Reading your Electricity Bill
Electricity bills are not the easiest thing to read, but your bill contains much more information than just what is to be paid. Bills provide details on how much energy has been used, how the bill has been calculated, your customer reference number and a range of information on your tariff and charges.
Reducing your bill starts with understanding what you use
Electricity bills are charged in cents per Kilowatt hour (kWh) and electricity meters usually measure in kWh. Understanding your kilowatt usage can help you save energy and money. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the unit of measurement used by gas and electricity suppliers. One kilowatt-hour is equivalent to 1000 watts of energy used for 1 hour. For example, a 100-watt lightbulb switched on for 10 hours will use 1 kWh of electricity.
An average Irish household uses 14 kWh of electricity and 30.1 kWh of gas per day. One kWh will give you about 10 minutes in an electric shower or one cycle of your washing machine or dishwasher.
Information on your Electricity Bill
The energy regulator, CRU.ie, sets out the information that an energy supplier must present on their bills. Although the exact wording and layout may differ across energy suppliers, they should contain similar information. This includes:
Customer Name and Address
Check the bill is addressed to you and is for the correct property which is displayed under the Supply Address.
Account or Customer Reference Number
This is your unique identification number and is usually printed at the top of your bill.
Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN)
This number identifies the property and meter to which the gas or electricity is supplied.
Meter Serial Number
The meter serial number on the bill should be the same as the number printed on your meter. If these are different, then the bill may not be for your meter and you should contact your supplier so this can be rectified.
Payment (or Action Required)
Your bill will set out any action you have to take on receipt of the bill. If you are on a Direct Debit plan, there is usually no action to take – any amount owed will be automatically deducted from your account.
Electricity Usage Breakdown
This is the name of the tariff you are on. It will normally be displayed on the front page of your bill.
This is how many units of electricity you have used up during the billing period. Energy units are measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
Tariff Unit Rate
This is the rate at which your units are charged. The amount of electricity used multiplied by the unit price will give you the total amount for your electricity usage, before other charges are applied.
Check your meter reading on your bill against that on your meter to ensure it is compatible. If a reading is estimated (E) or has been provided by the customer (C), this should be stated on the bill alongside the reading. An Actual (A) means the meter was read by ESB.
If your reading is estimated, contact your supplier with an up-to-date reading. This will ensure you receive a bill based on an actual meter reading. If you have difficulty reading your meter, contact your supplier and ask what assistance they can provide.
TIP: Make sure your bills are based on actual readings, this helps ensure they are accurate and will help you avoid unexpectedly high bills. Your meter should be read on a regular basis, but you can also submit a reading yourself by contacting your supplier to submit a reading.
This is a fixed charge you pay to your supplier which consists of distribution network charges and the cost of the supplier for your account. The Standing Charge rate applied will vary by supplier and depending on your meter type (e.g. Urban, Rural or Nightsaver).
Historical Usage / Comparison
Your bill will also provide a comparison of your current energy consumption against consumption for the same period in the previous year. This can be useful to determine if you are using more energy or less and the impact of this on your bill.
Other Charges added to your Electricity Bill
There are a couple of charges on your energy bills which you have no control over. These are added to all bills no matter who your supplier is, so you can’t avoid these.
The PSO is a fixed government levy set by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities and pays for generating and increasing the supply of renewable energy.
VAT is applied at 13.5% on the total bill, so you pay VAT on every element of your bill.
Typically, suppliers will charge their highest tariff for prepaid meters, meaning the unit cost of your electricity will be higher with a prepaid meter then if you pay via a direct debit plan. The rate charged with prepay meters is significantly higher, typically costing hundreds more annually than non-prepay meters.
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