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How to find out if your energy supplier owes you money

Why would my energy supplier owe me money?

According to a 2019 Uswitch study, nearly half (45%) of Britain’s households are owed money by their energy suppliers. That’s 12 million households, with one in 10 owed over £200. Could you be one of them? If you’ve switched energy suppliers without receiving an energy refund from your previous gas and electricity provider, you may have funds to reclaim. It’s now easier than ever to do so, thanks to the My Energy Credit campaign launched by the big six suppliers. 

Here’s how to find out whether you’re owed any money, and how to reclaim your energy credit. 

Why am I in credit with energy suppliers? 

It’s very common to be in credit with energy suppliers both past and present; but how does this happen? Because energy bills are estimated based on previous use, they don’t always paint the most accurate picture of your current gas and electricity usage. Any small changes to your household’s habits will impact the reality of how much energy you use. Here are a few reasons why you might be in credit with your current supplier: 

You pay a fixed amount despite changes in consumption 

Paying for your energy with a fixed monthly direct debit eliminates any surprises across the year, but it doesn’t reflect the fluctuations in energy usage. Most of us use less gas in the summer and dial up the heat and electricity in the winter months. With a fixed direct debit, you could accumulate credit. 

You pay for more energy than you use

At the time of setting up an account, your supplier will estimate your energy consumption spread out across the year. If you end up consuming less energy than this estimate, you will build up credit as a result. It’s also common to build up credit if you aren’t in the practice of supplying regular meter readings. 

Suppliers use different billing methods

Some suppliers take payments at the same time as sending a bill each month, while others calculate these payments quarterly. It’s not uncommon to pay a deposit at the start of your contract, which would leave you with a credit balance if you never use that energy. Payment methods could also leave you in credit, particularly if you’re a prepayment customer. 

The reason why you may be owed credit differs when it’s coming from a former supplier. This situation arises if your account was in credit when you moved or closed the account, but never claimed those funds. 

How much can I get back when my energy supplier owes me money?

The amount of money you could get back depends entirely on your circumstances. In the Uswitch study, 45% of the population was owed £126 on average, but one in ten of these households could claim upwards of £200. If you’ve switched suppliers several times over the past few years and overpaid with many of them, you could be owed a good deal of money. You’re entitled to full repayment, plus potential interest if the supplier has been earning interest on your unclaimed credit. 

How to claim an energy credit refund from your current supplier

To start the process of claiming an energy credit refund, check to see if you’re owed any money from your current supplier. This is very simple if you have an online account, as you should be able to log in and see your balance. Your most recent bill will also show the state of your current account, including any debit or credit owed. 

Big six suppliers like British Gas and ScottishPower refund credit automatically, but you’ll have to request an energy credit refund with many of the smaller suppliers. Remember that it’s common to overpay during the summer months, but that money is applied to your increased energy spending over the winter. Look at the big picture over 12 months to be sure you’re not caught short during the colder months. 

How to claim your energy refund with a closed account

Whether you’ve moved to a new house or switched suppliers, it’s important to pay close attention to that final bill you receive from your former energy supplier. All the big six suppliers have committed to the My Energy Credit campaign. This was launched in September 2014 in a bid to return the £153 million in credit which had accumulated. If you want to find out whether or not you’re owed money from a former supplier, the My Energy Credit website is a great resource. It includes contact details for all the major suppliers, as well as information on filing claims for refunds. Old credit left on your account must be refunded, no matter how many years ago it was closed. 

When you contact your previous supplier, it’s helpful if you have your old account number close to hand. If you can’t find this, your old address will do – the supplier can look up your account from this information to find out if you’re owed any money. If you can’t remember who your supplier was, look at old bank statements or speak to your current supplier, which can check the UK energy supplier database to help verify your information.

When is the best time to claim my energy credit refund?

There’s never a bad time to claim money, particularly when it’s from a former supplier. The longer you leave it, the greater the chance you’ll lose your account number or other relevant details. When it comes to claiming credit from your current supplier, remember that you’ll want a cushion left in your account to cover higher energy bills in the coming months. It’s best to leave money in your account during the summer and autumn as insurance to cover winter fuel needs. The start of spring is a great time to claim any money that’s left over from the winter. 

What to do if there are problems with your energy refund

All the major energy suppliers are making a concerted effort to reunite consumers with their credit. In theory, all you need to do is ask for your money and it should be with you within eight weeks. Yet problems or disputes do arise from time to time. If you think you’re owed credit and your supplier refuses to issue an energy refund, you can take it to the Energy Ombudsman for help. This free, impartial service will take up the case and give a decision within six to eight weeks. If they decide the case in your favour, you’ll receive your refund within 28 days from that point. The Citizens Advice helpline is another good source of information if you have any problems. 

Can you switch energy supplier account in credit?

If you know you have credit in your account but wish to switch suppliers, it’s a very straightforward process to get that money back. Notify your current supplier that you wish to switch and go on to compare energy deals to find the best fit from a new supplier. Because the energy market is always changing, there’s never a bad time to see if you’re on the best tariff for your household. When switching suppliers, you should have a copy of your recent bill to give them an accurate picture of your current consumption levels. This will help ensure more accurate estimated bills or direct debit payments.  

There are also a few steps to take to avoid your existing credit to languish in the account. Be sure to take a final meter reading and submit it to your current supplier before switching over to the new tariff. Using this information, they’ll send you a final bill – if you’re in credit with your energy supplier at that point, you should get that money back immediately. 

Moving forward with a new energy account

After you’ve switched, there are a few ways to keep your bills more accurate and avoid the issue of overspending. One option is to ask your new supplier for an annual review of your payment scheme. This ensures you’re paying the correct amount in line with estimated consumption. 

In future, the best way to avoid under or overspending on energy is to submit regular meter readings. It’s best to do so every three months to keep your bills accurate throughout the year. Smart meters take all the guesswork out of this process, automatically submitting readings on a regular basis to the supplier. Accompanying smart thermostats learn how much energy you typically consume over time, running your heating accordingly and improving the accuracy of utility bills. 

Ben GallizziEnergy Expert - Oct 23rd 2019