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One in three consumers do not read energy bills

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11/08/2015
One third of consumers ignore the details of their energy bill and just look at the amount they need to pay, according to a uSwitch.com study.

Consumers avoid examining information such as energy usage, or if the bill is based on an actual or estimated reading, meaning they run the risk of missing errors and getting into high amounts of credit or debt with suppliers.

The findings also reveal that, only 8 per cent of consumers use the information on their bill to compare prices or switch supplier – despite potentially being able to make significant savings by switching to a different tariff.

Elsewhere in the study, consumers were asked to list activities they considered more important than paying bills. 53 per cent nominated doing the washing up, 43 per cent going food shopping and 38 per cent doing the laundry.

Consumers aged 55+ read bills in the most detail, studying them to understand their usage – with 47 per cent doing so compared to the national average of 38 per cent. In contrast, 18-34s pay the least attention to their bills, with just 30 per cent reviewing them in detail.

There is also a gap in understanding energy bills among age groups. 18-34s are the most likely to call on help to understand their bills (49 per cent) and the least likely to have the confidence to provide others with advice (14 per cent).

The release of the study coincides with the launch of uSwitch’s ‘Compare, Switch, Save’ app, which includes QR (Quick Response) functionality. Following new Government rules, energy suppliers are now required to display QR codes on bills. Each code contains information about the customer’s current tariff, energy consumption, postcode and other information needed to easily search the market for the best deals.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: “The number of people turning a blind eye to their bills is extremely concerning. There is a huge and very real risk that people are missing errors or racking up significant debt. Bills don’t always deliver bad news – those leaving bills unopened could find their provider actually owes them money. In fact, we recently found that 12m homes could reclaim over £1bn of credit from energy suppliers.

“Bills should be easy to understand and not create feelings of dread. People should feel empowered to take the cost of their energy bills into their own hands, and switch more regularly.”

Commenting, Lord Bourne, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said “The introduction of QR codes to bills will allow bill payers to compare energy deals more accurately and switch suppliers at the touch of a phone or tablet; it is great to see comparison sites like uSwitch embrace it.

“We will continue to work closely with energy suppliers and comparison websites to ensure the services they provide meet the needs of British bill payers, so they can get the best price that works for them.”

Click here for the YourMoney.com guide to switching energy supplier.

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