Why are your energy bills so high?

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Have you recently had an energy bill that made your eyes water? There could be lots of reasons why your energy bills may be higher than you were expecting - here are some likely culprits.

Are you on an expensive energy tariff?

One of the main ways you could save on your energy bills is by switching to a new supplier. Or, if you’d prefer to stay with the same company, you could switch tariff and make sure you're not languishing on a standard variable tariff. Not sure if you’re on a standard variable tariff? Have a look at these questions - if you answer ‘no’ to either of them, then it's highly likely you're on a standard tariff:

  • Have you ever switched energy supplier since living in your current home?

    When you move house, your energy supply contract is with the previous occupiers’ energy supplier. But, once you move in, the supplier will automatically put you on their standard variable tariff, which is their most expensive rate.

  • If you have switched, have you switched in the past 12 months?

    When you switch, it's now common for tariffs to be offered for 12 month periods. When this ends, you’ll automatically roll over on to your supplier's standard variable tariff, unless you switch again.

You’ll also know you’re on a standard variable tariff if, when you check a recent bill, the tariff name has ‘standard’ in the title.

The difference in price between a supplier's standard variable tariff and their cheapest tariff can be hundreds of pounds per year. If you’re on a standard variable tariff, then you can almost certainly save money by switching to a different energy provider, or by switching to a cheaper tariff with your existing provider. You can compare every UK energy tariff by entering your postcode below.

Have you moved from estimated to accurate billing?

There are two types of billing – estimated and accurate. Estimated billing is where the energy supplier estimates how much gas and electricity you've used, and bills you for that amount. With accurate billing, you provide regular meter readings to the energy supplier, so you only pay for the exact amount of energy you’ve used. This way, you avoid building up debt which can prevent you from switching in the future.

If you've recently moved from estimated billing to accurate billing, and you tend to use a lot of gas and electricity, then you may have been paying less than you should whilst you were on estimated billing. As a result, your new, accurate bill may seem very expensive by comparison.

Is your home energy efficient?

It goes without saying that the more energy you use the higher your bill will be. To gauge whether you’re using a lot of energy, compare the energy consumption on your bill against the averages for each property size below.

House Size Average Monthly Energy Consumption Average Annual Energy Consumption
Electricity Gas Electricity Gas
Flat or Small House 166kWh 666kWh 2,000kWh 8,000kWh
Medium House 258kWh 1,041kWh 3,100kWh 12,500kWh
Large House 383kWh 1,500kWh 4,600kWh 18,000kWh

If you’re using a lot of energy, it may be a sign that your home isn’t very energy efficient. There are lots of ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home, such as:

  • Improve the insulation of your house with cavity wall insulation and loft insulation. You should also turn the heating down or off in rooms you don't use often.
  • Use energy efficient lightbulbs throughout your house – lighting typically accounts for around 15% of the cost of an electricity bill, and each energy efficient lightbulb is estimated to save you £3 per year compared to traditional lightbulbs. You should also turn off lights when you don’t need them.
  • Turn your appliances when you’re not using them. Don’t just put them on standby, as this still uses between 10% - 50% of the energy they’d use when switched on and running normally. Use energy efficient settings on larger appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers.

You can find lots more energy saving ideas in our Energy Efficiency section, and on our Save At Home page.

Is your meter working correctly?

This is very rare, but your meter may not be accurately be recording the amount of energy you’re using. You can ask your energy supplier to come out to check your meter to make sure it’s working properly, but if they don’t find any fault with the meter you may be charged for the call out. Before calling your energy supplier, it’s worth checking your usage over the last three months to see how it has changed. If it has increased significantly ask yourself if there’s a reason for this. Perhaps you've bought a new appliance that's consuming a lot of energy, or if winter is setting in you may be using your heating and lighting more frequently.

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