Energy bills still confusing almost everybody

It’s always been a bit of a one-horse-race, but new figures show that, once again, it is energy bills that are far and away the most misunderstood of household bills, with almost three-quarters of people describing their energy bills as ‘very complicated’.

But it’s not just that the 1,600 Which!!! members surveyed are stupid, most of them can cope with working out their other household bills, it’s just energy bills that baffle people. In fact 18% of those surveyed suggested that, even given a calculator, wet flannel and a quiet room, they couldn’t check the accuracy of their energy bills if they tried. And not being able to check your bills makes it pretty difficult to make sure you are not overpaying for your energy, as apparently 95% of us are to the tune of £234 each.energybillinfog

Terms like standing charge, kWh, calorific value and unit rate mean that only 30% of people think they could work out their energy bill- and that’s a year after Ofgem introduced new rules to make bills clearer. Most people don’t think they could find the details of their own tariff with both hands. However, this might be less of a problem than it sounds as additional research shows that although most people would be better off on a fixed rate tariff (which have fallen by 7% in the last year), over three quarters of people are languishing on a standard rate tariff, which have increased by 4% over the past year, on average.

Which!!! executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Despite efforts to make bills simpler to understand, our research shows people are still bamboozled. Consumers can’t tell whether they are getting a fair deal from their energy supplier and are losing out as a result.”

“We want the Competition and Markets Authority to force suppliers to make bills clearer by adopting simple pricing, like you see on a petrol forecourt. In a truly competitive energy market people should be able to spot the cheapest deal at a glance, making it easier to switch supplier.”

We can’t argue with that.

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