How to get a refund from your energy supplier

Last updated: 10 September 2020

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the following:

  • How do I find out if my current energy supplier owes me an energy refund?

  • How can I find out if my previous energy supplier owes me an electric (or gas) refund?

  • Why am I in credit?

  • How much money could I be owed?

How do I find out if my current energy supplier owes me an energy refund? 

Across the UK, people are owed money by their energy companies, whether that’s their current supplier or a company that supplied them previously. While it’s normal for most people to be in credit with their current supplier during the summer months, there are times when you may have grounds to claim a refund on monies owed to you.

If your current energy supplier owes you money, it’s referred to as a “live” account balance. There are several different ways that you can find out if your energy supplier owes you an energy refund: 

  • Online

If you pay your energy bills online, simply log in and check your account balance. 

  • Paper bills

If you receive paper bills, your latest bill should tell you if you are in credit.

  • Contact customer service

If you can’t find a recent bill, simply get in touch with your energy supplier and it should be able to tell you whether you’ve overpaid or not. 

It’s also worth remembering that three of the big six energy suppliers – npower, ScottishPower, and British Gas – will refund credit automatically, so you probably won’t need to request a refund. 

How can I find out if my previous energy supplier owes me a gas or electric refund? 

If your old energy supplier owes you money, it’s referred to as a “closed” account balance. A scheme launched in 2014 called My Energy Credit aimed to help people who’d moved or switched suppliers to reclaim any money they may have been owed, regardless of how much time had passed. That scheme is no longer running, but if you have proof that you’re owed money – typically by checking your last bill – then you should be able to make a claim directly to your previous supplier, however long ago it was.

If you’re not sure if you’re owed money, call your previous supplier – the following covers the big six list of suppliers:

SupplierPhone numberTimes available
British Gas0333 202 9802Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm
EDF0333 200 5100Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-2pm
E.ON0345 052 0000Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm
npower0800 073 3000 (landlines), 0330 100 3000 (from mobiles)Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm
SSE0345 070 7373Mon-Fri 8am-2pm, Sat 8am-6pm
ScottishPower0800 027 0072 (landlines), 0345 270 0700 (from mobiles)Mon-Fri 8.30am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-1pm

If money is owed to you, then your previous supplier is obligated to refund you within eight weeks of your request. If this doesn’t happen, make a complaint.

Why am I in credit? 

Although it might surprise you, overpaying for your energy is quite common. That’s because energy suppliers don’t charge for the energy you’ve actually used. Instead, your monthly energy bills are estimates based on your previous consumption. As a result, the amount you pay and the amount you owe may not be the same, particularly if the amount of energy that you consume changes throughout the year, perhaps due to someone leaving home. 

The procedure is also designed to even out the cost of paying for your energy over a 12-month period. You build up a surplus in the summer months, when your consumption is typically lower, and then eat into that surplus during the energy-hungry winter months. 

How much money could I be owed? 

The amount of money that your energy supplier may owe you is determined by the amount you’ve overpaid. According to recent research, the average British person who pays by direct debit is £108 in credit with their energy provider.

Of course, it’s possible that you’re owed significantly more or less than this amount. For example, if you regularly switch providers and you’ve overpaid many of your old suppliers, you may be owed hundreds of pounds. To find out for sure, you’ll need to look at a recent bill or get in touch with your energy supplier.

If I have an energy credit should I always try to get a refund? 

While it’s tempting to get an energy refund, don’t rush to have it refunded. First, even if you are in credit, talk to your supplier about your balance – as stated earlier, direct debits are usually set up to cover your energy consumption for the whole year. So, even if you’re overspending in the summer, by the winter your expenditure may even out, and there might be no need for a gas or electric refund. 

How do I get an energy refund from my current supplier? 

Fortunately, the process of getting an energy refund is relatively simple: all you need to do is ask. Get in touch with your current energy supplier by phone and it should handle the rest of the process. 

How do I get an energy refund from my previous supplier? 

Your previous supplier should have repaid your energy credit after you switched providers. However, many providers fail to do this, which means that you’ll need to pursue the energy refund yourself. To get started, just call up your previous supplier, and it will explain the process to you over the phone. 

How do I get an energy refund for a deceased family member? 

To claim for a deceased family member’s energy credit, you should get in touch with their supplier and it’ll explain the process. In most cases, you’ll need to write in to provide their account details along with the date they passed away. 

How long will I need to wait to get my electric or gas refund? 

The length of time that a refund takes will depend on your supplier. In some cases, you should be able to get it within eight weeks, although it may take months. Ultimately, this is down to the energy supplier, so the sooner you make a request for a refund, the sooner the money will be in your account. 

What happens if my supplier refuses to give me a refund? 

If your energy company doesn’t refund your credit readily – or within eight weeks of your request – you can lodge a complaint with the Energy Ombudsman. If the ombudsman agrees to take on your case, they will provide you with a response within six to eight weeks. If the ruling is in your favour, a letter will be sent to your energy supplier saying what needs to be done, and if a refund is required, it will have 28 days to repay you. 

Can I get a power outage refund? 

You can claim for compensation in the result of a power cut in specific circumstances. You’re not entitled to any payment if the fault is yours – for example, you didn’t pay your bill, or a fuse was tripped. 

  • If the outage was planned, then your electricity distributor (not supplier) is required to give you two days’ notification. If it didn’t provide you with this notification, you are entitled to claim £30, although you must do this within 30 days of the outage. 

  • If fewer than 5,000 homes experienced an electricity outage for over 12 hours, each home will get £75, plus £35 for each subsequent 12-hour period. 

  • If more than 5,000 homes were affected, each home will get £75, plus £35 for each subsequent 12-hour period, but the amount you can claim for is capped at £300. 

  • If the outage was caused by poor weather conditions, each home receives £70 if they went without power for 24 or 48 hours depending on the number of homes affected, and a further £70 for each subsequent 12-hour period, subject to a maximum cap of £700. 

Find out more about claiming for compensation in the event of a power cut here

How do I improve the accuracy of my bills? 

If you want to reduce the amount of time you spend dealing with energy refunds, ensure your bills are as accurate as possible. The simplest option is to switch to a smart meter, which are being rolled out for free, but failing that you should aim to provide regular meter readings to your supplier. Do this monthly if you can, or at least once a quarter, and your supplier will be able to provide a more accurate prediction of your energy consumption, ensuring you’re less likely to overpay. 

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Published on Mon 11 Nov 2019 02.54 GMT