How to read your gas and electricity bill

Your bills contain a lot of information, and trying to make sense of it all can be confusing. It is paramount that you understand your bill so you can look out for any errors, and also track when it will be time to switch to a new deal. Lots of factors can affect the price of your bill, but knowing how to translate each bill can make it a lot easier to manage your finances and also spot when the provider you are with may not be the best for you in the long term.


What information is shown on my bill?


  • Your tariff: It will show exactly what tariff plan you are on. If this has suddenly changed, your old plan may have finished, indicating that you are paying more and could probably do with switching plans
  • Company name: The company that is billing you
  • Contact details: Your contact details, as well as contact details for customer services,  should you wish to raise a query
  • How much you have used: How much gas or electricity you have used over the billing period
  • Details of your contract: Similar to your tariff, a bill will have your exit fees as well as some further details on the plan you are on
  • When the bill is due: When you need to pay the bill before you incur any charges
  • Bill period: For what timeline they are charging your usage


So, how are my bills actually calculated?

The amount you pay depending on how much you have used if you are on a variable tariff, or you will pay a fixed amount if you are on a fixed tariff. Both have their pros and cons, but if you see an unusual spike in usage then it is worth looking into it, and knowing how to read your bills can enable you to stay ahead of the curve and understand exactly what you are paying for.


My bill is expensive, what should I do?

Now, do not assume just because the bill is high that there has been an error or your tariff has changed. There are important factors to take into consideration when reading your bill, especially if it is more expensive than you have anticipated.

Investing in a smart meter will help alleviate this, as it is the most accurate way of sending data to your energy provider to calculate the price of how much you are using. If you are still concerned that the bill is too high, you should check your bill against your smart meter to make sure that the numbers match up.


If you are still unsatisfied after doing the above, you have time to call customer services before the bill is due and get more information. Remember that in extreme heat or extreme cold your bills will naturally be more expensive.

In summary, reading bills are as difficult as you make them. The best thing to do is to invest in a smart meter, take time to read your bills on a regular basis and use price comparison websites every few months to check that you are getting the best deal for your money.

Author: Claire Stapley
Claire Stapley is's Energy Editor, based in Melbourne Australia. Claire is a founding member of News and Energy Team.