Why are my gas and electric bills so high?

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Have you received an energy bill through the post recently that made your eyes water? There are any number of reasons why your energy bills may be very high or higher than you were expecting but here are some likely culprits.

You are on an expensive tariff

One of the main ways you might be able to make a saving on your gas and electricity bills is by switching supplier or at least ensuring you switch tariff and ensure you're not languishing on a "standard" tariff. If you don't know whether you are on a "standard" tariff or not, the easiest way to find out is to answer the following questions. If you answer "no" to either of these then it's highly likely you're on a standard tariff:

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

    The reason for asking this is that if you move house, your energy supply contract is with the previous tenants energy supplier. However, once you move in, the supplier will automatically default you on to their "standard" tariff which is, (you guessed it!) their most expensive rate.

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

    This relates to those who have switched in the past but haven't done it since. When you do switch, it's now common place that tariffs are offered for 12-months, after which point you will automatically roll-over on to your supplier's "standard" tariff unless you switch again.

Alternatively, you'll know you're on a standard rate tariff if the tariff name on a recent bill has 'standard' in its title. The difference in price between a supplier's standard tariff and their cheapest tariff can be hundreds of pounds per year. If you are on a standard tariff then you can almost certainly save money by switching energy providers or by switching to a cheaper tariff with the same energy provider. You can compare every UK energy tariff with UKPower.co.uk by entering your postcode below.

You've moved from estimated billing to accurate billing

There are two types of billing – estimated and accurate. Estimated billing is where the energy provider estimates how much gas and electricity you've used. With accurate billing you provide the energy supplier with meter readings on a regular basis, ensuring you pay for the exact amount of energy you've used and therefore avoid building up debt which can prevent you from switching further down the line.

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 previously been paying a lower amount than you should have and your new, accurate bill by comparison may seem very expensive.

Your home isn't energy efficient and you're using more energy than you need to

It goes without saying that the more energy you use the higher your bill will be. As a rough guide, the average energy consumption for various sized houses is shown in the table below. You can compare these values against the energy consumption shown on your bill to get a rough idea if you are a high energy user or not.

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

Using a lot of energy may be an indication of an energy inefficient house. There are many ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home, a few ideas are provided below:

  • Look at options to keep heat in. You could 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 light bulbs throughout your house – lighting typically accounts for around 15% of the cost of an electricity bill and each energy efficient light bulb is estimated to save you £3 per year compared to traditional light bulbs. You should also turn off lights when not in use.
  • Turn appliances off when not in use - don't just place them on standby as appliances on standby still consume energy. This could be anywhere from 10% to over 50% of their normal operating energy consumption. Use energy efficient settings on larger appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers.

We have plenty more energy saving ideas for you in our Energy Efficiency section and on our Save At Home page.

Your meter isn't working correctly

This is very rare, but in extreme circumstances, your meter may not be accurately be recording your energy usage. You can ask your energy provider to come out to check your meter to ensure that it is working correctly, however if there is shown to be no fault with the meter you may be charged for the call out, so before calling your energy supplier it is a good idea to check your usage over the last 3 months and see how it has changed. If it has increased significantly ask yourself, is there a reason for this? Perhaps you've bought a new appliance that's consuming a lot of energy or if it's moving into the winter months you may be using your heating and lighting more frequently.

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