You’ll no doubt want to get the best deal on your energy but it can be hard when the market is filled with often confusing terminology. To help, we’ve compiled a glossary of some of the key terms you need to know to make sense of what’s out there.
Additionality – you’ve probably come across this if you’ve installed solar panels or other renewables. It refers to whether or not your decision or action to use renewables has reduced emissions over and above what would have happened naturally.
Active power – more commonly known simply as ‘power’, this is the rate of production, transfer or use of electrical energy.
Annual quantity – pretty much what it says on the tin: the total amount of energy used annually for all metres on any given site. Annual quantity is based on historical usage figures and comes from the National Grid.
Automatic meter read – using telephone technology this automatically reads your meter from a remote location.
Balance – how much you owe on your energy bill or by how much your account is in credit.
Big six – this is a term used to refer to the biggest energy companies in the market: British Gas, EDF Energy, E On, npower, SSE and Scottish Power.
Bill date – the date that a bill is issued to you
Billing period – the period of time over which the sum of your bill is calculated. For example, you may have a billing period from September 1st to September 30th.
British Electricity Trading And Transmission Arrangements (BETTA) – This is an arrangement introduced in 2005. It is designed to create a single wholesale electricity marketing in the UK.
Calorific value – this refers to the quality of the gas you get.
Capped tariff – a tariff with a guaranteed maximum price per unit for gas and/or electricity. This is usually offered for a set period of time.
Carbon footprint – the total amount of greenhouse gas produced by yourself/household/business, either directly or indirectly. Contributors to a carbon footprint include things like home energy usage and the type of transport you use.
Cold weather payment – this is a government payment people receive if they’re getting certain benefits and the average temperature in the area is forecast or recorded at zero degrees C or below for 7 consecutive days. Find out more here.
Consumption – how much energy you have used.
Cooling off period – after you’ve switched energy supplier, you’ll often have 14 days to change your mind.
Dual fuel – if you get your gas and electricity from the same supplier this is referred to as dual fuel. You may be able to get a discount because of this.
Economy 7 – a specific type of tariff that gives you cheaper energy during a set 7 hour period. Usually, this is during night-time hours but it may differ depending on provider.
Economy 10 – a specific type of tariff that gives you cheaper energy during a set 10 hour period. Like Economy 7, when these hours are depends on the provider.
Estimated meter reading – a reading based on your energy usage in the past or, if you don’t have a consumption history, the national average.
Fixed tariff – the cost of your energy is locked in for a given period.
Green energy – any energy generated from a sustainable source. The most common are solar power, wind power, hydroelectric power and biomass.
Green deal – this was a government scheme to help people make energy saving improvements to their home but the government is no longer funding the programme.
Kilowatt hour (kWh) – a unit of measurement for energy that represents a kilowatt of power used each hour.
MPAN – a unique number for your electricity meter. This is specific to you, not the supplier you use, so if you switch your MPAN will stay the same.
MPRN – everyone who uses gas is assigned an MPRN, which is a unique gas meter number. This is specific to you, not the supplier you use, so if you switch your MPRN will stay the same.
No standing charge (NSC) – this is when your tariff is without a standing charge and will be indicated as such on your bill. With an NSC agreement you only pay for what you use and the standard charge is usually built into the cost per unit. If you have a standing charge tariff, you will pay a set amount for the supply of your energy, plus any additional usage-based charges.
Ofgem – the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) regulates the energy sector and ensures they act in the best interest of customers.
Ombudsman – you can escalate an issue to the ombudsman if you raise an issue with your account to your energy company and they are unable to resolve it.
Online tariff – this is a cheaper tariff offered to those who manage their bills and payments online.
Payment slip – this is often at the bottom of your bill to allow you to pay your bill at the bank or via the post.
Pence per kWh – this is the amount you’re charged for every kWh you use.
Supply number – this is the same as your MPAN
Standing charge – you will pay a set amount for the supply of your energy, plus any additional usage-based charges.
Warm home discount – a government scheme running between 2016 and 2017 People could get £140 off their energy bill as a one off if they’re with participating suppliers and were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. Find out more here.
Winter fuel payment – If you were born before May 5th 1953, you may be able to receive between £100 and £300 to help with winter fuel payments from the government. Find out more here.