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How to understand your gas & electricity bill

Understanding your energy bills gives you the power to make choices. Here’s how to read your gas & electricity bill and cut your energy costs.

How often should you get an energy bill?

You should get an energy bill every two months if you’re on a typical dual fuel plan, although some electricity or budget plan customers are billed monthly.

If you have paperless billing, you’ll be told when your bill is ready to view online, usually within three days of the bill being issued. If you’re a postal customer you should get your bill within five days of the bill issue date.

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How your bill is calculated

Your energy bills may look complicated but we’ll help you understand them so you can make better choices about who supplies your energy and how much you use.

  • Energy usage is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWhs).
  • Each kWh you use is called a unit and the amount of units you’ve used in the billing period is shown as ‘consumption’ or ‘usage’ on your bill.
  • The unit rate you see on your energy bill is the cost you pay per kWh. How much you’re charged per unit depends on your energy tariff.

There are also other factors added to your bill to make up the total amount you have to pay.

Here we break down each fuel tariff and make your bills simple to understand.

Your electricity bill breakdown

Besides payment and transaction details, your bill will usually show the following information:

  • Tariff: This is the name of your electricity price plan
  • Meter readings: Actual readings are indicated by an ‘a’ after your reading. Estimated readings are indicated by an ‘e’. You will see your current reading and previous reading.
  • Unit usage: Shows how many kWh you have used
  • Unit price: Shows the price per kWh
  • Amount: The total number of units used in your billing period multiplied by the price per unit
  • Standing charge: This is a fixed daily cost that everyone pays
  • PSO Levy: All energy suppliers are required to collect this levy from customers. It supports the generation of electricity from renewable sources.
  • VAT: This is charged at 13.5% of your total bill and added to the final amount
  • Carbon emissions: Shows the kilograms of CO2 produced as a result of your energy usage

An ‘e’ beside your usage, this means your bill is estimated and you should submit an electricity meter reading so you’re only charged for what you’ve actually used. You can do this through your energy supplier.

Your gas bill breakdown

You’ll notice that much of the wording on your gas bill is the same as your electricity bill. However, there are also some additional terms on your gas bill worth understanding:

  • Carbon tax: The charge is linked to your consumption, so you’ll see the carbon tax rate on your bill as 0.00606 cent/kWh.
  • Conversion factor: This is the measurement that energy suppliers use to convert your gas usage into kWh.

If your readings are estimated (e) you should submit a gas meter reading as soon as possible. Either provide your reading to your supplier or submit a reading to Gas Networks Ireland website.

Your dual fuel bill breakdown

If you are a dual fuel customer, your charges will still be worked out on a per-fuel basis.

You will receive a separate bill for your gas and electricity, so you can clearly see the breakdown of charges, but you will be billed for both at the same time.

You may have a discount applied because you have both gas and electricity with the same supplier. If not, it may be worth trying our free comparison tool to see how much you could save on a dual fuel tariff.

What is a standing charge?

It is a fixed charge for:

  • providing and maintaining the supply of electricity
  • collection of meter readings
  • servicing your account

A low usage charge may apply where you use two units or less of electricity on average per day in a billing period.

What is the PSO Levy?

The Public Service Obligation Levy (PSO) is legally required by the Government and approved by the European Commission. It supports the generation of electricity from sustainable, renewable and local sources.

The levy is calculated annually by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) in line with relevant legislation.

You can find out more about the PSO Levy in our guide.

VAT on your energy bills

Your energy bill is worked out by:

  • multiplying the unit rate by your consumption
  • adding the standing charge
  • adding the PSO Levy (for electricity)
  • adding Carbon Tax (for gas)

VAT is then applied at 13.5% on the total amount. So if your energy bill comes to €100 per month, you will pay €13.50 VAT on top.

What to do if your gas or electricity bills are too high

If you think your energy bills are too high and you haven’t switched recently, then it’s worth thinking about changing your supplier or energy tariff.

The best ways to reduce your energy bills are to cut down your usage with our top energy saving tips and switch to a discounted deal using our free gas and electricity comparison service. Here’s an example of the money you could save:

  • Electricity: The average user on a typical standard tariff can save up to €286 by switching to the cheapest electricity deal, and those with higher usage stand to save even more.
  • Gas: The average user on a standard tariff can save up to €170 if you’re an average user and even more if you live in a large household.

Make sure you can switch penalty free by checking for any early cancellation fees.

Switch and save up to €476 on your energy bills

It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving