How to read your electricity and gas bills

The authorities in charge and consumer protection associations have been busy asking managers to simplify bills but, despite their efforts, consumption reports still appear shady at times. It is important that end customers are in a position to read bills and interpret them correctlyboth to make sure of their regularity, and to possibly make a complaint or change operator with the certainty of saving.

The salient information is mostly contained on the first page of the bills.

How to read the first page of bills

Among all the data reported in the bills, usually made up of several pages, those that really make sense can be counted on the fingers of one hand. To be honest, it should be emphasized that the pages on which consumption by time slot is shown are only rarely contestable, unless the consumption indicated is completely incongruous with the actual ones.

The important information on the first page that the customer must verify are:

  • Market: indicates whether you are in the protected market or the free market

  • Residents: important item because the price of electricity and gas for non-residents is higher

  • Power: the power used is 3 kilowatts but, in the case of particularly large homes, the power can be higher

  • Codes: the Pdr and Pod codes, relating to gas and electricity, are those that allow the customer to change operator. They need to be clearly visible on every bill

  • Amount: it is what the customer must pay by the expiry date mentioned near the total bill

Other important items

Things start to get less clear when you look at the items that determine your bill amount. Expenses for energy (understood as electricity or gas), i.e. actual consumption, and other amounts that managers combine according to headings assume importance. These are fixed costs that are usually called “fixed fee” or “marketing and sales”.

The latter are costs that in some way can be defined as “subscription” and, even in this case not always clearly, some operators – in the contractual phase – indicate them in their annual calculation. It is a cost that must be paid every month regardless of consumption and which takes on a discriminating value: it may happen that, in the face of a competitive rate, the manager applies higher fixed costs. It is therefore necessary to think in terms of total costswithout focusing only on energy tariffs, for example. It therefore makes sense, from this point of view, the annual consumption that the operator reports on the bills, helps to make wider-ranging calculations and understand how much another offer can be advantageous or not.


There are additional charges that are the same for each managerbecause decided by superior authorities:

The totals of the bills therefore correspond to the sum of consumption, the cost of the “subscription”, charges and taxes. While operators have a margin on consumption and subscriptions to modulate prices, they cannot grant discounts on charges and taxes.

Energy expenditure

It is one of the items on the less immediate reading bills and change depending on the nature of the tariffs, which can be fixed or variable.

In the case of the fixed price, the item “Energy expenditure” shows, in addition to the fixed fee (the “subscription”), the price per unit of energy (kilowatt hour or cubic meter for gas) which remains unchanged for the entire duration of the contract and it is the lever used by the managers to compete for the market.

Things yes complicate somewhat when the price of energy is variable, the item “Expenditure on energy” is in fact made up of:

  • The Fixed Fee (the “Membership”)

  • The price of the unit of energy (kilowatt hour or cubic metre) which varies according to market indices (Pun for electricity, Psv or Ttf for gas)

  • The spreadsi.e. an amount that the operator tops up on the price of kilowatt hours and cubic meters.

The spread is also a tool that traders use to attract customers.

All these are data that should be known to consumerseven if each operator reports them in the bills in different positions and with different names.


If you are entitled to the bonus, it will be indicated as an extra item on the bill with the wording “social bonus”, a figure preceded by a minus sign which indicates the “discount” applied on the invoice.

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How to read your electricity and gas bills

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