How to read the gas bill and decide between protection, placet or free

How to read the gas bill and decide between protection, placet or free


Now that it is gas protection concluded for the non-vulnerable, Italian customers can find themselves – depending on the situation – in three distinct situations. There are those who are remained under protection (those over 75, social bonus recipients plus other more specific situations), those who are on the free market and who is it switched to a Placeta transitional regime for those who were under protection at the end of 2023 and did not choose any free market offer.

But not everyone is aware of the market they are in and often the differences between one and the other are still unclear. In reality it’s all written on the bill. It’s true, a lot can still be done to make it clearer and easier to understand, but the information is there and Switcho, the digital service that helps its users save on electricity, gas, telephone and insurance costs, has isolated it and highlighted, to help consumers orient themselves in this adjustment phase.

The letter

Let’s start with those who changed their situation in January: vulnerable and non-vulnerable clients who were in guardianship and made no choice. For the former, nothing has changed on a practical level, but on a technical level they have moved from Greater Protection to Protection of Vulnerability. The latter have instead changed regime, from Greater Protection to Placet. In both cases the manager remained the same.

If everything worked as it should have, by the new year customers have received a letter from their supplier informing them, depending on whether they are vulnerable customers or not.

The first bill

In the first gas invoice – but this will also be the case for subsequent ones – the manager provides a series of useful information. In the first line the is written regime in which we find ourselves: tutela or placet. And again, we can find the offer codethe duration of the contract, the consumption per year (based on consumption in the previous 12 months) and the estimated annual expenditure, obviously at current market prices.

How to understand how much we spend

Thus we get to the heart of the bill, with the detailed items that help us understand what and how much we are paying. Upon closer inspection, it’s easier than you might think. As Switcho reminds us, the only two cost items that change between protection, Placet and free market are:

  • Fixed fee (2 in the image), which covers the costs incurred by the supplier for the purchase and marketing of gas and is an annual figure (expressed in €/year) usually divided into 12 monthly payments. We can see it as a sort of monthly “fee”;
  • Gas fee (3 in the image), i.e. how much does every single cubic meter of gas we consume cost.

These two items, together, make up the “Expenditure for natural gas materials” (1).

Depending on the regime, these two items may be calculated differently.

  • Under protection, both the gas fee and the annual fixed fee are established by the authority. The fixed fee is 63 euros per year (5.25 euros per month) and the variable fee is recalculated every month based on the wholesale market price;
  • For Placet offersthe fixed quota is established by the individual operator and, between one and the other, There may also be notable price differences. The gas fee, however, is established every month by Arera, with the addition of 5 cents per cubic meter;
  • In the free marketHowever, both the fixed fee and the gas fee are established by the supplier. Except that in this regime, the customer can choose to block the gas payment for one or two years, or to opt for the variable which – as in protection and in the Placet – changes every month.

Then there are the rumors that don’t change, regardless of the contract we have.

  • There expense for transport and management of the meter (4), i.e. the costs for the physical delivery of gas to the end customer.
  • The system charges (5), which cover some expenses that the State supports for the collective interest, such as projects for renewable sources or benefits for families in difficulty.
  • Excise duties, the regional surcharge (6) and VAT. These are taxes established by the state and are the same for all consumers. Excise duties and the regional surtax depend on consumption, while VAT is currently between 10% and 22%.

Real or estimated consumption

Even more specifically, the bill indicates whether consumption is recorded (therefore real) or estimated – number 7 in the image – based on the user’s consumption habits. If the meter is not read remotely, the advice is always to do so self-reading in order to avoid the risk of huge bills for consumption poorly estimated by the manager. They are often accompanied by a table showing all the readings (8).

Switcho explains further: “The consumption detected or estimated, expressed in cubic meters (mc), are then converted into Standard cubic meters (Smc) in the item Invoiced consumption Smc (9), in order to make invoicing possible. Usually the result of this conversion is equal to the consumption recorded or estimated and is often compared in a graph that shows the annual trend of consumption (10)”.

In the calculation of SMC invoiced consumption, some residual consumption (11) in decimal quantities are omitted: these are also indicated on the bill.

Despite the change in service or offer, there are some components in the bill that will always be the same. These are present among the information relating to the customer and the supply:

Code Pdr (redelivery point code) is made up of 14 numbers and identifies the gas user – and therefore the meter – regardless of the supply service and offer.

The customer code identifies the contract and varies only with a change of supplier.


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