electricity correctly, you could be paying too much or too little.
Your energy use may have increased. Hopefully, you’d know if you’re using more gas and/or electricity. But if you’ve bought more gadgets or if you’ve started to – for example – do your washing more often, your energy costs could rise.

What to do if you think your meter is faulty

Citizens Advice says that if you think your meter is faulty, you should carry out some basic checks yourself. Turn off all your appliances and see if the meter reading is increasing or the meter dial is going round. If so, your meter is probably faulty. However, even if it doesn’t show a reading with all the appliances off, it could still have a fault.

SAVVY TIP: If you have a prepayment meter, and the screen is blank or it shows an error message or ‘call help’ or ‘battery’, there could be a fault.

What your energy company should do

Your gas or electricity company should offer to test your meter if you think it could be faulty. Be aware that you could be charged for this and the charge could be over £90, depending on your energy supplier.

Here’s what the energy companies may charge:

British Gas: no charge for testing a potentially faulty meter. However, if you were to ask for an accuracy test because you think your meter(s) aren’t giving the correct reading, but it turns out that the meter is working correctly, you would be asked to pay a fee of between £63 and £75. This would be added to your bill.
EDF Energy: no charge for testing a potentially faulty meter.
E-on: no charge for tests carried out by E-on but a £93 charge per meter for testing by an independent expert. The £93 charge is refunded if the meter is found to be faulty.
First Utility: the vast majority of queries related to usage and meter reads can be resolved via a conversation and a photograph of the meter showing the reads. There is no charge for an engineer’s visit to check a meter if there is a fault and replacement is free.  If the meter is found not to be faulty, there is a charge of  £130 for an electricity meter and £111 for a gas meter.
Ovo: customers must pay for a for meter accuracy test (MAT) upfront, but Ovo will let you spread the cost if you ask for this (Ovo’s tariffs ask customers to pay for energy in advance and for their account to remain in credit, so it’s in line with their tariff). The cost for testing an electricity meter is £89.25 and the cost for testing a gas meter is £138.32. If the meter is faulty, you’ll get a refund in full and a new meter free of charge.
nPower: No charge for checking a potentially faulty meter.
Scottish Power: If you wanted your meter checked and it was found not to be faulty, there would be a charge of £50 for an electricity meter and £120 for a gas meter.  This cost would be added to the your bill.
SSE: the first test is free but if you were to ask for a second test, it would cost £31.80 per meter.

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