Stop your energy supplier installing a prepayment meter
Your gas or electricity supplier might tell you they’re going to install a prepayment meter in your home if you owe them money.
When you can refuse a prepayment meter
Your supplier can’t make you have a prepayment meter if it wouldn’t be safe or practical. This means you can refuse to have a prepayment meter if an illness or disability means you’d be harmed if your gas or electricity was cut off. You can also refuse if you couldn’t get to or use your meter.
Your supplier also has to follow rules set by Ofgem, the energy regulator. These rules mean your supplier can’t make you have a prepayment meter if:
- you don’t agree that you owe them money, and you’ve told them this - for example if the debt came from a previous tenant
they haven’t offered you other ways to repay money you owe - for example a repayment plan or payments through your benefits
they come to your home to install a prepayment meter without giving you notice - at least 7 days for gas and 7 working days for electricity
they haven’t given you at least 28 days to repay your debt before writing to you to say they want to install a prepayment meter
Tell your supplier if any of these apply. If they still want to want to install a prepayment meter, you should complain to get them to change their mind.
Refuse a prepayment meter if you’re disabled or ill
Your supplier can’t make you have a 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
Tell your supplier if any of these apply. If they still want to install a prepayment meter, you should complain to get them to change their mind.
You should also ask to be put on your supplier’s priority services register - you could get extra help with your energy supply.
Refuse a prepayment meter if you couldn’t get to it or top it up
Your supplier can’t make you have a prepayment meter if it would be too hard for you to top it up. Tell your supplier if:
your current meter is hard to reach - for example if it's above head height
you can’t always get to your current meter - for example if it’s in a shared cupboard you don’t have a key for
it would be hard to get to a shop where you could top up your meter - for example if you don’t have a car and the nearest shop is over 2 miles away
There might be ways around problems like these. For example, your supplier might move your meter or let you top up online.
If your supplier can’t solve one of these problems but still wants to install a prepayment meter, you should complain. If your complaint succeeds they won’t install the meter.
You could pay more if you refuse without a reason
If none of the reasons on this page apply to you, your supplier is allowed to install a prepayment meter. If you don't agree to this, they can get a warrant to enter your home and install the meter, which could cost up to £150. They’ll add the cost of the warrant to the money you owe them.
If your supplier is going to install a prepayment meter, find out what to expect.
Contact your local Citizens Advice bureau or the Citizens Advice consumer service if you need more help or advice about stopping your supplier installing a prepayment meter.
Citizens Advice consumer service (Scotland)
Tel: 03454 04 05 06 (Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm)
The Citizens Advice consumer service will provide energy and postal service advice to Scottish consumers. You can find out more about the service, including how to get in touch online, on Contact the consumer helpline.
If you’re in debt, you might be able to get financial help with paying for your energy.
You might also find our debt guidance useful.