Press release:

Energy suppliers could owe consumers £1.5 billion after third mildest winter on record

  • More than 11 million households could be owed a total of £1.5 billion from energy suppliers – £400m more than last year – following the mild winter[1]
  • Almost one in ten (9%) households could reclaim credit of more than £200[2]
  • Almost three quarters of homes (72%) reduced their energy consumption as a result of mild temperatures this winter[3]
  • uSwitch.com is urging consumers to submit meter readings to their supplier and reclaim any credit owed. 

Over 11 million British households (42% of all homes) could reclaim almost £1.5 billion from energy suppliers following the UK’s third warmest winter since records began, according to a new survey by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service[1]. Estimated credit levels have soared by 27% since last year, when uSwitch.com research estimated that energy providers owed consumers around £1.1 billion[4].

This year’s survey reveals the average household in credit could be owed £132 from their supplier, and that almost one in ten (9%) could reclaim more than £200[2]. The new findings follow the UK’s third mildest winter since records began, meaning that millions of consumers paying by Direct Debit used far less energy than they paid for[5]. In fact, almost three-quarters (72%) of customers took some action to reduce their energy usage during the mild winter, including turning down the thermostat (32%), turning down individual radiators (24%) or setting the heating to come on for less time every day (19%)[3].

Consumers who are unsure about the status of their account after the winter should check their electricity and gas meters, submit up-to-date readings and find out if they are in credit. Some suppliers automatically refund credit balances once a year, but this may be subject to a minimum amount and refund policies vary between providers. Under Ofgem rules, customers are entitled to any credit on request, as long as up-to-date meter readings have been provided[7].

Despite the fact that so many households have built up credit over the winter, 13% of consumers – over 3.5 million – say they are in debt with their supplier[6]. uSwitch.com is urging customers to submit regular meter readings throughout the year, to ensure accurate bills and avoid the risk of accumulating significant credit or debt.

Tom Lyon, uSwitch.com energy expert, says: “After one of the UK’s mildest winters on record, millions of consumers may well have paid out hundreds of pounds for energy they simply didn’t use. Under Ofgem rules, providers must repay any credit on request, so now is the time to read your meter, update your account and reclaim what you’re owed.

“Today’s findings underline why providing regular, up to date meter readings is so important – it’s the only way to make sure you only pay for what you use and avoid the risk of falling into significant credit or debt. For anyone who finds themselves in debt, we recommend talking to your supplier about managing your account now to prevent the situation deteriorating any further.”

 

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Notes to editors

Research was conducted online by Opinium between 1st and 5th April 2016, among 2,000 UK adults. All responses were from those who were responsible for paying the energy bill. 210 respondents said they are either not involved in paying for their household’s energy usage, or that their household doesn’t pay for energy (e.g. costs covered by a landlord). Therefore, statistics relating to energy bills are based on a sample of 1,792 consumers who are responsible for paying the energy bill.

  1. When asked ‘Thinking about your most recent energy bill from your supplier, which of the following best applies to you?’, 42% were in credit to their supplier. 27 million households in the UK (source: ONS). 42% of 27 million = 11.3 million. The mean amount of those in credit was £132. £132 x 11.3 million = £1.49 billion
  2. When asked ‘Thinking about your most recent energy bill from your supplier, which of the following best applies to you?’, 4% said they were in credit between £210 and £300, 4% said they were in credit between £301 and £500 and 1% said they were in credit more than £500. These percentages added together = 9%
  3. When asked ‘During the winter that has just passed, did you attempt to reduce your household energy usage in any of the following ways?’, 28% said they did nothing at all, therefore 72% took some sort of action. 32% said they turned down the thermostat, 31% said they only used the heating on certain days when it felt cold, 24% said they turned down individual radiators, 19% said they set the heating to come on for less time every day, 17% said they turned the heating on later in the year, 13% said they turned down the temperature of the hot water in the boiler and 9% said they turned off the central heating completely.
  4. http://www.uswitch.com/media-centre/2015/07/energy-suppliers-could-owe-1-1-billion-to-customers/
  5. Despite some predictions in September 2015 of the coldest winter in 50 years, the UK actually experienced the third warmest winter on record: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2016/winter-statistics
  6. When asked ‘Thinking about your most recent energy bill from your supplier, which of the following best applies to you?’, 13% were in debt to their supplier. 27 million households in the UK (source: ONS). 13% of 27 million = 3.5 million
  7. Except when it is not fair or reasonable for suppliers to do so.

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

uSwitch is owned by ZPG, which operates some of the UK’s most trusted digital brands that help empower smarter property and household decisions including Zoopla, Money, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes.

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