Easy ways to check if your energy bill is wrong – including smart meter errors

Energy companies often automate the process of bill calculation – which means mistakes happen. Here, our consumer expert Martyn James breaks down the red flags to look out for

Energy bills are really complicated and how to calculate them is not easy to understand
Energy bills are really complicated and how to calculate them is not easy to understand

Do energy bill errors happen? Think back a year before the cost of living crisis hit and 27 energy companies went bust.

The Energy Regulator revealed that a few years ago 1 million people were overcharged by 18 energy companies by £7.2million. And that’s just because of the provider change.

Before the current situation, something went wrong in just one point of energy billing.

Energy bills are really complicated and how to calculate them is not easy to understand. Energy companies often automate the process of bill calculation — which means you only let a real human check the bill if you complain.

Add estimated readings, erroneous meters, differing energy tariffs, and human error to the mix, and you can see why the bill you’re getting might have a lot of inaccuracies.

However, in recent months there has been an explosion of complaints about billing errors, as people receive payment requests that clearly cannot be right. So what’s up?

What causes the billing errors?

There are three main reasons for the large increase in billing disputes:

  • The pandemic meant many bills were estimated as meter readers and engineers were largely grounded by lockdowns.
  • Millions of people switched to new providers, transferring all the old problems with their bills to a new energy company, making it harder to figure out what was going on.
  • The 54% increase in energy bills has made it much, much harder for people to tell if their bill is wrong or just rising in line with all the doom and gloom we’ve all heard.

How do I know if my invoice is incorrect?

Don’t try to become an energy expert overnight! Despite my two decades as a consumer champion, the mysteries of energy bills still baffle me from time to time.

So go with your gut feeling. Your energy bill shouldn’t have increased by more than 54% – so if the following things happened, you could file a complaint.

Did your bill increase dramatically before the price cap went into effect in April? It is likely that your fixed price contract has ended.

Many people have reported that they were then faced with a huge increase in their bill before the maximum price increase kicked in.

This practice has been sharply criticized by many consumer advocates, politicians and commentators.

If you are affected by a price increase that increases your bill by more than 54%, you should ask the company to explain in writing why they did this and what other options were available to you. If you are not satisfied with the answer, contact the energy ombudsman.

Look under the Energy Consumption section on your bill. This shows if your supplier relied on estimated readings.

Chances are they have been doing this for a while. So when you take an actual reading (or when someone comes to check your meters), estimation errors become obvious.

Even if the company underestimated a small amount, it can add up dramatically over the years of the pandemic.

Not only should the company pass on to you errors in estimating costs – it also has a duty to get things right. So sit back and complain.

Take a reasonable view. If your bill used to be £800 a year and is now £3,000 then something is clearly wrong.

That’s well above the price cap, and while there are many reasons for this, you should ask the energy company to explain what’s happening in simple terms.

So what can I do?

First things first, take accurate meter readings from both gas and energy meters (if you have dual fuel). Check the readings sensibly with your bill.

If you have an old analog gauge (with dials like dials pointing in different directions) it’s easy to make a mistake, so don’t rush.

If your smart meter display is flashing or not broadcasting, then report that too. Be sure to photograph the gauges so you have another record of the reading. Why not take a picture and email it to yourself with the subject “Meter Reading and Date” so that you can find it in the event of a dispute.

If you think your meter is faulty, your utility may ask you to take meter readings daily for seven days to determine if there is an apparent problem.

But ultimately, if the readings don’t make sense, it’s up to the energy company to fix the problem. This can include sending engineers to assess the meter’s performance, or even a forensic analysis of your bills.

If your bill went up dramatically because the company relied on estimated readings, file a formal complaint. The company should not “re-bill” you for more than 12 months from the date of the invoice.

Backbilling is when an invoice is recalculated (or sent for the first time) more than a year before the current invoice.

Unless you intentionally dodged the meter reader during your visit, the company should not be charging you for energy usage errors that are more than 12 months old for the first time. This is what the regulator says:

If you’ve switched to a new provider, don’t panic. Your new energy supplier should have the information they need to check for errors or failures with the company that is out of business, although they may have a backlog.

Speed ​​up the work by photographing old invoices and attaching them to your complaint along with other supporting documents.

How do I complain?

Resolver can help you file a complaint for free on any energy issue, from incorrect billing to switching errors. start here

There is also a free energy ombudsman if you are still not satisfied. Resolver will automatically refer you to them if your complaint cannot be resolved.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/easy-ways-check-your-energy-26834106 Easy ways to check if your energy bill is wrong - including smart meter errors

Fry Electronics Team

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