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27% of homes receive ‘incorrect energy bills’

10.4m 'in energy debt' due to estimated billing

More than a quarter of homes have received incorrect energy bills over the last two years – with one in 10 having done so on ‘multiple occasions’, according to new research.

The findings relate to differences between estimated and actual bills which, according to energy switching website uSwitch, has left 10.4 million households in unexpected debt to their suppliers.

Estimated payments

According to uSwitch, the debt – which is on average £147 – is leading to ‘confusion’ and ‘financial worry.’ But there’s no need to pay estimated charges.

Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron said: ‘If there is an ‘E’ next to the payment calculations on your bill, that means you’re paying an estimated charge that can make it difficult to predict payments.

‘By providing your energy supplier with a meter reading you can gain control over your payments and make sure your bills are a better reflection of actual energy use.’

Clearer energy bills

It’s easy to switch supplier if you’re not getting the tariff or service you expect – and it could save you up to £270. You can compare all the gas and electricity tariffs on the market and find the best deal to suit your energy use using Which? Switch, our free and accredited energy comparison and switching service.

Which? started campaigning for better energy bills in 2009 and a number of changes have since been made to make bills clearer.

But our latest energy satisfaction survey revealed that suppliers could still improve on the clarity of their billing. See which suppliers get top marks for accuracy and clarity of bills – as well as other areas including value for money and customer service – in our energy company satisfaction survey results.

Smart meters

The roll out of smart meters – which send electronic readings straight to your supplier, without anyone needing to come round and check your meters – should put an end to estimated energy bills. All UK homes will have smart meters in place by 2020. 

Have a look at our online guide – smart meters explained – for a list of common FAQs and advice on how smart meters could change your bills.

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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