How to read your gas bill

We, at National Energy Action, have produced a series of advice leaflets to help you with your energy bills. This one explains how to read your gas bill.

Different suppliers will have different-looking gas bills. The gas bill will also look different depending on the way you pay. See further down for information relating to the numbers in circles.

1. Your ACCOUNT NUMBER, sometimes called a CUSTOMER REFERENCE NUMBER, is unique to you and is used to identify your personal account details when you contact your supplier

2. A METER POINT REFERENCE NUMBER or MPRN is attached to each UK property on the mains gas supply. It is needed when you switch your gas supplier or if you think there is a problem with your gas supply.

3. The CONTACT DETAILS of your gas supplier, including phone number and office opening hours.

4. The EMERGENCY CONTACT DETAILS to be used out of hours.

5. The DATE your gas bill was issued.

6. The bill will be ADDRESSED to the person whose name appears on the account. You may wish to have more than one named person on the account in case of a change in circumstances.

7. The PERIOD OF TIME you have been charged for the gas you have used.

8. The AMOUNT that was left on your bill from the previous payment. This could be a credit, a debit or a zero balance depending on how you pay. If your account is in credit, this is how much you have overpaid your energy bills supplier. This can be good if you are overpaying in summer so your bills are roughly equal throughout the year. If your account is in debit, this is how much you owe your energy company. Always submit a meter reading or have a smart meter, as you can run up a debt without realising.

9. The PAYMENTS YOU HAVE MADE since the last bill.

10. This is the TOTAL COST of the gas you have used (or have been estimated to have used) for the billing period.

  • If you are a Direct Debit customer this will fluctuate throughout the year due to seasonality and the amount of gas used.
  • If you pay each bill in full, as with standard quarterly customers, it will usually show a zero balance followed by the full amount owed for the current billing period.

11. Your NEW ACCOUNT BALANCE or AMOUNT OWED will take into account any existing credit you have on your account and will show as either a credit, a debit or zero balance.

12. If you pay by DIRECT DEBIT you pay a fixed amount each month over a set period of time, usually a year. If these payments are too high and you are building up a large credit, or too low and you are building up a debt, your supplier will recalculate the amount you need to pay and will either increase or decrease your monthly payments to match your use.

13. The PERSONAL PROJECTION is an estimate of your gas use over a set period of time, usually a year. This helps your supplier to set your payment plan if you are a Direct Debit customer, or can help people budget if they pay quarterly.

14. Cheaper tariff options now have to be highlighted to you by your supplier. Some suppliers will even tell you of cheaper tariffs with other energy suppliers. You can use an accredited switching site to view the best deals in your area.

15. Your PREVIOUS reading is the meter reading which is issued as the starting point for this billing period.

16. Your LATEST reading is the meter reading which is used as the end point for this billing period. It is used to generate your current bill.

17. The ESTIMATED or ‘E’ readings are those supplied by your gas supplier when they do not have an ACTUAL or ‘A’ reading supplied by either yourself or a company meter reader. Some suppliers may show readings you have provided as CUSTOMER, ‘C’ or YOUR reading. ESTIMATED readings are based on your
previous use and average consumption levels.

18. Further information on how the DIRECT DEBIT plans are calculated.

19. GAS UNITS USED is the amount of gas you have used during the set billing period. It is calculated by taking your PREVIOUS reading and subtracting it from the LATEST reading.

20. Gas is charged by kilowatt hour (kWh). To work out your kWh usage you need to check if you have an Imperial or Metric meter.

IMPERIAL measures gas units in cubic feet, in units of x100 cu ft and sometimes x1 cu ft. The units need to be multiplied by 2.83 to convert cubic feet to cubic metres. If yours is in 100 cubic feet then the formula you need is:


With METRIC meters there is no need to multiply by 2.83 as the units are already in cubic metres. If you have a Metric meter, the formula you need is


Using an imperial formula for a metric unit will lead to overcharging.

*This is a daily calculated calorific value. It can change.

21. kWh-rate is the current amount you are paying for your gas. You may be on a tariff that is FIXED and this will remain the same for the period of your contract, or you may be on a STANDARD tariff which means the cost of gas will fluctuate depending on the market.

22. The STANDING CHARGE is a fixed cost associated with providing your gas supply such as meter reading, maintenance and the cost of keeping your home connected to the network and fees paid to other companies who operate and maintain parts of the gas network.

23. The CHARGE is the amount you need to pay, minus VAT which will be added to the total cost at a rate of 5%. If the VAT on your bill is more than 5% you may be being charged a commercial rate and you should contact your supplier.

24. How you pay for your gas and the amount you pay is called a TARIFF. There are many different
tariffs to choose from offering different payment options, discounts and terms and conditions. It is worth asking your supplier if you are on the best tariff, or looking to see if there is a better tariff with a different supplier. There may be a cancellation fee if you switch tariffs or suppliers.

25. All energy suppliers have to offer their vulnerable customers extra services. They each have a Priority Services Register which offers free support to those with extra needs. Contact your supplier for further details.

Call charges

Calling advice lines and other services may incur call charges.

0800 and 0808 numbers are free from landlines and mobiles. Standard rates apply for 01, 02 and 03 numbers (typically 9p-13p per minute from landlines and 3p-55p from mobiles depending on
your network), however they are usually included in free call packages. See more information at