RWE npower and SSE, two of the Big Six energy suppliers operating in the UK, have announced that they plan to implement a simplified billing system in the near future.
British Gas has already committed to introducing less complicated tariffs and bills, which have long been a source of frustration and confusion for energy users.
But npower and SSE are not blindly following British Gas. Both companies have spent months planning how a new billing system could take shape. SSE requested feedback from hundreds of customers before considering its strategy, while npower spent 18 months researching consumer trends.
The research carried out by npower identified two categories of customer: those who scrutinise their bills; and those who merely browse over them. The company described these groups as “checkers” and “skimmers” respectively.
Based on the research, new bills produced by npower will target both checkers and skimmers. Checkers will be able to read detailed information about their energy usage in the main body of a bill, whereas skimmers can access the most important data (cost, usage, etc.) at the top of the page.
Energy consultant Tom Lyon, who works for uSwitch.com, hinted that the changes were long overdue. Lyon said: “Today’s announcement will be met with a sigh of relief from consumers, who have struggled with overcomplicated bills and tariffs for years. Confusion has dogged the energy industry”.
Poor billing systems worsen conditions for households who struggle to afford the cost of energy. Managing the use of electrical appliances and gas central heating systems can be difficult enough without having to factor in the uncertainty that comes from not being able to understand bills easily.