Get to grips with non-domestic electricity bills

June 3rd, 2013 by

Electricity bills are a good place to start when considering how much electricity you have been using and how much this is costing your business or organization. Here is a quick guide to understanding your bill and ensuring you are only paying for the electricity you are using.

Get to grips with non-domestic electricity bills

Image courtesy British Gas

How bills are classified – Code 5 or Non-code 5

Historically, sites have been classified as Code 5 or Non-code 5. The type of meter installed, and the type of billing used for your business are both determined by this classification.

Code 5 is a consumption threshold. For sites with consumption below the Code 5 threshold, electricity bills are less detailed and are based on an estimated level of consumption or (physical) monthly meter readings.

Sites classified as Code 5

If your business or organization is classified as Code 5 you should receive an electricity bill with itemized consumption figures at half-hour intervals. Usually the meter readings themselves are not included. The bill shows how much electricity is used at specific times as well as the cost of the electricity which is supplied during specific periods.

Information provided on your electricity bill

Your electricity bill will show what billing and metering systems are in place.

The Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN)

This is also known as the ‘supply’ number. The MPAN will be shown in a box which looks similar to the diagram below. The thirteen digit number at the bottom of the box will not change. It should be used as the reference number for your electricity supply. (Note that the meter number or the account number may change over time).

The profile class of the electricity meter

The first two numbers (upper left in the box shown) give the profile class for the meter.

If these digits are ’00’ then this is a half-hour meter and half-hourly data can be made available from the meter. This will either be done directly or through the electricity supplier. If you need further clarification on the metering and billing methods used call your supplier.

By April 2014, all profile classes 05 – 08 will have SMART meters installed which means they will also have access to half-hourly interval consumption data.

Some other things to check on your electricity bill.

What tariff is the site on?

You will need to find out what your are being charged for each unit (kWh) of electricity consumed. You also need to check if this varies at different times of the day (e.g. day and night).

Meters with a profile class other than 01 or 03 will have multiple tariffs meaning the charge per unit will change, and cost more during peak times and less during off-peak times.

Available capacity

The authorised supply capacity is measured in kilovolt amperes (kVA). It is a measure of the amount of electricity that the distribution company makes available for your business. It is charged on a monthly basis and if you consume more electricity than the authorised capacity for your site you will incur an excess capacity charge. Usually this is a least three times the normal kVA rate so it is worth finding out what the available capacity limit for your site is and staying below this.

Maximum demand (kW and kVA) – also known as ‘peak load’

Monitoring how much of the authorised supply capacity a site uses is determined monthly. This is done by means of a highest maximum demand (HMD). It will be based on the type of metering available for the site. Where single channel metering is in use it will be based on the kW value. In other cases the kVA will be used.

Is your bill based on estimated or actual consumption figures?

Sometimes bills are based on estimated rather than actual meter readings. Estimated readings are usually indicated by a bold ‘E’ next to the meter reading. Estimated readings will often vary significantly from what you have actually used.

To make sure that the bill is based on actual readings take a reading and give this to the supplier who should then issue a revised bill.

Are you paying any additional charges?

Some businesses will be liable to pay the Climate Change Levy (CCL). If this is the case it will be shown on the bill.

There may also be charges for meter data collection so check these as well. If you are not being charged for meter data collection then it is likely that you will paying a slightly higher cost per unit (kWh).

To understand exactly what you are being charged request an itemised bill from your energy supplier with details of the tariff you are being charged for each period of the day.

The letters on your bill – what do they mean?

E – your energy supplier has estimated your bill. Take a reading, get in touch with your supplier and request a revised bill.

A – your supplier has calculated your bill using an actual meter reading obtained by a meter reader.

C – your suppliers has calculated your bill using a meter reading supplied by you the customer.

R – the reading shown is the final one from a meter that has now been removed.

N – the reading shown is the first one from a new electricity meter.

F – the reading shown is the final reading when leaving a property, discontinuing a supply or switching supplier.

Links and further resources

5 things to check on your electricity bill



Written by

Environmental consultant, facilitator, founder & Director of Climate Works Ltd.