At the end of last winter, more than four in 10 households had £136 worth of credit with their energy supplier, according to research from price comparison website uSwitch. A tenth of bill payers in the UK were owed a rebate of more than £200.
That’s no small change. But just because you’re owed money by your energy supplier, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get it back, without requesting it yourself. So, here’s how to go about finding out if you’re in credit and then getting the money back.
Why would I be in credit with my energy supplier?
If you pay for your gas and electricity as and when you receive a bill, or using a prepayment meter, then you’ll only pay for what you use. But if you pay your energy bill by direct debit, then your supplier might end up owing you money.
This can happen because when you open an account with a gas or electricity supplier, they will estimate your annual energy consumption in order to work out how much to charge you. If this estimate doesn’t match your actual consumption, and you end up using less energy than the estimate your bills are based on, then you may end up being owed money by your supplier.
Your supplier may also end up owing you money if you don’t provide them with regular meter readings. Without regular readings, your supplier will have to estimate how much energy you’re using.
Energy companies should review your direct debit payments at least once a year, but you can build up significant credit in this time if your payments are inaccurate.
If you’re in credit, your supplier might refund the money you’re owed at the end of the year, or pay the amount back by reducing your future direct debit payments
But if they don’t automatically do this, then you could claim back the credit yourself.
Claiming what you’re owed
If you pay for energy by direct debit, then check your online account or your latest statement to see whether you’re in credit or debt.
If you see that you’re in credit, then you can claim it back at any time. Energy regulator Ofgem has put rules in place forcing suppliers to reimburse you if you ask, unless there is a good reason not to do so.
Bear in mind though that it may be worth leaving the money on your account during summer and autumn to cover traditionally higher energy costs in winter.
Also, consider that your energy bills might be higher than usual this autumn and winter if, like so many people, you’ve switched to home working.
Consumer group Which? advises people to check whether their energy company pays interest on their credit balance. It says, for example, that supplier Ovo pays between 3% and 5% interest on balances of up to £1,000, while Scottish Power pays £1 for every £33 credit above £100 (to a maximum of £12). This may factor into your decision about whether to claim back your money.
How to claim
Some firms will refund automatically at certain times in the year. Big suppliers British Gas, Npower and Scottish Power are among them, according to Uswitch. But, on the flipside, the comparison site’s research found that this isn’t always the case: 57% of customers that Uswitch surveyed suggested their supplier had never automatically credited their account in the past.
So, you may want to take the initiative and request the money yourself. To do so, call your supplier and give them an up-to-date meter reading, or see if they have an online form you can complete to request a refund.
Citizens Advice says that your supplier might try to convince you to leave money on your account, but the decision is yours.
According to Which? it’s more straight-forward to get your money back from some companies than others.
If you’re having any issues with claiming credit back from your supplier then you can call
the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for advice on what to do next.
So, you’ve found out that you were owed money by your supplier and you’ve manage to get it back. That’s a great start and you’re regaining some control over your home energy spending. But it doesn’t stop there: there are other ways to ensure you’re not handing over too much of your cash to an energy supplier. One of the most effective is to shop around for a new and better deal.
Switching energy supplier is quick, straightforward and could save you around £300 on your annual energy bill. After all, no one needs to pay over the odds for their home energy - compare deals and you’re likely to find a much better one, even if you’ve switched in the past. See our guide on how to go about switching painlessly.
By taking these measures, you’ll be a couple of steps closer to taking control of your energy bills. You can go further still by signing up to Loop. With Loop, you can find out how to use electricity, then make smart decisions about using less - get started on your energy-saving journey now!
With Loop, you can find out how you use electricity, then make smart decisions about using less - click here to find out more. We have a risk-free, no-quibble, money-back guarantee as standard, so what's to lose...apart from some £££ from your bills and some weight from your carbon footprint?
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