Get your prepayment meter replaced with a normal meter
You can ask your energy supplier to replace your prepayment meter with a normal meter, as long as you’re not in debt to them. Replacing the meter will let you pay for your gas or electricity after you use it, rather than in advance.
You can find out who your gas or electricity supplier is if you don’t already know.
You won't usually have to pay to have a normal meter installed. If your supplier wants to charge you, look into switching to a new supplier that will do it for free. Or tell your current supplier that you're thinking of switching - they might waive the fee.
You could be offered a smart meter, but you can have an old-style ‘dumb’ meter if you prefer.
If it isn’t safe or practical for you to use your prepayment meter
Even if you're in debt, your supplier can replace your prepayment meter if your personal circumstances mean it’s not practical or safe for you to use it.
It might not be safe or practical for you to use your prepayment meter if:
it’s difficult for you to get to, read or top up - for example, this could be because you’re disabled or you have a long term illness or health condition
you need a continuous supply of electricity, for example if you use medical equipment like a stairlift or dialysis machine
Your supplier will decide if they should replace your meter
They’ll look at your circumstances, including:
if they can help you top up in a different way
if someone else can help you top up
how close you live to a top up facility
where your prepayment meter is
how severe your circumstances are
Your supplier shouldn’t charge you to replace your prepayment meter if it’s not safe or practical for you to use it. They also shouldn’t ask you for a deposit, as this would count as a charge.
If you don’t want to switch to a normal meter, your supplier might be able to move your prepayment meter to make it easier to get to. You should ask your supplier about this.
You could also ask your supplier if you can switch to a smart prepayment meter which you can top up online or by phone.
Also ask to be put on your supplier’s priority services register. This will give you extra help with your energy supply.
If you’ve finished paying off debt
If you’ve finished paying off your debt and you don’t want to keep your prepayment meter, your supplier must remove it and install a normal meter instead.
If you’d prefer to keep your prepayment meter, your supplier must reset it so you’re not paying too much.
When you might need a credit check or deposit
Before your supplier installs a normal meter, you might have to have a credit check or pay a deposit. If you’d rather not have a credit check you can ask to pay a deposit instead.
If your supplier asks for a deposit, it should be for a reasonable amount. They should work out what’s reasonable by looking at how much energy households like yours use over 3 months. This is usually between £150 and £300, though it could be more.
If it's much more, complain to your supplier, asking to know how they decided the amount.
Check your final credit before your new meter is installed
Before your new meter is installed, make a note of how much credit you have left. Your supplier will transfer your credit to your new account, so it will go towards your first bill.
If you owe money to your supplier because you've used some emergency credit, write this down instead. They’ll add what you owe to your first bill.
You should also take a final meter reading.
It’s a good idea to take a photo of the meter, so you have proof of what it says.
If you rent your home
You don’t need your landlord's permission to change your meter.
Your landlord can make you change it back when you move out. If you refuse to change it back they could keep some of your deposit.
You’ll have to pay any fee that’s charged by the supplier for changing the meter.