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ADVICE FOR THOSE WORRIED ABOUT ENERGY BILLS AND FALLING INTO DEBT

If you’re worried about your energy bills or falling into debt, you’re not alone. And there are things you can do to help your situation. From making small changes in your home, to reaching out for support.

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There are many reasons why someone may experience fuel debt, including:

  • Low income
  • Incorrect bills and lack of meter readings
  • Inadequate insulation and heating
  • Inefficient boiler
  • Budgeting issues
  • Change of circumstances, such as illness
  • Bereavement or redundancy

If you can’t afford the energy you need or are in debt with your energy supplier, there is help available. Read on to find the help that suits you:

5 STEPS TO AVOID FUEL DEBT

If you're struggling to pay your energy bills, ensure you follow these steps to prevent things getting worse for you and those you live with:

  1. Choose the best payment method and tariff and switch supplier if they can offer you a better deal
  2. Improve the energy efficiency of your home
  3. Check that you are claiming all of the benefits you are entitled to
  4. If you are unable to pay your bill, contact your supplier and let them know
  5. Provide your supplier with a monthly meter reading to ensure you receive an accurate bill, or request a smart meter which will send your meter readings automatically

SWITCHING SUPPLIER AND FUEL DEBT

Switching supplier could save hundreds of pounds on your energy bills. Just make sure you choose an online price comparison site which displays the ‘Ofgem confidence code’, such as the Citizens Advice comparison tool. This can help you find the best deal.

There may be circumstances where the existing supplier can prevent switching to a new supplier – this normally occurs where there is an existing fuel debt and the current supplier insists that this debt be recovered before a transfer will be allowed. You'll need to speak to your energy supplier if you are in this situation.

An exception is prepayment meter customers who are allowed to switch supplier with a debt of up to £500 for gas and £500 for electricity, under a process called the Debt Assignment Protocol. 

Mother and child baking in the kitchen

TARIFFS AVAILABLE

To help with your energy bills, you can also check that you’re on the cheapest tariff and choose the best payment option for your needs. A smart meter could help you switch to a better deal, as you’ll have accurate energy usage information which could help you choose the supplier and tariff that suits you best. Smart meters are set up to work for both prepay and credit customers.

Some smart meter owners can access time-of-use tariffs, which could help save you money if you are able to use less energy during periods of high demand (known as peak periods) and more energy during periods of low demand (known as off peak periods).

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND USAGE

It’s important that you use the energy you need to keep warm, safe and healthy at home. And making small changes in how you do this can often have a big impact on bills. Simple Energy Advice can provide help in managing this. This site includes energy efficiency advice as well as tips on how to reduce your energy usage.

Smart meters could also help you to find ways to reduce energy waste around the home and save money. The in-home display shows you in near-real time the amount of energy being used in pounds and pence, allowing you to keep a closer eye on your energy spending habits.

WARM HOME DISCOUNT

The Warm Home Discount scheme is a programme that offers support with energy costs to low income vulnerable households. All of the main energy suppliers are required to participate in the scheme and a number of other electricity suppliers participate on a voluntary basis.

This year, eligible households could get a £140 discount on their electricity bills. Householders wishing to enquire about the Warm Home Discount eligibility criteria should contact their energy supplier here.

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BENEFIT ENTITLEMENT CHECK

Contact the organisations listed in the ‘Sources of support and advice’ section below to get a benefit entitlement check and debt support. These organisations can also help you to access specific grants and trust funds which some energy suppliers provide to give additional support to some of their most vulnerable customers.

These trust funds can help clear energy debt and assist with other essential household costs.

IF YOU CANNOT PAY YOUR BILL

If you are in debt to your energy supplier and struggling to get on top of it, then speak to your supplier as soon as possible. If they know there is a problem, they can work with you to find a solution. There are different options available, one is to ask to set up a payment plan and be realistic about what you can afford to repay. You don’t want to leave yourself short for other essential bills.

CHECK YOUR ENERGY BILLS AND PROVIDE ACCURATE METER READINGS

Take regular meter readings and submit them to your energy supplier - this will help you keep an eye on your energy use and keep your bills accurate. You can find guidance on taking meter readings here

You can also ask your energy supplier for a smart meter. They enable accurate, not estimated bills – meaning you only pay for what you use. They also send your meter readings securely to your energy supplier, so you don’t have to.

SOURCES OF SUPPORT AND ADVICE

These organisations can help with debt assistance and benefits advice:

Programme How can they help? Contact details
NEA’s Warm and Safe at Home service The NEA’s Warm and Safe at Home service offers free support service providing advice to householders on your energy bills and keeping warm in your home. They can also help with benefits advice and income maximisation.

You can call 0800 138 8218.
Or you can visit the NEA’s Warm and Safe Homes Advice Service website.

 

StepChange Debt Charity

The StepChange Debt Charity provides free independent debt advice.

Please call 0800 138 1111 for advice.
Or you can visit the StepChange Debt Charity website.

National Debtline The National Debtline can offer free independent debt advice.

You can call 0808 808 4000
Alternatively please visit the National Debtline website.

The Money Advice Service The Money Advice Service provides free impartial money advice to help improve your finances.

Please call 0800 138 7777 for more information.
Or you can visit The Money Advice Service website.

Citizens Advice Debt Helpline The Citizens Advice Debt Helpline offers free advice for all types of debt and money guidance.

Call 0800 240 4420 for more information.
Alternatively, please visit the Citizens Advice Debt Helpline website.

Turn2Us Turn2Us help people in financial need to identify local benefit advisors and grant support.

You can call 0808 802 2000 to identify support in your area.
Or you can visit the Turn2Us website.

 

PRIORITY SERVICES REGISTER

It’s really important that both your supplier and Distribution Network Operator (DNO) know if you are in a vulnerable situation, so they can include you on their priority services register. This includes people who are of pensionable age, have children under 5, have a disability or longterm medical condition.

Being on the register means that you will be prioritised in the event of a power cut and you will receive additional non-financial services such as password security or information in different formats. If you have difficulty contacting your supplier you can register with your DNO first and when prompted give permission for your data to be shared with your gas and electricity supplier. Find your DNO’s contact details on your fuel bill here.

REQUEST YOUR SMART METER

Join the millions of Brits who are already using a smart meter and accompanying in-home display to reduce the energy usage in their homes.

Simply type your energy supplier in the box below and we'll redirect you to their website.

We believe that Octopus Energy is now responsible for Affect Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Octopus Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Angelic Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that SSE is now responsible for Atlantic Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with SSE who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Nabuh Energy is now responsible for Avid Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Nabuh Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Beam Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that PFP Energy is now responsible for Better Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with PFP Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Breeze customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that SSE is now responsible for Brilliant Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with SSE who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Together Energy is now responsible for Bristol Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with Together Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that SSE are responsible for Cardiff Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with SSE who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for CitizEn Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Octopus Energy is now responsible for Co-op Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Octopus Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Scottish Power is now responsible for Daisy Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Scottish Power who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that OVO Energy are responsible for Economy Energy credit customers. Therefore we are connecting you with OVO Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward. If you are a prepay customer you will need to contact Boost, who will be responsible for taking you request forward.

We believe that Octopus Energy is now responsible for Engie customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Octopus Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that Utilita is now responsible for Eversmart customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Utilita who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

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We believe that Shell Energy Retail is now responsible for First Utility customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Shell Energy Retail who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Fosse Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Green Star Energy is now responsible for Future Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Green Star Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Octopus Energy is now responsible for Gen4U customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Octopus Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that Bulb Energy is now responsible for GnErgy customers. Therefore we will connect you with Bulb who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Great North Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that EDF Energy is now responsible for Green Network Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with EDF Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that Octopus Energy is now responsible for Iresa customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Octopus Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that EDF Energy is now responsible for iSupply Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with EDF Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that OVO Energy is now responsible for Lumo customers. Therefore we are connecting you with OVO Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that E.ON is now responsible for Npower Select customers. Therefore we will connect you with E.ON who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Together Energy is now responsible for One Select Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Together Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that Utilita is now responsible for Our Power customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Utilita who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for PFP Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Octopus Energy is now responsible for Qwest Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Octopus Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Ram Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Robin Hood Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

Scottish Gas have told us that British Gas is responsible for providing smart meters on their behalf. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

Scottish Hydro have told us that SSE is responsible for providing smart meters on their behalf. Therefore we are connecting you with SSE who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Simplicity Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that SSE is now responsible for Spark Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with SSE who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Southend Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Nabuh Energy is now responsible for Snowdrop Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Nabuh Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We don't currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that EDF are responsible for Solarplicity customers. Therefore we are connecting you with EDF who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

Swalec have told us that SSE is responsible for providing smart meters on their behalf. Therefore we are connecting you with SSE who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don’t currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for The Leccy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don’t currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that Scottish Power is now responsible for Tonik Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Scottish Power who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that EDF Energy are responsible for Toto Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with EDF Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that Shell Energy Retail is now responsible for Usio Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with Shell Energy Retail who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that EDF Energy is now responsible for Utility Point customers. Therefore we will connect you with EDF Energy who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that E.ON are responsible for Wasp Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with E.ON who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for White Rose Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that E.ON are responsible for Wigan Warriors Energy customers. Therefore we are connecting you with E.ON who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don’t currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters online, but we can connect you to them over the phone by calling 0300 131 8000.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for Your Energy Sussex customers. Therefore we are connecting you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We don’t currently have information from your energy supplier regarding their bookings for smart meters, but we will connect you to their website so you can contact them directly.

We believe that E.ON Next is now responsible for Hub Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with E.ON Next who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

We believe that British Gas is now responsible for MoneyPlus Energy customers. Therefore we will connect you with British Gas who will be responsible for taking your request forward.

FAQs

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace the traditional meters, including prepay key meters, most of us currently have ticking away under the stairs, or outside our homes. Smart meters record your energy use in the same way as a traditional meter but then send the readings automatically to your energy supplier at least monthly, allowing them to prepare an accurate bill.

How do smart meters work?

Your smart meter measures how much gas and electricity you use and securely shares this directly with your energy supplier at least once a month and your portable in-home display in near real time. You won't have to take any meter readings manually - your smart meter will send automatic readings to your energy supplier via the secure smart data network which is solely for smart meters. This works in a similar way as other wireless systems but does not use the internet.