As a refreshing change to owing money to our energy suppliers, sometimes we may be in credit. We take a look at what having credit on your energy bill means and how you can claim it back.
What is a live account balance?
Your energy account will either be in credit or in debt. If you’re in debt, then you have used more energy than you paid for since your last bill. By contrast, when you’re in credit you have paid for more energy than you actually used.
A live account balance is how much debt or credit is on your energy account; it’s live because it pertains to your current supplier. Conversely, a closed account balance refers to any debt or credit with a previous energy supplier.
What does it mean if my energy bill is in credit?
Most energy bills are charged either monthly or quarterly by direct debit, but these are usually estimations. These figures are calculated based on how much energy your supplier thinks you’ll consume over a 12-month period, and sometimes it’s not totally accurate. This is because of the fluctuations in consumption – we use much more over the winter months than in the summer.
When you find your energy bill in credit, you’ll have paid for more energy than you actually consumed, meaning your energy supplier owes you money.
How do I find my live account balance?
Your live account balance should be displayed on your energy bill, whether you receive it by post or online.
If you find you’re frequently in credit – that is, consistently being overcharged – then you may benefit from sending regular meter readings to your supplier. From these, your provider will be able to work out a more accurate estimation of your consumption. Or, if keeping on top of meter readings sounds like a slog, you could upgrade to a smart meter which’ll do this automatically.
How do live account balances change?
Finding your energy bill in credit or debt depends on a range of factors.
You’ll find it’s affected by when you signed your contract. If paying by direct debit and you signed in summer, then you may find your account is often in credit as you’re using less than you pay for. And by contrast, those who sign in winter may find they’re often in debt. But you’ll also find your live account balance depends on:
- When your supplier bills you;
- Whether you’re charged one month in advance;
- What type of meter you have – e.g. prepayment meters are considered to be in credit until the energy is used;
- Whether your supplier has accurate meter readings.
Should I claim for a refund?
If you’re in credit, then it may be tempting to ask for a refund from your supplier straight away. But before you do, you should consider whether having your account in credit could be of greater benefit than a cash refund. For example, in winter energy bills are considerably higher than average, so some extra dollar on your live account balance could come in handy.
How do I get a refund from my energy supplier?
Energy companies tend to review your consumption annually, which is when they determine whether you’re in credit or debt overall. If you’re in credit, they may not always offer a refund in the first instance. Instead, your supplier may decide to deduct what they owe you from any future direct debits. This is preferable for your supplier, but if you would prefer a refund you can insist on one.
To request a refund, you simply need to contact your provider; it’s useful to have your account information to hand.
Can I claim a refund from a previous supplier?
For many years, energy suppliers didn’t refund customers when they were in credit. As a result, there are millions of consumer pounds from closed accounts still in the pockets of energy companies, earning interest and waiting to be refunded.
If, with any previous supplier, you think you were in credit when you switched and didn’t get a refund, you should still be able to request one. However, you’ll need some information to do so.
Having an old energy bill to hand is useful, as this’ll have your account details. Alternatively, you can call up your previous provider and they may be able to trace you.
If you’re owed a refund, they’ll talk you through the simple process; you may have to provide some proof of ID. We should mention: if you’re unsure whether you’re owed a refund, call anyway – you might be surprised!
Should I switch energy suppliers if I’m in credit?
If you’re nearing the end of your contract term and you’re in credit, then that shouldn’t sway you to stick with your current provider. They may try to lure you into a new contract by deducting the credit from future direct debits, rather than giving you a refund. But you’ll almost always save money if you switch suppliers; the competitive nature of the market means new customers get the best energy deals.
If you decide to switch supplier (great choice) then be sure to run an energy comparison first using our tool. We’ll show you available tariffs from a whole host of providers, allowing you to compare energy suppliers from across the board to find the right deal for you.