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Can your energy supplier disconnect you?

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

While it is very unusual to be disconnected if you’re behind with your energy bills, it can happen. That’s why it is important to contact your supplier as soon as possible if you’re having trouble paying your bills.

This page explains what you should do if your supplier is threatening to disconnect you because of arrears.

Can you be disconnected if you're behind with energy bills?

It is very unusual to be disconnected if you’re behind with your energy bills. However, it is very important that you tell your supplier as soon as possible if you’re having trouble paying your bills.

All the energy suppliers have to follow certain rules on how they should treat customers who are having trouble paying. They must:

  • offer you a payment plan to pay off your arrears at a rate you can afford
  • offer you a prepayment meter to help you budget
  • take steps to help you avoid self-disconnection if you are already using a prepayment meter.

Get advice if you’re having trouble paying your bills

If your bill remains unpaid

Your supplier should only disconnect you because of a debt as a last resort and after they have taken all reasonable steps to recover the debt. 

Extra protection

Suppliers have agreed not to knowingly disconnect anyone who is considered vulnerable. They mustn’t, between October and March, disconnect you if you are a pensioner, disabled or chronically sick and live alone or live only with other people who are pensioners, disabled, chronically sick or under 18.

If you’re in one of these groups of people, make sure you tell your supplier this when you contact them.

If you can't understand or act on the advice given

If you can't understand or act on the advice given, for example, because of personal circumstances or the complexity of the problem, you may count as a vulnerable customer. If you count as a vulnerable customer and still can't sort out the problem with the supplier directly, contact the Consumer Council.

Getting reconnected

What your supplier agrees with you will depend on your past payment history and circumstances.

Your supplier may add a reconnection fee, administrative costs associated with the disconnection and reconnection and a security deposit to the money you owe.

Next steps

If you have been disconnected, or are threatened with disconnection, and have not been able to sort things out with your energy supplier, contact the Consumer Council.

How to make a complaint about the way your energy supplier has dealt with your arrears

More information about paying energy bills

Find out about the extra help with bills available to older and vulnerable people

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