Why are my energy bills so high?

It can be both frustrating and worrying when you receive an unexpected higher than usual energy bill. As well as throwing finances off kilter for that month, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly what caused the increased surge in usage.

Our electricity cost calculator may help pinpoint the increased energy usage, otherwise read on to find the most common reasons to why your energy bills are so high.

Are you using more energy?

It's good to understand whether your energy bills are high because you've been using more energy. This may sound obvious, and surely you would know if you're using more energy. However, when you take into account seasonal weather changes, or the purchase of new appliances with a high power usage, these can create a higher demand on your energy supply.

Energy bills are naturally higher in winter than summer as you're using more energy to heat and light your home. Appliances can also be deceptive in their energy usage and you might now know just how much electricity is needed for it to work.

Try comparing your annual energy usage to the average household's energy usage to see if you're using more than normal.

Is your bill based on accurate meter readings?

The first thing to tackle is whether your bill accurately reflects how much energy you've used. Energy suppliers are required to read your meter every two years at the minimum, and even though many may visit more frequently, inaccurate bills can be issued using estimated meter readings based on past consumption.

If you're in receipt of a unusually large bill, check to see whether it's been calculated based on accurate or estimated readings. If it is based on an estimate it's important to check that the estimated reading is close to your actual meter reading. You can do this by recording the reading on your meter yourself and comparing it against the estimate. If there is a huge difference between readings then you need to contact your energy supplier who will make adjustments and reissue the bill.

If your bill is based on accurate meter readings and you're still unsure why it's increased so much, read on for further reasons, and solutions, to high energy bills.

Are you on an expensive energy tariff?

If you're not already on a competitive tariff, you could find yourself paying at least £200 more on your bills annually. Ofgem data from 2020 shows that default standard tariffs are frequently more expensive than other energy deals available.

If you're not sure what tariff you're on then contact your supplier and they'll be able to supply you with this information. If you find yourself on a standard variable tariff, then you're potentially missing out on significant savings on your bills.

At The Energy Shop, we can guide you through exactly how to switch supplier and get the best rate all in a matter of minutes. Use our energy comparison service today to find out exactly how much you could be saving.

Have you used more heating this winter?

It’s no secret that you'll be using more energy throughout winter, as you'll need to keep your home warm and light up longer, darker days. So, if you're facing a larger than normal bill towards the end of winter, your energy usage over the colder months may be to blame.

If you've faced a particularly harsh winter, your bill may be even higher. This is due to changes in wholesale energy costs and increases in consumption, which then cause suppliers to either increase their tariffs, however you will be protected by the energy price cap.

Lower wholesale energy costs towards the end of 2020 meant the level of the price cap was at its lowest ever, ensuring a fair price for energy. Be aware, however, that with wholesale energy prices rising over the coming months the cap may be increased in April.

Is your home poorly insulated?

If your home is poorly insulated then you could be wasting a lot of energy, and money, in replacing lost heat. Without proper insulation you can be losing as much as 25% of heat through the roof/windows and door, 15% through floors and around 35% through walls.

If you're struggling to insulate your home, you might be eligible for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. The scheme is government backed and aims to tackle fuel poverty and help reduce carbon emissions. They help by requiring energy supplier to promote installation and heating measures that can reduce energy bills.

You might be entitled if you're already on the Warm Home Discount Scheme or are in receipt of certain benefits.

Is your heating system programmed correctly?

If you're unable to improve to your home's efficiency, either due to financial reasons or you're limited to any changes you can make, then it may be difficult to tackle your home's insulation issues. However, if you are renting, your landlord must ensure that their properties meet certain energy efficient standards.

That's not to say there aren't ways to cut down on your bills. The main thing you need to be in control of is the heating system. Energy Live News estimates that over 17 million households in the UK could save as much as £1.4 billion by turning down their thermostats by 1°C with savings of around £80 per year.

Along with choosing a sensible temperature for your thermostat - 20°C is considered the UK average - setting times for heating to come on and off, and which rooms for it to heat, can all help towards reducing energy usage.

Have you recently bought any new appliances or gadgets?

High electricity use can also cause soaring energy bills and this could be down to new appliances or gadgets. When purchasing a new appliance, look for the power rating which indicates how much energy the device will use.

Low wattage appliances may appear to save you electricity, and reduce usage, however always shop around before committing to any purchases. Some machines that need more power to operate may actually be more efficient than low watt counterparts, using less energy. On the other hand, lower wattage appliances may save a lot on energy when left on for a longer period.

Review any new purchases and understand the use for each one, ensuring the device is as efficient as possible.

How to make your home more energy efficient

Other measures you can take to help improve the energy efficiency of your home are:

  • Installing insulation, including solid wall, under floor, cavity wall, loft or roof insulation.
  • Installing a low carbon heating solution, including air source, ground source or hybrid heat pumps, solar thermal or biomass boilers (renewable energy alternatives).
  • Double glazing (replacing single glazing)
  • Draught proofing
  • External energy efficient doors
  • Heating controls
  • Hot water tank thermostats and insulation

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