Dealing with your small business energy bills

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

If you work from home

If your business is based from home, you'll usually be a domestic energy customer instead of a business customer. Check what to do if you’re struggling with domestic energy bills.

There are no current government schemes to help with your business energy bills.

You might be able to save money by switching energy supplier.

There are other steps you can take if you're finding it hard to pay your microbusiness's energy bills.

What you should do depends on if:

  • you're already in debt to your supplier

  • you've been sent a bill you can't afford

  • you're regularly struggling to pay your bills

Check if something is an energy scam

Some scammers are pretending to be from energy companies to get your personal information.

If you think something might be a scam: 

  • don’t give out any personal information or bank details

  • don’t use any contact details from the possible scam

You can check if something is a scam.

Check if you can save money by switching energy supplier

You can shop around for a better deal as long as you aren't in debt to your energy supplier.

It's usually worth switching if:

  • the fixed term of your contract has ended - you'll be in a 'roll-over period' or on an 'end-of contract' tariff

  • you're on a tariff you didn't choose to be on, for example if you've taken over a new premises - you'll be on a 'deemed' tariff

These tariffs are often very expensive. You usually won't need to pay a fee or give notice to switch.

Check if you can switch to a different energy supplier.

If you're struggling to pay your bills

If you often find it hard to pay your energy bills there are things you can do to try to reduce them.


If your energy supplier goes bust 

Don’t switch tariff or supplier until your account is moved to the new supplier. You might find it harder to get any money you’re owed if you switch before this happens. 

Read our advice about what to do if your energy supplier goes bust.

Check you're being billed the right amount

If you think the bill is wrong you should challenge it - call your supplier and ask how it's been calculated.

If your supplier is estimating your bills you might be paying more than you need to each month.

Take regular meter readings and send them to your supplier. Set up a monthly reminder on your phone or calendar so you don't forget.

If you're a 'microbusiness' you can only be billed for energy you've used in the last 12 months. Check if your business is a microbusiness.

If you think you've been overcharged, call your energy supplier and complain.

Explain that because you're a microbusiness you can't be billed for energy used more than 12 months ago.

Check if you can get a smart meter

If you don’t have a smart meter you could ask your supplier to install one. If you rent your business space, check with your landlord. 

A smart meter will automatically send accurate readings to your energy supplier so you’ll only pay for the energy you use.

If you have a smart meter installed you’ll usually get an in-home display (IHD) - sometimes called a ‘smart energy monitor’.

You can use the IHD to track how much energy you’re using and the estimated cost. Check how to get a smart meter

Make your business energy efficient

There are ways to reduce how much electricity and gas you use - for example, you can:

  • switch off computers and other equipment overnight if they aren't being used

  • use energy efficient light bulbs

  • make sure your premises are insulated against drafts

  • only use as much hot water as you need and fix any leaking hot taps

If you're in debt to your energy supplier

If you’re struggling to afford your gas and electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay what you owe them.

Your supplier should help you come to a solution. You should try to negotiate a deal that works for both of you.

Check your contract to see how long you have to pay your bill and when you’ll be classed as being in debt. You’ll usually have around 28 days to pay your bill.

Check when your supply can be disconnected

If you can’t agree a way for you to pay what you owe, your supplier might ask permission to enter your property and disconnect your supply.

If you don't give permission, your supplier can apply to the court for permission. This permission is called a warrant.

Your supplier can only apply for a warrant at least 28 days after they sent you the bill.

Contact your supplier as soon as possible to try and find a solution. Try explaining your situation and how you can pay back any money you owe.

Your supplier might:

  • agree to stop their application for a warrant

  • arrange for you to join the court hearing where they apply for the warrant - you’ll usually join by video call

You can tell the judge at the hearing why your supply shouldn’t be disconnected.

If you need more help, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Advice Direct Scotland's energy advice service.

If the court gives your supplier a warrant

Your supplier has 28 days to use the warrant. This starts from the day the court gives them the warrant.

Before your supplier uses the warrant to disconnect your supply, they must give you notice.

If they want to disconnect a gas meter, they must give you at least 7 days’ notice.

If they want to disconnect an electricity meter, they must give you at least 7 working days’ notice.

A working day is any day from Monday to Friday that isn’t a bank holiday. For example, Good Friday isn’t a working day.

If you're disconnected, your supplier can add a disconnection fee to the money you owe. You'll need to pay another fee if you're reconnected.

Contacting your supplier about a problem

If you’re having a problem with your energy supply, call or use webchat to contact your supplier straight away. You can get their contact details from their website.

Tell them what’s happening, and what you want them to do about it. They might be able to sort it out then and there. You should note down the:

  • date and time you get in touch

  • person you speak to

  • problem you talk about

If your supplier doesn't solve your problem while you're on the phone or webchat, send them an email or letter repeating what you said. This means you’ll have a record of your conversation with your supplier.

When you write to your supplier include your account number and any case reference numbers you have. This makes it quicker and easier to sort out your problem.

Complaining to your supplier or broker

You might want to complain to your supplier if for example they:

  • won't fix a problem with your meter or energy supply

  • keep billing you the wrong amount

You might want to complain to your broker if for example they:

  • misled you about a contract they sold you

  • weren't clear about their fees

  • charged you more than they said they would

Check what you need to make a complaint

The first thing you should do is gather any supporting evidence. What you’ll need depends on your issue - for example you could:

  • take photos of a faulty meter

  • get together copies of unusual bills

  • gather notes from phone calls you’ve had

  • look for emails from your supplier about the problem

You’ll also need details of your complaint and your energy account number to hand. You can find this on a recent bill.

Making a complaint

When you’re ready, you can complain over the phone, or in writing by email or post. It's a good idea to complain in writing so you can keep a record.

You can usually find your supplier or broker's complaints procedure on their website.

If you’re a microbusiness customer

Your supplier or broker has to explain how they’ll deal with your complaint. They’ll do this by sending you a ‘decision letter’ or ‘letter of deadlock’ within 8 weeks.

You can complain to the energy ombudsman after complaining to your supplier if you:

  • have a letter of deadlock and aren’t happy with the decision

  • didn’t get a decision letter or letter of deadlock within 8 weeks

You can only complain to the ombudsman if your supplier pays a set amount or commission to your broker. If you’re not sure, check your contract or ask your supplier.

If you’ve had a deadlock letter you can complain to the ombudsman within 12 months of getting it. If you didn’t get a deadlock letter you might be able to complain to the ombudsman after more than 12 months.

You can complain to the ombudsman on the Ombudsman Services website.

If you need more help

If you need more advice about dealing with your energy bills, you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Advice Direct Scotland's energy advice service. 

Advice Direct Scotland energy advice

Freephone: 0808 196 8660


If you’re finding things difficult

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. You should talk to your GP if your money problems are affecting your mental health. 

You can also get help on the Breathing Space website.

If you need to speak to someone right now you can call the Samaritans for free.


Helpline: 116 123 (Monday to Sunday at any time)

Welsh Language Line: 0808 164 0123 (Monday to Sunday 7pm to 11pm)


You can also text 'SHOUT' to 85258 to start a conversation with a trained Shout 85258 volunteer. Texts are free, anonymous and confidential from anywhere in the UK.

If you think it's an emergency

If you think your life or someone else’s is at risk, you should call 999 or go to A&E if you can.

If you need support, you can call NHS 24 on 111. The Mental Health Hub is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Page last reviewed on 30 September 2022