If you haven’t received an accurate energy bill in a while

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Your energy supplier might charge you for energy you’ve used in the past. This is known as ‘back billing’.

If you pay by direct debit, your supplier might increase your payments. They use the extra amount to pay off the amount you owe over a few months.

If you haven’t received an accurate gas or electricity bill for over a year, you might not have to pay for all the energy you’ve used.

Under back billing rules, your supplier cannot usually send you a bill for energy you used more than 12 months ago. The back billing rules don’t apply if the supplier sent you a bill before the year passed and you didn’t pay. In this case, the supplier can still charge you.

If your supplier tries to overcharge you

If your supplier tries to charge you for more than 12 months’ energy use, you should write to them.

Tell them that you’re protected by the back billing rules and should only be charged for 1 year's energy use.


You haven't received an electricity bill in 2 years.

You call your supplier and ask them to send you a bill. You give them an up-to-date meter reading.

Your supplier sends you a bill, charging you for 2 years' energy use.

You write them a letter stating that you're aware of the back billing rules and that you should only have to pay for the last year's energy use.

Your supplier sends you a new bill, charging you for only 1 year's use.

You can use our back billing example letter to help you.

If your supplier still tries to charge you the full amount, you should make a complaint.

If you have behaved unreasonably, your supplier could bill you for the full amount. Unreasonable behaviour includes:  

  • not allowing the supplier access to read your meters without a good reason

  • stealing electricity or gas

If you can’t afford to pay

If you’re sent a bill but you can’t afford to pay it, you can ask your supplier for a payment plan that allows you to repay any debt over the same length of time that the debt has built up. For example, if you've not had a bill from your supplier for 8 months, you should be able to spread the repayments over 8 months.

If the monthly payments are still too high for you, tell the supplier how much you can afford. They might let you spread the repayments over a longer period.

If you’re behind with paying your energy bills

There are things you can do to get help, including agreeing a payment plan with your supplier. Check how to get help if you’re behind with your energy bills.

If you're struggling with debt problems, check how to get help with debt.

Further help

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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