How To Read Your Gas Bill

How much higher can energy prices get? If your blood pressure is rising at the thought of your rising costs and you feel like you’re about to blow a gasket, keep calm and read – don’t rip up – your gas bill. Following these simple tips will help you to understand the amount of gas you’re guzzling and how much you’re being charged for it.

Look closely below the word ‘bill’. Do you see either ‘estimated’ or ‘actual’ below it? If it’s the former, then the chances are that the amount you’re being asked to pay is inaccurate. You should hotfoot it to your gas meter, take a reading and inform your supplier so that they can reissue a bill for the correct amount.

Your bill will include a customer reference number that is unique to you, which should be quoted in any communication with your supplier. Look closely at the bill date and bill period to make sure you’re clear as to the time period to which the charges apply. There will be a section showing how much you paid for your gas consumption last time you received a bill and details on any discounts to which you’re entitled. Remember that signing up to a duel fuel agreement will save you money on your energy bills. The total to pay should be obvious and may be denoted by the words ‘in debit’.

Gas consumption

This explains how much gas you’ve got through in the billing period. If you have an old gas meter, gas is measured in imperial units. One unit = 100 cubic feet of gas. These units are converted into kilowatt-hours (kWh), the normal measure of energy use. With a modern meter, gas consumption will be shown in kWh.

Conversion formula

This details how the units are converted into kWh. There is a metric conversion and a factor for the heating power of gas, which varies depending on the make-up of your gas, particularly moisture. This may change depending on the origin of the gas and time of year. The volume correction adjusts the calculation for temperature and pressure.

Tariffs

Tariffs allow suppliers to recoup the cost of overheads such as reading meters, running call centres, using pipes, issuing bills and chasing debts. Bills either have a fixed charge and one tariff, or two-tier tariffs, in which gas up to a certain threshold is charged at a higher rate. Make sure you’re on a deal you’re happy with and, if you have any questions, contact your supplier or consider switching.

Contacts and complaints

This gives information on contacting your gas supplier. Your meter point reference number, details of the third party contractor which reads your meter and geographical pricing area should be contained in a section at the top. You can make a complaint by telephone or email and may qualify for compensation from the ombudsman.

Past and future consumption

Your gas bill should contain a graph showing how much gas you consumed during the same period in the previous year. With energy prices continuing to rise, who knows how high they’re going to go. There should also be a section explaining what your projected costs will be if you continue to use gas at the same rate over the next 12 months.

Anum

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of Current on Currency. She loves all things personal finance, which is why you'll find her work all over the PF blogosphere.

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