How Can I Understand My Utility Bills?

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min reading
Bill over a pile of coins

While some elements of your utility bill are fairly clear, others can be really confusing if you don’t understand all the terminology. In this guide, we explain common terms on your electricity and gas bill, as well as how to calculate them. This will make it easier for you to understand your energy bills so that you can then identify ways to save money.

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What Is a Utility Bill in Ireland?

magnifying glass and bill

Generally speaking, a utility bill can be for electricity, gas, water and waste collection. Nowadays, TV, internet and phone plans can also be considered utilities, as they are common expenses in most Irish households and add significantly to the cost of living.

How Does My Utility Bill Vary?

Depending on your location, usage habits, the climate, the size of your home and other factors, the cost of your utility bills can vary quite a bit. Your utility bill contains valuable information, and you should always check the details carefully and compare electricity prices with different companies.

For further information on how to reduce your household bills, check out our guide on 101 ways to save money on your energy bills.

How Can I Understand My Electricity Bill?

Your electricity bill will make up the bulk of your energy bill since electricity is more expensive than gas. You'll find common electricity terms that appear on your electricity bill in the table below, along with their explanations.

Bill ItemExplanation
Account numberThis is the number for your personal account with your supplier and you should have it to hand when you need to contact them regarding any issues.
Supply addressThe address for the property where the electricity being billed is being used.
Billing addressThe address for billing purposes (may be different to supply address in the case of landlords for example).
MPRNMeter Point Reference Number indicates the point at which your house is connected to the electricity network. As such, if you move home this will change.
DGThis indicates your Distribution Use of System (DUoS) profile, a charge that your supplier pays to the distribution network (ESB) on your behalf. DG1 indicates you have been assigned an urban domestic profile, and DG2 a rural one.
MC/MCCStands for your Meter Configuration Code which indicates which type of meter you have.
Date of issueThis is the date that the bill was issued on, not the date of receipt or the billing period.
Invoice numberIf there are any issues with a particular bill you’ll need to quote this number when discussing it with your supplier.
Billing periodUsually 30 or 60 days.
Reading TypeA, C or E. A means it was read by ESB, C means that the customer gave the meter reading, and E means it is an estimated reading based on details about your home and national usage statistics.
PaymentsThis is a summary of all the payments you made previously.
Balance brought forwardCredit or debit from the previous bill.
Charges for this periodThis contains a breakdown of your billing charges.
Pay byThe date the bill is due. Normally payment is due within 14 days but for accounts in debit it’s normally due immediately.
Remittance advice/Giro slipTo facilitate payment when the bills are not settled by direct debit.
Price planThe name of the plan you are on.
Meter readingsThe meter reading the current bill is based on and the previous bill’s reading.
Unit usageHow many units of electricity you have used up. Energy units are measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
Unit priceThe rate your units are charged at. Unit usage multiplied by unit price will give you the total amount for your electricity usage before other charges are applied. If you are on a Nightsaver tariff, you will have two different unit prices for electricity.
Standing chargeA fixed charge you pay to your supplier consisting of distribution network charges and the cost of the supplier for your account.
PSO levyThe PSO levy is a fixed government levy set by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities which pays for researching and generating renewable energy. The PSO is currently a rebate programme discounting your electricity bill.
VATThe Value Added Tax for energy in Ireland is set at 9%.
Carbon EmissionsThis tells you how many kilos of carbon were produced by your household within the billing period.
Fuel MixDisplays the sources your supplier uses in order to generate electricity.
Cooling Off PeriodYour cooling off period is the 14 days that you have before your tariff starts after you initially sign up. During your cooling off period, you're able to cancel your contract without needing to pay any exit fees.
lightning bolts and calculator

How Is My Electricity Bill Calculated?

Electricity bills are typically issued every two months. Do the following to calculate your electricity bill to find the price of your electricity:

  1. Obtain Electricity Usage
    The average household consumes 4,200 kWh of electricity every two months. Multiply this number by your electricity unit rate.
  2. Find Your Standing Charge
    You will usually find your annual standing charge already offered to you by your provider so you will just need to double check what that is.
  3. Add Them All Up
    Add all of the above products and quotients together. This will give you the amount of your electricity bill for the year.

Electricity Bill Example We show an example below for an urban household that consumes 4,200 kWh of electricity per year. On Electric Ireland's standard tariff, the unit rate is €0.4327 per kWh and the standing charge is €302.92 per year. So your electricity bill should look something like this:

4,200 kWh x €0.4327 unit rate = €1,817.34 annual consumption

Then you need add the consumption to the annual standing charge of €302.92, meaning your annual electricity bill will look like this:

€1,817.34 annual consumption + €302.92 standing charge = €2,120.26 total annual bill

In the table below, you'll find the best electricity offers per supplier.

Cheapest Electricity Offer per Supplier
SupplierBest OfferEstimated Annual BillTrustpilot Reviews
Yuno EnergyFixed Discount€1,168.123.6 / 5
SSE AirtricityFixed Offer€1,273.321.2 / 5
FlogasNo Discount€1,332.294.2 / 5
Bord Gáis33% on Electricity€1,250.232.4 / 5
Energia31% Selectra Discount 📞€1,340.374.1 / 5
Electric Ireland24% on EO, DF€1,394.351.4 / 5
Community PowerNo Discount€1,448.22N/A
EcopowerNo Discount€1,808.533.9 / 5
PrepayPowerNo Discount€1,835.814.8 / 5
PinergyNo Discount€2,001.734.6 / 5
WaterpowerNo Discountnew customers are currently unable to switchN/A

*Figures are for illustrative purposes only. Calculations based on average consumption figures for an urban home with a 24-hour standard meter unless specified. All discounts and cashback have been applied. This also includes the PSO Levy at €0.00.
Last updated: May 2024

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Do you feel that your electrcity bills are too high? Check out our guide to lowering your bills and saving money.

How Do I Understand My Gas Bill?

Your gas bill contains a lot of similar information to your electricity bill, generally you can expect to find the following on it.

Utility Bill ItemExplanation
Account numberYour unique identifier. Having this to hand will make calling customer support go more smoothly.
Supply addressThe address for the property at which the gas is being used.
Billing addressIf different to the supply address.
GPRNGas Point Reference Number (GPRN) indicates the point at which your house is connected to the gas network. As such, if you move home this will change.
AC BandStands for Annual Consumption, and is represented by a letter indicating which estimated consumption bracket your household falls into. A less than 6500 kWh B 6000 kWh - 23,500 kWh C 23,000 kWh - 73,000 kWh Y 73,000 kWh - 750 MWh Z 750 MWh - 5,500 MWh
Meter numberThis is the number for the meter you currently have installed and will change if you get a new meter.
Date of issueThis is the date that the gas bill was sent out.
Invoice numberThis is an identifier to be able to tell one bill from another.
Billing periodThis will show the dates within which the unit rates were consumed that are being charged on the bill in question.
Reading TypeThis shows whether the reading was carried out by a professional (A), the customer (C), or whether it is an estimate (E) based on information about the home and historical usage data.
PaymentsThis will show how the customer has agreed to pay the bills, and previous payments made.
Balance brought forwardThis will show whether your account is in credit or debit.
Charges for this periodThis details all the different charges that make up this specific bill.
Pay byThe deadline that you need to pay by to avoid any penalties.
Remittance advice/Giro slipA section of the paper bill that lets you pay at the bank, or in some cases, at the post office.
Price planThe name of the price plan you are currently on with this supplier.
Meter readingsThe reading the current bill is based on, and the previous bill’s reading.
Unit usageThe amount of gas units consumed. Gas units are measured by cubic metres (m3).
Conversion FactorThe factor used to convert your units from m3 to kWh.
kWhThe amount of gas kilowatts you are being billed for.
RateWhich unit rate you are being charged at (this is multiplied by the kWh to make up the total charge for energy consumed).
Standing ChargeA charge your supplier adds to your bill to cover transmission and distribution charges. It is normally higher for rural customers.
VATThe Irish government has set VAT at 9% for gas.
Carbon TaxA carbon tax is a tax applied to gas, oil, and solid fuels. It is 0.9559 cent/kWh including VAT.
Carbon EmissionsThe quantity of carbon produced by the consumption of gas in your household.
Fuel MixWhere your supplier has sourced their gas from.

How Is Gas Bill Calculated?

gas flame and bill

Calculating your gas bill is similar to calculating your electricity bill. Gas bills are usually issued every two months and useful for comparing different gas prices. In recent years, it's been especially important to keep track of your gas prices given the volatility in the market. We break down how to calculate it below:

  1. Obtain Your Gas Usage
    The average gas usage is 11,000kWh per year. Multiply this by the unit rate.
  2. Include the Carbon Tax
    Multiply the carbon tax (which is currently .808 cents/kWh) by your gas usage.
  3. Add Your Standing Charge
    Like the electricity standing charge, you'll be provided by your gas standing charge when you take out a tariff. You'll be able to find it on your bill too.
  4. Add it All Together
    Add all of the above products and quotients together. This will give you the amount of your gas bill.

Gas Bill Example We show an example below for an urban household that consumes 11,000 kWh of gas per year. On Electric Ireland's standard tariff, the unit rate is €0.14671 per kWh and the standing charge is €190.65 per year. So your gas bill should look something like this:

11,000 kWh x €0.14671 unit rate = €1,613.81 annual consumption

Then you need add the consumption to the annual standing charge of €190.65 as well as the and the carbon tax, meaning your annual electricity bill will look like this:

€1,467.10 annual consumption + €190.65 standing charge + Carbon Tax = €1,893.34 total annual bill

What If I Have Issues with My Utility Bill?

For any errors or issues with your utility bill, your first port of call is to contact your supplier and provide them with your account number and the invoice number. If your provider does not resolve your issue to your satisfaction, or if they are taking an inordinate amount of time to do so, you may then file an official complaint with the supplier. If you do so, don’t forget to get the complaint reference number before you get off the phone, as you will need it should you take the issue further.

If the issue with the utility bill still hasn’t been resolved within two months, you should then proceed to file a complaint with the CRU.

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Why Is My Utility Bill Unusually High?

Nobody likes opening their bill and getting a nasty shock when they see the bill they had budgeted for is much higher than expected. Consider the following issues before contacting your supplier if you think your utility bill is excessively high.

  1. Season
    Heating your home is much more expensive in the winter. Similarly, if the summer is unusually warm and you have the air-conditioning running, or fans on in every room, this can also contribute to a higher utility bill.
  2. Household Improvements
    Have you had any renovations or extension-work carried out at your home during the past billing period? The contractors and the electricity they need for the work to be carried out can increase your utility bill. Windows or doors may have also been left open while the heating was on, to increase drying time of materials. If new electricity points and lights were installed, this will also cost you more in terms of increased energy expenditure.
  3. Rate Increase
    If you’re on a variable tariff, as are the majority of people in Ireland, it’s possible that your tariff unit rate has gone up. Even if you're not on a variable tariff, there have been changes to government levies (such as the carbon tax). It could also be that if you previously switched provider to avail of a discount, your discounted period has ended and you have been rolled on to the standard unit rate with no discount. If the latter is the case, you can try to renegotiate a new discounted contract with your provider or switch to a cheaper electricity or gas offer.
  4. Additional People
    If you’ve had visitors staying at your home, or if more people have been at home during the day due to illness or holidays, all those extra showers and increased hours of electricity and heating usage will add up.
  5. Moving Home
    Have you recently moved home? Your new house may not be as energy efficient as your old one, or it may be larger in size. In particular, have a look at your home-heating and hot water elements (radiators, boiler, immersion, etc.) to see what might be causing the increase. You can also check out our handy guide on the best way to heat your home.
  6. Estimated Bills
    If your utility bill is very large and was estimated, it’s possible that your usage was overestimated and that you have been charged more than you should have been. Also, if a previous bill was estimated, it may have been underestimated and your next bill will be bigger due to including any shortfall from the amount you previously paid. This is particularly true of gas bills, where six are issued each year and two are estimated. If you receive an estimated bill, you should always submit a meter reading in order to keep your bill up to date and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

The services and products mentioned on this website may only represent a small selection of the options available to you. Selectra encourages you to carry out your own research and seek advice if necessary before making any decisions. We may receive commission from selected partner providers on sales of some products and/or services mentioned within this website. Our website is free to use, and the commission we receive does not affect our opinion or the information we provide.

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