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16 million UK homes facing £288m energy bill shock

Energy meter and coins

Millions of UK households could be in for a nasty surprise as they see their energy bill unexpectedly skyrocket after months of lockdown.

COVID-19 informationFor all the latest and most accurate information on the coronavirus outbreak, consult the UK government and World Health Organisation websites..

Around 16 million customers using traditional gas and electricity meters are set to receive a backdated £288m energy bill shock, due to enforced lockdown restrictions preventing meter readers from home visits.

This means that their current energy bill may not necessarily accurately reflect the increased gas and electricity usage most have experienced due to spending more time at home.

Belated energy bill hikes

An estimated two million households across the country rely on their provider to send a technician round to take their meter reading. This is despite the fact that many of these are on tariffs that allow them to submit their own readings either online or over the phone.

With lockdown ongoing, it could be a total of six months before this extra gas and electricity consumption is seen on their energy bill, leading to Direct Debits rising by up to £25 a month come September.

Magnifying glass and energy bill

Vulnerable households are likely to be among the hardest hit by the rise, with a fifth of those who rely on meter readers being over 65, or having a long-term medical condition or disability.

Many Britons have issues trying to read their own energy meters, with one in ten apparently not even knowing where theirs are located.

Meanwhile, a further 14 million homes who submit their own readings have not done so for an average of over two months. As increased lockdown energy consumption will not be seen on their energy bill yet, these homes could also see a rise in costs of around £20 a month, once an accurate reading is submitted.

Of those who don’t regularly submit readings, 18% say they are unable to reach their meter, with a further 18% believing it to be too time-consuming to make the effort.

The truth is that checking your meter and submitting a reading only takes a couple of minutes and can save you from any unexpected shocks when opening your energy bill. By submitting a reading, you will receive accurate energy bills, rather than being charged an estimate based on your previous gas and electricity usage.

Put an end to estimated energy billsLearn how to submit your own meter readings using our handy guide.

Be smart about your meter readings

Another option for those who are unable to submit their own readings could be a smart meter. Smart meters use wireless technology to send energy consumption data directly to your supplier, eliminating the need for meter readings altogether.

An in-home display (IHD) allows the user to see energy usage and cost in real-time, allowing you to keep on top of your energy bill.

While meter readers have been unable to carry out home visits since lockdown began, some larger suppliers, such as British Gas, E.ON, and SSE have recently resumed installing smart meters, following a break due to social distancing measures.

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