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 you’re disabled or have a long-term illness
Even if you're in debt, your supplier has to replace your prepayment meter if you:
- are disabled in a way that makes it hard to get to, read or use the meter
- have a mental health condition that makes it hard to get to, read or use the meter
- have an illness that affects your breathing, such as asthma
- have an illness that’s made worse by the cold, such as arthritis
- use medical equipment that needs electricity - for example a stairlift or dialysis machine
Your supplier can’t charge you to replace your meter if any of these apply. They also can’t ask you for a deposit, as this would count as a charge.
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.