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Stop your energy supplier installing a prepayment meter

This advice applies to Wales

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. They’ll add the cost of the warrant to the money you owe them.   

Further help

If your supplier is going to install a prepayment meter, find out what to expect

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you need more help or advice about stopping your supplier installing a prepayment meter.

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.

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