For many of us, gas and electricity are two of the biggest bills we have alongside things like mortgage and food. With electricity, it is easy to understand as most of the devices we use run on electric from the cooker to fridge to TV and even the lighting. But a big gas bill can be more mysterious. So, what can you do about a big gas bill and why might you have had one?
Possible reasons for a big bill
Estimated bills are one of the top reasons that you can find yourself paying more than you should be. If you haven’t given a meter reading to your utility company for a while, they will just use an estimated figure, and this can be inaccurate. Look at the bill and see if the figure on the meter matches the number they have used. If it doesn’t, take a meter reading and go back to your supplier on the number on the bill or find an alternative contact numbers directory.
The amount of energy you use may have changed although this is more common with electricity than with gas. If you have added a gas cooker when previously you were on electric, this will increase your gas bill as you will be using more.
Sometimes random problems may have occurred such as being charged for the wrong meter number. Always check your meter’s ID with the meter point reference number or MPRN which should be the same on your meter as on your bill. If it isn’t, then get in touch with them to let them know the problem.
Changes in price
Another common reason that we get caught out with a big gas bill is that the supplier has changed their prices and we haven’t realised this would affect the bill. Normally they will tell you if the rate they are charging is changing but this depends on the details of your contract. It may even be that your contract has ended, and they have moved you to a standard, variable contract with different prices.
Look at the cost of energy on your bill, called a ‘unit rate’ which is in pence per kilowatt (kwh). Compare it to your last bill and if it is more, then they have increased their prices. You can also contact the company to find out about the current rate you are on and this is a good time to check for better ones.
If the bill is correct and you have used this amount of gas, then you will need to pay it. You might be able to spread the cost by increasing your monthly payments so contact your supplier to find out about this.
When you have cleared the bill, it is also a good time to shop around and ensure you are still getting the best deal. With the new usage figures, you have from your last bill you can get an accurate comparison from other suppliers and see if anyone offers a better deal. Switching is very easy and can be done online or over the phone.
Control your heating
For most homes, the main or sole use of gas in the property is to power the boiler and this means that controlling your heating can save you money.
One great way to do this is with a smart thermostat. These are different from smart meters that send readings from your meter straight to your provider. Instead, these help you have more control over your heating and ensure you are only using it when you need to, saving you money
For example, if you have the heating set to come on half an hour before you finish work, but you end up working late and no-one is home, you can use the smart thermostat to alter the schedule. This can be done through a smartphone app and means you can change the heating pattern to match your work schedule.
Getting a big gas bill can be a big shock, especially if you are on a lower income. There are steps to take to ensure it is correct which may help and if it is, then there are things you can do going forward to avoid it happening again.
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