Energy suppliers owe 13 million households a total of £1.8 billion in credit balances — with more than one million bill-payers due more than £300 — according to new research from Uswitch.com.
The comparison and switching service found that consumers who pay for their energy by direct debit can often find themselves in credit with their supplier as their monthly payments don’t exactly match their gas and electricity usage.
Coming out of winter this year, almost half of all UK households (45%) are due a refund from the energy provider, with the average amount worth £142 — up £6 on last year — and the total owed to UK households is £1 million higher than last April, despite people using more energy while at home during the pandemic.
Also, a quarter of energy bill-payers in credit are owed a rebate of more than £200 — up from one in ten last year. Some 535,000 households are due more than £500.
Not all energy providers automatically issue refunds to customers whose accounts are in credit, and almost three in five bill-payers say their energy supplier has never automatically credited their account.
Meanwhile, 35 percent of those in credit say their supplier has never been in contact with them to review their direct debit payments, and now Uswitch.com is calling for suppliers to review customers’ direct debit payments more regularly.
Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch.com comments: “At a time when many people’s finances are stretched any windfall would be gratefully received.
“A growing credit balance can be a sign that a customer’s direct debit is too high - yet a third of those in credit say their supplier has never adjusted their payment.
“It’s clear that Ofgem’s proposal to introduce automatic rebates will benefit a huge number of consumers, particularly those who do not know how much credit they have, or do not know how to obtain a refund.
“Many people who have been affected financially by the pandemic may be looking for ways to save money, and it’s worth checking with your supplier to see if you are owed any money following your most recent bill being paid.
“It’s also important to provide regular meter readings to your energy supplier if you do not have a smart meter. This will make it easier for your supplier to see if you are using less energy than predicted, and they may reduce your direct debit payments.
“If you are out of contract with your supplier, you could also save yourself money by switching to a cheaper deal.”
Consumers can find out how to obtain a refund from their supplier in Uswitch’s guide here.