Energy providers owe households £1.5bn: reclaim now

19 April 2016

Over 11 million British households (42% of all homes) are collectively owed almost £1.5 billion from energy suppliers following the UK’s third warmest winter since records began, according to a new survey.

Comparison website, says the average household in credit could be owed £132 from their supplier, while almost one in ten (9%) could reclaim more than £200.

The findings follow the UK’s third mildest winter since records began, meaning millions of consumers paying by direct debit used far less energy than they paid for.

This happens because energy providers take direct debit payments based on expected usage – the idea being that any overpayments made in the summer months will be balanced out when you use more over the winter.  

But uSwitch says almost three-quarters (72%) of customers took some action to reduce their energy usage during the mild winter we’ve just had, including turning down the thermostat (32%), turning down individual radiators (24%) or setting the heating to come on for less time every day (19%).



How do I know if I’ve overpaid?

If you haven’t recently submitted a meter reading you should do so; at the same time, ask your provider if you’re in credit.

Under energy regulator Ofgem’s rules, suppliers can’t “unreasonably prevent” the payment of any credit on request.

Tom Lyon, energy expert, says: “After one of the UK’s mildest winters on record, millions of consumers may well have paid out hundreds of pounds for energy they simply didn’t use. Under Ofgem rules, providers must repay any credit on request, so now is the time to read your meter, update your account and reclaim what you’re owed.”

Some suppliers automatically refund credit balances once or twice a year, but this may be subject to a minimum amount and refund policies vary between providers.

All of the big six energy providers automatically refund customers in-credit. Here are their policies:

Provider When will in-credit funds be automatically reimbursed?
British Gas At the end of the payment year if you’re £5+ in-credit & you’ve submitted a meter reading within the previous 120 days
E.on On the annual anniversary of becoming a customer if you’re £5+ in credit & you’ve submitted a meter reading in the previous six months
EDF At the annual review any in-credit balance will be refunded
Npower Every six months credit of £5+ is refunded
Scottish Power At your annual review
you’ll be refunded if you’ve submitted meter readings & your balance is greater than one month's payment value, or you are £75+ in-credit
SSE At the annual review you'll be refunded if you're £5+ in credit, projected to continue with the same levels of usage, and have submitted a meter reading.

Mr Lyon adds: “Today’s findings underline why providing regular, up to date meter readings is so important – it’s the only way to make sure you only pay for what you use and avoid the risk of falling into significant credit or debt.”

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