If like most people in the UK you pay for your gas and electricity via direct debit, it sometimes mean you build up some credit on your account.
Whilst direct debit is very convenient, you can end up overpaying for the energy that you use. Many customers are actually unaware of the credit, but suppliers are actually obligated to return it!
Here’s a guide on why you may have overpaid for your energy and how to get it back.
Why am I in credit to my energy supplier?
Being in credit simply means that your energy company owes you money. This is very common, because of the method used to calculate energy bills.
Energy suppliers estimate how much you will pay each month when you become a customer, usually based on your current consumption of energy. However, if you don’t provide your consumption, they calculate an amount based on the average for households of your size.
You then pay that amount for the duration of your contract. However, if the calculations are off, or if your circumstances change, you may use less energy than they estimate. For example, if you and your family make an effort to be more energy-efficient, you will likely be owed money.
In these cases, you will be able to claim an energy refund.
How can I find out if I am in credit?
Your energy supplier will let you know if you are in credit on your energy bill. Many suppliers manage their customer accounts online or via an app. If you login, you should be able to see if your account is in credit.
Should I claim an energy rebate?
If you haven’t received any communication from your energy supplier, you should contact them if you know you are in credit. They may say that they will deduct the amount you owe off your next bill. It is up to you to decide.
It is worth remembering that your monthly payment is calculated as an average throughout the year. Households spend more on average in the winter months, because of heating costs than in the summer. If you started your contract in the spring you are likely to be in credit by the end of the summer. Your usage of energy will go up as it gets colder. Consider this before you request a rebate. It may be worth letting the money sit in your account until warmer weather has arrived.
Will my energy company give me an energy rebate?
Yes. An energy rebate is a refund you receive from your energy supplier for an overpayment. This process has been simplified in recent years thanks to legislation from Ofgem.
Most of the time energy companies will either; refund any money owed to you at the end of the year automatically, or inform you that your direct debit payments will be reduced.
If your energy supplier hasn’t contacted you to inform you that you are in credit, call them and ask for a refund if you would like one. They will probably ask for an up to date meter reading, so make sure you have that to hand.
Can I check if I am owed money from a previous energy supplier?
Yes, and you can claim it back. If you switched supplier, your energy supplier may owe you money if you were in credit. They are expected to return it automatically, but this doesn’t always happen.
If you still have bills from your previous suppliers you can check to see if you were in credit. Cross-check with your bank statement to see if you received the money. Don’t worry if you don’t have this information, as long as you know who your previous supplier was you can call them to check.
If you have issues claiming a refund, or request one and do not receive one within eight weeks, Citizens Advice can offer advice and support. You can also contact the Energy Ombudsman who work to resolve complaints regarding energy suppliers.
We had a power outage – am I owed an energy refund?
If you have experienced a power outage you may be able to claim a refund. You cannot claim if the outage was your fault. For example, if there was a technical fault in your home. Responsibility for power cuts sits with the distribution network operator in your area.
If the power outage was planned, energy suppliers are obliged to give you notice two days before. If this didn’t happen, or the power outage happened at a different time to the one scheduled, you can claim £30. You must claim within a month of the power cut.
If the power cut was not planned, you can also claim. However, the amount of compensation you receive will depend on the duration and the numbers of properties affected.
How can I make sure I pay the right amount?
The best way is to provide regular meter readings to your energy supplier. That way, your supplier will calculate in good time how much energy you are using, versus how much you pay.
Installing a smart meter to your business or home can save you time sending meter readings. Smart meters inform your supplier automatically about your energy use. They are being offered for free to homes and businesses.
We recommend you compare energy prices every six months. New energy deals are launched regularly. It is worth switching to stay on the best deal. Make sure you check with your old supplier if you are owed money so you don’t get caught out in the future.