Updated: Tue, 12 Nov 2013 11:45:00 GMT | By lovemoney.com

A quarter of us overcharged by energy companies

New research finds plenty of us have uncovered costly errors on our energy bills


Energy bills (© Getty Images)

Almost a third of us have found an error on our energy bills, according to new research, with a quarter of us being overcharged on average by £121.

The research was conducted by the Keep Me Posted campaign, which campaigns for the right for people to receive free bills and statements in the post.

It found people who receive their bills in the post are more likely to spot a mistake than people who manage their bills online.

Younger people were the least likely to check their bills for errors, particularly those who receive their bills online.

The over 65s were the age group who check their bills the most.

How to measure your gas and electricity usage

On a simple level, gas and electricity consumption is measured in kilowatt hours. Your bill may have an actual reading (indicated by an A) or an estimated reading (indicated by an E). To change an E to an A, all you need to do is give the energy company a meter reading.

Many gas meters record gas usage in either hundreds of cubic feet (the old imperial way, indicated by either the words ‘cubic feet’ or ‘Ft’ on the meter) or cubic meters (shown by the words cubic metres or the letter M on the meter).

The calculation into kilowatt hours then differs slightly depending on whether it’s cubic feet or metres.

For cubic feet it’s: The number of units you've used x The metric conversion factor (2.83; this gives the amount used in cubic metres) x The volume conversion factor (the differences in temperature and pressure; always 1.02264) x The calorific value of the gas (the heat generated by the gas; this is shown on your bill) divided by 3.6 = kilowatt hours.

And for cubic metres it’s: The number of units you’ve used x The volume conversion factor x The calorific value divided by 3.6 = kilowatt hours.

The kilowatt hours are then multiplied by your unit price and that’s your gas charge.

Meanwhile, electricity usage is a simple kilowatt hours calculation, based on how much you’ve used since the last meter reading.

The kilowatt hours are then multiplied by your unit charge.

If you’re on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff then your usage will be charged at different rates, depending on the time of day you've used electricity.

Other things to watch out for

There are other charges to watch out for that could be incorrectly charged on your bill, including:

  • the standing charge, if you have one;
  • VAT, which should be at 5%;
  • any discounts, such as for paying by direct debit or not receiving paper bills.

What to do if you've been overcharged

If you think you have been overcharged, you should take it up with your energy supplier. If it hasn't resolved the issue to your satisfaction, after eight weeks you can get in touch with the Energy Ombudsman.

Not happy with your supplier? See if you can save money by switching

60Comments
21/11/2013 19:03
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Certain utilities should never have been privatised as a matter of principle. Gas, electricity and water in particular. The result must be to create a 'monopoly' situation with toothless 'watchdogs'. So go ahead. Charge what you like guys!
21/11/2013 20:28
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I personally believe that if your ill, or if your old, such as those suffering from long term illness or pensioners, that the tariff for your Electricity & Gas should be set at a cheaper rate, it may sound unfair but be honest, if your stuck at home you end up using more, so if your using more your paying more, for what's essentially the same as what a working persons using, I mean , you drive to a job, your using fuel, and if its cold you have the car heater turned up, if your in a factory your working in a warm atmosphere, even a small time shop keeper is staying warm and using electricity, but these business people get a cheap rate business rate on their energy bill's, but the housebound long term sick and old aged pensioners are using the energy because they have to, they have no choice, so surely they should get some sort of price reduction as you cannot walk around in the dark, and you'll not survive well if your freezing cold will you !.

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It's time the energy companies to help OAPs to warm their homes by lower the bills 
21/11/2013 19:20
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I was overcharged in July to the tune of £223. I have no doubt in my mind that this was deliberate. It took me until mid October to get the money back. My complaint still hasnt been fully resolved.

Trying to get in touch with them is an absolute joke. On one occasion I rang the 'dedicated complaints line' only to be told that the 'current waiting time is greater then 45 minutes!'

 

21/11/2013 21:31
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I agree in J

JANUARY 2014 THE WHOLE OF THE UK TO SWITCH TO CO-OP ENERGY TO DRIVE THE BIG SIX DOWN AND OUT.
21/11/2013 18:59
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Just a quarter of us ? Don't make me laugh !!!
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The government gave away  £8.57 billion last year  to foreign aid while our own British pensioners froze to death, and energy companies bathed in huge profits. If they have to announce huge profits at least make it easier to take by giving pensioners a 75% discount for the winter months.
22/11/2013 08:28
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waste of time writing anything on here it's all censored .. you are allowed to comment only when it suits their agenda ..

THAT IS NOT FREE SPEECH ..

21/11/2013 21:08
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so what about all  the u k swapping to  co op energy in January 2014 and see how the big six like that
22/11/2013 08:43
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Whoever did this research needs to check their figures, coz I'm pretty sure EVERYONE is being overcharged by the energy companies!
22/11/2013 01:04
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WATCH THE THIEVING GITTS!! MY SUPPLIER, ON THE GUISE OF "SIMPLIFYING BILLING", REMOVED THE  "ENERGY ASSIST DISCOUNT"  FOR THE OAPs AND VERY LOW INCOME PERSONS, AND PROMPTLY HIKING THE PER UNIT PRICE BY 43%!!!! NEVER MIND THE QUALITY OF SERVICE JUST LOOK AT THOSE BONUSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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I got diddled once by BG. I noticed on one bill that I had been charged 20% VAT rather than 5%. When I queried this with them, I was told that, if I use over a certan amount of fuel, then I was charged 20%. I then protested that I had not used over that certain amount. The BG chap argued that I had, to which I replied that I couldn't possibly have done that. The clever dIck on the other end of the phone then asked sneeringly how I made that out. I sneeringly replied that was because it was an estimated bill. He had the temerity to suggest that it made no difference. I got the rules is rules garbage. Funny, I switched supplier just as soon as I could and vowed never to go back to BG.

It's time for the general public to vote en masse with their collective feet i.e. every single one of us who is with, say, BG switches supplier to another one as soon as they can. Once they see customers leaving in droves, any bets the prices fall as fast as its customer base.

22/11/2013 09:53
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THE ENERGY CARTEL ARE NOTHING BUT BIG CON MERCHANTS,  ITS TIME THEY REALISED THAT PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY ARE NOT GETTING WAGE RISES, THERE ARE PEOPLE IN ENERGY AND FOOD POVERTY.  WE THEN HAVE A GOVERNMENT IN POWER WHO COULDN'T GIVE A DAM ABOUT THE ELECTORATE.
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Remarkable when a country's energy supplies are "owned" by FOREIGN country!
21/11/2013 16:52
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Who really cares if people are overcharged or if a few thousand die each year because they can't afford to heat their homes? think of all those lovely profits and dividends!
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WHAT IS THE PRIME MINISTER DOING ABOUT IT ?
21/11/2013 22:59
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I submitted a final reading when I moved house, I was in credit and they refunded me, following month £39 was taken from my account, try as I might I cannot get this money back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

24/11/2013 15:09
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The customer should not NEED to check bills - they should be right every time.  Incompetence creating bills or simple FRAUD should be punished by MASSIVE FINES, refunded to every customer.  Directors should be subject to fraud charges. 

OK, I'm only dreaming again....

23/11/2013 22:08
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not just a quarter of us all of us are being fleeced not just the power companys but the supermarkets , fashion companys  who have there goods made in places like Taiwan China India and so forth pay the workers a pittance  and then charge the earth for them here and the government here and in Brussels are also ripping us off .

 

 

 

21/11/2013 21:27
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I was more better of when the labour party was in power at least we could afford to heat our homes and werent robbed off all my money like i am now. 


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