Households across the UK that rely on traditional gas and electricity meters are facing a combined energy bill rise of £288 million after the Coronavirus lockdown.
Uswitch research found that the increased energy usage over this period will be belatedly added to bills for homes not using a smart meter. Household energy costs have risen by an estimated £16 a month as people use more energy while staying at home.
Almost 14 million households who submit their own meter readings have not done so for an average of two months and six days. This means that any increased energy usage over lockdown won't yet be reflected in their bills, and these households could see a rise of £20 a month when their direct debits are eventually updated.
Almost a fifth (19%) of households still rely on a meter reader to visit their property. With these meter readings paused during the lockdown, it could be more than six months before the extra energy use in this period is reflected in energy bills. For these two million households, direct debits could rise by as much as £25 a month in September.
This increase will disproportionately affect vulnerable households, with a fifth of those who rely on meter readers being over pensionable age, or having a disability or long-term medical condition.
One in ten adults say they they don't know where their energy meters are located.
Of those who don't read their own meters, half said they don't have the ability to do so. A fifth (18%) say they cannot reach their meter, while another fifth (18%) say they simply can't be bothered to take meter readings.
Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch, said: "The lockdown has forced millions of us to use more energy, but many bills aren't yet reflecting this."
"Checking your meter takes a matter of minutes once you know where it's located and which numbers to report on. If you can give your supplier an accurate reading, they reward you with an accurate bill - rather than give you a nasty surprise later on."
"As a rule of thumb, it is worth checking your meter once a month, especially if your energy consumption has changed recently."
If you don't have a smart meter, the best way to ensure accurate bills is to provide regular meter readings to your supplier. Most energy providers now allow you to submit readings via their app or your online account, so you don't need to rely on a meter reader to visit your home.
Our video shows how easy it is to read any type of gas or electricity meter:
Source: Uswitch research. Original research can be found on our media centre: https://www.uswitch.com/media-centre/2020/06/14-million-homes-face-288-million-bill-shock-unread-meters-hide-rise-lockdown-power-use/