Bills and payments

Why am I paying more than I expected for my energy?

Are your gas or electricity bills higher than you thought they’d be? Read up on the possible reasons why, and what to do if you think your meter might be to blame.

Nobody likes to get an unexpectedly big bill. But from time to time, it can happen to all of us. 

If your latest energy bill’s higher than you were expecting, don’t panic. Here are some tips on why this could be happening, how to test your gas or electricity meter, and how to cut down on your energy use. 

Common reasons why your energy bill could be higher than expected

There could be a few potential reasons for higher-than-normal energy bills. These include:

  • Your appliances could be using more energy than you realise. Consider whether you’ve bought any new gadgets recently, or been using them more than usual. Remember that devices can use a small amount of power when they’re on standby, too.

  • The weather’s getting colder, and your heating’s on more. In winter months, energy bills tend to be higher than they are in summer.

  • You’ve extended your home. Naturally, if you’ve grown your home, your energy bills may grow too. 

  • There have been more people in your home than usual. If you’ve had guests, or if you’ve been working from home, this could increase the amount of energy you need to use. 

  • Your boiler isn’t working efficiently. Sometimes, old boilers can cause your heating bills to creep up, for no obvious reason. If yours is getting on a bit, it might be time for a boiler service

  • Your meter is counting, or “clocking”, too fast. This is rare, but it does occasionally happen. Keep reading to find out what to do if you think this is happening to you. 

For more ideas on what could be causing your bills to rise, read our guide to high energy bills, and how to tackle them.

I think my gas and/or electricity meter isn’t working properly. What can I do?

It’s unusual for faulty gas and electricity meters to be causing higher bills, but it can happen. If your bills have climbed suddenly with no clear explanation, there’s a chance your meter could be clocking your energy use too fast. 

To find out if this is the case, we can carry out a Meter Accuracy Test (MAT), or an Official Meter Accuracy Test (OFMAT) for gas meters. 

We’ll send an engineer round to do this for you. It’ll cost £157 to test a gas meter, and £149 for an electricity meter. If your meter does turn out to be faulty, we’ll refund that cost back to you. 

Before you ask us to carry out a MAT, there are a couple of simple tests you can do yourself, to see if your meters are faulty.

How to test if your electricity meter is working properly

To figure out if your electric meter is working correctly, you can use the “creep test”.

Here’s how:

  1. Turn off your power at the fuse box, or switch off all the appliances in your home

  2. Wait 5 minutes, to give your meter chance to catch up

  3. Watch your electricity meter, to see if the numbers on the display are still moving

If the meter is still counting or clocking your energy use when everything’s turned off, there’s a good chance it’s faulty. You should still book a MAT, so you have conclusive proof.

How to test if your gas meter is working properly

Check how your gas meter is performing by using the burns test. It’s similar to the creep test, with a couple more steps. 

  1. Make a note of your meter reading

  2. Switch off all your gas appliances and heating 

  3. Turn one item back on – for example, light one ring on your gas hob

  4. Watch the meter for a few minutes, and note down how many units it counts in that time

Once you’ve got those figures, get in touch with one of our friendly team members, and tell us about your concerns. We’ll be able to advise you on whether your readings seem normal. 

What happens if my meter is found to be faulty?

If our MAT or OFMAT finds that your meter is clocking too fast by at least 2.5%, or slow by at least 3.5%, we’ll swap the meter for a brand new smart meter. Gas meters can even be replaced at the same appointment as your OFMAT!

  • If your meter was clocking too fast, we’ll then re-bill your account, factoring in the results of the MAT/OFMAT, so that you’re refunded for what you overpaid – it usually takes about 3 months to work this out

  • If your meter was clocking too slow, we won’t recalculate your past bills, they’ll just be more accurate from now on

How can I monitor and control what I’m spending on energy?

If you have a traditional meter

If you don’t yet have a smart meter, then your energy bills might be based on an estimate. 

Traditional gas and electricity meters don’t automatically send readings to your energy supplier. This means that we rely on you to send us a meter reading each month, so that we know how much to charge.

If your supplier doesn’t get a monthly meter reading from you, then they work out your bill using estimates. This could mean that you’re not paying exactly the right amount for your energy. 

If you’re worried that your estimated bill is higher than your actual energy use, take a meter reading. Send this information to us via your online account, and we can use it to give you more accurate bills. Read more here about how to take a meter reading. 

Or, you could do even better by installing a smart meter, to make sure your bills are always accurate.

If you’re an OVO member, we’ll install a smart meter for you free of charge. When our engineers are working in your area, we’ll be in touch to offer you an upgrade. We’ll just need to ask you a few questions first, to make sure your home’s suitable for a smart meter.

Find out more about how to get a smart meter

If you have a smart meter

Smart meters give super-accurate, up-to-date information about your energy use via your In-Home Display (IHD). This makes it much easier to keep on top of what you’re spending. 

You can even set your smart meter to give you half-hourly readings. This means you’ll be able to see any spikes in your energy use as you switch on different appliances during the day. That’ll help you narrow down which of your devices is power hungry!

For more tips on saving energy (and money), check out some of our guides:

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