If you think you’ve been charged too much for your energy
If your bill has suddenly gone up and you weren’t expecting it, it’s worth finding out why it’s happened.
There are several reasons why your bill might be higher than expected. It might be because:
you’ve been sent an estimated bill that is wrong
your energy supplier has put their prices up
you’re being charged for the wrong meter
your meter is faulty
your energy supplier has made a mistake and overcharged you
If you struggle to understand your energy bills
It’s worth finding out what all the different parts of your bill mean. It might help you work out why your bill is higher than you expected.
Get help if you’re struggling with your energy bills
If your bills are correct but you’re finding it hard to afford them, we can help with advice about paying your bills and saving energy. You can:
If you pay by direct debit you can find out what to do if your supplier has increased your direct debit payments.
If your bill says you’re ‘in credit’, it means your supplier owes you money. Find out how to claim back credit from your energy supplier.
If your bill is estimated
If you don’t have a smart meter in smart mode you need to give your supplier meter readings. If you don’t give them readings they’ll send you estimated bills which might not be accurate. For example, if you don’t give them a meter reading during the summer, they might send you an estimated bill based on the energy you used in winter.
Check your bill - it should say if it’s estimated.
If your estimated bill is too high you should take a meter reading and send it to your supplier. Your supplier will send you an updated, accurate bill instead. Check how to send a meter reading.
Send your supplier a meter reading every month to keep your bills accurate.
If you can’t read your meter because you’re an older person or disabled, you can apply for extra support from your supplier. This extra support is called the Priority Services Register. This might include a regular visit to read your meter. Check if you’re eligible to join the Priority Services Register.
If you have a smart meter and your bills say they’re estimated
Your smart meter isn’t sending automatic readings to your supplier - this means it isn’t working in ‘smart mode’. For example, this can happen if you recently switched to a new supplier. You can check if your meter’s working in smart mode.
If your meter isn’t working in smart mode you’ll need to read your meter and send your supplier the meter readings. Check how to:
If you’ve sent a meter reading for the first time in a while
If you’ve recently sent your supplier a meter reading for the first time in a while, your bill might be higher than your old, estimated bills.
Your supplier might have underestimated your energy bills if you didn’t give them a regular meter reading. They use these meter readings to give you accurate bills based on the energy you’ve used.
Send your supplier a reading every month to keep your bills accurate.
You’ll need to pay the bill, but you can get help if you can’t pay it in full. Check what to do if you're struggling to pay your energy bills.
If your supplier bills you for energy you used more than 12 months ago
Your supplier usually can't charge you for energy you used more than a year ago.
If you pay by direct debit your supplier shouldn’t increase your payments to cover the cost of energy used over 12 months ago. Check what to do if your supplier charges you for energy you used over 12 months ago.
Check if your energy supplier has put their prices up
Your supplier will usually let you know if their prices change, but it depends on your contract.
You can check to see if the price they charge you has gone up by comparing your recent bills. Check if your ‘unit rate’ or ‘standing charge’ has changed between bills.
If you’re on a standard variable tariff the price you pay can go up or down every 3 months. Check if there’s a different tariff that will work better for you.
If you aren’t sure if your energy supplier has put their prices up, contact them and ask.
Check if the bill is for the wrong meter
You can check if your meter is the same as the meter on the bill.
Check your gas meter
You can find out if the gas meter on your bill is correct by comparing the Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) on your bill with the MPRN registered to your address. The MPRN is a unique registration number for your meter.
If the MPRNs don’t match you should contact your gas supplier.
If the MPRNs match but you’re still worried the bill is wrong, you can compare readings. Check the reading on your meter and compare it with the reading on the bill. If there’s a big difference you should contact your supplier.
Check your electricity meter
You can find out if the electricity meter on your bill is correct by comparing the Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) on your bill with the MPAN registered to your address. The MPAN is a unique registration number for your meter.
First, you need to find who your electricity network operator is. This is different from your electricity supplier. Find your electricity network operator on the Power Cut 105 website.
When you've found your electricity network, use the ‘Find my supplier’ service on their website. It will also tell you the MPAN for your address.
If your network operator is:
National Grid - check your supplier on the National Grid website
Scottish and Southern Electricity Network - check your supplier on the Scottish and Southern Electricity Network website
Northern Powergrid - check your supplier on the Northern Powergrid website
Electricity North West - check your supplier on the Electricity North West website
SP Energy Networks - check your supplier on the SP Energy Network website
UK Power Networks - check your supplier on the UK Power Networks website
If the MPANs don’t match you should contact your electricity supplier.
If the MPANs match but you’re still worried the bill is wrong, you can compare readings. Check the reading on your meter and compare it with the reading on the bill. If there’s a big difference you should contact your supplier.
Check if your meter is faulty
Meter faults are rare, but there could be a problem with your meter if your bills suddenly go up and you haven’t changed how much gas or electricity you use.
If your supplier has made a mistake and overcharged you
If you’ve checked the other possible reasons and you still think your energy bill is too high, your supplier might have made a mistake. You should tell your supplier why you think you’ve been overcharged.
If you’ve switched suppliers recently
There might be a problem with the switchover if the bill you think is wrong is either:
the first bill from your new supplier
the final bill from your old supplier
For example, your new supplier might have entered your meter readings incorrectly.
If you’ve got a new gas meter
There might be a problem if your new meter readings are in metric units, while your old meter readings were in imperial units. This means that your energy use is now being measured in cubic metres instead of cubic feet. Your meter might show m3 for cubic metres or ft3 for cubic feet.
If the supplier’s records still say your reading is in imperial units they’ll try to convert the amount to metric. This might lead to you being overcharged.
Make a complaint
Contact the supplier to tell them you think you've been overcharged. Give them all the information you have and send in photos of your meter readings as proof. Make sure you keep all the messages you send to the supplier and their replies - you might need them.
If you can’t reach an agreement with your supplier, the next step is to contact the Energy Ombudsman. The Energy Ombudsman is independent and will examine the case from both sides to reach a decision they think is fair. Check how to ask for help on the Energy Ombudsman website.
If you need help paying your bill
If you’re struggling to pay your gas or electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay what you owe them. Your supplier has to help you find a solution.
You might also be eligible for extra financial help. Check what to do if you're struggling to pay your energy bills.
You can find out how to save money on your gas and electricity to keep your bills down.
Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone, online chat or by email.
If you’re struggling with living costs
If you’re struggling with money, there are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.
If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.
You can also get help with debts.
If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.
Page last reviewed on 19 January 2024