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Energy customers to get clearer bills

Energy customers to get clearer bills

Category: Utilities

Updated: 18/12/2012
First Published: 01/07/2010

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.
Gas and electricity customers should start to receive simpler bills from today (1 July) as part of new measures ordered by the industry's watchdog.

Following an investigation into the market by Ofgem, customers can expect their bills and annual statements to clearly show how much energy they have used and what it will cost them.

Both the annual statements and improved bills will include:

• The exact name of the customer's tariff;
• A kilowatt hour figure showing how much energy a customer has used in the previous 12 months (except where the customer has been with their supplier for less than 12 months); and
• An indicative figure providing a snapshot of how much a given customer is likely to spend over 12 months, based on their current consumption and current prices (except where the customer has been with their supplier for less than 12 months).

All customers will have received their annual statement by December 2010. The additional information suppliers will provide for this includes:

• Details on the principal terms of the customer's existing contract;
• Details of any premium or discount that applies to the customer's tariff when compared to the supplier's standard monthly direct debit tariff; and a reminder that customers can switch supplier together with signposting to sources of independent advice on how to go about it.

A report by Ofgem has also revealed that customers are already benefitting from a crackdown on unjustified gas and electricity premiums.

Average premiums for prepayment meters compared with direct debits have fallen considerably, from £111 to £69.

In addition, reform has reduced the prices paid by around 4.3 million electricity only customers, often in rural areas, who were unable to get dual deals as they were not connected to gas networks.

Ofgem has revealed that it has demanded explanations from two suppliers which it found may still be charging customers unjustified price premiums.

It has also re-emphasised its ruling that all suppliers must be transparent when marketing online deals, especially when temporary discounts are offered.

"The report is encouraging news for a lot of customers as unjustified price premiums have fallen significantly," Sarah Harrison, senior partner, sustainable development, Ofgem, said.

"However we do have concerns over some premiums and have made it clear to the two suppliers concerned that we will take action if the differentials cannot be justified.

"We want customers to have a much better picture of their energy consumption and how much they are spending. Clearer bills and annual statements will put all this information at their fingertips so they can compare energy deals more easily when they are thinking of switching."

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