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Are you owed money by your energy supplier?

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
An estimated 11 million bill payers are due a share of £1.3bn from energy suppliers as surplus credit has built up on accounts.

Two in five UK homes could reclaim an average of £121 each while one in 10 could be owed more than £200, according to comparison site uSwitch.

However, not all suppliers automatically refund customers who are in credit and 54% of bill payers have to chase to get their money back.

The findings come despite a severely cold winter, so many customers may not be aware they paid for more energy than they actually used.

uSwitch said the high levels of credit comes as 69% of people took action over the winter to reduce their energy use to keep bills down. Another explanation could be that energy suppliers were estimating customer bills rather than being supplied with up-to-date meter readings.

One in 10 bill payers give a meter reading less than twice a year, and a further 5% – the equivalent of almost 1.4 million households – have never provided their energy supplier with a meter reading.

For households with a smart meter, there’s no need to provide meter readings as they’re taken automatically.

How to reclaim

The first thing you should do is submit a meter reading if you don’t have a smart meter. Some suppliers automatically refund credit balances once a year, but this may be subject to a minimum amount and refund policies vary between providers.

Under Ofgem rules, customers are entitled to be repaid any credit on request, as long as up-to-date meter readings have been provided. uSwitch lists the following refund policies:

British Gas: 35% of customers in credit, averaging £111. Credit is automatically refunded if over £75 after one year, as long as a meter reading is provided. If an account is less than £75 in credit, customers can still request a refund.

E.ON: 23% of customers in credit, averaging £136. A meter reading will need to be provided and future direct debit payments may need to change.

EDF: 43% of customers in credit, averaging £107. A meter reading will need to be provided.

Npower: 70% of customers in credit, averaging £136. At a customer’s annual review, credit of £5+ on either gas or electricity accounts will be automatically refunded as long as a meter reading is provided.

Scottish Power: 20% of customers in credit, averaging £102. If a customer’s annual review is based on meter readings and the balance is greater than one month’s payment or over £75, the balance will be automatically refunded.

SSE: 50% of customers in credit, averaging £132. A meter reading will need to be supplied and customers need to fill out a refund form.

First Utility: 55% of customers in credit, averaging £246. Credit over £10 will be automatically refunded after one year, though you can request a refund any time via the online account.

Ovo: 88% of customers in credit, averaging £88. Account balances in credit receive 3-5% interest. Accounts must be more than 90 days old and have an active direct debit. Minimum refund amount is £25 and a meter reading will need to be supplied.

Shona Eyre, energy expert at uSwitch, said: “Reclaiming over £100 from your energy supplier is a big win at the end of a long, cold winter. If you’re one of those owed money, you can choose to leave it where it is as a buffer for next winter or claim it back.”

Eyre added that with price rises coming into force over the next few months, consumers have even more to gain by shopping around and changing supplier.

“Switching to a fixed deal now could save you almost £500, protect you against further price rises, and give you the option to select a supplier with better customer service,” she said.

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