Energy and service billing complaints: how to do it?

Are you waiting anxiously for your utility bills? What does the bill include and what should you do if you disagree with the gas, electricity or utility bill? Can you complain about your heat bill? That’s what we look at in today’s article.

vyúčtování elektřiny
7 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

Billing for services

The vast majority of housing-related services are paid for through deposits, which are usually billed once a year. The entity providing the services, i.e. the unit owners’ association or cooperative, must deliver the bill to the recipient of the services, i.e. the owner of the flat, the member of the cooperative (or the tenant), no later than four months after the end of the billing period.

Measurement and billing of heat

If you have individual heating in your flat (for example, using a gas boiler), then the following lines apply to you only to a very limited extent, relating only to the common areas of the building.

The legal framework for heat metering and billing is set out in the Act regulating certain issues related to the provision of benefits associated with the use of flats and non-residential premises and the related Decree of the Ministry of Regional Development.

If there is no obligation to install specified meters in a particular house, then the costs are allocated on the basis of an agreement between the service provider and all service users in the house.

If there is an obligation to install meters, a distinction is made between the basic and the consumption component of the price for heating. Under the basic component, we de facto pay for the ‘heating option’, i.e. the fact that the heating system in the house is installed and has to be maintained and managed in some way. We are connected to it and can use it at any time. Depending on the decision of the HOA or cooperative, this basic component can be 30-50% of the total price for heating in the house and is then divided according to the floor area of the apartment. The ratio of the size of the chargeable floor area of the flat to the total chargeable floor area of the flats and non-residential premises in the billing unit is calculated.

The second part, i.e. the consumption component, is then based on the meter readings, in other words, on how you actually heat the apartment and how this consumption is reflected in the meters. So if you get thermostatic heads, set your heating temperatures low and don’t mind wearing a jumper in your flat over the winter, you can save a significant amount on this component. However, even here the values found are usually adjusted using various calculation methods that take into account the different heating requirements of individual rooms in the dwelling units according to their location (e.g. above an unheated cellar, under a roof) and to the cardinal directions (e.g. north).

However, the differences in heating costs per 1 m2 of billable floor area shall not exceed a value 20 % lower and 100 % higher than the average of the billing unit in the billing period for final consumers with metering or indication in the billing unit.

In most cases, it is recommended to use a ratio of 50 % basic and 50 % consumption component in the case of budgeting with evaporative or electronic indicators attached to radiators , and 40 % basic and 60 % consumption component in the case of installed heat meters.

For all new meters in dwellings (i.e. hot water meters, calorimeters or devices registering thermal energy as heating cost indicators on radiators or temperature sensors), from January 2022, a condition applies that they must comply with the conditions of remote reading with a possible monthly reading frequency. So if your meters only allow annual readings and you are planning to replace them, you should bear these new requirements in mind.

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Water and sewerage charges

If you can drink water from the tap in your home, you will be liable for water charges and, along with that, sewerage charges. However, the drinking water charge is not just the price of the water you use, but also includes a fixed component that you have to pay based on the fact that you are connected to the mains water supply. The variable component is most often measured by a so-called sub-meter. If there are no water meters installed in individual flats, then payments are budgeted according to the Decree. This is based on the so-called guideline figures for annual water demand per inhabitant.

In contrast, sewerage charges are paid for the removal, treatment or other disposal of waste water.

Hot water

The costs in a house for the supply of hot water are also made up of several components. The basic one, 30 %, is subdivided according to the floor area of the dwelling and is always paid by individual dwellings, regardless of whether they have used hot water. So even if you haven’t showered or washed dishes for a year, you will still pay the appropriate proportion for hot water depending on the size of your flat.

The other part, which is 70%, is then allocated according to the readings of the hot water meters installed.

Objections to billing

If you are not satisfied with your prepayment bill, you have the right to ask for billing information, such as the cost of specific services and an explanation of how it was calculated. You also have the right to get copies of the billing documents. If you are not satisfied with the billing, you can make a complaint (objection) within 30 days of receiving the billing and the service provider must be given 30 days from the receipt of the objection to deal with it.

If there is a delay in billing or dealing with objections, you have the right to claim a penalty from the service provider. The penalty may be a maximum of CZK 50 for each day of delay. You lose this right if the service provider itself received the documents late and was thus unable to fulfil its legal obligation.

Electricity and gas billing

The supply of gas and electricity is to some extent governed by law, but it is also very important what you have specifically signed in your contract with the supplier and what is stated in their terms and conditions. You can also always find more information on the supplier’s website.

There are usually several ways to resolvea complaint – by phone, email or in writing. It is always a good idea to choose a method that gives us proof of the date of submission and its content – at least the supplier’s email or web interface. A telephone submission is not sufficient in this respect.

The supplier must deal with the gas or electricity billing complaint within 15 days of receiving it. If it considers the complaint justified, it must compensate you for the difference in payments within 30 calendar days from the date of receipt of the complaint.

If he does not accept it and his explanation of the situation is not sufficient and you do not agree with the settlement, you can subsequently contact the Energy Regulator. This does not, however, relieve you of the obligation to pay any arrears of service (if the ERO later agrees, you will be refunded anything that was wrongly billed).

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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