Energy bills to be made clearer under new rules

Householders will receive clearer energy bills and help to secure the best deal under new rules that come into force today.

The measures from regulator Ofgem include improved information on regular bills to help consumers benefit from the competitive utilities market.

A new annual statement will detail each household's current energy plan, yearly consumption and predicted bill, any discounts that are available and advice on how to change supplier.

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All households will receive an annual statement between today and December 1 depending on their supplier's billing cycle.

Ofgem spokeswoman Sarah Harrison said: "We want customers to have a much better picture of their energy consumption and how much they are spending.

"Clearer bills and annual statements will put all this information at their fingertips so they can compare energy deals more easily when they are thinking of switching."

Price comparison website said households could save more than 1,000 by using the annual statement.

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Ann Robinson, uSwitch head of consumer policy, said: "These statements will play an important part in getting more consumers to take advantage of the competitive market.

"Consumers should treat these statements as an annual reminder to make sure they are paying the cheapest price for their gas and electricity. People who did this regularly over the last five years saved themselves over 1,000."

Today, Ofgem said premiums for prepayment meters compared with direct debit had dropped by 38 per cent following its overhaul of industry regulations.

The reforms had also reduced the "unjustified" premium charged to an estimated 4.3 million electricity customers usually living in rural areas who could not get cheaper dual fuel deals because they were not connected to gas networks.