Understanding your energy use, and how we show it on your account
Knowing exactly how much energy you’re using means more accurate energy bills and less hassle. Find out how we work out your energy use and costs.
Knowing exactly how much energy you use at home puts the power in your hands. It helps make sure your energy quotes and bills are as accurate as can be.
Here’s how we work out how much energy you’ve used, and how to find that information in your account.
Why is working out your energy use so important?
When it comes to energy bills, knowing exactly how much energy you’ve used could save you money. And it can also help you cut down your carbon footprint, lowering the impact of your home energy on the planet.
If you have a traditional meter, it’s important to take meter readings and send them to your supplier, so that your bills are accurate.
But the best way to know exactly how much energy you’re using is to have a smart meter. These automatically send meter readings to your supplier, and connect to your In-Home Display (IHD), so that you’re able to keep track.
What happens if you overestimate your energy use
If you have a traditional meter, but you haven’t sent your meter readings, suppliers use estimates to work out your bill. But if the estimate is higher than the amount of electricity you’ve actually used, you could be paying too much.
Similarly, if you use an estimate when looking for a quote to switch suppliers, guessing too high could result in a quote that’s higher than you’d be paying in reality.
At OVO, paying too much will lead to a positive balance in your account. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! As it can help to pay for your future energy costs when you use more over the winter.
Plus if you’re already an OVO member, you’ll also get 3% Interest Rewards on any credit you’ve got. It’s our way of saying thank you for keeping your energy account balance in credit.
Otherwise, you might also be eligible to apply for a refund.
What happens if you underestimate your energy use
On the flip side, if your supplier’s estimate is lower than the amount of energy you’ve actually used, then you might not be paying enough.
Initially, this means your Direct Debits will be smaller – which seems like a good thing. But later on down the line, you could be hit with a larger than expected bill.
Likewise, if you underestimate your energy use when you’re getting a quote, then it will look a lot cheaper. That might seem appealing – but you’ll be in for a surprise when your real bills start coming in.
Not yet an OVO member? Sign up today, to get 100% renewable electricity1 and a tree planted every year you’re with us2. Get a quote in under 2 minutes, to find out how much you could save.
Where can you find details of your energy use?
If you’re an OVO member, it’s easy to see how much energy you’ve used in your online account. Simply tap Usage in the sidebar. There you’ll find your energy use, shown in both kWh (that’s kiloWatt hours), and £ (on graphs).
A kWh is a unit of measurement. It represents the amount of energy used to keep a 1,000 Watt appliance running for 1 hour.
How we work out your energy use
We use the meter readings you (or your smart meter) send us, to figure out how much energy you’ve used. Whenever we get a reading from you, we update your energy use graphs.
If you have a traditional meter and you don’t send us a reading, we’ll use your previous readings to estimate what you’ve used that month. Likewise, if your smart meter fails to send us a reading for any reason, we’ll look at your old readings to work out an estimate. You’ll see these estimates on your bill.
So, the more often you (or your smart meter) send us readings, the more accurate your graphs are.
How we work out your energy costs
Each OVO Energy plan has its own unit rate. That’s the amount that you pay per kWh of electricity you use.
We use your plan unit rates to show on the graph how much your energy use is costing in £.
This might be slightly different to the amount you’re charged on your bill. This can happen if you haven’t sent us regular meter readings.
For example, if you haven’t sent us a recent reading, we’ll bill you for what we estimate you’ve used. But when we do get your next reading, we’ll rejig your energy use and costs graphs, so they’re accurate. We’ll then update what you owe us, or apply a positive balance to your account. This will be shown on your next bill.
What’s the best way to make sure your graphs are 100% accurate? Send us a meter reading each month, ideally on the date we usually bill you.
Or, even better: get a smart meter. Nifty smart meters send us readings automatically, so you’ll never have to worry about it again, and your bills will always be correct.
What’s the average energy use?
The average household in the UK uses around 3,731 kWh of electricity per year3.
Depending on where you live (and how you live!), this figure could be higher or lower. Flats and mid terrace houses tend to use less power, while detached houses use the most. Find out more, by reading our complete guide to average UK electricity use.
Meanwhile, the average household uses around 12,000 kWh of gas per year. This number could go up by around 2,500 kWh for each bedroom in your house4.
Combined, this puts the average gas and electricity bill in the UK at around £1,289 per year.
How to reduce your energy use
Bills looking higher than you’d like? Here are some top tips to help you cut down on the energy you use for heating.
- Go for low carbon heating: efficient options like air source heat pumps or storage heaters could help you use less energy.
- Lower the temperature: use your boiler or thermostat to cool things down – even one degree can make a difference! Read our guide to the ideal room temperature.
- Use your boiler timer: this can automatically switch off your heating when you don’t need it. Check out how to set a boiler timer.
- Insulate, insulate, insulate: filling your walls and roof with insulation will stop heat from escaping, which should mean you don’t have to spend so much on having the heating on. Find out more, in our guide to home insulation – and do it yourself, with our guide to draught-proofing.
Looking for more tips? Check out our handy guides to saving energy around the house:
- 120 ways to save and conserve energy
- Energy-efficiency: what it is and how to be more energy-efficient
- 7 ways to make your home more energy-efficient
- The ultimate guide to being efficient with heating and hot water
- How to use less energy while staying at home
How to switch energy suppliers
When you’re thinking of switching suppliers, it’s important to shop around. That’s how you make sure you’re getting the best deal for you.
Once you know exactly how much energy you typically use, the process is simpler than you might think:
- Go to different suppliers’ quote pages and enter your information
- They’ll come back straight away with a quote
- If you like what you see, all you need to do is give them a bit more info (like your bank details)
- Your new supplier will take care of the rest, and you’ll be switched over within 21 days
For more detail, read our full article on how to switch gas and electricity suppliers.
Want to power your home with greener energy?
Did you know that as much as 28% of your personal carbon footprint is made up of the energy you use to power your home5?
If you want to make your home energy greener, OVO Beyond is the one for you. You can add it on to any of our plans for free for the first 3 months, then for just £6 a month.
For that, you’ll get 100% carbon-neutral energy6, including 100% renewable electricity (as standard for all our members)7 and 15% green gas. Plus, we’ll plant 5 pollution-busting trees for you each year8.
Sources and references
1 100% of the renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.
2 Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change.
5 Based on analysis carried out by the Carbon Trust for OVO Group (2020), 28% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in the UK comes from energy. In this analysis, the carbon footprint includes the following lifestyle categories: energy, transport, shopping, food and drink and holidays. See table below for each category. This carbon footprint data has been calculated using BEIS 2020 emission factors. This excludes emissions from things that the average person cannot directly control such as supporting the NHS, defence, government bodies, etc. Please note these figures are not reflective of potential changes to your habits during the coronavirus pandemic.
6 Enjoy even greener energy with OVO Beyond in comparison with our standard OVO plans. In addition to 100% renewable electricity as available with our standard plans, OVO Beyond reduces your yearly carbon emissions from the energy used in your home that is supplied by OVO to net zero by providing 100% carbon-neutral gas (15% green gas and 85% offset) and offsetting all associated lifecycle carbon emissions involved in the production and consumption of your electricity & gas, you will also get 5 trees per year in UK schools and communities and other green benefits. The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. The green gas we sell is backed via renewable certificates (Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin (RGGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin and how these work. We offset the remaining emissions by supporting UN REDD+ carbon reduction projects that are certified to the Verified Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard. See here for more information on how we restore nature and protect rainforests with our offsetting programmes.
7 100% of the renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.
8 OVO plants 5 trees for every OVO Beyond member through our award-winning I Dig Trees programme with The Conservation Volunteers. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change. Since 2015 we have planted over 1 million trees.