Are you in credit to your energy supplier? Have you switched but not received a refund from your previous gas and electricity provider? This guide will help you take control of your energy bill.
According to uSwitch research carried out in February 2014, about half of Britain’s households are in credit to their energy suppliers to the tune of £1.2bn collectively. That means suppliers owe one in two homes an average of £86.
Reclaiming this credit is easier than ever before, now that energy regulator Ofgem has implemented new rules forcing suppliers to reimburse you if you ask - unless there is a good reason not to do so.
This guide will explain how to find out if you’re in credit to your energy supplier, how to get your energy credit refunded and how to make sure your bills are accurate in future. We will also consider how to get back any credit owed by a previous supplier.
If you do decide to contact your current supplier to ask for a refund it is important to note that you need to provide an up-to-date meter reading and discuss your current situation with them. A meter reading from a few months ago won't do.
How can I find out if I’m in credit to my energy supplier?
If you manage your bills online it should be as easy as logging in to check your current account balance.
If you don’t, then simply take a look at your latest energy bill. The bill should tell you how much you are in debit/credit to your gas and electricity supplier.
It’s worth noting that most of the big six – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON and ScottishPower – refund customer credit automatically. British Gas and EDF Energy will return any extra credit every 12 months, from the anniversary of the date you took out your direct debit. E.ON will refund any credit higher than £5 and ScottishPower any credit in excess of £75.
Why am I in credit? Is my supplier taking too much from my direct debit?
Energy bills, and in particular direct debits, are estimated based on your previous consumption. That means they may be some way off your actual gas and electricity consumption.
To give you an example, if you have a son who left for university, but ran an energy price comparison before he left home, your consumption for the following year will be estimated on figures which included your son’s consumption. With him out of the house you will in fact be using less energy and will be overpaying on your direct debit.
Don’t worry about losing out on savings though – if your direct debit is too high all you need to do is claim back what you’ve overpaid. You can find out more about paying by direct debit here.
How much could I be owed?
The amount of money you could be in credit by depends on how much you’ve overpaid by. Factors which will influence the total sum you’re entitled to could include a mild winter or long summer. In both these scenarios you may have used less energy to heat your home than you were expected to.
Figures owed will vary greatly and a February 2014 study by uSwitch estimated that half the population was owed an average of £86, but that 260,000 households could potentially claim up to £500 from their supplier.
How can I get an energy refund from my current supplier?
Just ask. If you know you’re in credit and you want the money back, then get in touch with your supplier and ask for a refund. We’ve listed the phone numbers to call under the next question.
A word of warning. Even if you are in credit, it’s a good idea to discuss your balance with your supplier before asking to be refunded. Your direct debit should have been worked out to cover your expenditure over the year. So, although you might be overspending in summer, this should even out in winter. Be wary of asking for a refund of any credit meant to cover your additional winter expenditure.
You should also make sure your credit balance is up to date - even a meter reading issued the previous month should be consideed out of date if you want to claim a refund.
However, if you find yourself more than one month in credit, it’s usually safe to ask for your money back.
How can I get a refund from my previous energy supplier?
Switching energy supplier is a great way to save up to £300 per year on your energy bills. However, if you were in credit when you switched, it’s possible that your previous energy supplier still has some money that belongs to you. Energy suppliers are supposed to give back any money you are in credit by when you switch to another provider, but over the years many have failed to do so.
If you think this might be the case, then check your bank statements, direct debits or energy bills, or just give them a call on one of the numbers listed below (they may ask for some personal details to make sure it’s really you):
British Gas (and Sainsbury’s Energy) 0800 048 0202
Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm
EDF Energy 0800 096 9000 (free from landlines)
Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm, Sat 8.30am-2pm
EON 0333 202 4856
Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm
Npower 0800 073 3000 for landlines, 0330 100 3000 for mobiles
Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm
Scottish & Southern Energy (and Atlantic, Southern Electric, Scottish Hydro, Swalec and M&S Energy) 0800 975 1662 (free from landlines)
Mon-Fri 8am-2pm, Sat 8.30am-6pm
Scottish power 0800 027 0072 for landlines, 0345 270 0700 from mobiles
Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-1pm
Was your previous provider an independent supplier? Reach them with the numbers below:
Co-operative Energy 0800 954 0693
Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 9am-4pm
First Utility 0800 011 5168
Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-2pm
Ovo Energy 0800 5999 440
Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 9am-2pm
Utility Warehouse 0800 781 7777
Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm, Sat 9am-4.30pm
What if my supplier refuses to refund me?
If your supplier refuses to refund you and you don't agree with the reasons given you can raise the issue with the Energy Ombudsman.
What can I do to make sure my bills are as accurate as possible?
To avoid being in a situation where you are over or under spending on energy, do your best to provide regular meter readings to your energy supplier. At uSwitch we recommend doing this at least once every three months.
How can I make my energy bills lower?
There are plenty of ways to save energy and cut down your bill. Here at uSwitch we’ve put together a number of guides to help you do just that.
In addition, if you want to optimise your energy consumption, consider getting hold of a smart thermostat. These thermostats help you figure out exactly how much energy you consume, as well as control your heating from a distance. Some smart thermostats will even learn your behaviour and run your heating accordingly.
Finally, run a quick energy price comparison. The energy market is always changing and new plans come along on a weekly basis, so it’s always a good idea to check that you’re on the best tariff. At present there’s a difference of close to £300 between the cheapest and most expensive plan, so it’s an ideal time to switch!