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Left in the dark on energy use: 20 million households pay their supplier monthly but less than half get a bill every month

  • Seven in ten households — 20 million — pay for their energy monthly[1], but only four in ten (43%) receive a bill every month[2]

  • One in five households (20%) have asked their supplier to change how often they get their bill[3], but three fifths (60%) say the changes haven’t been made[4]

  • Suppliers who don’t deliver monthly bills are leaving consumers in the dark about their actual energy use at a critical time, says Uswitch 

  • EDF Energy has the biggest gap between customers being billed monthly (28%) and paying monthly (77%), while Octopus Energy has the highest proportion of customers getting monthly bills (92%)[5]

  • Uswitch.com calls on all suppliers to let consumers choose when they are billed so they have more control over their energy usage.

Seven in ten households — 20 million homes — pay for their energy monthly[1], but only four in ten (43%) receive a bill from their supplier every month[2], leaving consumers without the information they need to control their energy use, according to Uswitch.com, the comparison and switching service. 

At a time of sky-high energy prices, regular information on how much households are using and paying to reflect that is essential for consumers trying to manage their finances. However, too many suppliers are dragging their heels when it comes to providing bills when consumers want them.

Almost nine in ten households (88%) not on prepayment meters pay for energy by direct debit, with the vast majority of those (85%) paying monthly[1]. 

One in five households (20%) say they have asked their supplier to change how often they get their bill, with more than half of those (55%) requesting a monthly update[3]. Three fifths of those who requested an alteration to their billing (60%) say it was never made, with almost half of those (46%) saying their provider refused to make the change, and four in ten (43%) claiming they never heard back from their supplier[4].

Consumers also struggle to choose their billing frequency when taking out an energy deal, with a third (36%) saying their new provider would not let them select how often they received one[6]. 

Bill-payers are currently extremely engaged with their energy use, with virtually every household (94%) opening their energy bills[7], and almost half (48%) submitting meter readings to their supplier at least once a month[8].

There is a big disparity among providers when comparing how many of their customers pay monthly and how many receive a bill each month.

Only a quarter of EDF Energy’s customers (28%) receive a monthly bill, despite more than three quarters of them paying every month. Scottish Power (32%) and British Gas (37%) have the next lowest proportion of customers who get a monthly bill. Octopus Energy has the highest proportion of customers who are billed monthly (61%), but this is still far below the number who pay monthly (92%)[5].


Uswitch.com is calling on all suppliers to let consumers choose when they are billed so they have more control over their energy usage.

Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at Uswitch.com, comments: “With the cost of energy so high, it’s more important than ever that consumers have access to regular information about how much they are actually using.

“The vast majority of us pay for our energy every month, but suppliers are not providing bills when consumers want them.

“Consumers are taking action and asking their suppliers to provide bills more frequently, so it’s concerning to hear these changes are happening in only 60% of cases.

“Customers should be in control of how often they receive a bill and suppliers should honour their wishes. If you’re not getting bills as often as you would like, contact your provider, and if they are unwilling to help, you can always take your case to the ombudsman.”

Find out how you could save with Uswitch in the new cost-of-living hub here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Prisca Simango
Phone: 07825 334 457
Email: prisca.simango@rvu.co.uk
Twitter: @UswitchPR

Notes
Research conducted online by Opinium, 13th May to 18th May 2022, among 2,000 UK energy bill-payers, weighted to be nationally representative.
1. Respondents were asked, ‘How do you pay your energy bill?’ 88% of those who don’t have a prepayment meter pay by direct debit. Of those, 85% pay by monthly direct debit, and 15% pay by quarterly direct debit. In total 75% (1395 respondents) pay by monthly direct debit. 1395/2000 x 28.1 million UK households = 19.6 million households pay their bills monthly. 
2. Respondents were asked, ‘How often do you receive your energy bill?’ 43% said monthly. 21% said quarterly. 5% said bi-annually. 2% said one a year. 9% said ‘don’t know’.
3. Respondents were asked ‘Have you ever asked your supplier to change the frequency of your energy bills?’
80% said ‘No’. 11% said ‘Yes, requested monthly bill’. 5% said ‘Yes, requested bill every two months’. Overall 20% said ‘Yes’.
4. Respondents were asked ‘Did your supplier make the change you requested?’ 40% said ‘Yes’. 26% said ‘No, didn’t hear back from them.’ 27% said ‘No, they refused to make the change.’ 7% said ‘No - they agreed to make the change but it never happened’. Overall 60% said ‘No’.
5. See table in release.
6. Respondents were asked ‘Did your supplier let you choose how frequently you received your bills when you took out your deal?’ 30% said ‘Yes’. 36% said ‘No’. 33% said ‘Don’t know’.
7. Respondents were asked, ‘Do you open your energy bill?’ 69% said ‘Yes, every one’. 18% said ‘Yes, mostly’. 7% said ‘Yes, occasionally.’ 6% said ‘No’. Overally, 94% of respondents said ‘Yes’.
8. Respondents were asked ‘How often do you submit meter readings to your supplier?’ 3% said weekly. 34% said monthly. 24% said they had a smart meter. Excluding those with a smart meter, 48% of people submit a meter reading monthly.

About Uswitch - saving you money for 20 years

Uswitch is the UK’s top comparison website for home services switching. We’ve saved consumers £2.5 billion off their energy bills since we launched in September 2000, and also help people find a better deal on their broadband, mobile and TV.

Uswitch is part of RVU, a global group of online brands with a mission to empower consumers to make more confident home services, insurance and financial decisions.