Key terms and issues explained

Mae’r dudalen yma ar gael yn Gymraeg.

On this page you will find a range of key terms explained for business energy. Please click on a letter below to be taken to a list of terms and on "show" to read the explanation.

Self regulation

Industry regulation without our binding licence conditions or rules contained in legislation. However, if self regulation is not operating as we would hope, licence conditions may be introduced.


A prompt to consumers that they can consider switching tariff or supplier.

Small suppliers

Suppliers which operate in the domestic gas and electricity market but do not hold significant market share. This can refer to all suppliers other than the Big 6

Smart meter

Smart meters are the new range of gas and electricity meters which the government wants installed in all households and businesses in Britain by 2020. 

Through a display in your home, they give you almost immediate information on your energy use easily explained in pounds and pence. This means you can better manage what you are using and when, which could help you to save money and reduce emissions. 

Smart meters will also bring an end to estimated billing. They can communicate directly with your energy supplier in near real-time. So you won't need to wait for someone to come and read your meter, and your bills will only be based on what you've used. 

We want to make sure innovation helps consumers. So we're supporting the transition to smart meters as one of number of activities in our Smarter Markets Programme.

Standard credit

A method of payment where the consumer receives a bill for their energy use over a number of months and pays their bill by cash or cheque after energy has been consumed.

Standard Licence Conditions (SLCs)

The legally binding conditions that licensed gas and electricity suppliers must meet to supply to domestic and non-domestic customers, in accordance with the Gas Act (1986) and Electricity Act (1989).

Standard variable tariff

A standard variable tariff (SVT) is a supply contract with an indefinite length that does not have a fixed-term applying to the terms and conditions. It’s an energy supplier’s basic offer. If a customer does not choose a specific energy plan, for example after their fixed tariff ends, they are moved to an SVT until they choose a new one. A customer can also make an active choice to select an SVT.

Our data shows that standard variable tariffs are usually more expensive than other deals available in the market. For information and advice on energy shopping, see: How to switch supplier and shop for a better deal.

Standards of Conduct (SOC)

A written policy and procedure that outlines broad standards of integrity and business ethics.

Standing charge

A fixed monthly/daily amount that you pay your electricity/gas supplier for maintenance and other costs, such as maintaining connection to the power network.

Structured tariff

Where fluctuations in price through the duration of a contract are set out before the contract is signed.