Energy bills - understanding your bill
Finding reliable suppliers
One of the main challenges of upgrading the energy performance of your home is to find a supplier that you can trust. Many suppliers can struggle to keep pace with all the changes in technology and government schemes and not all suppliers are as reputable as we would like them to be.
This is a brief introduction to finding the right suppliers.
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Do your research
- Look at Checkatrade to identify suppliers with high scores (9.9 or 10) and good feedback from clients.
- Look at Buy With Confidence to identify local suppliers listed on this government-run initiative.
- Ask for recommendations from friends, neighbours or colleagues who have had work done recently. Also people you know in related trades may be able to refer reliable colleagues.
Get quotes and references
It’s a good idea to get a minimum of three quotes from suppliers so that you have a realistic idea of prices rather than relying on just one. For bigger projects, ask to speak directly to previous clients.
Ensure any tradesperson has the requisite qualifications and approvals. For example, anyone installing renewable energy systems must be registered under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) in order for you to claim subsidies once the system has been commissioned.
Give yourself a Christmas or New Year present by saving up to £200 a year on your energy bills. The Big Energy Saving Network and Winchester City Council are supporting Winchester District residents to save energy, save money and stay warm this winter.
“It’s worth investing an hour or two of your time to save so much”, said Andy Smale of local independent adviser Expert Energy, one of the Big Energy Saving Champions.
Andy suggests using Uswitch.com or the Which website switch.which.co.uk to compare and switch energy tariffs in three simple steps. “You’ll need your gas and electricity bills to see what you are paying, and the site tells you if you might save money by switching tariff or energy company”, he said.
Citizens Advice Winchester District is also helping, so they tested the ‘cheap energy club’ tool on moneysavingexpert.com to make sure it would be useful. “I thought I may as well try it out for myself and see what it would mean for my home. I stand to save £189 per year and it only took me 9 minutes!” reported Natalie Webb . “It was so quick and easy, I would encourage everyone to follow my example and find out what you can save”.
“You can also save money and still be nice and cosy for Christmas if you keep the warm air in and the draughts out”, said Chris Holloway, director of Winchester Action on Climate Change. “It costs nothing to put a cardboard over the inside of the letterbox, stuff old tights to stop draughts blowing under your door, draw your curtains as soon as the sun goes down, and switch the heating down half an hour before you go out or go to bed”.
Anyone can contact Andy for helping to switch to cheaper energy or making their home warmer. Ring 01962 217844, text 07731 960320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Home-owners and private tenants can also get advice from Hitting the Cold Spots on 0800 804 8601 or email email@example.com.
Notes to Editors:
1. More information from Andy Smale on 01962 217844 firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris Holloway from WinACC on 07779 283451.
2. Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC)'s Home Energy work is funded by Winchester City Council and the Big Energy Saving Network, a national £1 million programme from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to support eligible third sector organisations and community groups, deliver help and advice to vulnerable consumers.
4. WinACC runs regular meetings throughout the year to get the Winchester community engaged in climate change and lowering carbon emissions.
5. Winchester Action on Climate Change Ltd is a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales with company registration no. 08013043. Our registered office is University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR. We are also a registered charity in England and Wales with charity no 1150754.
It really helps if you understand your energy bill as this will help you to see where you can save money. Unfortunately, every energy bill is laid out differently, but don’t despair.
The Which? website provides a handy list of the energy companies’ guides to their own bills:
Here's a quick introduction to bills and how you can make changes to save money.
For more information please look at the following pages:
The main sections are:
The tariff is made up of two sections:
the price per unit of energy
any standing charge that is levied irrespective of how much energy you use.
The tariff that you are currently on should be clearly displayed on your statement. You will need this if you wish to put your current details into a price comparison website.
Your meter readings
On the statement, your meter readings are usually followed by one of three letters
A (for Actual) - an official meter reader has taken the reading.
E (for Estimated) - the reading is an estimate based on previous consumption patterns.
C (for customer) - you have supplied a reading yourself. It’s a good idea to supply a reading yourself on a regular basis to avoid receiving estimated readings which can result in your being in credit or debit until an actual reading is taken (this is required every two years).
What you owe depends on a combination of how much energy you used in the previous period, any standing charges that apply and any credit balance you already have. You may also receive discounts (e.g. for dual fuel) which should be shown here.
You can claim your money back (myenergycredit.co.uk) if your account is significantly in credit.
Your usage summary
Each statement provides details of how much energy you used measured in units of kilowatt-hours (kWh). It also projects your usage and costs over the next 12 months. Use this data to understand how your consumption changes and on the energy comparison websites.
Citizens Advice Winchester District and local climate change charity Winchester Action on Climate Change have teamed up to help people cut their energy bills this winter. They are looking for at least 200 people to benefit from this new partnership.
There are two ways to cut energy bills – to pay less for the energy you use, or to use less energy.
People may be able to pay less for the energy they use by switching to a different energy provider, or a new tariff or a new contract. Citizens Advice Winchester District’s Chief Officer Natalie Webb tested the ‘cheap energy club’ tool on moneysavingexpert.com to make sure it would be useful.
“I thought I may as well try it out for myself and see what it would mean for my home. I stand to save £189 per year and it only took me 9 minutes!” she reported. “It was so quick and easy, I would encourage everyone to follow my example and find out what you can save”, said Natalie. “And if you want any help with switching energy provider, or for any other advice needs you might have, just come and see us.”
The Citizens Advice Winchester office is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-4pm and on Tuesday, Friday 10am-1pm.The Citizens Advice Bishops Waltham office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10am-2pm. Details of their outreach and evening opening times are on their website: www.winchesterdistrictcab.org.uk.
Of course, you also have less to pay if you use less energy in the first place. Winchester Action on Climate Change has loads of tips about how to save energy, save money and stay warm on their website winacc.org.uk under the heading “Home Energy”.
“Just drawing your curtains as soon as it gets dark can make a difference”, said Andy Smale of Expert Energy who works with WinACC to provide energy advice. “You feel much warmer if you stop draughts coming under your door, round your windows, through the letter box and down the chimney”.
Other energy-saving tips are to set the thermostat on your hot water tank to 60 degrees, if you have a tank, to turn radiators down in rooms that aren’t being used, and to set the heating timer to go off half-an-hour before you leave the house or go to bed.
One of the Citizens Advice or WinACC energy advisors can visit vulnerable or housebound people at home to help them spend less on keeping warm. They can also give talks to local groups from societies to lunch clubs, bringing their leaflets and computers with them to help cut your bills.
They can also lend energy monitors so that people can see how much energy they are using, and whether it makes a difference if they switch things off. And WinACC's light-bulb display gives people the chance to see how well the latest LED bulbs perform. “Waiting for low-energy bulbs to warm up is a thing of the past”, said Chris Holloway, WinACC’s Co-Director, “And the latest LED bulbs save you even more money than the older low-energy types. You can even chose different shades of white, to get the colour effect that suits your home décor”.
The costs of this service are covered by Winchester City Council and the Government Big Energy Saving Network.
If installing your own solar roof isn't for you, don't do nothing – switch to an electricity supplier who sells renewable electricity. It really isn't difficult. "Much less hassle than changing banks", says Chris. The renewable energy suppliers usually don't have complicated tariff options that waste your time as you read the small print. So it's less hassle, less greenhouse gas emissions, and money for WinACC in one simple step - because when you switch, WinACC gets a reward.
Enter "Winchester Action on Climate Change" in the search box and click the link associated with WinACC to get it to us.
For every household switching supplier, WinACC gets the following rewards:
Green Energy UK:
- £30 per year, every year you’re signed up to electricity only tariffs. Choice of Pale Green or Deep Green tariffs depending on the renewables mix and price combination. And all sign-ups are entitled to 400 free shares in the company.
- £20 per year, every year, if you’re signed up on an electricity only tariff and £40 per year for a dual fuel tariff. The tariff is Good Energy's 100% renewables tariff as certified by the Green Energy Supply Certification Scheme**.
- £20 per year, every year, you’re signed up. The energy mix is no coal and has <50% average carbon content of the Big 6.
- £30 per year, every year, you’re signed up on an electricity only tariff and £40 per year for a dual fuel tariff. The tariffs are Ecotricity's "new energy" and "green gas" tariffs.
It really helps if you understand your energy bill as this will help you to see where you can save money. Unfortunately, every energy bill is laid out differently, but don’t despair. The Which? website provides a handy list of the energy companies’ guides to their own bills: