This advice applies to
Your gas or electricity account is in credit
Paying your gas and electricity bills by direct debit means you know what you will pay each month and often entitles you to a discount. This makes direct debit a good way for many people to pay their energy bills, but it can mean you find your account is in credit.
If you find your account is in credit, you might be able to claim a refund. But look carefully at your energy account first. This page explains your options if you find your energy account is in credit.
Top tipsMake sure you’re paying an appropriate amount each month by always informing your supplier of anything that may affect the amount of energy you use. For example, having a baby, getting loft insulation fitted or a member of your household moving out.
Check your meter readings
If your account is in credit, you should check your supplier’s estimate of your energy consumption against your actual meter readings. If your supplier has under-estimated the amount of gas or electricity you use, your account may not be in credit at all. Tell them your meter reading and ask for an updated bill based on your actual usage.
What time of year is it?
If your account is in credit and your bill is accurate, think about what time of year it is. Often you will find your account is in credit during the summer months. This is because the weather is usually warmer and lighter, so you often use less energy. However, this credit normally goes towards paying for your increased energy use in the winter when it is darker and colder.
Think about whether you could afford higher bills in the winter if you get this money back now. It might be better to leave yourself with this buffer against higher winter bills.
If you want a refund
If your bills are accurate and you are confident you can still pay your higher winter bills, you can ask your supplier for a refund. Your entitlement will depend on the policy of your supplier.
You should approach your supplier directly to ask for a refund of the overpayments you have paid. They won’t normally give you a refund if they believe the overpayment is needed to cover your winter usage.
If you’re not happy with your supplier’s response, you can make a complaint.
Bob paid £70 each month by direct debit for his gas and electricity. When his energy company checked his actual usage, they discovered he had used less gas and electricity than he had already paid for. His account was £300 in credit.
He approached his energy supplier to ask for a refund of this money. They checked his usage over the last year and saw the credit had been built up over the winter, when his usage would be the highest. They refunded his £300 and reduced his direct debit payments to £50.