Energy

Having issues with your energy? Gas and electricity causing problems in your home? We have put together this handy guide for you. Find out your rights and raise your complaint via Resolver. It’s free and, thanks to our smart tool, it only takes a few minutes to submit your claim.

Payments

Overcharging

If you think you’ve been overcharged, check your bills against your contract to make sure there isn’t a difference in the price you’re paying and the price you agreed to. Some energy providers give you a special rate for a limited time, after which you’ll end up paying more.

Owed money by energy company

Energy companies often try to calculate how much energy (electricity or gas) you are likely to use over the year and then average payments. If they calculate this incorrectly you can over-pay. If your account is in credit you have the right to request a refund from your energy company. Under Condition 27 of the Gas and Electricity Supply Licence Conditions, gas and electricity companies must refund you a credit balance either automatically or at your request. The majority of companies reduce your direct debit if there is a large credit balance when they routinely review your account. Some companies have policies for giving automatic refunds but these differ between suppliers.

My meter hasn't been read

By law, energy suppliers only have to read your meter once every two years. Some energy suppliers may visit more often, while others may request that you send them readings. If they ask for you to send readings, you should aim to do so – if you don’t, they might charge you an estimated bill (which could be higher than your normal bill).

If your energy provider hasn’t read your meter in a very long time, they may try and charge you a ‘catch-up bill’. The rules around this will change from May 2018 – more on this below.

Smart meters

Smart meters are currently being rolled out across the county, and there’s still a lot of confusion around them – enough to merit their own page! See our Smart Meters Guide for more info.

I need help reading my meter

If you’re over 60, suffer from chronic illness, are disabled or have impaired sight or hearing, you can ask your supplier to read your meter every quarter. They should provide this service for free if no-one else can help you.

'Catch-up' bills/back-billing

The rules around ‘catch-up’ billing will be different from May 2018 onwards. Currently, an energy supplier who hasn’t read your meter for a while may send you an estimated bill based on your previous usage. Then, when they actually take a reading, they may ‘back-bill’ you for any shortfall.

From May, back-billing for gas and electricity used more than 12 months earlier will be banned. This will apply to all domestic customers from May, and some small businesses from November. The only exception will be in cases where customers have intentionally stopped the energy company from reading their meter.

Restructuring payments

If you’re finding it tough to keep up with your energy bills, you should first contact your energy supplier. They may be able to help you set up a repayment plan to pay back any debts you might have gradually.

Power cuts and outages

If your energy supply has to be cut off for maintenance, you should be given 2 days’ notice. You should normally be able to claim compensation for any power cuts – unless they’re due to severe weather. The amount of compensation you get will depend on how long the power was out for and whether the power cut was planned or not.

If your electricity supply is cut off, it’s normally your local electricity distributor who is responsible. If you use a prepayment meter, however, your energy supplier is responsible. If your local energy distributor hasn’t given you 2 days’ notice for planned electricity power cuts, you may be due £30 compensation.

You won’t be due compensation if the cut is your fault (for example, if you’ve accidentally cut through a powerline while building an extension).

You won’t be due compensation for financial loss incurred.

Gas

If you are without gas for more than 24 hours, you are entitled to compensation of £30 under the Gas Guaranteed Standards. You are also entitled to an extra £30 for every further 24 hours you are without gas. Your supplier is obliged to tell you about your right to compensation and then pay you within 20 working days of your claim, either direct to you or through your supplier. Your gas transporter is the company that owns the gas pipes and infrastructure in your area. This may be different to your supplier. In the event that you do not receive notice of compensation then you should write to your gas transporter and set out what happened.

Note that the right to compensation does not apply to planned gas outages of which you have been given at least 5 days’ notice by your gas transporter.

Electricity

Exceptional circumstances

Ofgem may increase the compensation if there are exceptional circumstances, such as your energy supply being cut off over Christmas.

You should normally be given at least two days’ notice of an electricity cut off in advance. If you are not given two days’ notice of the planned power cut, you may be entitled to a compensation payment. This will be a set amount under the Guaranteed Standards scheme. You can only get this payment for planned power cuts and not when the electricity goes off because of an emergency, severe weather or a fault. The amount you can get will be based on how long the power was off, but will generally depend on a power cut of at least 18 hours.

If your power goes off more than four times a year, and for more than three hours each time, you may be entitled to a compensation payment. This will apply if the power cuts were the electricity distributor’s fault and it doesn’t matter whether the cuts were planned or not. The amount you can get will be based on how long the power was off for.

If you think you are entitled to compensation, you should write to your regional electricity distributor within three months of getting your power back on. Your regional electricity distributor may not be the same as the company that supplies you with electricity.

Compensation for unplanned power cuts

  Energy Compensation
Number of homes affected Cut over 12 hours Amount for every following 12 hours
<5000 homes affected £75 £35
>5000 homes affected £75 £35 (up to a maximum of £300)

Length of power cut Power off for 24 hours (or 48 hours in extreme weather) Amount for each following 12 hours
Cut caused by bad weather £70 £70 (up to a maximum of £700)

Energy provider has disconnected me

If you haven’t paid your bills, your energy provider may cut you off. This is, however, very rare. Most companies only cut people off in extreme cases, and will always warn you beforehand.

If your energy provider has said they intend to disconnect you, you should get in touch with them to see if they are willing to install a pre-payment meter.

Most energy providers have signed an agreement to say they won’t disconnect vulnerable consumers during the winter months.

What happens if my energy provider goes bust?

If your energy provider goes bust, don’t worry – you won’t be cut off.

Ofgem will step up and move your account to a new supplier. You should be aware that this may mean the amount you pay for energy might change! Your new supplier should get in touch to let you know if there’ll be any changes in the way you pay.

What happens if my meter breaks?

If you think there’s a problem with your meter, get in touch with your energy provider as soon as possible. This is because your energy supplier may be either recording too much usage, too little, or none at all! A broken meter isn’t just a safety hazard – it could also cost you money.

Your energy supplier should run tests to check. If your meter turns out to be working normally, you may be charged for the tests.

If your meter is recording no usage at all, your energy provider may charge you estimated bills for your energy usage.

Signs your energy meter might be broken:

  • Your bill is much higher than usual.
  • Your meter is showing an error message.
  • Your meter is leaking.

A simple way to check if there’s a problem is to switch off all the appliances in your home and check to see if the numbers on the meter’s display are still moving. Be aware that it can take up to 30 minutes for the meter to stop recording energy usage in your house. If the number keeps going up with everything turned off, there’s likely to be a problem with the meter. The same is true if the number doesn’t change while all appliances are turned on.

Switching energy provider

Switching energy provider could save you a ton of money – depending on how much energy you use, how you want to pay your bill and how many energy suppliers are in your area.

How do I find out who my current energy supplier is?

If you need to find out who your energy provider is, you can call the Meter Number Helpline (0870 608 1524) and provide your gas meter number to find out who your gas supplier is.

Can I change energy provider if I'm in debt?

You can switch energy provider if you're in debt if:

  • You owe less than £500 for gas
  • You owe less than £500 for electricity
  • You are paying through a prepayment meter

Your new energy supplier will take on your debt and you'll continue to pay them. They'll get in touch to let you know if anything important will change.

How long will it take for my energy to switch to my new supplier?

It takes a total of 17 days for your energy account to be switched over to your new provider. This includes a two-week cooling off period.

You’ll be told by your new energy provider exactly when your services will be switched over.

Many energy providers are signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee (including British Gas, E.ON and npower), meaning they’ll ensure your switch is quick and easy.

What if I'm not happy with my new supplier?

You should always be given a 14-day cooling-off period to decide if you want to stick with your new provider.

If you feel you have switched based on information that is not accurate you are entitled to cancel and also claim damages from the company you are switching to. Energy suppliers have signed an agreement saying they will work together to quickly and simply resolve any problems during the switching process regardless of who is at fault. If you have any problems, you can contact either your old or new energy supplier to discuss this and they should work together to resolve the issue.

My energy supplier was changed without me being told

If your energy supplier was changed without you being told, you should contact both your new and old supplier to inform them of the situation. They may be able to return you to the original supplier and compensate you for the inconvenience. This depends on the exact nature of the switch, though.

Installation

Engineer late/missed appointment

If you’ve booked a visit from an engineer, your energy company has to give you a four-hour time slot. If the engineer doesn’t turn up within the allotted time, your energy company should credit your account or pay you £30 by cheque – depending on how you normally pay your bills.

Mains connection

Your energy distributor should always try and connect your property to the mains within 30 days of an installation being confirmed.

If it has taken more than 5 days for a standard quote to be delivered (or 15 days for a complex quote), you may be entitled to compensation of between £20 to £40.

If there has been a delay in the actual installation process, you should contact your energy distributor to outline the situation. If they can’t resolve the matter, you can escalate your case to the Ombudsman.

Energy compensation tool

Helping you with Energy providers services

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