The increasing prices of energy mean that, across the UK, there are millions of households who are finding it difficult to keep on top of their gas and electricity payments. If you fall behind on your payments you will accumulate a debt with your energy company.
In the worst case scenario your energy company may decide to cut off your energy supply. However there are a number of things you can do to prevent this from happening.
The first thing we need to establish is how much money you currently owe your energy supplier. There are various regulations that manage the handling of energy debt and these change depending on the total sum owed.
If you are on a prepayment meter and you owe your energy provider less than £500, then you will be able to switch to a cheaper tariff. However if you owe more than £500, then you will first have to pay down your debt before your supplier can switch you to a cheaper plan.
If you are on an energy plan with a standard meter, you will have to communicate directly with your energy supplier to determine how you will go about paying off your debt. You may also be able to switch to a prepayment meter plan to make it easier to manage your energy budget.
Though it may seem surprising, your energy supplier will actually be quite a big source of help to you in this situation. You should definitely get in touch with them either via email or telephone.
Your energy supplier will be able to suggest methods to prevent you from getting into debt in the future. They will also work with you to set up a repayment plan that you can afford. This repayment plan will allow you to pay off your debt in small manageable amounts that will be paid off in weekly or fortnightly installments.
If you are seriously struggling with your energy bills, then your energy supplier will probably ask you to switch to a prepayment meter.
Prepayment meters work by getting you to pay for your energy supply upfront, instead of on a monthly or quarterly basis. These meters normally work through a top up system, where you purchase credit at a shop much like you would for a mobile phone top up.
If you are on a prepayment meter, then you won’t be at risk of building up any energy debt.
There are a few downsides to being on a prepayment meter. One problem with having a prepayment meter is that if you run out of credit, you will not be able to receive any gas or electricity. Prepayment meters also have much higher rates on energy than standard meters.
If you currently receive benefit payments, you can arrange to pay back your debt by way of making small deductions from your benefits each week. These deductions are known as third party deductions.
For further details on these deductions go to the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Job Centre.