How to find out if your energy supplier owes you money

Last updated: 17 March 2021

In this guide you’ll find answers to the following questions:

  • Why am I in credit with energy suppliers?

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

  • How do I claim an energy credit refund from my current supplier?

  • How do I claim my energy refund from a closed account?

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

  • What should I do if there’s a problem with my energy refund?

  • Can I switch energy supplier while my account is in credit?

Why am I in credit with energy suppliers? 

It’s quite common to be in credit with energy suppliers both past and present because forward energy bills are estimated based on your previous consumption. But however diligently and accurately you’ve provided meter readings, the estimates still don’t necessarily paint an 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 each month, then reduce your energy usage

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

Thanks to a range of energy efficiency measures, you end up consuming less energy than the estimate made by your supplier when you switch tariff or account. As a result, you build up credit – this can be compounded if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t regularly supply 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

You may also be owed money from a former supplier if – when you moved or closed your account – you were in credit that was never claimed. 

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

Currently, the amount of money you could get back depends entirely on your circumstances. In a 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. 

Can Ofgem do anything to help?

In March 2021, Ofgem announced it was pushing through plans to force energy suppliers to automatically refund customers any credit they might hold in their accounts on the anniversary of their contract beginning. There's an increasing concern that suppliers are using the extra credit to bolster their coffers during leaner months, thus funding unsustainable business practices. If approved, the rules will come into force from 2022. For now, though, the current system of customers having to check and request refunds will continue.

How do I claim an energy credit refund from my 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 straightforward 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 by claiming back credit too soon. 

How do I claim my energy refund from 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. This is the proof you need to make your claim.

The My Energy Credit campaign and website is no longer running, but if you have proof – or you’re not sure if your previous supplier may owe you money – then get in contact:

SupplierPhone numberTimes available
British Gas0333 202 9802Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm
EDF Energy0333 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
Scottish & Southern Energy (and Atlantic, Southern Electric, Scottish Hydro, Swalec and M&S Energy)0345 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

When you contact your previous supplier, it’s helpful to 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 credit left in your account to cover higher energy bills in the winter 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 should I do if there’s a problem with my 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 I switch energy supplier while my account is in credit?

Yes, there’s no restrictions on changing supplier unless you’ve been in debt to your current supplier for over 28 days. If you know you have credit in your account but wish to switch suppliers, it’s also 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 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 languishing 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. 

How can I avoid overspending on energy going forward?

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. Smart thermostats learn how much energy you typically consume over time, running your heating accordingly and improving the accuracy of utility bills. 

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Published on Wed 23 Oct 2019 03.30 GMT