Problems getting to or topping up your prepayment meter
Coronavirus - if you can’t top up your prepayment meter
Tell your supplier if you can’t get to a shop to top up because you’re ill with coronavirus or following guidance to ‘self-isolate’. You’ll find their contact details on their website or on your bill.
They’ll try to help you find other ways to keep your energy supply connected. For example:
- let someone else top up for you
- add funds to your account
- send you a pre-loaded top-up card
You’ll need to pay back any credit your supplier gives you - ask them when and how you’ll need to do this.
If you call your energy supplier, you might have to wait longer than normal to speak to someone. If you can, try contacting them online through their website, through social media, or by email.
If you can’t leave your home, an NHS Volunteer Responder might be able to help you top up your meter. You can either:
- find out how to get help from an NHS Volunteer Responder on the Royal Voluntary Service website
- talk to your supplier about getting help from an NHS Volunteer Responder
If your meter is outside and it’s safe for you to get to it, it’s a good idea to leave it unlocked. This means someone else could top it up for you.
Your supplier should move or remove your prepayment meter if:
it’s hard for you to get to, for example if you can't reach it
you can’t easily get to a shop to put more money on your meter
You shouldn't have to pay to move or replace your meter. If your supplier tries to charge you, think about switching to a supplier that won’t. If you tell your current supplier you're planning to switch, they might remove the charges.
Find out who your gas or electricity supplier is if you’re not sure.
If you need a normal meter
Your supplier has to replace your prepayment meter with a normal meter (one that lets you pay for energy after you use it, rather than before) if you have a disability or illness that makes it:
hard for you to use, read or put money on your meter
- bad for your health if your electricity or gas is cut off
You can’t get to your prepayment meter
Your supplier has to make sure you can get to your prepayment meter. Tell them if:
you can’t reach your meter easily - for example if it’s above head height
your meter is in a shared cupboard that you don’t have a key for
your meter is outside or in a separate building
They must try to move your meter to somewhere you can get to. If they can’t move it, they have to replace it with a normal meter that lets you pay after you use energy rather than in advance.
You can’t top up anywhere nearby
If you can’t easily get to a shop to put money on your prepayment meter, tell your supplier. They might offer you another way to top up - for example online or by text message. If they can’t do that, they have to install a normal meter that lets you pay monthly or quarterly.
There are no exact rules on when your supplier has to act, but tell them if:
- you’d have to travel a long way or for a long time
- it would cost you a lot to get there
- you’d find the journey difficult, for example if you find it hard to walk long distances
You have problems working your meter
Contact your supplier for help if:
you don’t know how to work your meter
you need a new meter key or card
your meter takes tokens - this means it’s out of date and should be replaced
Complain to your supplier if you’ve contacted them and you don’t think their response was reasonable.
You can also contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for advice.