Energy Bill in Credit: How to claim a refund
Many people might not get energy bill refunds as they don’t understand what in credit means. Some energy companies will only refund when asked so it’s important to understand how credit works and if you are owed money back on your energy bill. Read our guide for everything you need to know about energy credit.
What does in credit mean on energy bills?
If you are ‘in credit’ it means that you’ve overpaid and are owed money by your energy supplier. Usually, it’ll say on your most recent energy bill whether you are in credit or not. If you pay by direct debit every month, it can be easy to overpay, especially if you aren’t using much energy. Direct debits are calculated as an estimate of the energy you’ll use over a year, based on your usage, house size and location etc.
Regularly overpaying means that you can build up quite a lot of credit with your energy supplier. This means that you can claim that money back as a refund.
In debit vs. in credit
Being in credit means that you’ve paid for more energy than you’ve actually used. Therefore, ‘debit’ means you owe your supplier money as you haven’t paid enough for the energy you’ve used.
If the debit you owe to your supplier grows by too much, they might suggest that you increase your monthly direct debit payments.
What are live and closed account balances?
There are two different types of energy account:
- Live account: this is the account you have with your current energy supplier.
- Closed account: this is an account with a previous energy supplier.
Being in credit and getting a refund from a live or closed account have different processes. This will be explained later in the guide.
Am I in credit to my energy supplier?
Nearly 13 million households in Britain are owed a total of £1.7billion by energy suppliers according to research by SaveOnEnergy. So, you could be due a refund too.
Thankfully, it’s very easy to find out whether you are in credit. You can simply check your latest energy bill or online account. If you see the words ‘in credit’ or ‘CR’ next to a number, then you’re in luck!
You’ll immediately be able to see if you’re owed money and how much.
Why am I owed money from my energy supplier?
You might be due a refund on your energy bill for these reasons:
- Estimated bills - if you are paying by direct debit, your energy bill will usually be an estimate, based on your previous usage. This means you might end up consuming much less energy than originally estimated. Providing regular meter readings can help your energy supplier to adjust their estimates to your normal usage.
- Your energy usage has changed - if you pay a fixed direct debit amount, it won’t alter with your energy usage. So, for example, in the winter you might be paying for what you use. However, in the summer you might be in credit as you are using less energy but paying the same.
- Payment method - If you pay for your energy in advance using a prepayment meter, you are ‘in credit’ until all the energy has been used. If you pay each bill monthly online or by cheque, there’s more opportunity to provide monthly meter readings and pay for exactly what you’ve used. However, paying by monthly direct debit could lead to you being ‘in credit’ more often as it’s an estimate each month.
How much money could I be owed?
The money you are owed by your energy supplier depends on how much you’ve overpaid by. A study carried out by Uswitch in 2019 found that 45% of the population was owed an average of £126 by their energy supplier.
You are entitled to a full refund plus interest in some cases. Many suppliers do allow you to earn interest on unclaimed credit. Not all suppliers offer this but always ask, just in case you are owed more!
Will I get an automatic refund?
It isn’t always the norm for energy suppliers to automatically refund you if you are in credit. It’s important to regularly check your energy bill and online account to see whether you are in credit or not. If you are, you can request the refund before the energy supplier automatically refunds.
So far, seven energy suppliers automatically refund:
- British Gas - once your credit reaches £75
- EDF Energy - once your credit reaches £40
- Eon - once your credit reaches £75 or the equivalent of one month’s payment
- Npower - once your credit reaches £25
- Scottish Power - once your credit reaches £75
- SSE - Once your credit reaches £60 at six months or £5 at 12 months
- Utility Warehouse - once your credit is above £0
Remember, these energy suppliers will only automatically refund once you are owed a certain amount. They also don’t review your credit monthly, it’s either annual or even biannually.
So, don’t rely on automatic refunds. Check whether you are in credit and claim it back yourself! How do you reclaim credit? Read on...
How can I get an energy refund from my energy supplier?
Getting a refund from your energy supplier is very easy - as long as you notice that you are in credit and owed money in the first place!
All you need to do is ring up your supplier and provide them with your name, address and potentially your energy account number. You can request a refund for the credit you are owed. Don’t forget to ask about interest, especially if you have been owed this money for quite some time.
Whilst you're on the phone with your supplier it would be a good time to provide them with an up-to-date meter reading. This way, they can adjust your payments so you aren’t overpaying for energy you aren’t using.
Once the refund has been issued it can take up to two months for it to arrive in your account.
What if I'm in credit to my previous supplier?
When you switch energy suppliers and are given a final bill, your previous supplier should refund you any credit you might have been owed. However, your supplier might have failed to do this, especially if you didn’t notify them of the money owed.
Here’s how you can find out if your previous energy supplier owes you money from a closed account:
- Old bills - if you have a bill from your previous supplier, it might say whether you are in credit. You will also find your account number on old bills which you can quote when you ring your supplier. They will immediately be able to check whether you are owed money.
- Ring your old supplier - if you can remember who your previous energy supplier is, then you can ring them up and ask if you are owed a refund. You will need to provide proof of ID and your past address.
- Do some investigating - if you still can’t find out if you are in credit and can’t remember who your old supplier is, you might have to do some detective work. You can check with old flatmates or landlords if you were renting. You could also ask your current energy supplier to check for you as they might be able to find out via the UK database.
If you find that you are in credit and owed a refund by your previous energy supplier, the process is the same as above. Simply ring them up and request a refund. You might have to answer questions to prove your identity.
What if my energy supplier refuses to refund me?
If your supplier flat out refuses to refund you or doesn’t get the money to you within two months, you can complain to the Energy Ombudsman. The Energy Ombudsman is an independent service that deals with and resolves energy complaints.
You should receive a response from the Energy Ombudsman within two months. If they decide that your energy supplier needs to refund you, you should receive the money within 28 days.
How energy bill direct debits work
You might be wondering: why pay by direct debit if it means I could be overpaying and owed money?
However, there are many benefits to energy direct debits and most suppliers offer a discount if you pay this way.
When you choose to pay by direct debit, your energy supplier divides the total expected cost of your gas and electricity by 12. This means that your payments will remain the same every month. Usually, this means they will even out as you’ll use less energy in the summer but much more in the winter.
Over a year, your energy payments should match up to your usage. However, sometimes the payments are simply too high which is why you might end up in credit.
When you should and shouldn’t claim back energy credit
If your energy supplier owes you money, you can claim this amount back at any time. However, this might not always be the best decision.
You might not want to reclaim your credit in the following situations:
- Winter is coming - you might have built up credit throughout the summer when you weren’t using much energy. However, you are going to use much more energy in the winter and might want to leave that money in your energy account to cover those higher costs.
- Financial struggles - with expensive bills, reclaiming your credit might be tempting. However, that credit in your account will help you to pay your bills and taking it out means you might struggle more.
Here’s when you should reclaim your energy credit:
- You’ve changed energy supplier - if you’re owed money from your previous energy supplier then go ahead and ask for the refund! You aren’t paying them for energy anymore and should get your money back.
- You’ve moved home - if your energy supplier is basing your usage off the previous owners, you might be hit with a large bill. If you use much less energy, reclaim the credit and provide an up-to-date meter reading.
- Someone’s moved out - if your children have moved out of your home, you will want to reclaim your credit. You’ll be surprised at how much your energy usage will drop!
- You’re saving energy - you might be using less energy, had insulation fitted or have upgraded your appliances. This will reduce your energy bill.