Understanding your energy bill

What does an energy bill look like?

Name and address - Always check that your name and address are correct. If they are wrong contact your energy supplier to update their records straight away.

Customer contact Number - A customer helpline number is usually found at the top of the front page of your bill.

Billing dates - If you have just moved home, ensure you check that the bill does not cover any dates when you were not living at the property.

Meter serial number - The meter serial number on the bill should be the same as the number printed on your meter. If the number on your bill is different please call your gas or electricity company to give them the correct number.

Standing or fixed charge amount - Standing and fixed charge amount are a standard. You need to pay this even if you have not used any gas or electricity

Meter Point Reference Number or M Number (gas only) - The meter point reference or M number is usually printed near the bottom of the bill. Sometimes it appears on the back page.

Supply or MPAN number (electricity only) - The supply or MPAN number is usually printed in two boxes on the bill, starting with a large S. If you have storage heaters you can have two different supply numbers.

Your energy supplier - The name of your energy supplier will normally be found at the top of your bill.

Account or customer reference number - Your account or customer reference number will normally be found at the top of your bill.

Estimated readings (E) - Meter readings are often estimated. If the ‘present reading’ has an E at the end, take a meter reading and call your energy supplier to give them the reading as soon as possible.

Amount used - The amount of energy that you have used is usually shown on the bill next to the meter readings.

The brought forward balance - If you did not pay all of your last bill then the money you still owe will be included in the total amount due.

Payments - Payments that you have made are usually shown on the bill. Check them against your receipts to ensure they are correct. If not or if you are unsure, contact your energy supplier.

Total due - This amount is how much you need to pay. Make sure you check what it says – if the total to pay has a minus sign (-) next to it, or the letters CR, you do not need to pay anything.

Common things that can go wrong when paying your energy bill

There are some common things that can go wrong when paying for your energy, but can easily be avoided:

  • Expensive plans – If you don’t arrange your preferred way to pay with your energy supplier at the start of your contract, they will put you on the most expensive payment plan.
  • Missing payments – If you agree a payment plan with your energy supplier, and don’t make the payments, your plan will be cancelled. After this it will be difficult to set up another plan with your energy supplier.
  • Direct debit – Paying by direct debit means your energy supplier will automatically take an agreed amount from your bank account on an agreed date. If there isn’t enough money in your account when the payment is made your bank will likely charge you for going into an overdraft.
  • Using a meter – If you do not top up your meter, your energy supply will stop. Make sure you set a reminder to top up your meter weekly so this doesn’t happen.


Talking to you energy supplier

We understand it can be quite daunting having to ring your energy supplier to discuss your bill, but you shouldn’t fear having to speak to them. Below we’ve created a checklist of what to do prepare prior to the call and what to take note of when speaking to your supplier

Before speaking to your supplier, you will need:

  • The customer helpline contact number, which you can find on your bill.
  • Your name and address.
  • Your account number, which you can find on your bill.
  • A meter reading.
  • It’s also worth writing down exactly what it is you want to ask on the call, plus any other important points you wish to raise, to ensure all your queries are answered.


On the call:

  • You may have to listen to a recorded message before you speak to an advisor. Listen to what it says and do what it tells you.
  • Write down the date, the name of person you spoke to, and what they said will happen.
  • At the end of the call check what has been agreed with the advisor.


Problems with your energy supplier

If you have a problem with your energy supplier, whether about your bill or anything else, you should contact them as soon as possible to find a solution. Should the problem persist and you think it still needs sorting, you can speak with one of our energy advisors or contact the likes of Citizens Advice Bureau.

If problems continue to persist you can make a complaint to your energy supplier. 

How to manage fuel debt

It’s important to remember that it’s very common to get into debt with your energy bills. Cutting your gas or electricity off is the last resort for your energy supplier. They’ll prefer to fit a prepayment meter or set up a payment plan with you instead.

If you find yourself in debt, contact your energy supplier as soon as possible to work out a payment plan that you can afford. Under Scottish Law, no-one can take things like your television to pay for a debt. They might send letters that say they will, but they cannot do it.

BUT REMEMBER! Ignoring the debt could make it increase. If a prepayment meter is fitted there may also be added charges for warrants and locksmiths. Contact your energy supplier as soon as possible to make sure that this does not happen.

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