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Paper energy bills cost £224 more

Customers penalised for not paying by direct debit

Utility bill

Smart meters should bring an end to estimated and inaccurate bills.

Customers who pay their energy bills by traditional means are paying an average of £224 more than those who pay by direct debit and manage their accounts online.

Energy supplier switching site uSwitch has calculated customers’ average annual dual fuel bill at £1,239 – if they pay their quarterly paper bills by cheque or cash. But if they pay their bills by direct debit and sign up for online billing, that falls to £1,015.

The research for the Daily Telegraph found the gap has nearly doubled in the last year and a half, from £116 to £224 per year.

This discrepancy affects many: according to energy regulator Ofgem, over 50% of Britain’s energy customers don’t pay their bills by direct debit. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 45% of people aged over 65 have never even used the internet.

Cheaper energy bills

As well as switching to an online energy tariff and opting to pay by direct debit, you can cut your energy bills by switching energy suppliers. Customers changing energy supplier with Which? Switch saved an average of £257 when switching between August and December 2008.

Our annual utility satisfaction survey has the results of 6,000 Which? members’ opinions on their energy supplier. Customer satisfaction ratings are traditionally low for the ‘big six’ energy suppliers, but there are other options – such as equitable billing company Ebico.

Which? is campaigning for simpler energy bills. To find out about our campaign and get involved, see our Which? energy campaign pages. Or you can tell us what you think of your energy bills.

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