Gas and electricity bills are known to be the most difficult of all the bills to understand, there is a lot of difficult terminology, abbreviations and figures to get your head around. Most people, quite understandably, do not even try and work it all out, at best they may look at the total amount to be paid and disregard the rest! But should we be taking a bit more time to understand our bills?
There are great benefits in taking the time to understand your energy bills, the biggest benefit of all of course will be to help you save money.
For instance, if you know what tariff you are on or how much you are being charged per a unit of gas or electricity you can determine if you are paying too much for your energy. By understanding a few details about your bill you are in a strong position to shop around for a better deal.
One of the best places to start in understanding your bills is working out what tariff you are on. This should be stated on your bill, typically on the front page. From the example British Gas bill you will see the tariff is highlighted in the first left hand side box.
Standard tariff’s are generally the worst tariff you can be on, they are a suppliers default tariff, so prices will fluctuate with the market making them the most expensive and they come with no perks or benefits.
The only positive aspect to a standard tariff is you are not tied in so can switch anytime. Other types of tariff’s are fixed rate, dual fuel, online, pre-payment and green.
Units of gas and electricity are measured in kWh, which stands for kilowatt hour. On the example bill you will see this highlighted in the second left hand side box. Your bill will inform you how many kWh you used in the time period your supplier is billing you for.
This can be useful information as you will be able to see what time of the year you use the most energy, potentially enabling you to cut down on usage. For example turning down the heating a few degrees in winter can have positive results of the amount of kWh you use, resulting in less expenditure.
Your supplier should also inform you of the kWh you have used over the last 12 months, if you have not been with your supplier for as long as 12 months they will tell you kWh used from the start of your contract.
Once again your bill will detail the method of payment you use. It has been noted that monthly direct debit is the most cost effective way of paying for your energy bills.
The MPAN number stands for meter point administration number. This is the number for your electricity meter. A typical example of an MPAN number is:
This can be found on your bill under the ‘details of charges’ section. It is always starts with an S and has 21 digits, but sometimes only the last 13 digits will show on your bill (as highlighted in white).
An MPRN number stands for meter reference number, often just referred to as meter point number. This is the unique number of your gas meter. Here’s an example:
always 10 digits long and can be found on your bill under the ‘details of charges’ section as seen below:
Both an MPAN and MPRN number is unique to your meter and will allow easy identification of the correct meter when you come to switch your energy.
Let’s compare the big 6:
As you can see, some are simpler than others. So depending on whether you want a simpler bill or more information you can make an informed decision on whether your paperwork is a game changer.
Armed with all this information what’s the next step? Use it to acquire a better deal on your business energy prices.
If you are on a standard tariff you can switch anytime and almost always get a better deal. If you are on a fixed rate you may have to wait for your contact to come to an end before you can switch but check out the terms and conditions so you know for sure.