If your energy supplier has increased your direct debit payments
If you pay for your gas or electricity by direct debit, the payments will usually be based on an estimate of the amount of energy you’ll use over a year.
Your payments will increase if you use more energy than the supplier has estimated. You might also have to pay for the extra energy you used.
Your supplier has to let you know about a payment increase before it happens - this is known as the 'direct debit guarantee'. If they don’t, you should complain to your supplier.
Your monthly direct debit for gas and electricity is set at £70. Your supplier checks this against the amount of energy you actually use and finds that it has been set too low. You owe £300 in arrears.
Your supplier estimates that you actually use £90 of energy a month. They raise your direct debit payments to £120, which covers your higher usage and paying off the arrears. When the debt is repaid, your supplier reduces your payments to £90.
Submit meter readings
It's important you send monthly meter readings. This will help your supplier set your direct debit payments at the right level. You'll then be less likely to owe them extra money. Check how to read your meter.
Get your supplier to explain the increase
You can challenge the increased direct debit payment amount with your supplier if you disagree with it.
Ask your supplier to justify how they calculated the new amount. They must explain clearly how they reached the figure they want to charge, and give you the meter readings they used.
When you look at the meter readings, check them against the meter readings on your bill to see if they are the same. Remember that your usage will be higher in the winter months.
If you think you’ve been overcharged
You might want to try to claim back money from your supplier if you've paid too much.
If you’re still not happy
If you’re still not happy with your supplier’s calculation, ask your supplier to lower your monthly payments to more accurately reflect your energy use.
If they won't lower your payments to reflect your usage, you should make a formal complaint to your supplier.
Only pay for the energy you use each month
You might be able to make 'variable direct debit payments' instead of paying the same each month. This means you’ll usually have lower bills in the summer and higher bills in the winter.
Check if your energy supplier offers variable direct debit payments - if they don't you could switch energy supplier.
If you change to a variable direct debit payment and you don’t have a smart meter, you’ll need to send monthly meter readings to your energy supplier.
If you're struggling to pay
There are steps you should take if you're struggling to pay your energy bills to make sure you don't end up in debt. Check what to do if you're struggling to pay your energy bills.
You might be able to get extra help from the government or your energy supplier. Check if you can get grants and benefits to help pay your energy bills.
If you’re struggling with living costs
If you’re struggling with money, there are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.
If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.
You can also get help with debts.
If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.
Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone, online chat or by email.
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