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A lesson in energy talk

Posted on 9 January 2016

Do you know your kWh from your TIL, and can you pick out your fixed term from your standard variable?

Energy talk can leave all of our heads in a spin, so we’ve created this easy to understand, jargon-free dictionary for some of the most common energy terms.

Average usage

When we state the average cost of a tariff, we calculate this based on ‘average use’. The average medium consumer usage is set by Ofgem, as 12,500 kWh for gas and 3,100 kWh for electricity.

Big Six

This term refers to the 6 biggest energy suppliers in the UK. These companies are British Gas, EDF Energy, E:on, npower, Scottish Power and SSE (Scottish & Southern Energy).


Your bill/statement is the quarterly breakdown of the gas and electricity you have used over that billing period, and what this has cost you. Your usage is worked out from your meter readings.

If you provided an Actual Meter Reading, you will receive an Actual Bill which will provide a breakdown of the energy you have used.

If we calculated your bill based on an estimated meter reading, you will receive an Estimated Bill. If you feel that our estimation is incorrect, you can provide an actual reading and we will recalculate your bill based on this.

Billing period

This is the date range that has been used to calculate the energy you have used and what you must pay.


Your account balance will show either how much you owe to Co-operative Energy for the energy used, or how much credit is on your account.


The consumption is the sum total of the units of energy used in a stated period. The standard measure of consumption is kilowatt hours (kWh)

Credit meter

This is the standard meter that most people have in their homes. It allows you to use energy before paying for it. Customers with this type of meter will pay either by Direct Debit, or cash or cheque on receipt of the bill.

Deemed contract

If you move into a home which we supply, you will enter a ‘deemed contract’. Customers on a deemed contract will be on our Pioneer Variable tariff.

Direct Debit

Direct Debit allows you to spread the cost of your energy over the year, with fixed payments from your bank account. We currently offer monthly Direct Debit payment dates of 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th or 25th or a four weekly Direct Debit option.

Dual fuel

Dual fuel means that both your gas and electricity accounts are with the same supplier and supplied under the same tariff name.

Economy 7

With an Economy 7 electricity tariff, the electricity you use at night costs less than the electricity you use during the day – similar to off-peak phone calls.

It's called Economy 7 because you will use cheaper electricity for 7 hours each night. An Economy 7 will track the electricity used during the day and at night separately.

Exit fee

This is the fee you must pay to leave a fixed term tariff early.

Feed in Tariff (FIT)

A Feed in Tariff allows you to generate your own energy from renewable sources such as solar power, wind turbines and hydropower. Any excess energy created can be sold back to your energy provider.

Fixed tariff

A Fixed Term Tariff is an energy plan where prices are set for a defined period of time; these can range anywhere from 12 months to up to 3 years. With Fixed Term Tariffs, there may be an exit penalty to pay if you decide to leave before the tariff end date.

Green Deal

The Green Deal is a critical part of the UK Government's carbon emission reduction strategy. The Green Deal, which kicked in on January 28th 2013, offers UK homeowners access to finance to pay for home insulation projects. Loans are repaid via electricity bills (which are presumed to come down as a result of the work).

kWh (Kilowatt hour)

Your consumption is measured in kWh, and your bill provides you with a breakdown of how many kWh you have used. Your unit cost will be in pence per kWh.

Meter reading

Your ‘meter reading’ will allow us to calculate how much energy you have used and how much this has cost. There are two main types of meter reading: actual meter reading and estimated meter reading.

Estimated meter reading

If you do not provide meter readings, we will estimate your usage. This is called an ‘estimated reading’. We will use this estimated reading to calculate your bill.

Actual meter readings

An actual meter reading is a meter reading provided by you. This will allow us to measure your energy consumption and provide you with an actual bill.


The Ombudsman Service is an independent dispute-resolution organisation that was established by an Act of Parliament. It is free to use and its decision is binding on energy suppliers.


Ofgem, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets is the regulator of the gas and electricity industries in Great Britain.

Online tariff

This refers to a type of tariff where you manage your account online. It means that you must accept paperless billing as a condition of supply.

Prepayment meter (PPM) (PAYG)

This type of meter is one where you have to pay for your energy before you use it, by topping up a payment card or putting money into the meter itself.

Rolling contract

This type of contract is one that will carry on until you choose to change it or switch supplier. This is currently our Pioneer Variable tariff.

Smart meter

Smart meters are a new kind of energy meter, which automatically sends your meter readings to us electronically. Some of our customers are already using these on a trial basis.

Standing charge

This is a daily charge that you will incur even without using any energy. This covers the cost of the distribution of energy to their home.


This is the process of changing either energy supplier, or the tariff you are on.

Tariff/ product

This is the pricing plan that sets out the price you will pay for your gas and electricity, plus any terms and conditions. We are permitted to have four tariffs/products at any one time.

Tariff Comparison Rate (TCR)

The Tariff Comparison Rate (TCR) is a simple, straightforward tool which lets you easily compare gas and electricity prices against other products and energy providers. It is a single figure, which takes into account the standing charge, unit rates and any discounts that go into providing a tariff’s overall price.

Tariff Information Label (TIL)

The Tariff Information Label (TIL) shows all the key information about a tariff in an industry standardised format, which lets you easily compare prices against other similar products.

Unit cost

This is the cost you pay for your gas and electricity per kilowatt hour. It does not include your standing charge.

Variable tariff

A variable tariff is an energy plan which has a certain defined price for the use of energy, however there is a possibility these prices will move up or down to reflect changes in the wholesale market and/or other costs we face.

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