/ Home & Energy

Do energy bills send shivers down your spine?

Man in dark

We’ve heard from thousands of people who are dreading a cold winter. The financial burden of heating their homes sends a shiver down their spine. Here are just some of their comments.

More than 335,000 people have signed our Fair Energy Prices campaign, with many of you sharing your experiences and concerns as we prepare for the winter months.

Protecting the vulnerable

Antoinette told us how she’s too scared to put the heating on:

‘I’m finding it difficult to pay my bills. I’m 62, disabled, and I’m too scared to put my heating on when it’s cold for fear of what my gas and electricity bills will be. I’ve started to go to bed early and get up late to keep warm. This is no way for someone of my age to have to live for four months of the year.’

Antoinette’s story and thousands like her are why we’re calling on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to use its competition inquiry to make the energy market fairer for consumers.

Eating or heating

Nicola recently told us on Facebook that her heating bill is a cause for concern this winter:

‘I too fear the heating bills, my home has no central heating so I have to have electric heaters or coal fire. I’m a single parent and have my 82-year-old mother with me, she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer on Wednesday of this week, she has to keep warm and the heating is on constantly, of course I must keep it on for her sake. I do work full time, but the heating bill is terrifying me.’

While Joanne is juggling childcare and trying to keep up with her energy bills:

‘I have a young daughter and want to keep the home warm and be able to cook proper meals for her without worrying about the size of the fuel bill.’

Struggling to pay energy bills

Terence told us how heating his home is a financial struggle:

‘This winter we could only afford to heat a single room. It almost broke me.’

And Patricia is doing all she can to keep her energy bills down:

‘I am a disabled pensioner. My money does not stretch as far as having the heating on as much as I should at my age, and I am now behind on payments. It takes all summer to get the bill part way down, then it starts all over again. I try to go as long as I can without putting it on and I go to bed early with two hot water bottles. I thought this was 2015 – it doesn’t feel like it to me.’

Stories like these put the issue of energy prices in a very stark light. The CMA not only needs to cut the number of people on expensive tariffs and make switching easier, it needs to penalise those suppliers who don’t protect the most vulnerable.

The CMA will be judged on the legacy of its inquiry – if it doesn’t deliver a fairer energy market for people like Antoinette, Nicola, Joanne, Terence and Patricia, it will have failed.


[UPDATE 14 January 2016] – It’s been reported today that wholesale gas and electricity prices have fallen by nearly a third in a year, hitting a five-year low. And yet energy companies have failed to lower bills. Only British Gas has cut prices in the last six months, and by just 5%. The rest of the Big Six didn’t follow suit.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘It’s extremely disappointing millions of us are still paying way over the odds for our energy. Consumers will rightly ask why their bills haven’t been cut dramatically when wholesale costs have dropped.’

And there are faces behind the numbers, with many of you telling us how you struggle to pay your energy bills, like Jill:

‘My income is fixed but prices aren’t. Do I eat and freeze or stay warm and starve?’

We’re calling on the Government and the CMA to protect vulnerable customers from being ripped off and to deliver fair energy prices. Do you think energy bills should be cut in line with falling wholesale costs? Tell us what you think so we can share your views with the CMA.

Comments

unhealthy ‘cartel relationship is present’. It will only get worse if Shell is allowed to purchase British Gas.

BG Group is not British Gas but a company split off from what was British Gas some years ago and concentrated on oil and gas fields/exploration. Shell is an Anglo-Dutch company. I do not see much in the way of effects other than Shells’s share price dropping on this unwise buy.

Come on all you energy companies, stop being greedy and pass your savings on to your customers. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

pramila says:
15 January 2016

I am with British gas both electric and gas. I live on my own and hardly use gas and electric as I work full time.

I am paying high amount of direct debit.

Do you think changing to smart meter would help.

Please advice. I am widow and disabled and pensioners.

pramila, a smart meter only lets you know how much energy you are using so is unlikely to save you much, if at all. Are you on a “standard” tariff? If so, look at changing to a 1 year fixed price tariff; this is likely to substantially reduce your bill.

If you are computer savvy you can do this on the internet – put your energy usage (£ or kWh) into Which? Switch for gas and electricity and it will show the cheapest suppliers for you. If you can’t do this just telephone your existing energy company, or email them, to find out the cheapest tariff they can offer you and you can change very easily.

Pramila,
adding to Malcolm’s sound advice give GB Energy a ring if you have not got a computer. They are on 01772 865740. I do not work for them but they are my current supplier for both gas and electric.
I pay 9.55 pence per kilowatt hour for my electric and 2.8 pence per kilowatt hour for my gas This is before vat. I pay 16.65 pence per day for the electric standing charge and 10.5 pence per day for the gas standing charge – again, before vat.
With vat, these four pence values become 10.0275pence, 2.94pence, 17.4825pence and 11.025pence.
Compare these with your British Gas charges. Moving is simple, the new supplier will do EVERYTHING for you apart from requesting you raed the meters at the date of changeover.

If you feel unsure about switching to a better tariff or another supplier there are many people who could help you. Try giving Citizens Advice a call. They may help you or refer you on to someone who can. Where I live in Berwick-upon-Tweed the local Community Trust do exactly this kind of work.

Maybe we also need to know exactly where the huge profits are being spent, sent or used?

A lot of these profits are being repatriated to the home country of the company owner. NPower is German, EDF is French, EON is German and Scottish Power is Spanish. Only SSE and British Gas are British (for the moment).
I have written to my M.P. in the past – and also communicated with the companies directly – on the subject of using profits from their British operations to subsidise the charges levied on their home-country customers. Naturally, I received no helpful feedback.

Are you sue British Gas is British ? I thought it was owned by the French.

Centrica plc is a British multinational utility company with its headquarters in Windsor, Berkshire. Its principal activity is the supply of electricity and gas to businesses and consumers in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and North America. It is the largest supplier of gas to domestic customers in the UK, and one of the largest suppliers of electricity, operating under the trading names Scottish Gas in Scotland and British Gas in England and Wales. It owns Bord Gáis Energy in the Republic of Ireland. It is also active in the exploration and production of natural gas; electricity generation; and the provision of household services including plumbing.

Centrica is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It had a market capitalisation of approximately £15 billion as of 23 December 2011, the 26th-largest of any company with a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange.[2]

I am a pensioner and try to keep heating bills down as much as possible and although I get a government help every year it doesn’t help that much during winter months .i have a health problem and need to keep warm all the time so have to try and cut down on other things but being realistic bills have to be paid and how compassionate are these energy suppliers to peoples needs? I am cynical to say the least.

Adam says:
15 January 2016

It’s disgusting how much we have to pay to keep our house warm, even with monthly payments come end of the quarter i still owe over £400 and it just seems like we’ll always be in debt with them.

I have just changed my supplier(on line) and saved over £500 and it was remarkably easy to do. I only have electricity because I heat using oil so there were no special ‘bundled’ deals.
There should be increased publicity on how easy it is to change. I’m not sure how easy it is to change using phone/letter.

Thank goodness! Someone with the sense to get off his backside and do something! As you say, it’s remarkably easy to do – and probably a lot less time-consuming than posting reams and reams of moans and whinges on this forum as some people seem to enjoy doing – yes, you know who you are!

Stop complaining and start acting.

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It seems to me there are two separate problems to resolve. One is getting “fair” energy prices for everyone. This will still leave a proportion of people who are vulnerable and unable to pay the full amount for their energy. This is where the government must provide help.

A commercial organisation like an energy company is not responsible for providing this – partly because they should not keep individuals personal information on which to base an assessment of need, and partly because all their other customers would be paying for any benefit they provide, irrespective of their own financial situation. So collecting our money through taxation (including company taxation) and then redistributing it through benefits seems the proper way to deal with it (in my opinion).

Bob Atherton says:
28 January 2016

Malcolm, much of what you say makes sense. It also shows that capitalism is not working at all well in this particular market. I agree that the government must step in. However, as ‘benefits’ has become a really bad name and those that pay taxes (all of us – even those on other benefits) will be constantly reminded by government that we are paying our taxes to support these ‘scroungers’ on benefits. Nasty vicious circle that will result in means testing and special rules and countless more jobs for the boys to administer, costing even more in taxes. Net loss to the tax payer perhaps? Net loss to us all! Better I think to re-nationalize. This will bring the cost of fuel prices tumbling to rates that everyone can afford; as there will be no need to make huge additional profits for the money market to gamble away on other ventures that make the very few nice and wealthy indeed. Modest profits made by a nationalized fuel supply company can then be used by government to maintain the infrastructure and commission new power stations (which will not be happening by private firms under the current façade). Further to this, British industry will benefit enormously by lower fuel costs to the point they will be better able to compete with foreign competitors. Then, maybe we will see less people like the steel workers being thrown on the dole in their thousands only to become the scroungers they themselves were probably cursing for taking their taxes in benefits only a couple of months prior. (In my opinion).

Bob Atherton says:
(In my opinion).
————-
AND I M O too, sir !

[+1]

That’s what the Gov’t has done with the BBC Licence fee for over 75s.
BBC is now part of Field Marshall IDS’s DWP

+1

moans and whinges
——-
Like yours about ? ? ?
Pots and kettles dear boy, pots and kettles.

Was it a coincidence that you both came online at the same time………… if you are ‘Both’ not ‘One’?
Soz that I split you up ;-))

I have no idea what you are talking about! Both? Who?

I’m simply saying that people seem remarkably unwilling to help themselves these days. The facilities are there for anyone to seek a better fuel deal – as the other correspondent has shown. But some people seem to expect someone else to do it all for them. It used to be called Personal Responsibility. But I guess that’s too hard a concept for you to grasp.

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It is not clear if this £500 saving is on your total energy, on electricity only , or on oil only. Can you clarify? Existing and new suppliers would be useful information.

AND over what period?
Or is this £500 just an estimate provided by the Snake Oil sales-person who signed you up?
After all, you did claim
”I have ** just ** changed my supplier(on line) and saved over £500 and it was remarkably easy to do.”
—–
As GrandmotherKafka used to tell me:
” JosefKafka, if something is too good to be true, then …….. ”

I never did find out the last bit !

Andrew Hardie says:
15 January 2016

Unfortunately the apparent savings which you seem to get when using Switch with Which? and other comparison sites can be very misleading.
If you are on a fixed tariff they calculate the saving assuming that at the end of the fixed term you will be switched to the standard tariff.
If you have the motivation to use a comparison site it is unlikely that you would stay with this generally higher tariff so the quoted savings are not realistic and the closer you are to the end of the term the more unrealistic they will be.
This makes it difficult to plan ahead or to decide whether it is worth incurring switching fees. The only comparison worth making during a fixed term is to pretend to be on the standard tariff and check where your current tariff appears in the the resulting table. Either that or wait until the fixed term has actually ended.
Which? should make it clear on the Switch site what the basis for the “savings” are.

I use the comparison sites to provide a list of companies that APPEAR to be cheaper than my current supplier/tariff.
However, I then check directly with the supplier’s website to look at the standing charges for each fuel, the rate of charge for each fuel and any discounts offered for dual-fuel supply, direct debit payment etc.
I know how much energy I consume in a year for both gas and electric and hence can quickly calculate a true cost for each such company.
Once you’ve done this a few times it becomes easier.
I believe it’s important to determine your true enery consumption for the year at the outset.

Someone earlier claimed that he could do that in SIX minutes!

How long do you estimate it took you
** when you first started, and
** how long now, please?

Andrew Hardie says:
”Which? should make it clear on the Switch site what the basis for the “savings” are.”
———–
Or better still lobby for a Standardized system – if it’s good enough to have Unit Pricing in supermarkets, why not for the other essentials – Gas, leccie, phones, water, train fares….

I have just changed my supplier(on line) and saved over £500 and it was remarkably easy to do.
—-
Wow, that was quick !

To be a bit Biblical…’They have their reward!’

Alan Gallery says:
15 January 2016

The whole point of private companies supplying energy is to give customers choice. But there is no choice in the product as it has to be of the same standard. The choice is who is able to find the cheapest deal so that the more able are bound to get a better deal and the shortfall in the profits of the companies is made up by the least able. Competition is supposed to make energy supply cheaper but the only competition the companies practice is how to keep as many of their customers as possible away from their cheapest tariffs. At the same time customers compete with each other to find the best deal they can and for many on low uncertain incomes there is no choice and are forced to pay far over to odds to subsidise the cheaper tariffs available to those who can find them.

Consumers are paying not only for the energy that they use but for the duplication in the cost of running and administering multiples companies plus the profits that the energy companies make. A single state run energy company would have the buying power to get a better deal on the energy markets and would have a single fair tariff that would be cheaper for all. The savings in have a single larger body would have greater savings of scale and would be run on a non profit basis so what would have gone in profits, often out of our economy, would be a saving for consumers to spend in our economy.

You are either very young or have a very short memory.

I have vivid memories of nationalised utilities. Waiting eight months to get a phone line installed by the nationalised Post Office. Similar delays, poor service and obfuscation from nationalised gas and electricity boards who had no incentive to be efficient or competitive because they were monopolies.

Be careful what you wish for!

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+1

A strange comment to make about the fastest growing economy in the developed world at the present time! You’re spending too much time reading the Daily Worker!

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Same old Asset stripping Slater-Walker guff.
Every time Piratization is implemented the assets are stripped bare, the infrastructure falls to bits, and the spectres of poverty, sickness, bad housing and massive unemployment prowl the land.
Rachmanite Landlords turn homes into gangster infested slums.
Children can’t afford to go to school
People die in the streets from malnutrition and curable diseases ‘because they can’t afford the visit to the Doctor / Hospital / Medicine.
Don’t believe me?
Read (Dr) A J Cronin’s books – along with Nye it was he who pushed the NHS into existence.
OR
Visit ANY inner city in US(A) – the richest and most powerful country in the world – for the moment !
OR
Wait 18 months until the Tory Gov’t privatizes the last bits of the NHS.

Good heavens! What a sad and disappointing life you must lead! Talk about persecution complex. Wake up! Life is good!

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Cronin’s “The Citadel” was written in the 1930’s. Some of us have moved on from then and today’s world is totally different.

I think interesting as discussing the state of the nation is for the sake of the casual reader I think we should desist. We may scare of some future forumites if we are not careful.

And yes I do have political views but I try to be a pragmatist first . : )

Agreed, Diesel. These Convos should essentially attract comments from a wide variety of people focusing mainly on the topic posed in the introduction. I hope some are not put off by the tone or content of some comments, but the moderators’ job is to deal with this. I would not like to see a convo closed down as has happened in the past. We’d all lose.

Alan Gallery says:

I’m in 99% agreement with you ….. apart from:

The whole point of private companies supplying energy is to give customers choice.
The whole point of private companies supplying energy is to …… make profits so they can pay a dividend to their shareholders.
And that’s the LAW.
Any CEO +/ Chair of Directors who doesn’t do that will soon be ”On their bike.”

“The whole point of private companies supplying energy is to …… make profits so they can pay a dividend to their shareholders. And that’s the LAW. Any CEO +/ Chair of Directors who doesn’t do that will soon be ”On their bike.” ”

Actually there is no LAW whatsoever requiring companies to run at a profit. You can appreciate that as company go broke the Directors are not slammed into jail. You may find shareholders will dump the Directors but that is not law but shareholders registering dissatisfaction . Dropping millions in ventures in foreign climes is always favourite reasons for anger.

Andy says:
15 January 2016

I my experience switching is a joke. When I switched I found that within a few months I was again using the most expensive supplier. There seems to be a merry go round. I’ll be the cheapest in months X an Y you be in A and B. Regulators are toothless and useless protecting the industry before customers.

I feel the only real cure is privatisation

Do you mean NATIONALIZATION?
‘We’ already have privatization.

Andy,
I check prices on a regular basis (every 3 to 4 weeks). I’ve seen little movement in the past eight months and find GB Energy is still the cheapest variable tariff for my geographical area and usage profile.
I’m surprised therefore that your past moves proved unhelpful. However, the moment you find a cheaper supplier just move again. Providing there’s exit fees you’ll be protected from any price rises during the move period and it’s a very simple procedure.

I am not signing anymore petitions – they give the impression of bringing about change that’s just another myth – also urging people to ‘switch’ continues to allow the so called regulators safe with their big salaries to put the responsibility on consumers – we now have the nastiest Conservative members of government we have ever had – these extremely wealthy people are worse than any of the cabals I can think of. My generation and my children’s generation have a lot to answer for in allowing those bully boys free reign – I feel nothing but shame

Bob Atherton says:
19 January 2016

David, I agree with so much of what you say. The petition ” Fair Energy Prices campaign ” was started initially highlighting the fact that “gas and electricity wholesale prices have fallen by nearly a third in a year” and energy suppliers have not reduced prices to reflect this. It seems to me that this forum has been hijacked by people who can’t see this and who seem hell bent discussing how great their own tariffs are and how to switch???? I believe this sort of attitude is a big part of the reason why we are in such a mess and being ripped off in so many areas of the economy. If one thing is true, it is that the nation has been brainwashed by Cameron and Co. into accepting greed as the way to go …. I’m alright Jack!

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Where does this gas and leccy falling by a third come from
Near everything is driven by the barrel price of oil and its below $30 a barrel for the first time in 12 years……….Not months,,,,,,,,,years
I’m getting a sneaky feeling we are not getting the truth about these energy prices

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Duncan, now your giving it a little truth
Many cannot take the truth and even more dont want to hear the truth
Quantitive Easing,,,,Printing worthless money by another name

Oil prices,,,,,,The best thing I think one can do just now is fill your garden or in my case corner of a field with it. I have tanks with nothing more than the valve closed and filled
Natgas left the country awash with oil tanks to boot for £20 a pop
I’ll not have any trouble getting it from one tank to the next when the time comes
I dont think we’ll see it cheaper once it goes back up and eventually it will I think
I have an international tractor and the longer it sits the better it goes on it also
PTO generator for it too
Actually we are pretty close to the point where an old Lister,,, 28sec oil,,,,,a dash of waste oil and we could make leccy cheaper than buying it and with not much effort the cooling system could make its way into the old wet heating system

The US,,,,,,,,,,I like my US cousins but the USA is a has been,,,,,,,,Like Rome etc
Living in borrowed time,,,,,,,,,,,,,Living on borrowed money
Still maybe they have one thing right,,,,,,,,,Dont worry about the national debt…….We’re all s***t upon anyhow once the bubble bursts and it will and always has done.
Listen readers. We are not talking nonsense. I am more than sure Sir Duncan here will be giving the names of the books written on this very subject
I’m all measurements and engineering things. i may have read the books and was very interested in the history but names was never my fortay
I have read enough of your rants now to mention John Law
I make mention of him because you have mentioned the NO GOLD economy
His antics and such things as the Tulip bubble are no different to todays bubbles
My daughter is to return here from Canada and she has a Condo to sell thanks to her Dads deposit and I wish she would sell now

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Bob Atherton says:
20 January 2016

DeeKay,

I’m in total agreement with you. I’m sure we don’t get told the truth about most of what is truly going.

Henry Ford said ” It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henryford136294.html#BuvZuxEW4BeRQwF2.99

As for the gas and leccy prices falling by one third information, below is a copy of the first email from “Which” inviting me to join this campaign for cheaper pricing:

Government and regulators must get a grip on Big Six energy companies to protect vulnerable customers.

We think it’s a disgrace that millions are paying way over the odds for energy. It’s been reported that gas and electricity wholesale prices have fallen by nearly a third in a year.

But the Big Six energy companies have done little to cut bills for consumers – only British Gas has cut prices in the last six months (by just 5%).

These high prices hurt everyone, but they are particularly hard on the elderly and least well off when temperatures drop.

The Government and the regulators must get a grip on the Big Six energy companies and deliver fair energy prices. Do you agree?

Yes

No

Best wishes,

Which? campaigns team

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Well,,,,,,,,,,,,,,That was giving it some
I must copy this one as an example of how to do it and get off with it

+1
@ David Smith
And what’s even worse is that ‘we’ are allowing them to Gerrymander the parliamentary boundaries, and cut out 2 000 000 + voters, so that they and their UKIP chums will rule this country for the next 50 years.

What has this to do with energy prices?

I am a 50 yo disabled lady with 2 grown up disabled children. I have had prepayment meters for 27 years, so have spent approx £2,500 purely on the charge for the meters. I changed to Eon several years ago because they didn’t apply this charge, but they changed their policies and now charge for it.
I get the winter fuel payment, and wanted to change supplier to the Which recommended small company, but couldn’t because they don’t give this payment. If I moved suppliers I would have to pay the £140 back. Every company should have to give this essential payment for vulnerable customers.
We all sit in our beds during the day to keep a bit warmer, so just see each other at mealtimes, with dressing gowns, hats and fingerless gloves on, as we can’t afford to have the heating on hardly at all. Christmas day we had it on all day as a treat.
What kind of life is that?
The big companies really don’t understand how desperate some people are, while they are laughing all the way to the bank with their huge profits.

An enlightening article on how we are being ripped off by foreigners owning our utility companies entitled “Britain for sale: How long before a foreign power turns out Britain’s lights?”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2130221/Britain-sale-How-long-foreign-power-turns-Britains-lights.html

Don’t worry about that – ‘WE’ have Trident to protect us!
Those foreign Jonnys won’t dare do that as long as we have Nukes, old boy. What. What.

No one shows the price of electricity is made up. The goverment/EU imposed charges are not explained nor shown in full in any published figures.

Ofgem show the breakdown of a typical dual fuel bill here:
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/domestic-consumers/understanding-energy-bills
I have a document that npower publish that shows a more detailed breakdown. The information is available and it might surprise some that the actual energy cost is only around 42% of your total bill.

Then one should expect a reduction of that 42% commensurate with the fall in gas and electric prices on world markets.
But it hasn’t happened.

+1

The way in which I pay my for my energy might not be everyones “cup of tea” but for my electricity I have a monthly direct debit set up, at an amount that should cover my winter useage and usually does (I am at present in credit) as my last statement 3 days ago showed. For my gas I pay on a meter card which I top up as required. The meter shows at a press of the button whats left on meter and I know when I put the card in whats on it in total. The beauty of this arrangement is that I never get a Gas or Electric bill every quarter or when ever. Agreed I have to top up the Gas Card whenever but I only put on £10.00 at present and with everywhere in the bungalow well insulated it is surprising how much I Dont spend. In fact I was very surprised at being told I was in CREDIT with the electricity seeing as we have not exactly been scrooge like with its usage. I might point out that both my wife and I are pensioners and only get state pension each and nothing else.

Its not just gas and electricity fuel at the pumps are still to high given the price of oil especially BP we are paying for their oil spill in the states why do the consumers in the UK have to endure being constantly ripped off with no real protection!!

Chris yewlett says:
15 January 2016

Co-Op Energy have proved reasonable. However the overall privatised market is a mess!

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A significant part of fuel bills is the standing charge, which means that low users pay more per unit of energy than high users. A couple of years ago, Which? reported that standing charges can vary a lot between suppliers, so they obviously don’t relate to the fixed costs of energy supply to a home.

My suggestion is that standing charges are scrapped and the cost of providing gas and electricity to homes is funded through taxation. That would help the people mentioned in the introduction to this Conversation.

I don’t see why taxpayers should fund the fixed costs of commercial companies – reading your meter, administering your account, for example. Not a State responsibility.

What we perhaps should consider putting into general taxation are those components of your energy bill that are, in effect, government taxes: paying for smart meters, carbon tax, supporting low carbon technologies, maintaining security of supply, improving customer energy efficiency, supporting vulnerable customers, all of which account for 14% of an average dual fuel bill. However, increasing taxes would not be popular either, so they are likely to stay on our energy bills.

Most of us only use the energy we have to but that means some have to use a lot more than others. If these costs are put into unit charges it simply means that those unfortunate high energy users on low incomes will be made to pay even more towards these costs – something many can ill-afford to do. Scotland, as an example, is mentioned below. That is not a fair way to treat consumers.

What I would like Which? to do is to properly explain what goes into our energy bills – of which only around 42% is actual energy cost – so we can see where the other 58% goes and think about just how it should be charged for.

I have no problem with the cost of reading meters and administering accounts being included in the unit price, but I believe that the (greater) costs of providing and maintaining the infrastructure should be covered by taxation, just like street lighting is.

As Lauren’s introduction says, some are really struggling with their energy bills and the present system means that they pay more per unit of energy than higher energy users. I would like this put to the vote because I can’t imagine many want to keep standing charges.

Many costs associated with your energy bill are fixed costs, so the choice would be increasing taxes to pay for them, or paying them directly. Including them in unit prices so the wealthy low energy users pay less than their share whilst poor high energy users pay more than their fair share is grossly unfair.

It is important in a debate like this to have all the facts presented and the consequences understood of different methods of charging. “I can’t imagine many want to keep standing charges” – but tell them where those costs will appear in future – out of their pay packet or extra vat (for example) and we might then have considiered solutions proposed.

We might ask, for example, why vat is levied on the whole energy bill, including the charges levied by the government which some might view as taxing a tax.

Every time we have this discussion the rich high energy users are ignored – they are subsidised by low users thanks to standing charges.

The number of ‘poor high energy users’ is, I understand, greatly exceeded by the number who are low users because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly. It would make more sense to have the poor high energy users apply for benefits.

Every time we have this argument …..

One of the great things about discussions is that you can draw out pro’s and con’s to an argument and even look at alternatives.

Several here believe , like me, that charges should be transparent to the person paying the bill [ show how much the Govt inflicts] and also logical to the extent that the cost of energy used, and the cost of the infrastructure that gets it to your house are shown.

There is plenty of evidence that houses can be converted to be hugely better insulated and more economical to run. I have pointed out the Dutch company who at a probably cost of £40,000 a property could solve pretty much all heating problems. The link is of course buried somewhere on the Which? Conversations site.

As a potential solution how about those poor but property owning take a charge on their property for the works and the money plus a very very small amount of interest is deducted from the sales proceeds? You will appreciate at the current rates the Govt can fix a rate of say 1% per annum – with an option you do not need to roll-over the interest but actually pay the £40 each year.

Amazing chance to boost the economy and reduce the energy requirements of the country and of the poor individuals. Which? could kick-start the process : )

I support transparency, but the information must be kept up to date to be useful.

Standing charges look like a made-up figure to me. I recently switched supplier and the standing charges are significantly different from those charged by my previous supplier. From what I have read, standards don’t reflect the costs involved in supply of energy, which will be different for an urban and rural location.

I agree that it would be interesting to discuss housing and energy use. We could learn a lot from other countries. Unfortunately the poor don’t have the capital to invest in improvements that could save them money, and a substantial amount of energy-inefficient housing is in the rented sector, but what you suggest might be better than some of the initiatives that have gone before.

Things should improve : ). However I think they could have been improved sooner I see a seven year gap as unforgivable

“June 2011
Briefing
The Government has announced changes to the Energy Bill to include a new
law introducing a legal minimum energy efficiency standard for homes
rented from a landlord from 2018.

They have also announced the introduction of measures, from 2016, to allow councils and tenants to demand energy efficiency measures from landlords.
Friends of the Earth, Citizens Advice and the Association for the Conservation of Energy warmly welcome the announcement of the inclusion of legislation in the Energy Bill to create a legal minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes. However there are a few important ways in which the current proposal falls short and some vital issues which need to be resolved in the detail of the legislation if it is to be effective and protect vulnerable tenants.”

And much more here
foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/private_rented_homes.pdf

The Scottish Highlands – where the majority of the Hydro-Electric schemes are – pay a far higher rate for energy than people in the South of England.
It is high time that Ofgen ‘got a grip’ and ensured that there was a universal charge throughout the whole of the UK.
The Royal Mail have a standard charge wherever you are sending your parcel/letter throughout the UK so why not energy companies?
In the North of Scotland winters are harsher/colder so people need to use more energy than they do in the South of England so why on earth are we penalised even more by having to pay a much higher rate for electricity that is generated on our own doorstep through all the Hydro schemes we see everywhere in the Highlands.

Eco-tricity has halved my bill plus they are green. Ovo is another cheap company.