Household energy debts

 April 2017

Fact sheet no. BDL28 EW Household energy debts

Information:

commercial energy debt

This fact sheet deals with domestic energy debts. If you have issues with your commercial energy debts, please use our Commercial energy debt fact sheet to help you deal with them.

Use this fact sheet to:

  • help you to deal with your domestic energy bills;
  • understand how to prevent disconnection of your domestic energy supply;
  • find out how to get cheaper domestic energy;
  • help you to complain about your domestic energy supplier; and
  • get advice about energy efficiency.

Most of the advice in this fact sheet can be used to deal with both domestic gas and domestic electricity debts. Where advice is linked to a particular kind of energy, it says so.

The sample letters mentioned in this fact sheet can be filled in on our website.

I'm struggling to pay my energy bills

If you have received a high bill and you are not sure how you are going to pay, there are some key steps to take to make it easier for you to deal with.

Check your bill

Bills based on estimated readings may be wrong. If you can take your own readings, read your gas and electricity meters and send the current readings to your supplier. The contact details will be on your bill. Doing this will make your bill more accurate. Bear in mind that if your readings are higher than your supplier’s estimated readings, you may end up with a bigger bill by updating your readings in this way.

Extra advice:

who is my supplier?

See the page Find out who your gas or electricity supplier is on the Citizens Advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

It’s always a good idea to make a note of your meter readings when you move into or out of your home. Send your readings to your supplier to get an accurate bill if you are leaving or a clear starting point if you are the new occupier. If you aren’t sure how to read your meter, the Citizens Advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk has a page How to read your energy meter which may help. Alternatively, have a look on your supplier's website to see if they give you the information there. Try to give your supplier at least 48 hours’ notice of your intention to move out, so that they can arrange to read your meter.

Extra advice:

back-billing rule

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has stated that your supplier should not bill a domestic customer for more than the energy they have used over the previous year. See Energy UKs publication Code of practice for accurate bills: Back-billing scenarios for domestic customers which has more information about how this works in practice. If you have been billed for a full year’s energy charges, ask to be able to repay the debt over the same time, so that it doesn’t cause you hardship.

Extra advice:

landlord reselling energy

Your landlord may pay for the gas or electricity in your home, and resell the energy directly to you. Ofgem, the regulator for the energy sector, sets maximum charges your landlord can sell gas and electricity to you at. You can get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service about how much your landlord is allowed to charge you. Contact your local advice agency or the Citizens Advice consumer service if you think you may have been overcharged for energy. See the Useful contacts section at the end of this fact sheet for details.

Your bill might not be what you expect for a number of different reasons: estimated readings, readings from the wrong meter, a mistake in the meter readings or even a faulty meter. See the page If your energy bill seems too high or low on the Citizens Advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk for advice on what to do in each case.

If you are not the person named on the bill (for example, if it is in the name of someone who has left your home), you may not be legally responsible for the debt up to the date they left. If you are in this position, tell your supplier that you may not be legally responsible for the whole bill. Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help in sorting out what you do and what you don’t owe to your supplier. See the Useful contacts section for details or contact us for advice. The Citizens Advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk has an interactive page Find out if you’re responsible for paying an energy bill which can help you work out whether you are responsible or not.

Let your supplier know

Extra advice:

tenants' rights

If you are responsible for paying your supplier’s bill rather than your landlord, you have rights to choose your supplier and what method you use to pay your bill. See Your energy rights as a tenant on the Go Energy Shopping website www.goenergyshopping.co.uk for more details.

It is important to contact your supplier as soon as you know you may have problems paying your bill. They may be able to offer various options to help you.

  • Trust funds and hardship funds: some energy companies have funds which can make payments to clear energy debts and, sometimes, other kinds of payments too. Get information about trust funds and support schemes you can apply to for financial help by going to the Auriga Services website www.aurigaservices.co.uk. Click on the link to the Help with Water & Energy booklet at the bottom of the page. It’s worth noting that both the British Gas Energy Trust and the E.ON Energy Fund will welcome an application, even if you have a different supplier. You can get more information and an application form from their websites: www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk and www.eonenergyfund.com. You can also get some information, contact details and application forms from the Charis Grants website www.charisgrants.com.
  • Cheaper energy: your supplier might be able to put you onto a cheaper energy tariff, so that your energy costs less. Contact your supplier to see what they can offer. Consider switching to a cheaper tariff from a different supplier. See the section Getting the best energy deal for more information on how to do this.
  • Help with energy efficiency: your supplier may be able to help you with the cost of a more efficient boiler, or other energy efficiency measures. See the section Energy saving help for more information.
  • Meter reading: if you have trouble reading your meter, understanding your bill, or you have a medical or mental health condition which makes it harder for you to manage, ask your supplier to put you on their Priority Services Register so that you get extra help. See the section Priority Services Register for more information.

Priority Services Register

Energy suppliers each have a Priority Services Register to identify customers who may need extra help, or who need to be warned when supplies have to be disrupted and reconnected. Ask your supplier to be put on their register if you:

  • are a pensioner;
  • are disabled; or
  • have a long-term medical condition.

If your name is put on the register, you can get:

  • help to read your meter or have it moved;
  • large-print letters and bills;
  • password protection agreed with your supplier, so you know that the person calling is from your energy company;
  • advance warning when supplies are going to be stopped for a period; and
  • priority reconnection if your energy supply is disrupted.

If you also own your own home you might also be offered a free, yearly gas safety check of your appliances if you receive an income-based benefit and you:

  • live alone;
  • live with other adults who are all eligible; or
  • live with others, including a child under five years old.

Make an offer you can afford

Extra advice:

Fuel Direct

This scheme helps you to pay your energy charges and energy debt from your benefits. An amount is taken to cover your continuing energy use and a set amount is deducted to pay towards your debt. To join the scheme you must be getting one of the following benefits: income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support; Pension Credit; or Universal Credit. Contact your local Jobcentre to set it up.

It is very important to budget for ongoing gas and electricity bills. Your supplier should offer you different payment options and budgeting schemes to suit you. You can ask to pay your bills every week, every two weeks or every month. Keep paying for the energy you are using and an amount off your debt, even while you are trying to make an arrangement.

Your supplier has to take into account your ability to repay your energy debt. When your supplier knows that you are having difficulty repaying your energy bills, they must either:

  • accept payments by regular instalments based on an agreed plan;
  • use Fuel Direct if you are on particular benefits; or
  • agree repayment through a prepayment meter, if one is appropriate for you; and
  • provide energy efficiency information to help you reduce your energy charges.

Ask your energy company to tell you what your weekly or monthly energy charges are. Alternatively, to work this out: add up your bills to find out the total amount for the previous year.

  • To work out weekly charges, divide the total by 52.
  • To work out monthly charges, divide the total by 12.

Put the amount as an essential expense into your budget. Then add in your other essential expenses. This will show you what surplus you can afford to offer to your supplier and to any other priority creditors. If you need help to work what offer to make to your supplier, contact us for advice.

Your supplier will usually want their bill paid before the next bill is due, but this may not be possible. If you have debt, contact your supplier and ask for a payment arrangement based on what you can afford. Use our sample letter Ask your domestic energy supplier to accept affordable payments towards your arrears. If you cannot afford what the supplier is asking you to pay under their budget plan, ask for a special arrangement. The supplier should let you pay off your debt at a rate you can afford, even if this means spreading the debt over a longer period of time than a year. If the first person you speak to is unhelpful, ask to speak to someone more senior. Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service if you need help negotiating an arrangement with your supplier (see the Useful contacts section for details), or contact us for advice.

If circumstances change

If your circumstances change and you cannot afford the payments that you had agreed with your supplier, you can use the Re-negotiate with your domestic energy supplier if your current repayment arrangement is unaffordable sample letter to ask them to accept a lower payment arrangement. It is a good idea to start making the reduced payments.

Prepayment meters

Extra advice:

price cap

From 1 April 2017 to the end of 2020, Ofgem has introduced a temporary price cap to limit the cost of energy through traditional prepayment meters. Ofgem estimates that this should reduce the typical bill for gas by around £80 each year and by the same amount if you get Economy 7 electricity. But, this price cap will not apply to smartmeters. If you are thinking about changing from a prepayment meter to a smartmeter, ask your supplier how this might affect your bill.

If you have been unable to keep to payments on a payment plan, your supplier may suggest that you have a prepayment meter. On this kind of meter, you pay in advance for the fuel that you are going to use. Prepayment meters can also be set to collect debt from the money that you put in.

  • You must be asked if you want a prepayment meter before your supplier takes action to disconnect your supply.
  • If you do not think that it is safe for you to use a prepayment meter for whatever reason: such as your health, disability, or where the meter is located, tell your supplier. They must either make it safe for you to use it or offer you a different payment method.

If you are on benefits and decide to take a prepayment meter as a way of managing your energy bill, ask your supplier to set the repayments at the same rate that they would get with Fuel Direct, so that you can afford them.

Extra advice:

smartmeter topping up

Smartmeters measure your energy use and can send this information to your supplier electronically. You may not have to give manual readings as well. Smartmeters can be set up as prepayment meters and have a wider range options for topping them up, including: by phone, by internet or with a special app. This can mean that they are easier to use than the older ‘dumb’ kind of prepayment meter.

Prepayment meter points

  • You will get a yearly statement showing your usage and your top ups.
  • Prepayment meters allow you to carefully control the amount you spend on energy.
  • Prepayment meters can help you to pay for your energy as you go and avoid future energy debt once you have paid your debt off. But they can also leave you without energy in some situations.
  • If you can’t afford to top up the meter, you may end up without any energy until you can afford to top it up again.
  • You cannot spread the cost of your energy over the year, as you can with a credit payment plan. When you need the most energy, you might find it difficult to afford what you need.
  • If you are repaying debt through a repayment meter, you can end up in hardship. The meter will be set to recover an amount of money each week. If you go away for a while and come back, you might not be able to get more energy until the outstanding payments have been made. Some meters require you to pay two weeks’ debt repayments before you can get more energy.
  • Meters automatically allow you a small emergency credit, so that you don’t get caught without energy by surprise. Once this has been used up, you will usually need to pay back the emergency credit before you can get back your energy supply.
  • You might leave a fire switched on if the money runs out. This could be a serious danger if you forget that you have left the appliance on and put more money in to restore your supply without first turning it off.
  • If your sight is not good, or you have a disability, you might have difficulty operating the meter. Meters can often be put in a place which makes them easier to use.
  • Topping up the meter can present problems: you might need to make frequent journeys to top up your meter if you can’t afford to pay for much energy at any one time. This can add to the cost of your energy and be difficult to do if you: live in a rural area, if you have dependants or have a disability.
  • It may be difficult to arrange for repayment of energy debt through Fuel Direct if you have already made an arrangement to collect debt through a prepayment meter.

Prepayment meter principles

Extra advice:

smartmeter prepayment

Energy UK guidance states that suppliers must make sure that it is ‘safe and practicable’ to switch a smartmeter from one that gives you energy with a bill to one that behaves as a prepayment meter before they make the change. If your supplier is threatening to change your smartmeter remotely from one that gives you energy with a bill to one that behaves as a repayment meter and you don’t want this to happen, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for advice about your options. See the Useful contacts section for details

Energy UK represents the main energy companies. They have introduced 10 Prepayment Meter Principles to improve the experience of people with prepayment meters. See which suppliers have signed up to the principles on Energy UK’s website or ask your supplier if they have signed up to them.

  • Suppliers will check when a customer moves onto a prepayment meter that they can operate it and can top it up.
  • Suppliers are able to take into account changes in your circumstances. If it becomes unsafe to continue with a prepayment meter, the supplier can either change the meter to a credit meter or change the way that a meter operates, so that it does not behave as a prepayment meter.
  • Suppliers can decide not to install a prepayment meter to recover energy debt if they have identified that there could be a serious risk to health from self-disconnection and offer different payment methods.
  • Suppliers may give discretionary credit for a period.
  • Suppliers will signpost customers to debt and benefits advice, or financial support such as trust funds, where appropriate.

Cutting off your energy supply

You should be able to prevent disconnection if you contact your supplier and arrange to repay your debt at an affordable rate, either by instalments, Fuel Direct or through a prepayment meter. You must be asked if you want a prepayment meter before your supply is disconnected, if it is safe to install one.

Preventing disconnection – winter months

Certain activities concerning gas and electricity may only be carried out with a licence, regulated by Ofgem. Licences contain conditions that licence holders must abide by. Standard Licence Condition 27 provides protection for particular groups of customers during the winter. It states that if you are a domestic customer and you are:

  • a pensioner living alone; or
  • a pensioner living only with other pensioners or children under 18 years old;

your supplier must not disconnect you during the winter months which are: October, November, December, January, February and March.

Extra advice:

landlord not paid a bill

Your landlord may pay the gas or electricity for your home. Contact your local council or the Citizens Advice consumer service if your supplier is threatening to cut your supply off because the landlord has not paid the bill. Your local council may have the power to help you avoid disconnection or to restore your energy supply through their local welfare assistance scheme.

Standard Licence Condition 27 also states that if you are a domestic customer and you are:

  • a pensioner;
  • disabled; or
  • chronically sick;

your supplier must take all reasonable steps to avoid disconnecting you during the winter months.

If your supplier is threatening disconnection of your supply and you are in one of these groups, let your energy provider know straight away. You can also get help from the Citizens Advice consumer service. See the Useful contacts section for details.

Preventing disconnection – Energy UK’s Safety Net

Extra advice:

disputed debt

If you are genuinely in dispute about your electricity or gas bill, your supplier should not disconnect your supply. Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help in disputing your bill or if your supplier threatens to disconnect your energy supply. See the Useful contacts section for details.

Energy UK has a Safety Net policy which gives vulnerable customers protection from disconnection throughout the year. Under the Safety Net, member suppliers will not knowingly disconnect you at any time of year if, for reasons of age, health, disability or severe financial insecurity, you cannot protect your personal welfare or the personal welfare of other members of the household. Check to see if your supplier has signed up to the Safety Net, as not all suppliers have. If you can benefit from the protection in this policy, tell your supplier that you are vulnerable and need an affordable way of paying for your energy supply. Also ask to be put on the supplier’s Priority Services Register, if you have not already done this.

Time limits

  • If you have not paid your energy bill after 28 days from the date of the bill, your supplier can start action that could lead to disconnection.
  • If you miss an instalment on an agreed arrangement, your supplier can only start action after 28 working days from the date that you missed the payment.

Last resort

Gas and electricity companies cannot cut off your supply unless they have first offered you a range of payment methods to help you pay. They must only disconnect your supply as a last resort and they must give you proper notice first.

  • Electricity suppliers must give you 7 working days’ notice in writing that they are going to disconnect your electricity supply because you have not paid your bill.
  • Gas suppliers must give you 7 days’ notice in writing that they are going to disconnect your gas supply because you have not paid your bill.

Contact your local council and the Citizens Advice consumer service if your supplier is threatening to disconnect your supply. Your local council may be able to help you to avoid disconnection or to restore your energy supply through their local welfare assistance scheme.

If you have children, consider contacting your local social services department for help with your energy payments. Tell your supplier that you have contacted social services as they must delay cutting you off if social services are looking into your case. They will usually hold action for 14 working days but may agree to delay longer. This could give you time to make an arrangement to pay. The Children Act 1989 gives social services the power to make payments in certain circumstances to families with children in need.

It is important that you do reach an agreement before disconnection occurs, because it will be much cheaper to repay your existing debt than to pay for reconnection as well.

Extra advice:

old debt, new supplier, same address

If you have switched supplier and you owed money to your previous supplier at the same address, this debt may be passed on to your new supplier. If this happens, your new supplier could disconnect your energy supply if you do not pay or come to an arrangement. You get seven days’ notice of the supplier’s intention to disconnect in such a situation.

Important:

old debt and new address

You cannot be disconnected for a gas or electricity bill from an old address if you have moved home. However, you may find it hard to get an energy supply in your new home from the same supplier unless you make an arrangement to pay your debt with them. You may need to use a different supplier for your new address.

Entry into your home

If you don’t come to an agreement to pay your debt, your supplier can apply for a warrant from the magistrates’ court, making it legal for them to enter your home to disconnect your energy supply. They will usually tell you when the magistrates' court hearing will take place. You should contact a local advice agency to see if you can get support at the hearing if you want to stop the warrant.

Even at this late stage, you can contact your supplier to make an affordable offer of repayment before you or your representative goes to court. But, if you do go to court, take copies of your budget to give to the court and your supplier to support your offer. Also take any evidence you wish to present. This could include points about:

  • a dispute about the amount charged;
  • how the supplier has behaved;
  • what actions you have taken;
  • what offers of payment you have made and when;
  • the effect a disconnection would have on your household, especially on children, people who are ill or who are elderly;
  • disabled members of your household; and
  • your budget.

If you don’t have a representative, you can take along a friend to court to support you. If you want them to be able to speak for you, explain to the magistrate why you need this and ask that your friend is allowed to address the court directly on your behalf. It is up to the magistrate whether they will allow your friend to speak directly to the court, or not. If the magistrate does not allow your friend to speak directly to them, they will usually allow your friend to speak quietly to you, take notes for you and give you advice.

If the court grants the warrant, your supplier must give you seven days’ notice (gas) or seven working days’ notice (electricity) before they can use the warrant to enter and disconnect your supply. Your supplier is actually more likely to offer to fit a prepayment meter than to disconnect your supply. If you are getting benefits, consider whether Fuel Direct could be a better option for you than a prepayment meter. See the earlier section Make an offer you can afford.

Theft

If your supplier thinks that fuel has been stolen, they may try to prosecute you for the theft. If they do, try to find out these key details.

  • What do they say happened?
  • What evidence do they have?
  • When do they think that this occurred?

Theft of energy supply or tampering with a meter can result in a criminal prosecution leading to: a £1,000 fine, civil proceedings for the recovery of the debt and, less frequently, imprisonment.

This can also lead to disconnection of your supply at short notice, or no notice in some cases. However, the supplier has to take account whether anyone in the household is a pensioner, disabled or has a long-term medical condition. Disconnection must not take place during the winter months and can only be used as a last resort for non-payment of debt which arose from a theft.

Defending yourself against an accusation of theft can seem daunting. You should get legal advice and contact the Citizens Advice consumer service. See the Useful contacts section for details or contact us for advice.

Getting reconnected

To get reconnected after disconnection for unpaid debt, you will have to pay the original energy debt, a reconnection fee and any administrative costs you have been charged, as long as they are reasonable. You may also have to pay a security deposit before your supplier will agree to supply you again if you don’t want a prepayment meter. You cannot be asked to pay a security deposit if you agree to have a prepayment meter.

Contact your local council to ask if they can help pay for reconnection charges through their welfare assistance scheme. If you have children, consider asking your local Social Services department for help.

If you don’t owe any money to your supplier when they reconnect you, you can ask your supplier to fit you a credit meter so that you don’t have to top it up. If you:

  • have medical equipment that needs electricity;
  • are disabled;
  • have a mental health condition; or
  • have a long-term illness;

you may be able to argue that it is not safe or reasonably practical for you to have a prepayment meter, even if you do owe them money.

Once you have paid the outstanding amount, or you have agreed a repayment plan with the supplier, reconnection should occur within 24 hours. If the payment is made, or agreement is reached, outside the hours of the working day, the reconnection period begins from the start of the next working day.

If the supplier fails to reconnect within the appropriate time, they will usually have to pay you a standard payment of £30 within 10 working days.

If you feel that the level of reconnection charges are unfair, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help in challenging your supplier. See the Useful contacts section for details.

Complaining about your energy supplier

Start with your supplier

If you are not happy about how your supplier has treated you, start by making a complaint to them directly, to see if they can put matters right. Ask for their code of practice and for their complaints procedure, or read these on their website. This gives you the information you need to make an effective complaint in the right way. The code of practice may give you the words to describe exactly how the supplier has not met your expectations and their own standards. The complaints procedure will tell you the steps you need to take to register your complaint with your supplier.

Citizens Advice consumer service

Citizens Advice consumer service will give you free information about:

  • how to make your energy complaint; and
  • which organisation you should send it to.

See the Useful contacts section for details.

Resolver

You can also use a free service like Resolver to help you write to your supplier and to pass your complaint on to Ombudsman Services: Energy (the energy ombudsman). Resolver’s website tools can help you to:

  • prepare your emails;
  • keep a copy of communications;
  • make a case file where you can save and upload emails and documents; and
  • remember when to escalate your complaint to Ombudsman Services: Energy.

See the Useful contacts section for more information.

Ombudsman Services: Energy

If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint after eight weeks, or if you have received a ‘deadlock’ letter giving your supplier’s final response to your complaint and you are not happy, you can escalate your complaint to Ombudsman Services: Energy. If your complaint is with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), you can transfer your complaint to Ombudsman Services: Energy after six weeks. If the Ombudsman Services: Energy decides in your favour, they can require your supplier to:

  • make an apology;
  • pay financial compensation;
  • take an action to remedy the matter; or
  • any combination of these.

The service is free, but you must make your complaint within a time limit.

  • If your complaint began before 1 October 2015, the service can accept a complaint within six months of a deadlock letter or within nine months of your complaint being raised with your supplier.
  • If your complaint began after 1 October 2015, the service can accept a complaint within 12 months of a deadlock letter. If you have not received a deadlock letter, they may be able to investigate a complaint older than 12 months.

See the Useful contacts section for contact details.

Other steps you can take

If you are not happy with what Ombudsman Services: Energy has decided, you may be able to take court action, depending on what’s gone wrong. This could involve you in significantly more costs, so you should discuss your plan for action with the Citizens Advice consumer service first. See the Useful contacts section for details.

Help with your energy bills

Warm Home Discount

You should be getting the Warm Home Discount automatically if you received the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit on a particular date. See www.gov.uk for the date. This will take a set amount off your electricity bill, or off your gas bill if you ask your supplier to apply it to that account.

If you are not able to get the Warm Home Discount automatically, you may be able to get it if you are on a low income and:

  • you are on benefits and have a young child under five years old;
  • you have someone who is disabled or has a long-term illness in your household; or
  • you spend more than 10% of your income on heating your home.

If you are not getting the Warm Home Discount and you think you should be, contact your supplier. If their scheme is full, ask them when it might reopen and try another year. Some customers get it on a first-come, first-served basis.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you have reached the age at which you can apply for Pension Credit by the third Monday in September, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment from £100 up to £300 each year called the Winter Fuel Payment. Contact the Winter Fuel Helpline on 0845 915 1515 or check out www.gov.uk for more information.

Cold weather payment

You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you are getting certain benefits and the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for seven consecutive days. If you are eligible, you get a payment of £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) automatically pays it into the same account as the one they use to pay your benefit, within 14 days of the end of each cold weather period. You may be eligible if you are getting one of these benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit.

See the GOV.UK website page on Cold Weather Payment for more information.

Getting the best energy deal

Important:

Fuel Direct and switching

If you are paying for your energy by Fuel Direct deductions from your benefits, you should tell the DWP the details as soon as you know that you are changing your energy supplier.

Switching your supplier

You might be able to save some money by switching to a cheaper tariff or supplier, especially if you get both gas and electricity from the same supplier.

  • If you have a credit meter (one you don’t have to top up) and have owed money to your current supplier for more than 28 days, you may not be able to move to a new supplier until you have paid the debt.
  • If you have a prepayment meter and owe £500 or less to your current supplier, you should be allowed to switch.

If you think that you are being treated unfairly and need help to sort it out, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service (see the Useful contacts section for details) or contact us for advice.

Independent internet price-comparison sites can help you find the best deal amongst all the suppliers. The Compare gas and electricity prices tool on the Citizens Advice website includes all tariffs, which other comparison sites may not. Ofgem has approved a number of online comparison services for comparing deals. You can find them on Ofgem’s Go Energy Shopping website. See the Useful contacts section for details.

Important:

check Warm Home Discount

If you already get the Warm Home Discount, check that you will keep this with any new supplier. If you don’t get it automatically, you might not keep it if you move to another supplier. If you lose the Warm Home Discount, your energy might cost more with a new supplier, even if the price looks cheaper.

Real savings?

If you are on the supplier’s standard variable tariff, it is usually the supplier’s most expensive tariff. So, it will always be a good idea to ask your supplier if they have a better tariff or to shop around for a cheaper tariff from a different supplier.

Sometimes the results from internet price comparison sites may suggest that you will get more savings by switching than you actually will. This is because of the way they have to calculate the possible savings you might make by switching supplier or by switching tariff. If this concerns you, you can ask your potential future supplier to give you an estimated figure for what you might save if you moved to them.

Financial help from suppliers

Extra advice:

My Energy Credit

If you have moved to a different supplier, you may have an old account with an amount of credit still in it. Contact your old supplier to get this credit back. See the My Energy Credit website for more information and Useful contacts for the website details.

Information:

trust funds and hardship funds

Some energy companies have set up funds that may be able to help you pay your energy bills if you are in financial difficulties. Ask your supplier if they have a fund or contact us for advice. Some supplier schemes and funds may be able to help you whether you are a customer or not. Get information about trust funds and support schemes you can apply to for financial help by going to the Auriga Services website www.aurigaservices.co.uk. Click on the link to the Help with Water & Energy booklet at the bottom of the page.  If your supplier does not have a trust fund, you can apply to the British Gas Energy Trust or the E.ON Energy Fund for help, even if you are not a consumer of British Gas or E.ON.

 

ECO – the Energy Company Obligation

You may be able to get a grant through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme for insulation and heating improvements. This is sometimes called the Affordable Warmth Obligation. Contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or read more information on their website. See the Useful contacts section for details.

Energy saving help

You may be able to get a grant or a loan to help with insulation, draught proofing, central heating and other energy-saving measures. Some energy companies offer energy-saving schemes and discounts. Suppliers may offer other kinds of help.

  • Contact your supplier to find out what help they can provide or check what help you can get on the Energy Made Clear website.
  • You may be able to apply for other grants, depending on the benefits you receive and your age. Contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.
  • The Energy Saving Trust has a Home Energy Check tool on its website. GOV.UK has a calculator which tells you what help you can get with energy grants and heating costs.
  • In Wales, you can also apply for free energy grants and help through the Nest scheme. Contact Nest on 0808 808 2244 or use a call back request form on their website. See the Useful contacts section for details.

Useful contacts

Citizens Advice consumer service
Post Point 24, Town Hall,
Walliscote Grove Road,
Weston super Mare,
North Somerset,
BS23 1UJ
Phone: 0345 404 0506
 
Energy Saving Advice Service
Phone: 0345 123 1234
 
Energy Saving Trust
 
Energy UK
 
Go Energy Shopping
 
GOV.UK
 
My Energy Credit
 
Nest Wales
Phone: 0808 808 2244
 
Ofgem
 
Ombudsman Services: Energy
Phone: 0330 440 1624
Email: osenquiries@os-energy.org
 
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