Why do I keep receiving estimated bills?

If your business electricity bills always seem to be estimated, you may be asking why. As part of our ongoing account management service we are on hand throughout your contract period to resolve any supplier issues, however a question we get asked a lot is why does my supplier keep estimating my bills?

What is an estimated bill?

You get an ‘estimated’ bill when a supplier hasn’t received your meter readings, whether this is electronically from a smart meter; taken manually yourself; or a metering engineer.

How can I tell if I am receiving an estimated bill?

If your readings are estimated, you will be able to tell by looking at your bill. Actual readings are preceded by an “A”; and if your readings are estimated they are preceded by an “E”. Take a look at this example with both actual and estimated readings.

An electricity bill showing estimated and accurate readings
Electricity bill showing actual and estimated readings

Why does it matter?

It’s important to know whether you are paying estimated or actual bills. If your business electricity bills are based on actual readings, you will only be paying for the electricity you are using. However, if your bills are always estimated, there is the danger that you are either underpaying – which may leave you with a shortfall to pay – or you may be overpaying, meaning the electricity supplier is overcharging you and holding onto your money.

Why am I receiving estimated bills?

There are several reasons why you may be receiving bills based on estimated readings, and it is important to understand why you might be getting them. We explain more below!

Dumb meter

If you have what is classed as a “dumb meter” then unfortunately this will not record meter readings without a meter reading engineer attending your site and manually recording the meter reads. This is then reported back to your supplier for updating against your meter records ready for your next invoice.

The industry obligation for this to be read is only once every 2 years.


There are different generations of SMETS (Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications) a SMETS1 meter was the first-generation meter and unfortunately these are not compatible if you change your supply contract, so whilst you may still have a Smart Meter fitted these meters will stop sending automatic reads once you change supplier. The way around this is to have a SMETS 2 meter which will continue to provide meter readings whichever supplier you are with. Ask our team about the options for changing your meter.

Smart Meters

Whilst smart meters are great and provide up to date “live” information about your energy usage, you may currently have a smart meter in place which simply does not have a strong enough signal to submit the reads to your supplier. The first-generation smart meters used 3G technology like that used in mobile phones, which can mean you meter may struggle to send information about your energy usage to the supplier.

Your bills

A meter reading can take a couple of weeks to be updated by your supplier, so if a bill has already been generated, you may still receive an estimated bill even though the readings have been taken and updated by the supplier.

How are my bills estimated?

In all these cases your supplier will estimate your bills based on previous consumption. This means if you pay your bills by direct debit could either leave you with a massive shortfall to pay once an actual meter read is submitted or even worse you are overpaying the supplier and they are holding your money.

You don’t need to pay your bill if it’s estimated. Flame UK can send a meter reading on your behalf to get an updated, accurate invoice as well as manage all aspects of your meter, including obtaining refunds from suppliers for any overpayment of monies and arrange any upgrade in meter installation to alleviate any issues and ensure your business runs smoothly.

Contact us

If you’re looking for reliable business metering services, we offer a range of services which include business electricity meter installation, commercial gas meters, temporary electrical supply, and export meter installation. For more information with your meter or giving readings to your supplier, contact our Energy Advisers on 0115 648 5655.

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