Are you one of the millions due an energy bill refund? Here's how to find out

Millions of people could be due a refund on energy bills– here's what you need to know

Gas bill
(Image credit: iStock)

Millions of UK residents could be due an energy refund – without realising it. We all want our heating and electricity bills to be a bit lower, especially in winter, but did you know that you could be owed money by your energy provider, sometimes as much as hundreds of pounds? 

  • You could save on your energy bills by using our energy comparison tool and switching suppliers

There are several scenarios when you may be owed an energy refund, and you may be able to get money back regardless of you method of payment – by direct debit or via traditional paper billing. You should definitely check whether you're owed a refund if you change suppliers frequently, or if your bills tend to be estimates rather than based on regular meter reads. And – claiming an energy refund is usually quite easy. Linda Dodge, energy expert from SaveOnEnergy.com/uk, has provided some advice on what steps you can take as a homeowner:

'Across the UK, people are owed money by their previous or current energy suppliers. However, many people are either not aware that they are in credit, or they don’t know how to go about claiming an energy refund from their suppliers. Fortunately, Ofgem has rules that should make it relatively easy to claim for the money that you’re owed.' 

See Linda's tips on how to go about claiming an energy refund below.

How do I find out if I'm owed an energy refund?

If your current energy supplier owes you money, it’s referred to as a 'live' account balance. There are several different ways that you can find out if your energy supplier owes you an energy refund: 

  • Online – If you pay your energy bills online, simply log in and check your account balance. 
  • Paper bills – If you receive paper bills, your latest bill should tell you if you are in credit. 
  • Contact customer service – If you can’t find a recent bill, simply get in touch with your energy supplier and it should be able to tell you whether you have overpaid or not. 

It’s also worth remembering that three of the big six energy suppliers – nPower, ScottishPower and British Gas – will refund credit automatically, so you probably won’t need to request an electronic refund. 

How can I find out if my previous energy supplier owes me a refund?

If your old energy supplier owes you money, it’s referred to as a “closed” account balance. Aside from looking back at your bills from your previous energy supplier, there is a scheme called My Energy Credit that helps people who have moved or switched suppliers reclaim money that they may be owed, regardless of how much time has passed.

My Energy Credit’s website provides information about the claims process for all the major suppliers, so it’s a great jumping-off point for anyone who needs to find out whether their previous supplier owes them money. 

How much money could I be owed?

The amount of money that your energy supplier may owe you is based on the amount of money that you have overpaid. According to recent research, the average British person who pays by direct debit is £108 in credit with their energy provider.

Of course, it’s possible that you’re owed significantly more or less than this amount. For example, if you regularly switch providers and you’ve overpaid with many of your old suppliers, you may be owed hundreds of pounds. To find out for sure, you’ll need to look at a recent bill or get in touch with your energy supplier.

How do I get an energy refund from my current supplier?

Fortunately, the process of getting an energy refund is relatively simple: all you need to do is ask. Get in touch with your current energy supplier by phone and they should handle the rest of the process. 

How long will it take to get my refund?

The length of time that a refund takes will depend on your supplier. In some cases, you should be able to get it within eight weeks, although it may take months. Ultimately, this is down to the energy supplier, so the sooner you make a request for a refund, the sooner the money will be in your account. 

What if my provider refuses to issue an energy refund?

If your energy company is not refunding credit readily, or within eight weeks of the request, you can lodge a complaint with the Energy Ombudsman. If the ombudsman agrees to take on your case, they will provide you with a response within six to eight weeks. If the ruling is in your favour, a letter will be sent to your energy supplier saying what needs to be done, and if an electronic refund is required, it will have 28 days to repay you. 

Can I get a power outage refund?

If your energy supplier is at fault for the outage, you can claim for a power outage refund. However, if the power outage was due to an error by you, for example, you didn’t pay your bill or a fuse was tripped, then you won’t be entitled to a refund. 

  • If the outage was planned, then your provider is required to give you two days’ notification. If it didn’t provide you with this notification, you are entitled to claim £30, although you must do this within 30 days of the outage. 
  • If fewer than 5,000 homes experienced a gas or electricity outage for over 12 hours, each home will get £75, plus £35 for each subsequent 12-hour period. 
  • If more than 5,000 homes were affected, each home will get £75, plus £35 for each subsequent 12-hour period, but the amount you can claim for is capped at £300. 
  • If the outage was caused by poor weather conditions, each home will get £70 if they went without power for 24 hours, and a further £70 for each subsequent 12-hour period, capped at £700. 

Whent should I avoid claiming an energy refund?

If you know your energy account is in credit and you anticipate your winter energy usage to be higher than your normal direct debit payments, there's no point claiming back your credit because it will help you cover the difference when you get your winter bill. It's normal for an energy account to be in credit in the summer and in debit in the winter, so if you've built up credit over the summer, then it will help you cover your costs over the winter. 

How can I make my bills more accurate?

If you want to reduce the amount of time you spend dealing with energy refunds, making your bills as accurate as possible can be a great help. One of the best things to do is provide regular meter readings to your supplier. By doing this once every three months, your supplier can make a much more accurate prediction of your energy consumption and you’ll be less likely to overpay.

Some companies encourage you to submit meter readings every month – this is a great way to monitor your energy usage and to avoid unpleasant quarterly surprises. When switching energy suppliers, you may find it useful to ask your new supplier about billing and meter readings – the more frequently they collect them, the better.